Thursday saw us handling the asphalt section in the top 3/4 of the course. This felt much more natural after the previous day’s practice. The sun had not risen yet as we began our riders meeting in the half light. This was an interesting group. Semi pros, vintage heroes, off road guys, quad guys, and Joe Average all milling about waiting to hear the word. There were people from several countries as well as 3 women competing.
We lined up and had a go in our first session, which I don’t particularly remember. This section of the course has a few fast spots, but the memorable section is definitely the W’s. Watching cars sling around these turns as a kid is what I remember most about the course. Now they are paved and guard rails line some spots. There is a long section though that puts you in top gear. You are approaching a 180 degree left that kinks right before you enter it. The bike drifts out to the right edge, which has no berm or guard rail. To tuck in on this straight section I would put the top of my head into the wind and sit on the chair wheel’s fender. I turned my head to the right so I could still breath, but you are looking off into space. It reminds me of flying helicopters in the army. The worst part is the bike drifts to the right edge while the driver prepares to enter the a slight left jog, then hard on the brakes while turning right, and down to first gear. we got the chair so close to the edge that by session 3 I had to lift my head up and look straight down the track… it bothered me too much.
The W’s continue up like this, making a terrace of tight lefts and rights that require an extreme forward lean due to the steep incline. The real reward was the descent though; driving back down for the next session allows you to see the panorama and the still rising sun. These were among the most breath taking views I had seen in my life, and I was disappointed that the camera picked up so much of the morning haze.
We seemed to have decent speed in this section and it was obvious Steve and I were getting a feel for each other’s riding styles. Dave Hennessy and passenger Jim Viettiwere encountering problems however. The machine, a street bike, was having serious braking and turning issues. The stock front end made steering very high effort and the chair would not stay down in lefts (left side chair). This was really disappointing for them, and we left the mountain deep in though on how to correct the issue.
We hatched a plan to add weight to the sidecar, and several calls yielded us a pair of 50lbs bar bell weights. A few big bolts and hours later we had one under the chair and one mounted to the inside fender of the hack wheel. There was dirt only in the final day of practice tomorrow, so we were only going to get a rough idea of how much- or how little- we had improved their machine….