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Old 07-25-2020, 06:46 AM   #1
Mechanikrazy
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2020 Round 1 Report - Mechanikrazy

“…She'll tear a hole in you, the one you can't repair
But I still love her, I don't really care
When we were young
Oh oh, we did enough…”

Let me preface this post by thanking all of you who commented on my pre-COVID post asking about back issues. I really appreciated all the voices of experience detailing how you have balanced bikes and back issues. As you can tell from the thread title, I decided to ride in 2020. In good news, I ended up doing physical therapy and the pain issues have gone away.

So after last year's crash in T14 at Thunderhill, I had some bondo and paint work to do. It isn't perfect, but I'm happy with it. A backmarker still has to look acceptable.




Onward to Round 1. I was glad to see and chat with familiar faces in the paddock at Buttonwillow. I did miss a few that helped me greatly last year though, in particular Owen Flatley and Brandon Souza. I ended up pitting next to new faces on 600s, and had fun getting to know them.

The weekend started off well. Last year, my fastest race lap time at Buttonwillow was 2:08 and I was dragging knee at a pace that I knew I didn’t need to. This time, I got to 2:08 in the first practice session with a lot less effort. Over the course of last year, I played with my body position a lot. I know I am still riding more high up, like Colin Edwards, than I would like, and that continues to be a focus of mine.

Overall, it was just nice to be back on the bike again, and I was getting more comfortable with each practice session. I was glad to see Mike Welch out there, as we towed each other around slightly faster each time last season. As an “expert” this year, I could do F-IV qualifying. I was definitely concerned with my pace and the high speed difference to the fast F-I riders. I was originally thinking to just do a few laps and pit in before the fast guys came back around. I ended up staying out the whole session and dropped 4 seconds on my lap times to a 2:04. The front of the pack in my class is still usually a 1:58, so there’s still a long ways to go.
Then it was just time to watch the Saturday races, have a few beers, and catch up with friends in the paddock.

Sunday

Race 1 was 450 SBK. I need to work on my starts, but that was the least of my problems. I got in behind Mike Welch and starting focusing on where I could improve. However, after the main straight on lap 2, I went to grab a downshift only to find nothing. After T2, I grabbed a peek and saw I was missing the extension piece and footpad on my shift lever. Fail.

I pitted in, and thought about what to do. I had already given up on making Race 3. I walked over to Allie and asked if I could potentially walk the track at lunch time to search for the missing piece. You can’t, by the way. But she told me to talk to start/finish. The AFM corner workers are amazing. While they were waiting for Race 2, they did a walk to try and find the piece.
Thankfully, as my neighbor Steve was coming out for Race 2, he started gesturing at me to go back to the garage. Turns out my other neighbor Aaron had bolted up a footpad. It was a bit more of a reach to the shifter without the extension, but it would work. With his help, I got out in time for Race 3. It takes a village. Thanks you guys!

Race 3 (LWT SBK) came around and I had a terrible start. Mike Welch started slowly walking away from me while I was trying to settle back into riding. Then the fast Ninja 400s started coming through. Bad luck for Mike but good luck for me, one of the 400s decided to elbow Mike out wide as they went through T11. He ended up running off track, and losing time. This let me catch back up. I ultimately got a better drive off T11 than him on the last lap and pinched him to the line. My best lap in the race was a 2:04.


pc: Oxymoron

Race 9 (F-IV) was fairly uneventful. Mike and I ended up around the same pace. My best lap was again a 2:04. I was 4 seconds a lap adrift of the next person up. One of my big issues to focus on is a good line coming out of the sweeper so I can stay on the gas through the esses and the run down to T11. I think there should be an easy second there..

Then finally, Race 14 (500SS). I got a decent start and was keeping up with the rider in front of me. At the end of the first lap, I got a better drive off T11 and got past on the front straight. It was funny in that my standing start lap was a 2:08 when 2:08 was the best I could manage in 2019. Anyways, I try to keep my pace up and keep pushing. However, the next lap, I come up on one of the Open Twins. The other rider snuck up past me going into T2 and quickly got past the Open Twins Ducati. I got stuck and couldn’t get past until Riverside. I really need to work on my passing. Anyways, I dropped 4 seconds that lap and lost touch by the time I could get past the Duc. Then there was a second Duc to pass, and the gap opened a bit again. At the same time, Mike was having the same problems getting by the Ducs behind me, so we spaced out a bit. Due to all the fast guys not being there, I ended up 3rd. I’ll take it considering this is the one chance I’ll have of podiuming before the fast guys come back to the grid. Haha.


pc: Oxymoron

All in all, a great weekend. I hope I can get to 2:02 at round 2. I feel like I just need to get a little bit more time on the throttle between Riverside and T1. I’m a bit disappointed that the schedule for Thunderhill got shifted up to the day I plan to get married, but I am just glad everyone can go racing.

Also, I ran a GoPro Max 360 and it is amazing. Previous I was running a Garmin Virb. The Garmin’s data overlays are super cool. But 360 is even cooler, even if I don’t have a quick and easy way to do data overlays. Below is a link. If you watch it on a computer or on a mobile app, you can pan around and see everything.

Video of Race 3

youtu.be/OeHcJOwXvJw

Onward to round 2!
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Last edited by Mechanikrazy; 07-25-2020 at 06:49 AM..
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:18 PM   #2
budman
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Congrats on bettering your times by a bunch.. the podium

and a wish as well Al.

Nice write up. I enjoy your reports
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Old 07-28-2020, 02:12 AM   #3
Holeshot
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Great writeup Al! Glad the PT worked on your back. I had the same things years ago. I can empathize fully. Bike looks good BTW.
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AFM #6 2020
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