Motorcycles are awesome.

Motorcycles are awesome.

I played hooky on Friday to go out to Grattan raceway in Belding, MI (near Grand Rapids) for a track day/fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-day walk. As an added bonus, a few Hooters girls came out to serve us lunch. They were skanky as skanky can be, but I guess that's what you should expect from Hooters Girls.

I ran my first day in Intermediate, so I didn't have to stay in the groups like one does in Novice. The only rules are pass safely, and leave at least an arm's length between you and any other bikes. I had one guy try and pass me with less than a foot between me and the outside of the track, and one of my buddies on a faster bike stuffed me into the first corner off of the front straight when his bike dropped into a false neutral, but other than that, no close calls.

My buddy Tim crashed out really hard at the end of the second session and had to head to the hospital with a badly broken shoulder, a concussion, and a really fucked up Yamaha R1, but other than that, the day was awesome. Sadly, no pictures of me on the track, but I finally started getting my knee down in corners. That felt about as close to sex as you get with clothes on. Clicky for the rest of the pics from the day, if you wanna.

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wadsbone's picture

That sounds awesome. Way to

That sounds awesome. Way to not get mangled! I did some closed-track rally racing in Finland earlier this year, but this is on a whole different level of trying to kill yourself. I think you need to have a pretty strong faith in physics to trust a motorcycle in a sharp turn at high speeds.

Anonymous's picture

Hear, hear! I especially

Hear, hear! I especially like the KTM EXC with race tires. If I ever make it to an AHRMA race, I'll post some pictures. Evan- what are you currently riding?

e lo's picture

Yeah, I was pretty pleased

Yeah, I was pretty pleased overall not to get mangled. One guy heading to the hospital is plenty. As for the physics, I just assume that the Geoffs and ChrisKs of the world have figured out the whole relationship between gyroscopic precession and rubber v.s asphalt. Tell me more about the rally racing, Wads. That sounds awesome! I've always been fascinated by rally, but it seems like the line between doing well, driving a incredible machine capable of awe-inspiring feats of driving and being strapped into a piece of junk in a ditch is pretty slim in rally racing. Of course, the same could be said about moto, except for being strapped in.

That KTM supermoto is awesome. I love it. He actually bought it in dirtbike trim, and spent about another grand or so on the hubs and rims for the street tires. He runs Michelin Pilot Powers, which is the same thing I run. Actually, almost everybody I know runs Powers on their track bikes (if they don't run slicks). Powers are great for both track and street, which is good for me, since my bike does double duty. I got to demo a couple of KTM supermotos a couple of months ago (that's where my avatar photo is from), and they're doing another SM demo day in October. Prior to the demo day, it had been a long, long time since I'd been on dirt on a motorcycle, so it was a bit of a challenge to get back into it. A supermotard is definitely my next purchase, but that's gonna have to wait until well after grad school is done.

My current bike is an '01 Suzuki SV650. It's an awesome, awesome bike. 90 degree V-twin power plant, fantastic frame geometry, and with a little suspension work (I've got an '03 GSXR front end and a rear shock from an '05 ZX636 on mine), it's an absolute gas to ride. It only pushes about 72 horsepower, while weighing ~400 lbs with oil and a full tank of gas, so it's not nearly as fast as the modern supersport bikes. But it's got great torque over the entire powerband, and if you make a mistake with your right wrist, you're a lot less likely to highside yourself to the moon than are people on literbikes. Plus, it's really, really fun to pass guys on GSXRs, CBRs, and ZX6/ZX9's in the corners with my little SV. It's a real blow to their egos that they got passed by some guy on a "girl's bike."

BTW, who are you, Johhny Anonymous?

markrpaulson's picture

Whoops. That was me. I'm

Whoops. That was me. I'm riding a Norton cafe racer- a '72 Commando 750 in a '64 Atlas Featherbed frame.
Here's a picture
This was before it, while parked, got hit by a drunk driver. Now it has a polished alloy Manx tank and new wiring, courtesy of drunkie's insurance company. It's great for in-town riding, but eventually I'd like something modern as well, for longer trips and two-up riding. I really like the 2005+ Speed Triples, and I'm loving the Ducati SportClassics. I may just cheap out and find an 80's BMW and run it forever--I don't know. Next winter I need to strip the Norton, balance the crank, and re-weld the frame to fix some alignment issues. At that point it would be feasible to think about getting it into an AHRMA race--It's already got a Johnson race cam, a Keihin FCR carb, new valves/springs/guides and con-rods--however, I think an empty track would be more fun than a crowded pack of vintage bikes that could explode at any minute. It's great that you're still riding. If it hadn't been for you, Graver, and Walt letting me ride your respective bikes down the alley behind 913, I probably wouldn't be riding now. One of these days I'll make it up to the Mid-Ohio British rally--perhaps we could meet up.

e lo's picture

That's gorgeous, Mark. Did

That's gorgeous, Mark. Did you do the engine work yourself? I haven't been deeper into mine than the carbs (and suspension, of course), but I need to tear down the top end sometime soon and at the very least check the valve clearances. It spends a lot of time hovering around the rev limiter these days...

I've always had a soft spot for the British bikes -- probably because my dad swears he'll never own another one, so I want one out of spite. I'd really like an old Triumph, but I'd do unnatural things for one of the new Daytona 675s or the Duc SportClassics. The Paul Smart replica is a whole lot like sex on wheels.

If you do make it up to Mid-OH, let me know for sure. That's a really neat facility, especially since it was repaved this past winter. I need to get back there for a dry track day. We got a ton of rain dumped on us on July 3 and 4 this year. :(

goff's picture


It's my understanding that one reason you can get so low when turning is that the tires actually have a parabolic shape, so when you turn there is actually a larger amount of rubber to asphalt in contact when turning as opposed to going straight.

Whatever, I find it amazing to see people put bikes that low to the ground.

Anonymous's picture

True dat

That's true with a lot of sport oriented tires. The last set I had on mine were more sport-touring oriented, and their profile was pretty flat. That gave them greater stability in a straight line (i.e. boring droning highway miles), but it made the bike tougher to throw over from a hard lean one way to a hard lean the other way. The Pilot Powers I have now are quite a bit more parabolic, and are made specifically for folks who like to do track days but don't want slicks or super soft compound tires, so they can get some mileage out of their rubber. The contact patch is much bigger when I'm leaned way over than when I'm upright. That has the bonus of not only allowing for faster turn-in, but also letting me carry more speed through the turn, brake later into the turn, and get on the throttle earlier/harder at the apex. Not that I do any of those things very well yet, but that's the theory, anyhow.

e lo's picture


That last one was me.

I do find it pretty entertaining/unnerving that following that last track day, my rear tire is melted/chewed up allllll the way over to the edge. I've still got a few mm of chicken strip on the front tire, but absolutely none at all on the rear tire, which means that at some point (probably at many points,) I was leaned over far enough that I was running off the edge of the rear tire. Zoikes!

markrpaulson's picture


You mean like this low?

e lo's picture

Sure, why not

When I can burn down Mid-OH like Miguel and Eric there, I think I'll have quit science and medicine all together for a career in racing. Those bastards don't drag knee -- they drag elbow.