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Beautiful Day at VIR


David

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I had the chance to do my second track day of the year. Putnam was the venue last month--this month it was Virginia International Raceway (VIR), at the far southern end of Virginia, about 500 miles from Nashville.

 

It's all still a bit new as the bike now has 600 miles on it. But the break-in and first service were done, the suspension tweaked by a professional, and I was ready to stretch my legs just a bit.

 

The only addition to the bike is a lap timer. Here's the transmitter hooked up to the battery and mounted on a tripod. It needs to be on a portion of the course where you are upright as the IR is basically line of site.

 

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The cpu is affixed to the handlebar where I can see it, and the receiver is taped to one side of the license frame, depending on which way the traffic rotates.

 

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You really don't want to be fiddling with an electronic gizmo at 150 mph, hanging on for dear life. tongue.gif Fortunately you never have to touch the thing. The first time you pass the transmitter, it automatically turns on the receiver. It then counts up until you pass it again, at which time it freezes the lap time for as long as you want--I used 15 seconds. That gives you a chance to glance down while it counts the current lap in the background. When you stop, it displays the fastest lap, average speed, and then shuts itself off. Very slick and in a small form factor.

 

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The track was brand new to me, and I expected to struggle all morning because of the blind curves and elevation changes. We ran the north course (2.25 miles), the same exact layout the AMA Superbike guys run. The front straight (with a slight bend) allows nearly the bike's top speed before God appears, you start sobbing, and eagerly begin braking for a 2nd gear double apex turn (1 and 2). Turn 3 is fast. Turn 4 will bite your ass--very tight, and if you don't use exactly the right attack angle, you can just start shaking your head on Turn 5, because you're toast. You really have to run 4 and 5 together, like two chess moves. Then some esses you can straighten out, followed by a sharp, nicely banked Turn 7 with a (very) blind crest. Turns 8 and 9 really aren't turns, but Turn 10 makes up for it, as it opens up and you'll find yourself clipping the apex with a bit too much anticipation. Turns 14 and 15 are a sharp downhill pair, almost like Laguna's corkscrew. Turns 17 and 17a are downhill, fast, driving turns where you can be wound out in 3rd gear before grabbing 4th gear as you enter the straight. Then it's full throttle and clutchless shifts until you chicken out again at the entrance to Turn 1.

 

All these Fast Freddies on liter bikes drive me nuts. They're poking along through the turns, with very little opportunity to pass (it's a very narrow track), and then fly down the straights. I can usually hang with them on the straights if I get a good drive out of the corners, but I can't pass them. So it's late braking into 1, with the rear tire skimming the pavement as the slipper clutch complains.

 

It's always fun to do a track day with someone you know, and Scott Charney and I hung out all day together. He's an attorney from up north:

 

scott.jpg

 

Here's his nicely prepped and beautiful R6. It was his first day on the track with that bike, too. You all ought to get a chance to ride behind Scott some time. He's got about the best body position you'll see and is a natural. We had a great time. Todd Gills (big-t) showed up for a surprise visit, too, and it was great to see him.

 

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Here are the student bikes (Kawasaki 636) lined up before the first session:

 

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And a few of the instructor bikes in the morning sun. Did I say that the weather was perfect? Sunny and mid-seventies. Yeah, baby. Track surface was like glue.

 

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Here's my bike and the obligatory "make fun of me Davis" shot. tongue.gif

 

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Here's the workshop area:

 

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...and Mitsy, my Level Four liaison:

 

mitsy.jpg

 

So, how'd the day unfold?

 

Session 1: They requested 3rd/4th gear and no brakes. First time on the track. Best time was 2:16.

 

Session: 2: They allowed light brakes on this round, and the track started to make sense. It was quite a bit easier to learn than I expected. It's got to be one of my all time favorite tracks. There's a real flow to the thing, and it's very interesting and challenging. Best time was 2:09.

 

Session 3: They allowed 2nd/3rd/4th and light brakes. Best time was 1:59. Track record is 1:25. I might be able to do a 1:50 after learning the track and bike well, but who knows. I'm a terrible judge of pace, a point made obvious by the presence of a timer. Some laps that feel really fast just aren't. grin.gif It's the exact same length as Barber, with the same track record of 1:25, and I did a 1:51 on their 636 two years ago before I switched to the GS. Who knows.

 

Session 4: I was slowing, passing through about 70 mph at the far outside of the second longest straight before dipping it into Turn 7. An instructor working with a Level 1 student was just on the inside, and he (I thought) signaled to me to take the outside line and pass them. I did just that, but apparently I misread the signal, because he then abruptly shoved his bike to the outside edge of the track. I had a choice of hitting him or heading off track, and I chose the latter. There was a long stretch of grass and I just used the rear brake to slow. I happened to be in a good place to practice GS skills, so no harm, no foul. I don't blame the instructor--my theory is that every rider assumes full responsibility on the track. I shouldn't have assumed I understood his signal.

 

Trevor did black flag me to have a chat. He smiled (we know each other pretty well), and I explained what happened. He understood and quickly shot me back out to finish the session.

 

There were a fair number of accidents. One girl went down twice. Oops. One fellow went down right in front of me on Turn 1. He picked the wrong entry speed after passing someone and washed the front. During the low side, the engine guard caught something and the bike flipped over and did a high side before taking a bow, while the dear fellow's feet were pointing to the sun as he flopped like a fish on the beach. tongue.gif Ouch. Scott mentioned that there was a pretty bad one in Session 5 that shut the course down. I didn't run in that session as my knee was killing me. My legs are still pretty sore. I was riding pretty hard and I'm still not used to the bike.

 

I worked mainly on my corner entry attack angles and right hand turns. It's the perfect track for that, as it goes clockwise.

 

Next? Two days at Barber next week. Then Jennings and Barber again the week after. I really have a lot to learn, and I think what's holding me back more than anything is practice. You can't expect to pick up where you left off if it's six months since you did something technical.

 

The Tuono? Freakin' love it. There's just no drama in riding this thing. Now that the suspension is set up properly, it begs to be ridden hard. It's like a well-mannered thoroughbred. You can run in 4th gear around the whole thing if you're lazy. There's that much power. And in the right gear, the front will skim the pavement out of every corner.

 

I learned a big mechanical lesson about throttle behavior while leaned over, too. It's a dope slap type of observation I'm going to put together for a RIde Well thread.

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StretchMark

Looks like a great facility!

 

Here's my bike and the obligatory "make fun of me Davis" shot.

 

Nah..hardly any sport in that. I'll wait for the next opportunity. grin.gif

 

Did your knees hurt just because of the more aggressive body position or are you pounding them on the cutouts?

 

Have you put together the weight set in the garage and started using it yet?

 

See you at Barber!

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OK, you are just TOO into this! (I mean that in a really good, jealous sorta way!) Great description of events, but, for me, the track diagram made it all come alive.

Uh, have you got the GS's video system converted to the Aprilia? crazy.gif

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Ditto what David said. What a nice day! Perfect weather, good company, and excellent track (really excellent).

 

You all ought to get a chance to ride behind Scott some time. He's got about the best body position you'll see and is a natural. We had a great time.

 

Thanks for the compliment! Don't let David kid you though - that boy can fly. He was passing me all day.

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AAAAARRRRRRRRGHGHGHGHGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

 

O.k., now then. Glad you guys had a blast. I really want to get to ride VIR at some point - it always seemd so flowing and technical all at the same time.

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Did your knees hurt just because of the more aggressive body position or are you pounding them on the cutouts?

 

I'm pretty sure it's from the shorter distance from the seat height to the pegs. I have the pegs in the lowest position (it's a double eliptical type thing), so I might need to raise the seat next.

 

Have you put together the weight set in the garage and started using it yet?

 

Nate and I are putting that together shortly. Until then, it's the gym.

 

See you at Barber!

 

Yes sir. And expect to get your sorry butt black-flagged several times. tongue.gif

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Uh, have you got the GS's video system converted to the Aprilia? crazy.gif

 

Not yet, but that's next! Hopefully I'll have it set up for Barber.

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I really want to get to ride VIR at some point - it always seemd so flowing and technical all at the same time.

 

Did you do any car racing on that track back when you were into that?

 

You would definitely enjoy riding this track. Now I can't wait to watch races there. They come alive after I've ridden the same course.

 

I'd love to live closer to VIR so that I could ride it more. I don't know when I'll ever get to do it again, but it sure was a treat to experience it one day.

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russell_bynum

Nice writeup!

 

I have the same laptimer, btw. You're supposed to be able to download your sessions over USB to store them in a spreadsheet for later reference, but I haven't tried that yet. I also have never needed to use my transmitter since it seems like someone else always has one out and they are (apparently) universal.

 

I really like having it because it gives me instant feedback on what I'm doing. Change a line in one corner...get feedback THAT LAP about if it made you faster or slower.

 

The Tuono? Freakin' love it. There's just no drama in riding this thing. Now that the suspension is set up properly, it begs to be ridden hard. It's like a well-mannered thoroughbred. You can run in 4th gear around the whole thing if you're lazy. There's that much power. And in the right gear, the front will skim the pavement out of every corner.

 

That's about my opinion after riding my to/at/from Torrey last weekend. It's tremendously capable, but is SO easy to use. It just rolls along doing EXACTLY what you tell it to do with no fanfare at all. Unless of course, you tell it to do something you didn't intend to tell it to do, in which case it becomes a fire-breathing dragon out for blood. eek.gif I'm starting to get the hang of the bike...the front wheel didn't leave the ground a single time on the Torrey trip, which is an improvement since I spent about 40% of the first few rides staring at the clouds and wondering how I get myself into these situations. smile.gif

 

I've just about got the suspension sorted out. It's not 100%, but it is very close.

 

Overall, I was really blown away by how easy the thing is to ride, once you learn a few of its little quirks.

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Firefight911

Absolutely wonderful write up! Congratulations for making the rest of us feel sssoooooooooooooooooooo freaking wonderful about our not being on the track. frown.gif

 

Nice job. Keep us posted on the next day at the track. At least we can live vicariously through you until I can get out there myself.

 

Had to pass on the Buttonwillow day on June 4. It is my 1st wedding anniversary, afterall. I, really, want to enjoy many many more!! thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

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Paul Mihalka

Great write-up, felt like riding VIR again. Thanks! VIR is a bit special to me. It is where I did my last track day: Reg Pridmore's CLASS, on the R1100RT, 2001. It is also the track where I did my last real racing, 1974. A separate story.

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Lone_RT_rider

Well heck. I was in VA that weekend...on the bike to. If I had of recognized that that you already told me you were going to VIR I would have contacted Todd and ridden down there to watch for a bit. Oh well.... crazy.gif

 

Shawn

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I should have known better than to go by work on the way to VIR tongue.gif As a result I got there just as the old guy was putting his bike in the truck grin.gif but managed to get a couple of pics of Scott with my crappy P&S

 

 

Turn 3

 

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Turn 4

 

 

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Those guys go fast,have to try that someday. grin.gif

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I also have never needed to use my transmitter since it seems like someone else always has one out and they are (apparently) universal.

 

Yep, they're universal for that timer. There's no pairing. I went ahead and bought the cheapest lawn tractor battery I could find ($34) and I'm using that. Supposedly it broadcasts with a tad more power for any track situation that isn't ideal.

 

How are you getting used to the seat::peg ratio? Is it not just a tad too "folded up" for you? I've got some work to do on that front.

 

My only complaint with the bike is the off/on throttle transitions. No amount of throttle control in the world will make it transparently smooth, apparently.

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Had to pass on the Buttonwillow day on June 4. It is my 1st wedding anniversary, afterall. I, really, want to enjoy many many more!! thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

 

Track days or anniversary? Take your pick. tongue.gif

 

You live in California, so once you decide to do it, you'll have ample opportunity. Road courses around here are not as plentiful, and our weather makes it less enjoyable in the deep summer.

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Great write-up, felt like riding VIR again. Thanks! VIR is a bit special to me. It is where I did my last track day: Reg Pridmore's CLASS, on the R1100RT, 2001. It is also the track where I did my last real racing, 1974. A separate story.

 

Ah, so you know what I mean. Great track! I was not expecting to enjoy it so much.

 

Does this mean no more track days for you? Come on, man! smirk.gif

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71489492-L.jpg

 

 

Those guys go fast,have to try that someday. grin.gif

 

That last picture of Scott is a good one. You can see what I mean about picture perfect riding position. That boy is good. I kept wanting to make him go faster. Everything is in place--the only thing holding him back is wisdom. grin.gif

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Paul Mihalka
Does this mean no more track days for you? Come on, man! smirk.gif
Nope. I don't like to be a moving chicane. I DO know my limitations and they are growing

tongue.gif

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I really want to get to ride VIR at some point - it always seemd so flowing and technical all at the same time.

 

Did you do any car racing on that track back when you were into that?

 

Nope. Always wanted to get there. Still do.

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Does this mean no more track days for you? Come on, man! smirk.gif
Nope. I don't like to be a moving chicane. I DO know my limitations and they are growing

tongue.gif

 

Somehow I doubt you'd be a rolling chicane, Paul.

 

I tried to get BCKMKR for the Tuono plate, but the TDOT kept mispelling it ("backmarker") so I gave up. I thought that would be pretty funny.

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russell_bynum

How are you getting used to the seat::peg ratio? Is it not just a tad too "folded up" for you? I've got some work to do on that front.

 

No issues. On long rides, I'll slide over and let one leg dangle for a while, but I did the same thing on the RT, so that's no big deal. I'm still using the stock pegs for now. I actually feel like these could stand to be back a little bit (maybe 1"), but they don't need to be any higher.

 

My only complaint with the bike is the off/on throttle transitions. No amount of throttle control in the world will make it transparently smooth, apparently.

 

Yeah, that's a struggle. The throttle is 1/4-turn from nothing to everything, and the big twin generates lots of torque and lots of engine braking, so it really makes those transitions abrupt. I'm getting better with it, though. I don't think it'll ever be as smooth as my 600RR, but I'm getting it to the point where it doesn't disrupt anything at street speeds.

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Okay. Maybe it's just that I'm older and my knees have too many raquetball miles. smile.gif

 

I scared myself witless at one point on the Tuono. My goal was really to learn the track and learn the bike a bit more. So I wanted to go fast, but not as my first goal.

 

So I'm tooling along doing my think, and dip into Turn 1. Right near the apex, my leg smacks something hard. WTF? I straighten the bike up, drift a bit to the outside, and then realize that it was just my knee puck. dopeslap.gif Mentally this wasn't a day for that stuff, so I wasn't prepared for it. Good thing someone wasn't passing me on the outside or something. I felt like an idiot.

 

At the last track day I wore my 'Stich and BMW boots. This time I wore the racing one-piece leathers and better boots, and I think I'm going to stick with that. I just feel more comfortable out there dressed like that. I'm sure there's some placebo effect mixed in there, but there you have it.

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russell_bynum

Right near the apex, my leg smacks something hard. WTF? I straighten the bike up, drift a bit to the outside, and then realize that it was just my knee puck.

 

I did the same thing in the Esses at Streets. You're going REALLY slow, and working hard to get the bike turned as quickly as possible. On one turn, I jabbed the bars and the bike flopped over...and my knee smacked the pavement. It startled me for a second, but I just rolled on some power and everything was OK. I was not in a "my knee might touch" mindset at that low speed, so it caught me off guard. I didn't even have my knee sticking out that far, so it was even more of a shock.

 

Gear, yeah, I don't like wearing my Roadcrafter at the track. I'm sure it would do OK in a crash, but it doesn't fit as well as my leathers (which is fine since it needs to be able to accomodate multiple different variations of what I wear underneath it) and doesn't have the same level of padding and armor. The race boots are MUCH better than SportTouring boots. I wear the same gloves (Joe Rocket GPX), but I do have a new helmet that I bought just for the track. It fits too tight to be comfortable on long days on the street, but I'm hoping it'll stay in place, and hold my glasses in place better than my RF1000 does.

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Todd, Those are great shots! Thanks. Honestly, those are some of the best shots I've seen from a spectator/non-pro at a track day. Usually they are not zoomed in at all, grainy, and not centered. Good job.

 

Of course, since I was going so slow it was probably easy. The fact that there are no photos of the speedy David hasn't escaped me! grin.gif

 

Also, thanks again for helping me load the truck. Made it much easier.

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sweet write(ride)-up David!

 

Man, and can't tell who's sexier in their leathers, you or Scott?!? cool.gif

 

seriously, that's pretty cool that you're getting the track time. I'd be seriously nervous.

 

I did get a chance to ride w/Scott a fair bit to/from Mayhem and you're right that he's got good body position.

 

cya

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seriously, that's pretty cool that you're getting the track time. I'd be seriously nervous.

 

Nice to hear from you, Brian. Are you still suffering from Mexico withdrawal like I am?

 

On that nervous thing, most of that comes from just not doing it. Once you get through the first hour, you'd adapt to it like a fish to water.

 

Yep, Scott's a good rider.

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russell_bynum

Once you get through the first hour, you'd adapt to it like a fish to water.

 

+1. Especially at the Superbike School. Everything is really low-pressure and fun.

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Man, and can't tell who's sexier in their leathers, you or Scott?!? cool.gif

 

Don't you mean sillier?

 

seriously, that's pretty cool that you're getting the track time. I'd be seriously nervous.

 

Aug. 21. Code School. Pocono. Be there!

 

Truthfully, Brian, you'd be fine on the track. Probably one of the fastest out there. Just do it!

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Aug. 21. Code School. Pocono. Be there!

 

Truthfully, Brian, you'd be fine on the track. Probably one of the fastest out there. Just do it!

 

I'll think about it. might be able to work it out. can I borrow the 6 though? ;)

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