Greetings Gearheads! It’s been some time since I’ve written, at least here at GearheadExchange but that doesn’t mean a lot hasn’t happened. To bring you up to date here’s what has transpired.
I started doing track days again.
I’ve been doing some writing for CityBike.
I went on the Distinguished Gentlemen’s ride.
I said “goodbye” to riding on the street.
I came up with a solution that I believe will satisfy my need to ride without becoming a statistic.
I bought a dedicated track bike.
I finally experienced how much better orange bikes are in dirt than others.
I started a new business.
Return To The Track
As I have probably mentioned before, my riding career followed the usual path. Start on dirt (because I am too young for a license) ->Get my license (ride on the street)->Learn that the street is not the place to learn and push limits (it’s dangerous). ->Start doing track days (because it’s fun) ->Start racing (because it’s funner) ->Reduce time on the street (because why would you, when you race?) ->Rediscover dirt (because it’s fun) ->Realize that it’s all about risk vs. reward, and that at age 50, the rewards don’t match the associated risks (reduce or completely remove street riding)
The last track day I did was about 5 years ago. My precious 916 was hauled out of mothballs one last time so I could run at Thunderhill Raceway with a long time friend. After that, I sold all the race/track upgrades and returned her to almost completely stock trim. I had fun and like any addict could have easily been seduced to get on that train again but I was having fun riding in the dirt with my wife, and the time and costs associated with racing and track days just didn’t fit in to my plans.
I was consumed with other motorcycle and automotive activities and rarely thought about riding on the track. My competitive juices were stoked and satiated by my annual trip to Texas Tornado Boot Camp, but ironically it was there that I made a new friend who would become a catalyst for my return to closed circuit road courses. He invited me to do a track day at Buttonwillow and I borrowed a friend’s Ducati 748 which I intended to buy from him and use as a track bike. A couple weeks later I ran at Laguna Seca. This time I rode my Ducati (yeah, yeah, I know) 851 as the 748’s owner loaned it to another rider. I was not willing to take any risks with the 851 as its very special to me, and it has all the factory bodywork on it, much of which is hard to replace. Crashing was not an option. Despite a fairly disappointing day (it was cold, drizzly, and slippery, and I blew sound limits on the big Ducati, meaning I only completed about 30 laps before my day was done) I’d not only bought a ticket for that train that was rolling through my adrenaline system, I had jumped on it.
A month or so later I was back at Buttonwillow, this time riding a number of different motorcycles during an industry event and began drawing up a short list of potential dedicated track bikes. I spent that day pitted with former AMA racer Jake Zemke and current MotoAmerica competitor Wyatt Farris. Bench racing as boys will do, we discussed potential machines and I spoke of my comfort with the way Ducatis make power, that I love the rheostat like characteristics of inline 4s (I’d ridden a GSX-R 750, S1000RR, and ZX6RR on that day) but that after decades of racing v-twins, they just felt right. Other than my dirtbike and an old Ducati single I haven’t owned anything but two cylinder motorcycles, ever. The fact that I briefly considered the ZX6RR was a shock to me, but my interest was short lived. I didn’t want to buy a brand new motorcycle for a track bike, and I didn’t want something with too much power. I didn’t want a motorcycle with ABS, traction control, a clutchless gearbox, or lean angle sensors. I wanted a somewhat analog motorcycle, and I ended up finding what I believe is the perfect example of such a machine, right under my very nose. Check back soon to see what I ended up with, and what I’m doing with it.
Stay on the throttle!