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No Matter What You're On, Racing Is Racing

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I have to tell you when a buddy came to me and tried talking me into racing Triumph Thruxtons, I was very skeptical. Thruxton's are vertical 865cc twins that have that tank like quality. The motorcycle weighs close to 500 lbs so when I took stock of a single rotor with a dual disc caliper, I was wondering how one stops this thing. I said, no thank you.


A year or so would pass and the question would come up again. "come on, you'll love it!". No thank you...again. But somewhere along the line, I changed my mind. I was given a bike to ride and I would be riding it at NOLA Motorsport Park. It was the Triumph Thruxton Transatlantic Challenge and I was going to be a back marker. I had no idea how to ride one of these things.


My regular race bike is a CBR1000RR and compared to that machine the Thruxton was a relic.....a 110/80/18 front tire and a 130/80/17 rear, a wonder the tires didn't burst under the weight. Sometimes when a bike gets tossed round a bit, the ownership becomes questionable. By that I mean, that most people just ride it so the maintenance becomes questionable. I think it was pretty much worn out when it was my time to ride it.


Most of my fellow Thruxton racers, in there zest to win, had improved their grid positions by all manner of oversized pistons, port and polish, and magical ignition timing programmed by a software guru who worked for Steve Jobs in the 80's.


I would race against these guys and ride the Thruxton as hard as I could, at one point thinking I would be bucked of on a double slip of the rear that sent me searching for anything to grab. Due to others misfortune and my carrying a little more cornerspeed than others, I was able to muster two third place finishes for the weekend on a bike I had never ridden before. The rules of riding remain the same. There was no need to worry just ride like I had been taught and everything would be fine, as it was. Because of the two races I had competed in, I was elligible for the Barber Vintage Festival this past weekend....the opportunity to race in front of 60,000 people this past Saturday.


more later

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You just cant hide "fast" . Thats awesome Fossil. I cant wait to hear about Barber.




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Not to hijack your thread but are you coming to NOLA this weekend? Would be happy to chat with you if you'll be around. I'm usually easy to find since few people are on the track on a Speed Triple - and going slow as molasses in winter :)

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To Brad VanHorn.....Sorry my friend but I am planning on the going to the 40th anniversary of the WERA Grand Nationals to be held at Barber Motorsport park. The first time it has been held there. Look me up on facebook or e-mail me so we can synchronize track schedules.

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After I got back from NOLA I decided that the motor needed to be freshened up a bit. If I could get just five more horsepower out of this thing I could be competitive at Barber for the AHRMA Barber Vintage Festival. I took the motor apart honed the cylinders, valve seats, ground the valves, put in new rings and preceded to lose a bolt down the oil return line that I recommend not doing...


The Barber Vintage Festival is something special. The 7th annual festival on Saturday had 53,000 people attend and This year had record estimates. I wanted to be apart of that. Thursday race practice was all about finding out that the Thruxton that I was on at NOLA would be very different at Barber. With so many elevation changes gearing and corner speed would be very important and I was having a problem with both. I saw the lap times and realized that to be competitive I would have to make up two seconds a lap. As hard as I had worked to get more horsepower it was not going to be enough.


Friday brought problems that I didn't forsee. I was feeling pretty good on the bike and finding my references when something happened....I thought the bike had exploded. I grabbed the clutch and got off the race line as fast as I could. I had been very lucky. The chain had come off and ripped a hole in the right Ohlins shock, almost sawed the swing arm in half, destroyed the air box, cut out the bottom of the battery, tore up the subframe, sprocket and hub. The bracket that holds the high pipe on the right side stopped the chain from hitting me in the back. There was no way I was going to be able to ride this bike on Saturday. I thought I was done.


As you might expect, there were several people that wanted to look at the damage. One of my fellow competitors came over and was very sympathetic. He asked me if I would like to ride his back up bike...wow! Ok, sounds like a great plan right? There were some issues I would have to deal with. Would it be worth the chance that I might crash his bike. Could I be competitive? if not, why even take the chance of racing? This was troubling because I wanted to race not joy ride. I decide to ride my race but to be careful in the corners


This bike was set up and a beautiful piece of machinery, a list price off the shelf for $8900.00, this bike was probably worth $22,000.00. My only chance to ride this bike before the race was a scuff in lap. The first thing I noticed was no tach.....This could be interesting. How would I know when I got to red line? I came back in and told my friend and bike benefactor that the tach didn't work. I was worried about over revving the bike. He told me to rev it until it quit pulling. He wasn't worried about the top end. If it broke it was time. The top end was done by a master engine builder, beautifully balanced. Attention to detail in valve spring selection, shimming and 5 angle cut valves made the top end feel fluid and smooth.


I learned after the first four laps of the first race how to ride the bike, how to get a feel for the throttle, where it quit pulling, gear selection, references and brake markers. I had very few points so I was on the last position on the last row and ended up coming in 9th out of 20. I had battled for position and had a great time. Because of my grid position, I decided that my only realistic goal for the next race was to try to achieve good consistent lap times for Sunday. I could not catch the guys on the front row.


Something incredible happened Sunday. I started last as usual but by the end of the first lap was in 4th place. I had never had a better lap in a race. I was making up time on 3rd place when the red flag came out. There would be a restart and I would have to start again from last place on the grid. I finished 7th. I had a great time racing in front of around 60,000 people on Saturday, a new record but was very happy with the performance on Sunday, only .5 seconds a lap off the leaders lap times in the last 4 laps. Realistically speaking there were 60,000 people at the event but probably no more than 20,000 paying attention to our race. It was still very exciting and another goal accomplished, another wish granted.


Lessons I learned from racing this bike....Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of skinny tires. Apply what you have learned no matter what you are riding. Trust your ability. Trust your tires. Ride within yourself. I enjoy recounting my experiences racing, CSS helped me develop the skills I use today. Hopefully you will find an anecdote or experience that helps you...

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Lessons I learned from racing this bike....Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of skinny tires. Apply what you have learned no matter what you are riding. Trust your ability. Trust your tires. Ride within yourself. I enjoy recounting my experiences racing, CSS helped me develop the skills I use today. Hopefully you will find an anecdote or experience that helps you...


AWESOME! Simply Awesome.


Thanks for sharing this and congratualtions on your successes.



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