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Old 03-23-2020, 03:09 PM   #1
ThinkFast
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Looking for a fun way to improve your riding? Try a 3rd Gear run!

I recently washed my bike, removing a heavy layer of bugs and grime that had been accumulating since last fall's camping trips. It was long overdue, but winter weather kept me off the road, so a clean bike was not top of mind.

After a bucket wash and wheel scrub I always like to take my bike out for a drying lap around our local twisties, which in this case is China Camp, right out the end of my street.

It was early afternoon on a weekday so the place was pretty deserted. A few cars parked at trailheads, but otherwise very little evidence of people. No cars or even any cyclists on the road.

With the place to myself it was just me, my bike, and the deer, coyotes and wild turkeys to worry about. Perfect for a third gear run.

A third gear run is something I came up with while living overseas awhile ago. My buddies and I had ridden the same stretch of road so many times we got to know the location of every corner, bump, tar snake and wet patch. Even though it was a fun road, we started getting blase about riding it. So I decided to challenge myself by seeing if I could keep up with them without shifting gears, using my brakes, or even pulling in the clutch. Turned out this was a lot of fun, so I started challenging them to do the same, and see who could stay in front of the pack with the minimum number of "points."

It's not only fun, it's also a great way to learn how to judge corner entry speed, smooth out your inputs, and carry corner speed so you're not dogging it on the exits.

Well, little did I know back then - this was the mid 90's - that this was more or less the basis for what Nick Ienatsch would write about in one of the all-time best articles on motorcycling ever written: The Pace.

BARF number cruncher safety guru @datadan has written up a sticky post on The Pace over in 1Rider - you can view it here: https://bayarearidersforum.com/forum...d.php?t=305743

So there I was, out on my drying run in China Camp, road to myself. Third gear. Steady throttle. Here come the tight bits. Love my boxer twin - it's like a diesel locomotive coming off the corners - really doesn't care how slow you go in, it's always happy to pull like a train coming out. A little straightaway now. Oh well, don't ring its neck - the next corner's coming up soon enough. Tight, blind right hander. Stay on the paint, max visibility for whatever's coming at me. Head turned nearly 90 degrees, where's the exit? Keep straining for the exit. Tip it in. Let the front scrub off some speed. There it is. Roll 'er on, smooth...Off we go. Sweet. Engine's barely breathing hard. Love this. Yeah, this next corner is gnarly. Decreasing radius right hander. Blind. Narrow. No inside edge - just a giant rut. Resist the urge to tip in early. Stay out here. Stay...Now. Nailed it!

Ended up running out of turns and realized I'd just made it all the way through in 3rd gear and never touched the brakes or the clutch. Sweet run!!

Big fun. Highly recommend this. Even if you don't like riding solo - or especially if you do - this is a fun way to enjoy your ride and doesn't require you to push your luck riding faster than is safe or legal to give yourself a thrill.

Ride on, everyone. Stay safe out there and at home, and after this whole crazy COVID-19 thing is over and it’s ok to go out for a ride, give a 3rd gear run a try.
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Last edited by ThinkFast; 03-23-2020 at 03:17 PM..
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:12 PM   #2
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Don't they do this kind of exrecise at Superbike school?

And isn't The Pace something similar?
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:52 PM   #3
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Once led a group of slower riders the length of ACH in LA they never saw a single brake light from me but got a lessen in the right lines and thanked me at the end.

Should read all of post before posting. edit to get foot out of mouth
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Old 03-24-2020, 08:23 AM   #4
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Once led a group of slower riders the length of ACH in LA they never saw a single brake light from me but got a lessen in the right lines and thanked me at the end.

Should read all of post before posting. edit to get foot out of mouth
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Old 03-24-2020, 11:30 AM   #5
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From what I recall, they recommend this a lot at open trackdays for Group C riders. Try a couple laps just being in 3rd gear, it allows the rider to focus more on body position, brake entry points and riding sight lines.

The smoother you are on the throttle, the more stable you become on lap times.
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Old 03-24-2020, 01:46 PM   #6
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From what I recall, they recommend this a lot at open trackdays for Group C riders. Try a couple laps just being in 3rd gear, it allows the rider to focus more on body position, brake entry points and riding sight lines.

The smoother you are on the throttle, the more stable you become on lap times.
Don't need to go to a track day to practice this - you can do it on your local favorite stretch of road when it's safe to do so (unless you live in flat land - which is where I grew up - then you'd pretty much need to go to a track in order to find enough twisties...).
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Old 04-21-2020, 08:47 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ThinkFast View Post
Don't need to go to a track day to practice this - you can do it on your local favorite stretch of road when it's safe to do so (unless you live in flat land - which is where I grew up - then you'd pretty much need to go to a track in order to find enough twisties...).
Never disagreed, just supporting your outlook that the trackday providers say the same thing.

Anyhows.
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:55 AM   #8
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Fantastic idea for track day newbies.
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Old 08-24-2020, 02:02 PM   #9
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Did that the other day on a road behind San Pablo Dam. Started with me just tooling along in 4th at low RPM's. Then I just started going faster and faster trying to keep a good pace without brakes or shifting.

Was really challenging!
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Old 08-24-2020, 06:41 PM   #10
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CA Superbike School does a no brakes drill.

Fabulous butt puckering drill. Don’t touch the brake don’t touch the brake!

With no other clutter being able to focus on entry speed you find yourself entering faster and it is AOK because no brakes.

Nice 3rd gear stuff Tom.

I am not that patient.
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Old 08-24-2020, 07:04 PM   #11
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Starting and stopping in 3rd gear with no brake or clutch might be a bit of a challenge.

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Old 08-24-2020, 08:28 PM   #12
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I do this all the time on a few East Bay twisties. Use engine braking to slow things down, use Vanishing Point for throttling up.
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Old 08-25-2020, 06:59 AM   #13
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I do this all the time on a few East Bay twisties. Use engine braking to slow things down, use Vanishing Point for throttling up.
Yep. Lot different doing it on the street than on the track. And why wait for a trackday to do it anyways? (I don’t recall ever being told to do it on the track as a drill). Makes my midweek run down Lucas Valley Road interesting every time.
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Old 08-25-2020, 02:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by thepretender View Post
Once led a group of slower riders the length of ACH in LA they never saw a single brake light from me but got a lessen in the right lines and thanked me at the end.

Should read all of post before posting. edit to get foot out of mouth
After riding together for a couple of years my wife (then girlfriend) told a friend I am the worst person to follow through twisties because I engine brake into every corner so she can't ever tell if I'm slowing down and gets confused on proper entry speed. I had no idea, I only do that with slower riders because they tend to brake so early that touching the brakes isn't even necessary. I now tap my brakes a few times when slowing so those behind me are aware that the corner ahead does indeed require a reduction in speed.
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Old 08-25-2020, 10:58 PM   #15
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After riding together for a couple of years my wife (then girlfriend) told a friend I am the worst person to follow through twisties because I engine brake into every corner so she can't ever tell if I'm slowing down and gets confused on proper entry speed. I had no idea, I only do that with slower riders because they tend to brake so early that touching the brakes isn't even necessary. I now tap my brakes a few times when slowing so those behind me are aware that the corner ahead does indeed require a reduction in speed.
Good idea. Always smart to have a little talk beforehand to let the followers know what’s going to happen.
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