New Ride; New Girl; Same Track; Fresh Start 2014
WERA West at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Fresh New Bike
First race on my new bike!
The 2013 Kawasaki ZX10
built by Jeremy Toye
, of Lee’s Cycle
in San Diego
, is a friggin power house!!!!
I purchased the bike in October 2013; promptly took it to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway
to break in the engine before delivering it to Jeremy at Lee’s Cycles.
The initial ride was pretty crazy because the rear end was so sloppy it just wanted to pivot around the front end!
Power delivery was smooth; but the initial throttle pick up was jerky and abrupt.
worked some serious magic on the chassis set up and providing a good baseline set up using the GP Suspension
from Barry Wressel
, of KFG Racing
, out of Washington; and the JRi Shock
will be showcasing their performance parts for the ZX10 with a full exhaust system, clip ons, frame sliders, rear sets, and fully aerodynamically designed brake lever guard!
The service manager at Lee’s Cycle commented it was the best exhaust system he’d seen for the ZX10 – and that was after Jeremy tested a multitude of systems while going through the development of his ZX10 that he’s been racing for the last several years.
December 2013 I was able to take my new, partially built, race bike to Chuckwalla for Femmewalla
and Jason Pridmore’s STAR School
for two consecutive weekends of testing.
When I say partially built; I mean the suspension and the chassis geometry were set – the most important part – but while the exhaust was installed, mapping and critical power delivery were not yet finished.
This was perfectly fine for the purpose of simply adjusting to this new machine. Another critical factor – which did not seem critical at the time – was that my bodywork was not yet finished with paint from Chad
of MC ProDesigns
; so I was running Jeremy’s old bodywork – which had really great seat foam set up on the superbike tail…. More on that detail later…
WERA West March 2014 – First Race
Fast forward to Las Vegas; and I get to ride my new bike; fully race ready (save for rear sets). My gorgeous MC ProDesigns
designed blue/white/black body work looks stellar against my custom Cortech
blue/white/black/pink suit; and to my horror I discovered the additional horsepower; combined with the superbike tail; and my short legs resulted in me being able to barely hang on to the bike under acceleration!!!!!
At first; I was sliding off on corner exits. As I slide to the back of the bike, my knee would slide around the tank to the point it felt like I was literally going to fall right off the inside of the bike!
We added some strips of stomp grip from Dale Keiffer
of CT Racing/Racer’s Edge
to the tank; and Tige Dane
came to the rescue with heavy grit adhesive sandpaper strips that we stuck to the butt of my leathers!!! Ha ha ha!!
Combined with roughing up the seat foam, these measures helped considerably; and provided greater confidence in getting aggressive on the throttle for corner exits.
As I got more aggressive; I started sliding even more! Thankfully now it was predominately once I was more upright. As I opened the throttle, and slide backwards a good 6 inches, the weight transfer would make the front end come up!
With the stock rear sets still on the bike (Graves is developing them from scratch); my feet were too low and too far back, and the stock pegs are not grippy enough to be able to hang on with my feet! That left only my hands to hang on to the bike! My inner thighs were brutally sore from trying to hang on to the tank – a la horseback style – I haven’t ridden horses in years so those muscles aren’t strong any more.
As a result of this I couldn’t accelerate any more due to the bike getting out of control, my inability to reach the handlebars to keep control of it and flat out just not being able to hang on to it!!
For you non-fun-sized riders – imagine sitting on the passenger seat of your bike, with your feet near the swing arm pivot and trying to ride fast…. It just does not work!!! Ha ha ha ha!!
We did not have enough foam to fill up the 6+ inches needed to go between my rear and the tiny end of the superbike tail; so we built a foam bumper on the seat. It worked phenomenally! Until my constant pushing against it on acceleration caused the foam to shear right off the adhesive.
I had a similar issue on my R1 when I first started racing it. Graves bequeathed me an old tail section that had a bumper plate installed for another fun-sized professional racer; and by the time I got up to the pace I am now; I had that issue covered.
At the time I was sliding a bit on the R1, I was still a novice; about 7 seconds slower than I am now; and about 40+ horsepower less than I have now.
It doesn’t take an engineer to understand the physics going on here…
Combine all this with having our Friday practice canceled and I’m left with a few rounds on Saturday and Sunday morning to get myself in order.
I had 4x 10 min practice rounds each morning – and we spent the first 3 trying to figure out how stop me from falling off the bike.
The rest of the weekend was refining the sliding; but it still is a very real and significant problem.
Open (A) Superbike
My first ever race on the new bike; which was quite good, actually
The rest of the race…. Not so much
I rode incredibly sloppy; twitchy on the throttle, abrupt & sharp with the brakes… just overall extraordinarily sloppy.
In addition to all that the quick shifter only worked a handful of times out of all the shifts I attempted to make!
I was relieved that Superstock was next; and another opportunity to relax and just ride. I was beaten in Superbike by riders I normally crush. This did not feel good… not one bit...
Open (A) Superstock
My start was considerably better – except that moment I went to shift and the quick shifter did not work. Which left me dead on the drive; and in pretty much last place
Nowhere to go but up, right?
I took a deep breath and just made sure to hit my marks, while having a heightened awareness to my throttle and brake application.
This race went profoundly smoother; I came away feeling satisfied that I made significant improvement to relax. I was still beat by some guys I used to spank; but this time I was tail grabbing their butts around the track; and holding myself considerably closer to the pack; rather than being ditched like in the first race.
Jeremy and crew came to the rescue and got the quick shifter working perfectly for the remainder of the weekend.
I signed up for W SS at the last minute to get some seat time on an open track. The class; and the classes sharing the grid; are usually pretty light, resulting in a pretty empty track. This time was an unusual exception in that there were only 3 of us total. Two guys in Heavyweight Twins Superbike and myself in the Women’s class.
My start was ok; and I drag raced a guy on a Buell to turn one. I had the inside so I stayed on the throttle until I saw him back off. There was no way I was chasing anyone!
I had the track completely to myself. I focused solely on hitting my marks and riding smooth… and breathing.
As each turn passed by; I picked small areas of each corner to improve on. Going deeper into turn one; and off the back straight. Driving harder into turn three; picking up the throttle at the apex and keeping the chassis tight mid corner.
This is my first bike to have a slipper clutch; and it is a phenomenal tool!!
I came away from that “race” feeling profoundly satisfied with my riding; and feeling like I made considerable progress throughout the day.
Jeremy said my only job this weekend was to get my head on straight – and to ride the bike to get comfortable on it. Lap times and finishing positions did not matter.
..... tbc ....