Well here goes a little update for those of you who are still tuned in.
I managed to get back out to the track on Monday the 27th. Earlier in the week I pulled the bike apart and started the process of checking valve clearances and finally getting around to installing the APE tensioner. I figured that while I was at it, I would swap out the plugs too you know... because why not?
The new guy that I am seeing decided it would be really cool if we did a wrench-day in his garage, and seein's how I've only got a patio and it's been upwards of 90 degrees here I figured why not? I mean the fact that he's a cutie and has loads of tools is also a bonus. So we compiled our provisions of beer and food for bbq and got started in our respective work stations on our respective projects. Every now and again I would get up and help hold steady a V10 BMW motor that he was working separately on tearing apart to turn into a coffee table. Can I just take a moment to digress and say: "whoa!" I've not been much for cars but I will say that it was pretty cool, although I didn't get any pictures - sorry. Only this one (the motor was long since dismantled and set aside by this point):
Somewhere around 11 o clock on the night before the track day the mighty ninja was fired up and she purred like a kitten. A shit-eating grin adorned my face as it sank in that, 1. Nothing had exploded, and 2. It was track time again.
We loaded up the bikes and called it a night.
The track day was probably one of the best track days I've ever had, if not THE best. Yes, I stuck it out in C group for yet another full day but it wasn't a big deal because of the people who were out there, only about 4 of them were first timers which meant that C group was actually hold a pace and level that allowed me to really hone in on my passing skills. This was a slightly different configuration as well.
Right out the gate the bike ran great. In fact, everything felt great. I managed to wait around a bit before heading out for the first session (which is always a sighting session) so I wound up going out on my "parade laps" solo with my own coach as opposed to with a group of people. This wound up being substantially beneficial since he did a great job of adjusting his pace to pull me a little faster and a little faster as opposed to keeping a meager pace to accommodate the noobs. As a result, my first session was a spectacular warm up with us making pretty good pace around the track until we caught up to the rest of the group. Luckily the session was over so I didn't miss much.
By the second and third sessions I was running a little faster than my pace during the last sessions of the track day prior. I just kept pushing harder and holding out a little longer before braking in the corner and it just kept clicking so I'd give it a little more and a little more until the majority of the time spent going around the track I was detecting more of a head-shimmy in the front end. Although, that shouldn't be confused with speed per se but moreso that I had reached the point where I was maxed out on the rebound adjustment for my suspension. I could feel the bike skipping over the bumps but I didn't care because it was manageable.
I passed a few people and then a couple more and settled into some nice open space. Everyone was riding pretty well so passing became a lot more fun as I was dealing with riders who were much more consistent and a lot less knee-jerkish in the corners. For this reason I think it might really be time to bump up to intermediate group. I don't seem to have trouble passing riders who are consistently holding lines, it's the slower erratic, stiff folks that scare the shit out of me. Everyone has told me this but I just really don't want to be the dangerously slow arsehole the group.
Finally, at one point I decided to make a pit stop at the suspension guy. I told him what I was dealing with, as well as another issue I was having and he basically informed me that there wasn't much he could do to adjust the bike any more since my suspension is still stock. I've been halfassedly looking into options for upgrading the suspension but I started to think a lot more about it as the day wore on.
I really don't even have words for how happy I was at the end of every session. Sure, I was really hesitant to push the front end in corners and there were times where it made me feel like I was hitting a plateau but then I started to focus on other areas to improve such as line selection and exit speed.
At one point in the afternoon, the boy suggested that I take his bike out on the track. I was pretty reluctant because I'm not one for riding other people's bikes but I agreed anyway. Because a little compare and contrast never hurt anybody, right?
His bike: 2012 ZX6R with GP shift. I have ridden GP shift plenty of times but after almost a full day of riding my bike, I was consciously having to remind myself to reverse my shift habits. I did pretty good until I started getting into the groove and then I came into a corner and unconsciously clicked in the wrong direction which put me grossly underpowered and damn near in neutral for the corner. It wasn't a big deal, but I sure as hell looked like a complete noob. Of course, as soon as it happened a control rider happened upon me (because timing is everything, right?) and jumped in front of me to give me guidance. "I know, I know" I muttered in my helmet as I shook my head and throttled down the front straight. As I approached turn two, the same thing happened. I knew there wasn't anyone behind me so I just let her run wide into the runoff zone while I reoriented my gear selection, looked over my shoulder, and got back onto the track. The instructor was up ahead and looking in his mirrors with concern. I gave a friendly wave as if to indicate: "I'm retarded, carry on without me." But he held back and towed me around some more. I'm sure he was trying to figure out exactly what the hell the deal was with my pace as I managed to pick it up and then apparently fall back unexpectedly on those two occasions when I had a tard moment. Add to it the awesomeness of the tail-light mockingly brandishing "Bye Felicia!" and I couldn't help but laugh at how absurd my display must of been.
Still, the bike was pretty bitchin'. I really enjoyed how it handled (much more flickable than my prehistoric 04) and the power curve was quite nice (although I wouldn't recommend dipping low enough to pick up that weird throttle lag). I have never been good at switching bikes but I after those two very minor incidents I managed to bring her up to a nice pace and settle in for some fun. When I returned to the pits and told him of my excursions he cracked a devious smile and clicked off the go-pro. "Oh, that's glorious!" I chuckled sarcastically. He gave me a menacing grin and said: "I'm going to make an account on that forum JUST to share this video." I laughed, hopefully he puts it up in this thread to sustain the continuity.
More of the same from this corner, although I always FEEL like I'm going faster, lol. Oh well...
I took my bike out for the last few sessions and decided that I would put every last bit of my energy into giving it my all. There were only a few of us out on the track during the last session of the day and as I approached another rider on a Ducati who was being towed by an instructor, I decided I would take the opportunity to set up to make a pass. We were all moving at a nice pace that was just a LITTLE bit slower than I would have liked to go so I inched up on him and decided that I would make the pass as soon as we cleared the last tight corner. I left about a bike length maybe a bike and a half between us as we dipped in and railed around the corner. In my peripheral vision I watched him as I stayed focused on the line I wanted to hold in order to make my move. Then I saw an abrupt change in his line that drew my attention to him. His bike drifted wide then abruptly closed back in to my path. There was a brief dusting of smoke before I saw the bike tip completely and the rider bounce up and land on his back and slide. It might not have been so bad if the bike hadn't snagged and then immediately flipped with both of them still in my path. Given that I'm no pro-racer, I immediately acknowledged that I could definitely lean in further and tighten my line to avoid colliding with him, or his bike. I reoriented my focus to the exit of the corner and where I wanted to go and made my way by as they slid off the track. The instructor ahead had pulled off to the inside and I went around and got back to business. I figured that the guy was okay but as I barreled down the front straight I saw the red flag which signaled the end of my session. As it would turn out, he was fine but it was just a precaution while they cleared the track. Once I brought the bike in I decided to call it good. With only a couple of laps left in the session it wasn't worth rolling the dice and I was feeling pretty fatigued so I decided to call it while I was ahead.
I took the opportunity to add a little HD filter to this pic for my own interests, but Phil Hill is a pretty nerve-wracking section because I come up into it blind and a lot of people run off or low-side there because of the fact that you tend not to see through it until you're at the crest. I've spent a lot of time focusing on the different approaches one can take to this corner and as the day wore on I came to absolutely enjoy it.