Monday, August 29, 2016

Track Time! Again!

This morning's track time at High Plains Raceway went very well. The track was initially opened to first time track riders to familiarize themselves with the track layout. That was a great opportunity to go out slowly and not worry about interfering with other people's idea of fun. And there were other things to worry about. Those first two laps were probably the most terrifying thing I've ever done, not that the racer did anything wrong, but rather I didn't know what it might do wrong and without warning. There is no prior art available for the category of two wheel steering road racers or any experience to lean on. What I was riding was the culmination of earlier experiments based on a magazine article I read almost 30 years ago that stuck in my head. Will the front/rear coupled steering result in some sort of instability over bumps, or while cornering? Will the rear end wobble and structurally fail? Will rear steering geometry that behaves while coasting misbehave while under power, braking, and/or hard up/down shifts? What about trail braking with linked brakes and linked steering? Will steering that works well at modest lean angles work under more severe cornering attitudes? Or worst worry of all: Is it merely another way to generate bad lap times with curious hardware, only to be pushed back into the shed and languish as a habitat for spiders?


After those first 2 laps and an hour or so of inspection (No loose or missing hardware! No adjustments needed at all!) and introspection (Do I really want to do this anymore? The turns are where I remember them 2 years ago, but where did my sense of timing go?), the doubt, confusion, and overwhelming sensory input that race tracks can provide somehow evolved into that powerful feeling that gets leathers, boots, helmet, and gloves back on with enthusiasm: Must! Go! Back! Out! That is a really good feeling!


The next 2 laps went a lot better. Even though I haven't ridden it (Or anything else) in 2 years, I still instinctively slid over on the seat to hang off into the corners. That isn't necessary anymore, since the 2WS system reduces lean angle a lot more than hanging off. The linked braking system is a huge improvement over the old system. Hard braking is drama free, as is trail braking into corners. Great brakes and steering systems might not sound too useful when they aren't being used properly, but they do wonders for improving confidence in the bike.


The last 3 laps were just a lot of fun trying to use what I learned earlier in the day. No lap times were recorded, but I'm looking forward to learning a lot more. The last MRA race of the season is at High Plains Raceway, 17-18 September, Formula Colorado class, car port #7.