The ride was nice, the air was cool. Helen had a Western omelet, hold the tomato, and I had eggs over easy. I like a breakfast ride, and I love spending the morning with my daughter.
Today is National Ride To Work Day. I did.
Let me say this: I don’t actually enjoy ride to work day. I don’t enjoy my ride to work. It’s 110 miles round trip of boring, yet treacherous rush hour freeway commute. I end up hot, tired, and bored with a sore bum and squared off tires. Inattentive car drivers try to spice it up for me, but that’s not the excitement I yearn for.
Today, for instance, on my way home, the Suzuki Sidekick miniature SUV in front of me ran over a very large hunk of tractor trailer tire tread. I was four car lengths back, and was alerted by the loud and rapid WUMP-BUMP-BUMP-BUMP-BAP-BAP of the tire carcass buckling and shredding under the car ahead. Suddenly several large pieces of tire tread (the size of my leg) many medium pieces (the size of my fist) and countless other tire shreds were ejected from behind the car in an explosion of rubber. I was pelted with the smaller bits, and thankfully avoided contact with any of the large pieces.
Quite an adrenaline rush. But not the kind I like.
I don’t think I like “Ride To Work” day much. When Andy Goldfine gets a “bad car drivers stay home” day together, I’ll be a fan.
Sunday was my birthday. I spent the whole day with my wife and kids, doing mostly non-moto stuff together. My big present from them was a new full face helmet, a SparX S07 in the “Nemesis” graphics. My experience with SparX helmets has been excellent. I wear a SparX D07 for dirt riding, and it has been the most comfortable helmet I have ever owned, including some that were four times more expensive. Also, in a wicked crash at a Supermoto race at Road America last year, I hit my head hard enough to visibly crush the expanded foam in my first D07, and was mobile and lucid immediately afterwards (so they tell me). I replaced it immediately with another D07 of the same design.
So my new S07 helmet is really handsome – photos don’t do it justice. And it fits perfectly, maybe even better than my D07, which was the most comfortable helmet I ever owned. Did I tell you that? I repeat myself a lot ever since the crash. Sorry.
Did I tell you I repeat myself sometimes?
Anyway, I got to try out the new helmet when Helen and I went out for an afternoon snow cone together on the Z. I love that girl. 🙂
I had a motorcycling day so momentous that I probably can’t do it justice in this little blog. I took my daughter racing for the first time. She asked me if she could do it. We put together the things she needed, and I gave her every opportunity to back out gracefully, but she had made up her mind. She was going to race.
At the track, there was a significant rain delay. Helen had lots of time to make new friends. Finally, the track was prepped for racing, and the kids got to go out and practice. Helen had a ball, and rode around waving at her parents and other people she had just met – She was having fun, but only taking it so seriously.
Then she had her first heat race, and something happened: She realized everyone was ahead of her. So she picked up the pace. And kept picking it up. By the last lap, she was gaining ground on the bike ahead of her, and she succumbed to the “red mist”. She blew through the corner after the downhill part of the track with more speed than she expected, and she lost her nerve – she target fixated on the outside of the corner and drove herself right off the track and very nearly into a straw bale.
To her credit, she popped right up, got on the bike, and finished her last lap. But she was furious. Nothing we could say would make her happy – she was determined to beat somebody.
She got her wish in the main event. She caught and passed one of her new friends, and was very proud of herself for the rest of the day.
Helen was awarded a trophy, and she was delighted. She retired the day with great satisfaction.
My day had just begun. I stayed at the track for the night racing, and raced in the Open C Class, which had the largest field of any class that night.
I had done a bunch of work on my bike in the week since the last TT Scramble: I put on a new hard terrain rear tire, rebuilt the front and rear brake calipers, replaced the brake rotors, and installed a 14 oz oversize flywheel – the goals were to have better traction, better brake feel, and to avoid stalling the motor on corner entries with too much rear brake. It all worked – I did not have a single stall all night, and my lap times came down consistently. I placed 4th of 7 riders in my heat, which qualified me for the last slot pick on the front row, and I finished the main even a very honest 8th place out of 13 riders. I don’t think I have ever had that many riders behind me before. It may not sound like much, but It was an improvement in my racing, and that’s the kind of thing that makes a bad racer like me very happy!
Helen and I rode to the “Vintage Bike Night” at the Saint Louis Moto Museum. We were happy to see many beautiful old bikes, and many people we knew.
Helen was drawn to a beautiful old (very old) Harley Davidson sidecar rig, owned by Rick Schutt, the president of the St. Louis Gateway Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.
Rick caught us admiring his antique machine and offered to take our picture ON his bike! We were thrilled!
Helen and I had a snack at the Triumph Grill, and reviewed all our pictures. We had a great time.
I spent the evening racing dirt track at Belleville Enduro Team. I met up with my old racing friend Matt Pursley, and his fiancée Amanda.
The weather was unbelievably hot – My thermometer said 98, and the track had a problem: An errant driver had knocked down a nearby power line, and the track had no electricity. This meant two things: No night racing, and not enough power to pump water into the track watering trucks at a reasonable rate. The result was a super dusty, slick track, and an accelerated program.
I got in two practice laps. It was slippery. There were several crashers in just those two laps.
Matt did a fabulous job in his heat races. He won the Vet 25+ race and finished third in the Expert Class, behind two guys on bikes set up purely for dirt track. I like to watch Matt race.
My heat race wasn’t so great. It took a long time to start because the officials weren’t sure how many riders they could put on the front row. We had a big class. They tried to put as many riders on the front row as they could. It didn’t end well – or start well. There were two riders down in turn one. The guy who fell the hardest hit me on his way down. I took his bar-end right in my forearm. It smarts.
The race was re-started minus the rider who hit me – he must have got the wind knocked out of him – he was attended to by the track ambulance crew. I think he was OK though.
Racing went better. The power came back on just before dusk, so they were able to turn on the lights and run the full program. I was happy about that. And, in my main, nobody hit me. Matt won his Vet 25+ race and finished third again in the Expert race – he battled well with a guy on a DTX bike and was going to catch him, but the DTX rider fell ceding the position to Matt. His winnings more than covered his entry fees. Yay Matt! My race was OK. I could tell I was riding better than I had during practice or the heat race.
Matt and Amanda and I packed up and had beers together in the pits before heading back home. It was fun to race, but even more fun to spend time with great people like Matt and Amanda (who are getting married this week! Congratulations!)