Fast Pixels for a Slow Girl

The race pics are up. Feast your eyes on the awesome work of Kendrick Kirk who runs MotoHD.net and was our track photographer for the weekend. I have a feeling though, that Kendrick would have rather been out there with us playing on the track than being stuck behind his Canon. I always buy the track photos to support the guys and girls who give us the opportunity to get some kickass pictures of ourselves doing what we love to do. Besides, you get your lens into way more places with a media pass than Mr. Slow ever dreamed of. He, of course, makes up for his shortcomings with the size of his lens. To the Slow One’s defense, he did  catch me with my knee down. 😉

WERA at NSS 2011


Get ’em out Cold, ride ’em Rough and put ’em up Wet!

Race Report (Part 2 of 3)

Miss Busa’s Inaugural WERA Race:
Saturday Practice

Up at the crack of dawn. I drag myself into the shower and after getting ready, Mr. Slow hands me a steaming cup of hotel coffee. I love you, man! He knows what Miss Busa needs. The Zombie can finally rise. As we head out the door, I am assaulted by a blast of cold wind and the drizzle immediately adds to my already sunny (insert heavy sarcasm) disposition. Good gawd! I’m awake now! I shiver in my Under Armour HeatGear. Damn! I should have went with my original instinct and packed the ColdGear also. I’m in for an interesting day, I’m sure of it. Cold and wet! Still. It looks as if the storm had blown through, as they had predicted, but I wasn’t expecting it to remain this breezy and cold. What was I thinking when I checked the weather report?!? Guess I’m not in Georgia anymore. Brrrrrrr! It’s freaking cold out here. Not even 50 out. The sky still looks foreboding in places, the tattered remains of a storm that made for a restless night. Mr. Slow informed me that I pretty much kept him up all night by waking up shivering several times.

I keep my spirits up because I am in good company and am looking at a weekend at the track. I’m not even nervous. I’m just excited. The nausea, however, returns as we pull into our pit and I notice the hustle and bustle of people busying themselves with various tasks in order to get ready for their races. The unmistakable sound of race engines spinning near red line barreling down a front straight tells me that a practice round is already under way, and I stand by my bike feeling somewhat lost and sick to my stomach. Yes, I’m really here. This is it. The moment I have been working towards, waiting for, spending ungodly amounts of money on, is finally upon me. I feel cold and distracted. At least it quit drizzling for the time being. Margie tells me to go register and find out where they set up Tech. I groan, bitch about being cold and drudge down the middle aisle of the garage, making my way to the south end of the building. I walk slowly, hoping I would spot the object of my given quest before I have to ask some stranger for directions. Joe is behind me, reading me like a book, so he hits up the next person for the info. Tech in the front, registration in the next building over. I breathe a sigh of relief. I can’t help but wonder if Margie didn’t do this on purpose…

We find the registration desk in the Press/Media building and get in line to get our remaining paperwork done. Since I pre-registered online, all I have to do is fill out a transponder rental agreement. I trade the signed form for a transponder and a bracket to mount the thing to the Pirate’s left fork leg with a couple of cable ties. I have to get in the other line to add the Heavyweight Senior Superbike Novice race to my lineup so I can use my Kevin Schwantz graduate coupon that entitles me to a free first race entry. Just like the dealer on the corner. The first fix is on the house. After that you’re hooked and paying through the nose, bankrupting your children’s children for just one more…

Once I return to the pit, we get busy checking the bike over one more time and adding the number plates to the lowers… or at least the two of them try. It’s cold, it’s damp and the vinyl just won’t stick. They manage to peel the paint off on one side while repositioning the background of the numberplate, so now there is a huge primer-colored rectangle where there once was metallic black paint. Margie finally ends up glueing the infernal things to the sides of the bike using a glue stick. The things are wrinkled horribly, but legible. Hubby bets that they’ll be gone after the first race. We shall see.

They are announcing my practice group again. Shit! First call. Margie tells me to calm down and breathe. We haven’t even put the sponsor stickers on. I’m looking for the anti-fog/water repellent stuff for my face shield, but I can’t find it. I crawl all over the truck, digging around, but come up empty handed. I’m cold. My hands are cold. I’m shivering even with Margie’s windbreaker over my leathers and I’m on the verge of freaking out because the bike isn’t the way I want it.

Off to Tech to get my bike inspected. Of course, I had forgotten to take the lowers off. I ride back to my pit and Margie and Joe remove them for me. I ride back to Tech and get in the line that had formed in my absence. Bike checks out fine, but I need my receipt, to verify payment of my entry fees. Crap! I offer to run across the garage to my pit to quickly fetch it, as my left foot executes a familiar movement but fails to find its target. I realize with embarrassment that I don’t have a kickstand anymore. Doh! The tech dude chuckles as I tell him that I’ll be right back. Out the other side, around the corner, and back to the pit.

WERA Tech Sticker

Would you look at that, we passed Tech 🙂

The receipt is tracked down in my now disheveled folder and then the whole folder is crammed down my neon-green Ed Bargy newbie shirt by Margie. Take it all. Arrrgh! How am I gonna get that out later? Off to Tech, yet again. The third time’s apparently the charm and I get slapped with two Tech Stickers, one for the bike and one on the chinbar of my helmet for the gear.

I end up missing the damn practice, and now there’s plenty of time to get everything sorted, so my inner peace is restored. But I’m cold. I can’t think straight and I’m whiney because I feel miserable and out of sorts.

I end up finding myself stuffed into the Sponsor’s truck, because I’m pretty much worthless in my current state, somebody shoves a hot cup of black coffee into my paws; courtesy of the racer from across the way. “Say thank you, Miss Busa. Good girl! ;)” My pit crew tells me to quit my incessant whining, drink my joe and stay in the truck to warm up. As my core temperature slowly rises into operating temperature I’m starting to feel better. Margie eventually joins me and we pass the time by talking shop. Practice for Group 2, Round 2 is announced and we hop out of the truck to get me ready to rock and roll. I’m feeling nauseous again. They dress me, put me on my bike and send me out to do or die. As soon as I roll out of my garage it starts raining. Motherhumper!!! You have got to be kidding me! As I make my way to pit road, I start getting cold again. My hands feel slightly cool and the wind is blowing in a way that would make a Nor’easter jealous. I realize, as I sit at the track entrance getting drizzled on and shivering, that I’m not enjoying this at all. I can handle the cold. I can handle the wet. Combine the two and you have found Miss Busa’s personal version of Kryptonite.

When we finally get the go ahead from Race Control, I crank up the bike, put it in gear and slap my visor down as I ease into hot pit lane. My former preoccupation with my bodily discomforts is replaced by a mental focus that isn’t quite as narrow as usual, but nevertheless it is there. The nausea that usually accompanies my anxiety has also disappeared. I settle in and concentrate on the task at hand: getting around this thing without wiping out.

As I come around a long lefthand sweeper, the first turn is upon me, I miss it, and almost run through the orange cones that block further access to the NASCAR oval. I grab a monster hand of front brake, come to a nose-diving halt and have to walk the bike back a few steps to enable me to make my turn (a freakin’ u-turn?) without knocking over any of the cones. Great! I hope nobody saw that. Of course they did. I smile at the corner worker who is standing behind the containment wall at the apex of the ‘V’ that passes for Turn 1. Evil. My visor is fogging up, and the rain water is not evacuating fast enough. Translation: I can’t see shit. As I enter Turn 2 I get passed by a Gixxer. Hot pink. Pony tail peeking out from under the helmet. I just got passed by a girl? Wooohooo!!! My usual enthusiasm returns with a bang. I get on the gas; then it is gone as soon as it had come. The realization of having cold tires on wet pavement at an unfamiliar track and a visibility of close to none has a tendency to reign in my enthusiasm. Damn. For a moment, I wasn’t cold anymore.

I settle back down and try to navigate the track as best I can. The racing surface is rough, has cracks, the pavement seams that run in parallel are slippery and there is stray gravel in some of the corners. This track is shit. Well, the infield road course portion is, at any rate. By lap two I’m ready to pack it in. I don’t even collect any reference points. I’m shivering, I can barely feel my hands, and it’s getting a little moist in some places under my leathers. I have to continuously fidget with my face shield to keep the fog from building up. Another couple of victims to the “packing light THIS time” strategy: my helmet’s fog-free shield and the breath guard.

I’m distracted and preoccupied. Not the way to ride by any means, and a potentially disastrous way to race. Every time I pass Pit In, I am tempted to stick my leg out and call it quits. This shit isn’t fun. I can’t believe I’m putting myself through this AND I paid handsomely for the privilege! Good gawd, woman! You are nucking futs.

Nevertheless, I keep fighting with myself and keep pushing on. I am relieved when the checkered flag finally comes out. Not soon enough, buddy, not soon enough! The last lap must have been the fastest yet, since I was suddenly in a real damn hurry to get my frozen ass the hell off this shitty track. For crying out loud, there is a huge pothole in one of the turns, right IN THE RACE LINE!

Back in the pits, I get reprimanded again for whining. This time (I think) I voluntarily retreat to the sheltered comforts the passenger seat of the pickup truck has to offer. This is crap! I hate the weather, I hate the track. If I wanted to get blown by the winds, I’d join the damn Navy! (This sounds way more appropriate coming from a scruffy looking, muscular, bald dude with swallow tattoos on his forearms.) 1.8 miles of redneck rough ridin’. Hell, they have better (free) roads in South Carolina, and that’s saying something.

NSS Track Map

Finally, I get to look at some visual aids...

But I still don’t regret coming, despite of the weather reports. I just wish my first race weekend would have started a little more glorious on a picture perfect day… at BARBER!


Going The Distance

Race Report (Part 1 of 3)

Miss Busa’s Inaugural WERA Race:
The Day Before

The Garage At The Nashville Superspeedway

The Nashville Superspeedway has an excellent pit area. Nice clean floors and power outlets. No genny needed. If only they'd installed some garage doors. The thing is like a wind tunnel when the wind is blowing outside. No showers, but large enough restrooms if you want to change or take a cat bath, just have a friend stand guard at the door.

I was running terribly late as usual. There are two factors that I always seem to forget about when “planning” these sort of time-sensitive undertakings:

1. I am a Master Procrastinator, and
2. Everything always takes me way longer than I think.

Correction. Make that three factors:

3. Murphy is my co-pilot. He rides pillion wherever I go, and he backseat drives, too. That bum!

As luck… Murphy would have it, my husband finally gets the OK from his boss to take the weekend off to come with me to Nashville, it seems that some managers do not believe that us mere mortals have a life outside of slaving for the Man, hence ample notice seems of no import to them. But who cares, Mr. Slow is coming along, although I would not have been going alone anyway.

Margie, whom I met at the Ed Bargy Racing School in February, read on my blog that I was planning on going to my first race alone and she wouldn’t have it. She emailed me with the offer to pit for me. Of course, I was elated. Hell yeah, woman! I’ll take you up on that. We hit it off at JenningsGP, the fastest (pun entirely intended) friend I’ve ever made outside of the military, and this would be an awesome opportunity to get to know her better and I knew we would have a blast hanging out together between races.

Hubby has to take a power nap since he’s been up all night, so I busy myself with packing and loading the truck. The Pirate is pretty much race prepped and ready to go. Since I was running behind schedule (nothing new there), I decided that slapping the sponsor stickers and my competition numbers on her newly painted (and hopefully sufficiently cured) race bodywork could wait until we were at the track; ditto for the safety wiring.

What happens next I duly blame on the eight or so hours of sleep I had in the past three days. I ride the bike from her “pit” in my backyard through the gate in our privacy fence into the driveway. I’m getting pretty good at this, since I have to open and close the gate while I’m on the bike or holding onto it, or else I risk the cats making their well-timed fatty-catty escape. They are getting used to the sound of the Beemer and this strategy may not work for very much longer.

I slowly ease the Pirate over the curb and ride into the street, fully intent on making a u-turn to park her behind the Sponsor’s truck on our side of the street. Suddenly, I feel myself going left. What the f…? I try to correct, but quickly find that I can’t. The handlebars are not moving, stuck in place; as if the steering lock has engaged. A hundred errant thoughts run through my mind, not comprehending why this is happening. I know what is happening, it just doesn’t make any sense. While I am preoccupied with the “why”, I completely forget about the “what”. Stuck in a terminal left turn, I bounce over the far-side curb, onto the neighbor’s front lawn and notice that I am on an intercept course with one of the (as of yet) skinny trees they’ve planted in all of our yards. “Shit!” Still not comprehending what is happening, I throw the bike down and execute an awesome-feeling backwards tuck ‘n roll over my left shoulder. I land on my feet and find myself half-crouched in a classic defensive stance with my hands up at the ready. And whose ass am I going to kick?!? Good to know that some things still come naturally, even though I haven’t been to Karate class in over six years. Feeling like a total douche, I right myself, then slap the engine switch to the OFF position and turn the ignition off.

[And why in the hell didn’t I just drag rear brake and come to a nicely executed, ladylike stop???]

This is great! Just great! I guess I’m not going to Nashville after all. What in the hell?!? I’m trying to figure out what in the world I screwed up now. But I didn’t do any front end work. I didn’t touch the triple tree or the fork legs. I just throw my hands up in dismay. Murphy, you fucking bastard! You ever-loving asshole. I hate you!

I squat down to pick up the bike; I see Water Wetter enhanced distilled water trickling out from somewhere. Never mind that now. I’m still in a daze and I need to know what in the devil’s name happened here. I crawl all over the bike, checking it out. I can see absolutely nothing wrong. Am I embarrassed? No. I realize that I don’t even give a crap anymore what people think. So what? My race bike has buried itself up to its frame sliders in the neighbor’s yard. Yup, you got it. Looks like girl can’t ride… whatever. Don’t care. For some odd reason that thought is quite refreshing; It seems that I am starting to lose that annoying fear of public embarrassment one little mishap at a time. Good.

I decide to try the technique I’ve learned from the Ride Like A Pro V DVD. It doesn’t work for me. I cannot budge the thing. I toss my arms up in the air in defeat one last time, then calmly saunter off to get hubby out of bed to come help me get my crotch rocket off the neighbor’s lawn before anybody is the wiser or the Harley dudes look out their windows (whichever comes first).

Instead of finding him asleep, he’s on the phone with his boss. He seems agitated. More confusion. As I walk back out the door, I hear him say something along the lines of “I haven’t left yet, I can come in if you need me to.” Great, looks like it’s back to just Margie and I. I shake my head. I give up. I walk across the street and pick the bike up in my usual fashion. One hand on the clip-on, one hand on the subframe, squat and pull. I have massive thighs, might as well use them. I right the Pirate and walk her back to my side of the street and park her behind the truck ready for loading. As I check her over once more, Mr. Slow is coming outside carrying two parts of the ramp. I tell him what had happened to me, he tells me that he might not have a job come Monday;  apparently his weekend vacation was not approved after all. I ask him if he needs to go to work, but his response is negative. I am baffled.  My only response to his obvious distress is: “Fuck that asshole, you did nothing wrong. Let’s go to Nashville and have some fun, you’re raining on my parade, dude.” We load up the bike and while we’re tossing all the various other junk into the truck, I notice that he’s distracted; if you can call it that. I’ve never seen him this way. The man never gets down or runs out of options. He takes life as it comes at him. He’s always knows a way out. At least that’s how he’s always handled himself. He is the strong one in this relationship. This is unusual.

We talk. Well, he does. I do the listening. Then he says: “Tell me that I haven’t done anything wrong.” I tell him as much. Several times.

Then I add, “Besides, if you do get canned, you have officially run out of excuses not to take your photography to any serious level. You finally have the time to do what you’ve always wanted to do and even make some money at it.”

He’s not convinced. “What about your racing?”

“What about it?”

“It will seriously change our life style.”

“Will it? Really? It’s just stuff, besides you have always found a job. We have never had to go without. So what if we lose the house… I wanted one with a garage for a long time anyway. We’ll recover, we always have. So what if I have to quit for a while. We’ve been through worse.”

Still not convinced, and not wanting to “regress the Status Quo” he asks me one more time: “Tell me that I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong! Now shut your trap, we have a great weekend ahead of us! We deal with whatever may come on Monday; but right now Team PLD has some racing to do.”

We finish packing and loading the truck and head east. It takes him a few miles on the Interstate, but before too long he is back to his usual silly, annoying self. Good. We pick up Margie at her exit and have a road-trippin’ good time all the way to Nashville. I get a nasty leg cramp on the way, and she takes care of me, makes me eat bananas and we consume our fair share of “various other electrolytes” commonly found in junk food. Life is good!

We are an awesome team

Margie is doing great at her first opportunity to wire up a race bike. Don (#69) gave her a quick "crash course" and with a few tips from the 'Wild Woman', she's got the stuff done in a hurry. Our work even passed Tech the first time around. =D

When we get to Nashville, it is cold, dark, rainy, and the wind is blowing at gusty speeds. I’m miserable when I’m cold. Add “wet” to that equation and I just want to crawl under a warm blanket and forget the world around me. Of course, against my better judgment and in the name of “packing light THIS time”, I didn’t bring any warm clothes nor a windbreaker. Margie and I start safety wiring the bike. I only have the thick 0.041″ wire, which is hard to work with but twists up nice and evenly. Fortunately Don, who is pitted next to us, tosses his spool at Margie and makes her use his, while he explains to her how to do it. Don’s wire is thinner and therefore is much more pliable then the stuff Margie was trying to wrangle. Margie pretty much did most of the wiring herself. She had never done it, so she was happy to learn something new. Meanwhile, I amuse myself by taking the kickstand off, checking the tightening torque on various nuts and bolts and tying up some other “loose ends.”

Miss Busa does her best work on her back ;)

I think I may have fallen asleep under there for a few minutes while I was trying to get the safety wire threaded through the hole in the oil drain plug...

Speaking of loose ends, I eventually figured out why I had the “unfortunate incident” earlier that day; and figuring out is what the situation called for, since I was not going to trust my bike until I did. How was I supposed to race on hardware I didn’t trust? I wasn’t going to do it… well, I probably would have done it, I am a stubborn German, after all; but it would have been a stupid thing to do. With that said, the cause for the Pirate’s dirt nap on the neighbor’s lawn was quite silly, really. When I took the OEM bodywork off, I had to unplug the headlamp connectors. I crossed the cables over each other and placed them on top of the steering head, on the little section of frame between the dash and the triple tree assembly, with the intent to secure them later with zip ties. This was overlooked. When I rode the bike down the curb, the bump must have knocked one of the cables off its perch and it dangled there until it got stuck between the lower triple clamp and the steering damper, causing the front end to lock in position. Later, I found my assumption to be true by seeing the slightly mangled connector on the end of the right-side cable when I zip-tied the cables to the fairing stay.

Margie is getting down with the safety wire

Margie was invaluable during the whole weekend, she helped me with my bike, took care of me physically and gave my brain what it needed to push on. Even if I was a little bit whiney on Saturday, she kept at me. Damn those professors, they got your number and won't let you slide. 😉

Tired, cold, and slightly damp we finally checked into our hotel at around midnight, after getting provisions at a nearby grocery store.  It took my brain a while to wind down, but I still didn’t get any restful sleep. I kept waking up freezing. The alarm crashed my PJ party way too soon. It was looking to be a caffeine fueled day. Caffeine fueled with a few shots of adrenaline thrown in. I hope the four energy drinks and the coffee we bought would get us through.

It seems I never get much sleep before track weekends. This must be the norm, why else would Red Bull and Monster sponsor our crazy asses?

Lesson learned: Do it as you go, and if you don’t, you better write down all the stuff you’ve skipped for one reason or another. Don’t expect to remember it all, even if you think you will. Better yet, take a page out of a pilot’s book. Make a pre-race checklist. Check all necessary items off after you complete them. Only then, do you know for certain you did not forget anything.

Another lesson learned: Be meticulously organized. If you spend any time hunting for tools and parts, you’ll take twice as long (if not longer) to complete your work. With that said, setting up your pit completely before you start wrenching on the bike helps a lot, too. Not that it matters at my level, but this is a habit which will be indispensable when you have to change the setup of your bike between races to stay competitive, like making gearing changes, tweaking your suspension, or changing your rubber. If you can’t find your shit, you’re gonna be late.

Track QuickStats:

Nashville Superspeedway (NSS)

4847-F McCrary Rd
Lebanon, TN 37090

(615) 547-7500

NSS Facility Map
Nashville Superspeedway Facility Map
  • Gate closes at 10:oo PM Eastern Time
  • Gate entry is $20 per person for the weekend
  • From the gate, follow the road around the grand stands to the left. Turn right, go through the tunnel (sing the Navy song, honk your horn), the garages will be a little ways down on your right. Drive all the way around the fence and turn right by the Press/Media Building and slip in through the side gate… or you might end up doing the “rat in a maze” thing. 😉
  • Covered pit area (the garages)
  • Power outlets are available in the garages, come Friday night to get a spot
  • WERA sets up Tech at the south end of the garages (signage outside reads “Inspection Station” if I remember correctly.
  • Restrooms are also at the south end of the garages, but you’ll have to walk around the outside of the building to access them.
  • WERA sets up Registration in the Press Building, which is the building next door, also to the south.
  • Pit Road (entry/exit to the track) is also to the south of the garages, between the Press/Media Building and the restrooms.
  • Vending machines are available in the Press/Media Building, but selection seems to be iffy
  • They have a “roach coach” set up during lunch hours (late morning to early afternoon), but the food is grossly overpriced and what I had sucked. If you are a vegetarian you’re out of luck save for the Nachos, but I wouldn’t recommend them: the chips were barely warm, the cheese looked and tasted like imitation cheese, however, the salsa was pretty decent. I can’t speak for their coffee (we brought our own, nor their hot dogs and burgers, none of us tried those)
  • Motorized pit bikes/ATVs and bicycles are allowed
  • Pets are allowed

Plenty of hotels/motels are also close by. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Southeast for $69.99/night and they had what we were after: Clean rooms, clean showers, and decent mattresses. It ain’t no Ritz, but it is affordable and clean. 🙂 They also have wireless Internet access and LAN cables in their rooms; a TV, microwave, fridge and coffee pot, hair dryer and ironing board are also provided. They serve a continental breakfast in the mornings and the staff is helpful and friendly. Don’t forget to get your login information at the front desk when you get your key card, so you can use their Internet. I think their password changes monthly. We booked them through hotels dot com on the way on an iPad and had no issues whatsoever.

  • Oh, I almost forgot: The infield road course sucks. Watch out for potholes and loose gravel in some of the corners. The seams are slippery when wet and they have better roads in Glascock County. But you’ll get used to it.
  • Make sure you shift your weight to the rear and let the front end float over the transition at the end of the front straight, coming down from the banked NASCAR track onto the paved infield portion of the track, it will jolt you, but you’ll be fine.
  • Turn 1 is a peach when you come in hauling Mach 3 from the front straight and are  looking at making a u-turn.
  • Don’t fight your bike (this mother is one rough riding track in places) and stay off the damn wall. =D
This information is provided as is and was accurate at the time of this posting. I have provided it here to summarize the answers to the most commonly asked questions of people who are going to this particular track for the first time. Obviously, I cannot guarantee that this applies to other race organizations or track day clubs, stuff may change. You should call the facility and/or your racing/track day organization in advance if you have any questions.

Miss Busa Walks The Plank


Mutiny Aboard The Pirate

There be mutiny afoot... then there was a bottle o' Rum for me mateys.

Booty. Points. Loot. Rum.

Stay tuned for the full report. =D


-1+3=Weeee!

Excuse the unusual rambled writing and the lack of pictures. I just didn’t have time to take any. I suppose there’s always time to do a proper write-up with some decent pictures when I put the bike back into street trim, when I’m not so pressed for time. With that said, here we go…

I almost didn’t do it, but then I made myself. I had a plan, I needed to stick to it, even though I’m currently a day behind schedule in race prep. It took me six hours to do the gearing change. SIX stinkin’ HOURS! I’m really getting tired of this mechanic’s gig. My mileage has dropped off significantly since I came up with this crackpot idea to go motorcycle road racing. I’m working more on my bike than I actually ride the thing. I should just slap a Harley sticker on my tail…

Work. Wrench. Sleep. Repeat.

That is not how it’s supposed to be…

Wrench. Race. Fight in the pits.

Not quite…

Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

There. That’s all I ever wanted to do. With a (huge) emphasis on RIDE. But it was the natural progression of things… it had to end up where it did. Eventually. The street isn’t my playground anymore. The street is boring. The street doesn’t challenge my will to learn and to improve. I need to move forward. I need to progress. I need to improve my riding skill. I need to get faster, smoother, better. But I digress, as I so often do…

I took the lowers off, then the sprocket cover. There was so much gunk under there, the chain was actually touching it; a redneck version of an automatic chain oiler. It took me two hours to get all the mess out of there and make it look like new again. What can I say? I’m a woman and women have to clean while we’re “in there”. I really can’t help myself either. I’m too anal to skip it. I suppose that’s why it always takes me forever to do stuff on my bike. I either get sidetracked or I need to clean something. Speaking of which, I also cleaned all the other parts that I had disassembled and made liberal use of anti-seize when I put all the stuff back together. Then I cleaned yet again. *sigh*

There is no way I could go up one tooth from stock in the front. There is no room, unless one gets rid of the internal chain guard, but then there’s a huge risk of ending up with a hole in the engine case should the chain ever break. No thanks, I think I’ll pass. I definitely could go down one more tooth though, to 15T.

Pinion Nut

The 125Nm bastard of a sprocket nut in a size 32mm with a nuisance of a safety washer. And look at all that gunk! That will need some soaking in Kerosene and a thorough application of elbow grease.

The safety washer that keeps the pinion nut from backing out is a pain in the arse to remove! First you have to somehow bend the thing down, away from the nut without scratching or bending or breaking something else, so that you may spin the nut off and remove the annoying washer and the sprocket; and when you’re all done, you have to bend the silly thing back against two of the six flat sides of the pinion nut. I’ll have to add this thing to my regular shopping list of consumable items, which already contains such things as oil drain gaskets, fairing screws and washers, lock nuts, spring clips, and rubber grommets. Once I finally bent the dreaded safety washer flat, I put the bike in gear, sat on it, and used the rear brake to hold the wheel in place while I loosened the nut enough with my breaker bar enough so I could spin it off the rest of the way with my regular ratchet.

The rear wheel is familiar territory to me, not that I ever took the actual sprocket off its carrier, but taking the wheel off doesn’t take me all that long anymore, I’ve done it so many times. Same with adjusting chain tension and alignment. I’m even starting to remember the fastener sizes and the torque values. The new 47T aluminum sprocket fit just fine. It looks like there could be clearance for running a sprocket all the way up to maybe a size 49T, maybe even bigger if I ditch the plastic chain guard. But this assumption can be easily verified with a few measurements, now that I have seen the final drive in its entirety and how the different parts relate to each other.

Today was definitely a day of firsts. I broke my first chain with the chain breaker kit I had gotten from Cycle Gear on Black Friday.

I also riveted my first chain, which was a little more difficult, since the instructions were a bit unclear and I had extra parts that they didn’t mention. But I figured it out by thinking my way through it. I verified that I actually made the pins spread once they were through the link, by measuring them with my digital calipers. They are comparable in size to the other pins in the chain, so I think I might be able to trust my handy work. The master link is stiffer than the others, but it does not kink, I checked that, too.

But it does have me a little worried. Same worry I went through with my first tire change. Same worry I had with my first stem valve removal and install. Riding and checking the new part(s) often has proven that I did the job properly; well, that the result of my work was proper anyway. If the tire hasn’t fallen off its rim in 3,000 miles, I think it’s safe to assume that “I used enough rim glue”. If the tire pressure hasn’t dropped in over a week after switching to angled aluminum racing valves, it’s definitely got the air of a proper install about it.

I also calculated my own gearing and decided on the final drive ratio I am going to run at the Nashville Superspeedway. I relied solely on what I had learned from Ed Bargy at his racing school and used a gearing calculator to see how the change would affect things, at least in theory.

I better get a pair of angled pliers so I can get that blasted pinion nut safety washer off and back on in less than 30 minutes. Further, whereas the rear axle nut has a tightening torque of 100Nm, the pinion nut has a tightening torque of 125Nm. Which means, I’m in the market for yet another tool: A slightly more robust torque wrench, since mine only goes up to 102.8Nm. So, for now the proper torquing procedure is as follows: Tighten the fastener until you hear a click and then give it a little extra after. I also noticed I have lost my 18mm hex socket or never had one. I have a 17mm and a 19mm, but no 18? Have to score one of those bad boys before I leave for Nashville on Friday, so I can properly torque down my rear sprocket nuts before the race.

I geared up for a test ride. I was a somewhat anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I did know what to expect in theory. Real world application is usually a little different, however; and the interpretation thereof is highly subjective. I knew that I would be seeing higher RPMs for any given speed than I was used to. I assumed that my speedo would be even more inaccurate than it already was due to running a 190/50 rear tire instead of the stock size of 190/55.

On a side note: The stock 2010 BMW S1000RR does not have the high inaccuracy percentages in speedometer readings that plague all the Japanese bikes; for example my 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa was reading fast by over 9%. The difference between the Pirate in stock form and my GPS was about 1%.

I also knew that I had traded top end speed for some low end grunt and that the midrange would probably be torquier, too.

I decided to go ahead and do some preliminary road testing of my new throat mic and the universal Finger Grip RAM mount for my Droid X, since I needed a GPS to verify my actual road speed anyway. But that is for another post at another time. As it turned out, the speedo reading wasn’t affected at all, at least not where I could tell the difference. This observation leads me to venture a guess and assume that the ABS’s rear wheel speed sensor is used to calculate road speed and mileage. That the only reason why my speedo is off by about 5 miles or so at cruising speeds is that by using a differently sized tire I changed a constant in the formula and that this constant can be reprogrammed to actually match a differently sized tire. I had thought about asking my BMW dealer about this before. But why bother? I only have one Hayabusa-sized rear tire left, and I’ll burn that one up in one race weekend. Then the problem will take care of itself. =D

As I dropped down the curb and turned out of my driveway into the street, I realized when I came to the stop sign, that I had already forgotten the main reason I was going for a ride: the gearing change. Oops… I just peeled out of there like I usually do. Controllable, then; I’d say. Looks like I won’t have any worries after all.

After I turn onto the main road I verify that the DTC is in ‘Race’ mode, as it should be, and then I lay into the throttle a little. She’s definitely more ferocious sounding! Of course, that’s to be expected, the poor girl is now screaming along at higher RPMs than what she’s been asked to do before. I know I’m going to pay for this shift toward badassery in the Pirate’s attitude with plenty o’ Rum. I have a feeling she’s going to be a lot thirstier than she used to be. She’s a loudmouth now, too. Also a definite side effect of the higher RPMs required.

I like the way the new race chain transfers power. The feedback transmitted through the frame seems slightly different. Smoother. Less pronounced, maybe? Seems that shifting is even a little easier. But maybe I’m just in my groove tonight.

I had also decided in favor of the 520 conversion. From the factory, the S1000RR sports a size 525 118-link o-ring chain that runs on a 17-tooth countershaft sprocket and a 44-tooth rear sprocket. My bike’s stock chain was made by Regina. I don’t know if this is true for all 2010 S bikes, but if it is like the OEM tires, then there might be different brand chains, too.

Another superfluous side note: There are at least two different pairs of shoes that an S1000RR could be wearing on the showroom floor, at least to my personal knowledge. I lucked out and mine came with a set of Metzelers RaceTec Interact K3. I liked those tires, but I just can’t afford them. The other option that I spotted were Conti Attacks, but I can’t remember the exact model nor the compound.

I never liked the stock chain. The first time it rained, it rusted and after trying a few things to polish the oxidation back out, I finally gave up. It also stretched way too much, way too soon. I constantly had to adjust the tension. This behavior eventually dropped off to infrequent, though. The chain also feels jerky and loose in the upper adjustment range (around 40mm), it definitely seems to perform better on the tight end of the scale (around 30mm). I still don’t like it. I already like the RK chain tons better, and I adjusted it to about 39mm, which is looser than I would normally prefer.

Maybe the 520 conversion has something to do with the different feedback I’m getting from “down below”? The 520’s links are not as wide and the rear sprocket is aluminum, so I know the entire setup is lighter than the stock components, but I couldn’t tell you how significant the weight reduction is. I’ll weigh the stuff when I revert back to my street setup, just for curiosity’s sake.

My persistent worry of changing my bike into an uncontrollable rear-tire-smoking wheelie-machine was also grossly unfounded. I managed to ride her just fine, it looks as though I have learned a little throttle control along the way after all. I couldn’t bring myself to do a full-throttle run, though. It was dark and, although pretty late for a Monday, there was still too much traffic on the road for me. I do know that acceleration is much more aggressive with the new setup. Whereas before she blew your socks off, now you better hang the fugg on!

I think I’m going to like the setup I chose for the Nashville Superspeedway. It will make the track easier to run, that’s for sure. It may even help with my lap times. I did a few corner-entry exercises while I was out there on my 12-mile test ride from about a ton or so down to 50. This will work in my favor, definitely. I think this will also help me to stay in the proper RPM range, it feels better “up there” now. For whatever reason, I’m also not as nervous about downshifting… sometimes, for fear I won’t be able to complete my downshift before I have to turn-in, I just say screw it and don’t and then end up lugging through my silly ass through the turn, because now I definitely don’t want to downshift. LOL I know that this is related to my tendency of starting my corner-entry way too early and then taking my sweet time to slow down, so that I can shift and throw it over. Maybe it’s because I want to do one thing at a time. Maybe it is a holdover kink I had acquired when momentarily losing the rear on that blasted CBR600RR during a badly executed downshift with no slipper-clutch to save me from myself. Up until that point I didn’t even know what a slipper clutch was supposed to prevent. *moan*

I don’t know. I’m working on it, am slowly getting better at it. I will get this under control, but it’ll take a few more baby steps before I’m happy with my corner entry. I practiced doing all of it a little quicker and a little less sequential, if you will, because for some odd reason the new gearing makes me more confident… I really don’t get it. Oh well, why question it? It’s good. So it shall be until the next kink has to be worked out. This has got to be worth a second or two at least. 🙂 We’ll see later this year at JenningsGP. I want to get below 1:30. That’s five seconds. Can I do it???


The Plastic Seals Her Fate

I don’t know what is so dramatically important about actually clicking the order button on those pre-entries that have been sitting in my WERA account, patiently waiting for me to finish the registration process. But I really started feeling all giddy inside when I entered my payment information and then clicked the order button. My mouse hovered over it, hesitating for just one moment, then I closed my eyes and gave it one purposeful, determined click. I’m going to Nashville, with or without Mr. Slow. Alone or with my one-man chauffeur/roadie/pit-crew/track-photographer/sponsor entourage.

I’m not entirely certain how I feel about having to go by myself. Hell, I probably won’t even be able to find the damned place. Get lost, be late, stuck outside the gate overnight, late for tech, sleep-deprived, hopped-up on caffeine, and in a generally foul mood due to the lack of a good cup of coffee and the silicone stuck under my fingernails that I can’t seem to dig out.

First Race Entry

No. I take that back. I do know exactly how to feel about it: pukey. I shall bring some paper bags, just in case.

Now, somebody please help me get this freakin’ bike off the truck… I don’t  have all day…


Geared Up 2B Chained & Converted

After wrestling for over a week with the question of what to do about my final drive ratio and what sprockets and chain to get, I have finally made a decision and pulled the trigger. I’m glad this is over. I’m always stressing over price/value and which way to go. Should I go cheap or should I go for quality? It is true what they say about getting what one is paying for, but trying to strike a balance between going all out and keeping it reasonable and less painful on the bank is what creates an elevated risk for an embolism in the grey matter.

First, there was the gearing to consider. I’ve never been to the Nashville Superspeedway. I couldn’t find a decent track map online and the scarce info that can be gleaned off of message boards and various web sites is suspect at best; at least to me. Then there is the slight hangup I have about owning my solution and a tendency of not listening to people whose credibility cannot be verified. Not to mention that there is a bunch of contradicting info out there. And I’d rather mess up of my own volition than play the victim without a clue to somebody else’s BS. In short, I can deal with my own mistakes and their consequences. Nobody to blame but myself. That’s the way it should be. Since I don’t know jack about gearing and cannot yet distinguish the utter crap from the useful information, I have to be very selective about my sources.

I’ve learned this much in racing school:

  • Gearing is track specific.
  • The vast majority of stock street bikes are geared wrong. It is very rare for stock gearing to be correct for the race track.
  • Navigate the race track using the top half of the gearbox, meaning gears four through six; the gears are closer together there and hence RPM variances are less, making it easier to find the correct gear for any given corner.
  • You should be able to hit red line in sixth gear somewhere on the track, usually at the end of the longest straight.
  • Gear your bike to always be in the optimum power band.

With that said, I know I am missing essential information. How long is the longest straight at Nashville Superspeedway? Or at least what is the average top speed attained on a liter bike? I suppose I could leave well enough alone and go there with my stock setup. But I don’t work this way. Now that I have learned about this neat little morsel of racing info, I have to try and apply it. I’ve been doing fairly well lugging through some corners or screaming around in others or on the straights. Yes, I’m lazy. My shift light rapidly blinks to inform me it’s time and all I can think of? “I’m almost there… almost… I can make it… I don’t want to upshift just now, because ah… right here I would have had to downshift.” Most of the time, I street shift anyway… I am nowhere near the power band… I tool around the track in fuel saving mode. That tendency has to stop. No wonder I suck at going fast in a straight line. By the time I get the Pirate into her sweet spot where she pulls hard, it’s time to get on the binders again and stuff her into the next corner, where I –yet again– get to go around all those people who just passed me in the straights. I would like to get to a point in my riding where I only pass people ONCE. Less work that way. Unless I’m lapping them… then twice would be good. 😉

And why am I always catching up with them in the corners? Seems to me that I shouldn’t be… but that is a different blog post altogether.

I have finally decided to just wing it and go with theoretical values and bring my top speed down to my personal best, which somewhat coincides with values flung around online.

Now, where exactly would my shift points be on the S1000RR? That’s determined by the power band. To be scientific about it, I would have to get the bike on a dyno and see where she’s got what. I don’t have the money for that, nor do I know where to find one of those around here. Lastly, I just don’t feel up to finding out at the moment. My bike is stock, properly broken in, and dyno figures are a look at estimated real-world performance. Dyno figures do not translate directly. Not that simple. I just make it easy on myself and look at a few stock dyno charts. 9.5 – 13K. Good, that kind of meshes with my subjective experience and perception. The red line is at 14.5K and the front wants to come up around 11K. Further, BMW suggests to bring the revs up to 9K for a proper race start. Good enough. Now, I have a range.

I plug in some values into an online tool called the Gearing Commander and am torn between running 16/46 or 16/47, which would be -1/+2 and -1/+3 from stock respectively. I don’t like even/even distribution on teeth, so I opt for the 16/47 choice which seems better on overall wear and gets me a theoretical 4 MPH closer to that red-line moment I’m supposed to have at some point.

But it isn’t over quite yet. Should I stick with the stock 525 setup or go with a 520 conversion? 520 is obviously lighter since it isn’t as wide. The first number denotes pitch, which is the distance between two pins; the second number is the width of the chain. After sitting on the fence for another day, not being able to make up my mind one way or the other, the deciding factor came in the form of my LSR meet at the Maxton Mile in May. Weight matters there, never mind that I’m not going to be running these sprockets, but I want to keep everything the same size, so I can swap stuff at the track if I really need to. Another monetary consideration, definitely.

I’m not fast enough yet to even consider tweaks such as weight reduction to the point of measuring my fuel, ripping unnecessary parts off my bike, or to be concerned about the minute differences in chain acceleration, tension, and sprocket sizes. I’ll get to that when it is necessary. Right now I have other concerns. 520 it is. Cheaper also, less materials involved. And most of the good price/value ratios can be found in that size, too.

After checking that I have the necessary adjustment room on the rear axle and hoping that I have the clearance required to actually run a 47-tooth rear, it is time to order two sprockets and a chain. Two more days are spent wrestling with compromise between price and value and I finally decide on the following and pull the trigger before I can change my mind three more times:

  • Vortex Racing 520 16T countershaft sprocket
  • Vortex Racing 520 47T rear sprocket
  • RK 520 GXW XW-Ring chain (118 links, I will need to cut one)

This will give me a final drive ratio of 2.94 as supposed to the stock ratio of 2.59.

The theoretical top speed would be 159 MPH as opposed to 181 MPH with stock gearing.

Theoretical shifting speeds at 9,500 RPM: 56, 70, 85, 98, 108, 117 through the six gears.

Yeah, I’m going to have to wear a diaper to stay in the top three gears. =D But it should be an improvement over the stock gearing. Now, wish me luck so I don’t wad that shit.

My work here is done. Come what may. I will own it.