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Wsmc Practice Day


prand
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Cobie,

 

As requested, I'm reporting in after a practice day at the big track at Willow. First of all, let me say that I have spent way too much time just trying to go fast and getting by on guts and a "feel" for the track. I've also spent too many practice sessions trying to put up good lap times and not enough breaking down what I was doing out there.

 

So this time I went out there, determined to slow down (that's not easy, you know) and pick my RPs, POTs, and turn-in points. Well, I did succeed in slowing down, but I'm not sure how much I succeeded at the rest of it. I had trouble locating RPs. Maybe it's just that track -- I don't know. On T1 I decided to turn in later, so I braked at the 4-cone, downshifted at the 3-cone, and slid over at the 2-cone. Previously I would tip it in at the 1-cone but I decided to count to "one" after the 1-cone then turn in. The first time I did this, I went wide and had to roll off. I hadn't turned in sharply enough to match the later turn-in point. On the next lap, it worked to perfection: brake > downshift > slide > 1-cone > count to 1 > turn in. Because I was carrying more speed, I had to pull on the outside of the tank pretty hard to keep the bike on line but it was beautiful. I didn't find an RP but I did find a POT -- the 1-cone followed by a count of 1.

 

It was also very windy yesterday. At one point I was going down the end of the straight-away, about 6 feet from the right side of the track when a gust of wind blew me to about 2 feet from the edge. Sheeee-it. I also had to tilt the bike slightly to the left while going down the straight just to keep going in a straight line!

 

Next came turn 3. Same problem. Lots of skid marks and none of them very useful. Again, I would brake, downshift, slide, and turn-in. I used the 1-cone again and waited until just after the cone to turn in. The point is that I had a specific reference to use as a baseline (the 1-cone) so I could make a SMALL adjustment.

 

Turn 4A is really a straight shot up, then you swing wide and get ready to chop down through 4B, so I was looking for an RP to turn in for 4B. Coming out of 4A, there's a line due to a surface change that I like to cross to make sure I'm high enough before entering 4B but I still needed to know where to turn in. I saw what looked like a diagonal line that kind of points towards the apex and I kinda used that but didn't have too many chances to work on it late in the day.

 

Turn 5 I tried taking as a double-apex for the first time. I would clip the rumble strip early, drift out a few feet, then turn in again so I can hold the exit to T5 tight. You need to do this so you can get your turning done as soon as possible for T6. T6 is a right-hander with a crest and you want to be as straight up as possible. Coming out of T5, the track goes uphill on the way up to the T6 crest, so I tried to get my turning done there to take advantage of the berm which acts like banking. T5 has a could of black lines (skid marks?) that criss-cross right about where I want to turn in, but I didn't get as specific as I wanted.

 

T2 and T8, as far as I can tell don't really have turn-in points. I just pick the distance I want to be from the inside of the track and turn when the track turns, then steer with the throttle. T2 has a small apex on the exit, though, and T8 goes into T9 which can be gnarly. I once dragged my swing arm on the rumble strip going through T9 (Yamaha's have that lower piece of the swing arm that hangs down).

 

By spending time looking for RPs, I was looking through the turns less. Normally this is bad, but I figure this is a part of FINDING RPs. Once I've found them, I can then spend much less attention on them, see them quickly, then get back to looking through the turn (as part of the two-step method).

 

I also learned something about body position. Before, my inside thigh would get tired. This time I kept telling myself to be light on the bars, and when I did, I felt like I should be off the bike more. So I did. I felt the bike get more vertical right away, but I noticed something unexpected. Instead of holding my body weight up with my thigh muscles, it got easier because it was more like sitting on my heels like you do when you're squatting. I was using less muscle on the inside leg, pulling more with the outside leg, and hanging off more.

 

One question for the coaches: I brake first then downshift while I'm braking. I've always done it this way. But in ToTW it says to downshift then brake. Seems to me that if you downshift first, you're rolling off the gas and slowing before you brake. Doesn't that take away a little speed you could otherwise maintain by staying on the gas a little longer and getting right onto the brakes? I feel I would be giving away a little speed by reversing the order.

 

Thanks guys,

 

Paul

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Hey Paul,

 

I have two words for you: "track walk".

 

I find it much easier to locate and identify physical features for potential RP's at a new track while walking the track or riding it on my bicycle. Searching off track or off line for visual details is difficult and distracting if I split my attention at speed while still learning where the track goes.

 

Also, surface imperfections like bumps or camber changes that might be almost impossible to precisely locate or notice at speed become obvious while walking the track.

 

That said, using your "wide view" to see the big picture at speed is also helpful to "notice" things without losing your focus while looking through the turn, etc.

 

What page of TOTW does Keith say to downshift before braking? I can't find it.

 

Cheers,

racer

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One question for the coaches: I brake first then downshift while I'm braking. I've always done it this way. But in ToTW it says to downshift then brake. Seems to me that if you downshift first, you're rolling off the gas and slowing before you brake. Doesn't that take away a little speed you could otherwise maintain by staying on the gas a little longer and getting right onto the brakes? I feel I would be giving away a little speed by reversing the order.

 

Thanks guys,

 

Paul

 

Hi Paul,

 

You covered quite a bit there (thanks for the report). Let's first look at your question: where in the book did you see that on braking and downshifting? (Racer already asked that, but I have the same question). Let's have a look at that, then we can go from there. I looked at the chapter on Braking and didn't see that, I did find some material on pg. 68, see if that applise (Twist 1).

 

C

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What is the reason you're waiting to slide over after braking and down shifting?

 

"brake > downshift > slide > 1-cone > count to 1 > turn in"

Since this was a practice day, I didn't need to wait to slide over, but that's what I've done in the past because I'm usually braking pretty hard going into T1 and I was supporting my body with both hands. Should I slide over before braking?

 

Paul

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What is the reason you're waiting to slide over after braking and down shifting?

 

"brake > downshift > slide > 1-cone > count to 1 > turn in"

Since this was a practice day, I didn't need to wait to slide over, but that's what I've done in the past because I'm usually braking pretty hard going into T1 and I was supporting my body with both hands. Should I slide over before braking?

 

Paul

 

If you slid over before, would that remove a major body motion from the entry to the turn? Also, is the bike more or less stable under braking? Would it be more stable to slide over under the throttle? Have a look at the top racers on this point, see what they do. Let us know what you see/think.

 

C

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