Not many know how it feels to be tumbling away from a bike that you don’t want to have to deal with until the crash truck delivers it back to your pit area. When you really know its going to receive some damage, you just hope you can get it through tech without having to return the pits. AND, that you don’t have to deal with it during the tumble.
But yet you do…
If you have been following this train wreck of fun and misfortune, then you should know… you’re dealing with that bike after it’s slid off the track and we are, right now, picking up the pieces and putting the whole thing into perspective. The fury of time tables, projects in motion, support schedule for bike clients, Boy Scouting with Dean (really cool time with my guy), and now the title (and all the authority that goes with it) of Newsletter Editor for Troop 597. We have published our third monthly newsletter and will be replacing it with the fourth on Thanksgiving weekend. Feels like my first chance to blog since…months ago.
So, the WOFAM that we are recovering from resulted in the total halting of my blog for months. Sorry, I truly am. To lead a saga left to neglect is to neglect the readers. I will try to shorten my entries so as to minimize the time between entries. It was my wreck, and it paused the life of the blog. I know now and will watch out for that.
As we assess the damage, we will also get caught up on what occurred.
I will cover the details behind my supportive sponsor as I get a chance, but I want to thank Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated, Inc. my highest accolades. He was there supporting and rewarding me for my quest toward a national championship. Martin continued telling my saga on the main business page of his company’s website. I really enjoyed being copied and pasted next to the images of Dany Reid and Mercedes Mattes. Thanks to the whole SCI team! I never had a national win before your sponsorship.
(Sigh of relief) Glad I sat down and got this into motion.
When it came time for the GNF, I had to finish the race in the GP500 in order to get enough points to avoid losing my national championship title. That’s all I could remember when the big picture was really a series of flash stills and a general idea of what I had on my plate. With maintenance at a minimum, I was trouble shooting the fading battery for the tail end of the season. All the indications were there and it just required a little diagnostics and proper interpretation.
With two major projects overlapping at work to double-up my summer work load, work breaks dropped to minimized bare communications and outside projecting. Not a problem with the CB350 design of the Honda pride. Bullet proof is as generally used a term as any describing this fully capable street bike. Once a year oil changes at almost any mileage used (or not). Twice on this busy race year, but safe is what you make of it.
By sometime in the midst of the second half of the season, I’d maxed out my possible number of wins to clinch top rankings going into the Grand National Finals of the GP500. This can be achieved by those who are good racers within as early as six races. Or by others with as many as all 17 race sets in your region and in a few races in others many states away. I had definitely hedged my bets by just racing a lot and try to enjoy it.
I really did try to pack the fun in. One Friday afternoon around 3 to Sunday morning at 1 AM represented the time it took to pack in two really restricted performances racing West Virginia. Some of this year’s trips were without the benefit of conversation with my race partner, Keith. He offers a most objective view of America, as a subject of the Queen. The royal, “business first” approach and point of view is a breath of fresh air on some very old subjects. Time always flies by when traveling with Keith. Bench racing is a little more fun than that.
Insider information: There have been discussions of resurrecting the Norton for AHRMA racing only. Keith too, has plans to create a Norton for AHRMA racing. This would keep the CB350 and EX500 racing with WERA. That would also mean three to five races per year. The important one would be the season opener for all attending Bike Week at the beginning of the year. I really missed a lot by skipping Bike Week this year. I never had the vacation effect and always kept my edge instead of relaxing. Next one is only three months away and I have a bit to get caught up with in the meantime.
So the WOFAM was when the blog stood still. During that time, there were hot sweaty days and minimal rain effect all season long. Time in the saddle and regular practice by regular racing led to a good handle on the performance of my bike and my body. Gaining weight all season long was the result of a successful cessation. A good bit of the extra me was muscle, but by no means could I credit more than fifty percent. In some of the more successful races, there were three or less other competitors in the same class, but Martin still paid contingencies for both the GP350 and GP500 races that I raced in. A few of us have received $100 credits for race wins in those classes, thanks to SCI. Go ahead, click the link and take a look at… NO WAIT, if you look at the link right off the bat, you might find out the outcome for the season…
The tail end of the season had all the tell tale signs of a decaying battery. That is, with the benefit of hindsight, easy to see now. The condition of the sealed “do NOT add water” battery was accurately described by the very cool device that “Toecutter” sold me. With the red, yellow, green lights, I always knew what the status of my battery was. At the beginning of the season, the battery would hold a charge for two practice sessions and two races and be ready for the next weekend after an overnight charge.
On the day of the GNF, the battery would only hold out for one practice session (skipped first one for rain issues) and one race. The GP500 started in a less than glorious rev of the engine and limited to 7,100 RPMs for the beginning of the race and 6,300 RMs for the crossing of the finish line. Any attempt to run faster than the top engine speed would cause the plugs to wet and foul in the presence of a weak spark. I was able to get way ahead of Keith and Steve Barber, previous CB350 National Champion. By the time the halfway mark was waving at the start/finish line, I was losing standing and gaining frustration.
The mission hadn’t changed.
All I had to do was finish the race.
As my maximum engine speed fell, so did my race speed. About the sixth lap, I was lucky to maintain my cool down lap pace. I even felt like waving to the corner workers, but the race was still going on for the others. But I kept going. I was slower each lap. But I kept on going. I received a gift from the faster racers on the track when I was lapped. That removed one lap from my required number of laps remaining. I kept on going, not knowing if the battery was going to drop off fast at the end of it’s life or just fade gently off to sleep. All of this performance abuse on the track I love so much. Road Atlanta: spread ashes here!
And then there was no one behind me as far as I could see. And I kept on going.
The one place I could actually feel like a racer was the new turn 12. Those downhill ramp-up speeds were faster than I could ever pull off wide open through 12. Pushing it to the last minute and breaking to that last second-of-speed, only to survive the two lane wide tight with quick curbs of the turn that will gobble you up and spit you out. The very inside of turn 12 has a sink hole. It sinks down and bounces back up sharply, the kind of kick that would dismount a seated rider. Be careful.
Then there it was, the checkered flag. I tucked down and gave my most convincing “this is not a disabled race bike” look as I took the checkered flag. The race was complete! I had crossed the finish line and won the GP500 National Championship! Then I remembered the problem I was facing. The top engine speed of 5,500 RPMs was making it difficult to climb up hills. I still had to complete my cool down lap and wave to the corner workers for one more lap. So, I just kept on going. Even in my wounded engine configuration, I rode with my most proud salutes and blown kisses to the corner workers who make our racing possible. I get to “keep on going” because the volunteered to be there. I thank you, corner workers. Thank you for your service.
I was still troubleshooting the battery at the white flag of the GP350 GNF race. Some ugly slug took my second place position in the GP350 national race. He sent me back to the third place position. The good news is that he too is a founding member of Team Old & Oily. Congratulations Keith Bennett, Also the GP500 Mid Central Champion!
That was it. The 2008 vintage motorcycle racing was over for WERA racers. There was a very enjoyable banquet under wedding tents on a very comfortable October evening. Melt ‘em down and call it a GoodYear.
I’m back to catching up on other projects, but this catches me up for now.
Stay tuned for some nice vintage bikes fixed up for sale.
Gotta start paying for next year’s racing season.