My first track day of the summer, a two-day bash over the Fourth of July weekend, got crashed by Hurricane Arthur. We drove down the night before through scattered rain after loading up the bikes in the dimming green light between showers. That night, we stayed at the suites above the pit garages at NJMP, and the heavy rain beat an ominous tattoo on the corrugated roof, while the grass tufts in the paddock formed bristly islands for a small army of hopping toads, out enjoying the weather.
The morning wasn’t much better, with a light but steady rain and winds that made for a less than ideal environment for a couple of novice track-day riders out for the first time in nine months. But sessions began on time, with predictions for a clear afternoon. We sat out the morning and watched from our room as a scattered few folks threw up rooster tails of spray down the main straight.
Lunch break was early and, as predicted, the clouds cleared out by noon, leaving the track bone-dry by 1pm. We ran a few sessions with a beautifully clear track: most riders had just gone home or not showed at all with the weather looking so grim.
I’ve had a few sets of tires on the Triumph, and a few on the Ducati as well, but no tires I’ve ever fitted really gave me any “ah ha!” moments. However, the new Dunlop Q3’s I put on prior to the weekend were absolutely the best tires I’ve tried yet, and made an immediate difference in feel. Combined with strong, two-finger braking from my new Brembo RCS master cylinder and some suspension tweaks, my riding was much more confident and aggressive than last year.
Saturday was gorgeous, with the sky swept clear of clouds. Riders were split into four, rather than the usual three, and Greg and I got a bump to the Yellow “experienced novice” group. The novice group we’ve decided has by far the most disparate skill levels, and that makes things a bit hairy for us as we progress: we’re by no means especially fast yet, but we’re working on it, and folks out there wobbling around the track for the first time are unpredictable and need to be approached with caution.
It’s not speed that kills, it’s the speed differential that gets you, and a rider wobbling across the track going 30mph less than you are is a recipe for disaster.
There were definitely some slower riders in our group, but everyone at least kept to a predictable line, which made passing them relatively simple.
I wanted to see what my body-position was like on-track, so I mounted my GoPro on the fairing, facing back towards me, and was pretty happy with how the video turned out.
For some reason, pointing the camera backwards really reduced wind noise, so you can actually hear the bike for a change, and can even hear my knee dragging a couple times. The bike had some major surgery to replace the charging system and, when I got it back, it had developed this annoying, part-throttle hesitation below 4k rpm. But that doesn’t matter at all at the track and it absolutely screams all the way to 14k, so I’m not going to mess with it for now…