As they always say at the morning riders' meeting, it's not if
you go down, but when
. As it turned out, last week was my time.
It was my 3rd track day, and the second one to run in the counter-clockwise (standard) direction at Hallett
. By now I had learned the course and had a lot of track time. I could tell that I was immediately improving on my best times (as the time sheets would later prove), because I was a gear higher or else hitting the rev limiter all over the track. So far, so good.
Since rolling on more throttle can make for an uncomfortable position on the grip, I apparently choked up on it a bit (as I would soon come to the frightening realization) while running down the back stretch on the way to the carousel. The problem was that when I thought I went to zero throttle entering the turn, I was actually at more like 10%. This was enough to run me wide as I entered too hot.
Hindsight 20/20, I should have spun my head like a barn owl, stared down the main straight, and order up more lean angle (which is usually not in short supply on a Buell). Instead I looked at the transition from pavement to grass and target fixation took over. Convinced I was headed for the runoff, I decided I didn't want to hit it leaned over and stood the bike up. (This all happened very
quickly!) I have seen people run off in the grass and back onto the track all the time, so I had a misconception that this is a simple and safe thing to do. As I would find out, nothing could have been further from the truth.
The runoff was anything but smooth. Pretty sure I caught air once or twice on my Firebolt turned Ulysses.
Then target fixation decided to screw with me some more, as it looked like the tire wall was approaching very quickly. At this point I remember thinking "slow down," but I don't recall hitting the front brake. Regardless, I am pretty sure that is what I did because the bike dumped on its left side and we slid next to each other for about 10 feet or so.
I immediately got up and waved to the corner worker to let them know that I was OK and not to dispatch the meat wagon. Then I paced around cursing to myself until a voice in my head yelled, "HEY, IDIOT!!! SHUT OFF THE BIKE!!!"
I think it had already stalled, but I ran over and shut it off. I figured if I tried to pick it up in my shaken state, I would throw it down on the right side like an idiot, so I waited for the wrecker, who came over right away.
Once he got me back to my little home on the paddock, I was able to survey the damage:
- Left peg snapped off.
- Shift linkage broken.
- Fairing clip damaged.
- Right thumb hurts.
- 1 vacation day and at least $150 wasted. (Or so I thought at the time. Read on...)
I headed over to the garage where the guys from Cycle Connection Buell
were making adjustments to their XBRR race bike before the next session. Well, guess what? They hooked me up with the parts I needed, and I was back on the track when the 3rd session started.
I tell you, if those guys had not been there, my riding confidence would have been tanked for months. Instead I was able to get back on that horse and ride it, and felt great about everything that happened by the end of the day.
I was riding injured, so my lap times suffered, but I was consistent and only 2 seconds off my previous pace, so I was happy with that considering. My thumb was pretty sore by the end of the day, and very swollen the next. I hyperextended it on the right grip when I hit the ground. (An injury commonly called Skier's Thumb.) I got it x-rayed, and it will be okay, but it is still sore and lacking a little movement. Other than that, I have 2 buises on my left side, and a small tweak in my upper back. My gear held up great though, and, like the 'Bolt, got more dirty than damaged.
OK, now on with the pics as promised...
This is the replacement peg. It is actually a passenger peg, which is why it is missing the feeler. Also, you can see John's business card sticking out, which was used as a shim.
I plan to replace them with some sort of rearsets. Guess now that she is no longer pristine stock, it's time to mod her, eh?
Here is the left side. This pic was taken at the track, so most of what you see is dirt. Everything should buff out okay. Can you imagine the damage if I was on a plastic wrapped Jap bike? Buells take damage quite well! I will probably add some frame pucks while I am at it.
Here is the swingarm. Same story there.
This was the worst of it. The piece that holds the fairing on cracked and had to be taped. The problem is that it is a magnesium part, but I have a friend who may be able to weld it for me. I also had to zip-tie the relay box to the bike and the cover broke off. (It looks like I am missing a relay, but that is a blank.)
Here is the engine case after we fixed the shift linkage. More dirt. Glad I went down on soft grass and not pavement!
Here is damage that makes me smile.
My rear tire:
Between the spook factor and riding with minor injuries, I think I held my own out there.
And, yes, I am looking forward to my next track day!