Then there were the weather conditions at Nashville…
So, after scoring as many "brownie points" as possible and still have time to prep for the race, it was time to prep the bike. Seems I spent too much time cleaning up the back yard, relocating bikes to "aesthetically correct" locations, and sweeping, scrubbing and blowing off the back patio, to notice where most of my day had gone. The patio did appear to be more user friendly.
So began the scramble. Keith called about the Nashville forecast around 2 PM. He told me about the rain from the weatherchannel.com perspective. He noted that he had never seen a forecast boxed in with the words "Severe Weather" before. Only in hindsight do I realize he was greasing the skids for his "act of wisdom" to follow.
Unaware of what would actually transpire, I continued to repair all the issues with the bike. Just as I was about to wrap up and load up, Keith called to say he was not going to be able to "slip out early" at 5 PM as he had hoped. So, I saw this as an omen. I dismounted the Avon RoadRunner front tire off the Maroon Monsoon and mounted it onto the "Silver Bucket", an SL350 that I have really become attached to and comfortable on.
Then, as if a total surprise, I was scrubbing the rear tire known as "Shoe Goo" only to notice that I was seeing tread wear indicators level with the surface of the tire. I had slap worn that puppy out. No blow out. No injuring other racers, as predicted. I was now facing a tire that would not pass tech inspection, let alone stick to the track in "Severe Weather". Panic was just around the corner, so I went in "Spock Mode". Me and my pointy ears had to come up with a solution.
My Options: Maroon Monsoon had a decent Avon that was race worthy… BUT, that meant dismounting it from a CB350 rear wheel and remounting it on an SL350 wheel. No way! That would leave the CB350 without a tire, only to have to go through that operation again. You see, the SL350 and CL/CB350 rear wheels differ in that the SL350 uses a smaller brake hub and brake cable. The CB/CL350 use larger hubs and a brake rod. It’s a matter of how you configure your bike. Apples and oranges do not make orples!
I also had the set of Dunlops that Doug Bowie gave me a great deal on, but those were reserved for "Silver’s Sister", my project in motion, second generation SL350 race bike. With a newly rebuilt motor that includes a Teflon cam chain slipper/tensioner, Tsubaki flat side cam chain, new valves, springs, valve job, 1.0 mm overbore cylinders, pistons, rings, etc… Silver’s Sister is to be my dry track vintage motard race monster. Putting Silver Bucket into the rain race bike position is just the beginning to the changes scheduled to transpire.
So, I had to get really creative. Had to think out loud and hear myself speak. Then, I remembered where my other two race tires had been hiding. Keith was to turn over his front wheel, brakes, and hub after I handed him a beautiful CB77, 305 Superhawk front wheel and brake system in exchange. Only thing is, he’s been wearing it out ever since and only the week before Nashville did he finally get around to ordering the new shoes to make it worthy of his racing skills. That really didn’t help me as I was in search of a rear tire.
But, as fate would have it, Keith also recently swapped out his free "loaner" tire from Royal Racing (thank you very much) and mounted the new one they shipped him on his recently rebuilt aluminum rim/wheel combo. This finally freed up my CB350 race wheel and the freebie race tire. An Avon AM23 110 x 18", a perfect match to replace "Shoe Goo". The important factor to realize here is RAIN.
The reputation of the two most popular vintage race compound tires is interesting. Dunlop has a great reputation on dry track. Its lighter carcass means that it is easier to spin up quickly. The Avon tires are heavier. Almost twice the weight. They are very forgiving. That is why I recommend that all newbies start with them. They are even more forgiving (relatively speaking) in the rain. I raced Charlie Young in an all out battle of GP350 and GP500 350 Honda twins race in the outskirts of hurricane Berry. We rode through house sized foot prints of 2 to 4 inches of rain puddles standing stationary on the track. We both lapped Keith, who was still surprised that he even got out on the track, and Russell who was the only V1 racer that ventured out onto the track, so he had nothing to prove and everything to lose.
After getting the Silver Bucket loaded on my truck to change the tire at Keith’s house, he called to say he was bailing out of Nashville and the severe weather. Still determined, I let him know I was still moving forward toward the starting line at Nashville SuperSpeedWay. As such, he let me know I should plan to change the tire at my house. He was leaving work, heading home to pick up the tire, and would be headed my way. I pulled the bike back off the truck, hoisted it onto the bike jack, removed the rear wheel, pulled the tire off and tore about four to five layers of the "Karate Chop" portion of my hand.
As I headed toward the garage with paper towel holding back the blood, Keith arrived, wheel in hand.
My hands had cuts that I was not aware of by the time the sun began to set. Some isolated sun burn was setting in on my Yankee red neck. Irregular eating throughout the day was beginning to take its toll on me. Bike in the truck and last items being loaded, I began to feel a feeling that is rare in my world, to date. Fatigue. Age. And then the positive by product that goes along with each, wisdom. I told my wife that I was getting old and was beginning to make wise decisions. I followed the lead of my race partner and good friend. I would not be at Nashville.
Stay tuned for the next exhausting adventure…