Pikes Peak Part 4: Final Practice

The section from Devil’s Playground to the summit is all dirt, and has some fairly fast sections as well. It was quite cold in the morning but after we took to the course it was soon forgotten. This part of the course was easy to get confused. There are some first gear switchbacks and a 3rd gear sweeper that look similar on the entrance. I made the mistake a few times, but my driver Steve Hennessy didnt. Good thing he had the brakes. The sweeping left is one of the most fun corners on the course, with a serious drop off to the outside and a semi-blind entrance as the radius changes mid corner.

Things were still loose as there just weren’t enough cars this year to lay down a blue groove of rubber on the hard packed earth. The 3rd session had of break down almost immediately on the start. The wire for the ignition kill switch broke loose and we lost all power while still running through the gears heading to the first corner. We had it back together but missed that run. Soon after I noticed a loud squeeking sound as we drove up to the start line. When we rolled the bike back the front wheel locked up.  Kicking some rocks loose from the brake pads looked to solve the problem, until I noticed one of the bolts holding the brake disc on had backed out, and was rubbing against the mount for the caliper.

We went back to the truck and were able to find replacements, which we installed with Loc-tite to make sure the problem was solved. Missing two sessions was ok though since the organizers ran the day smoothly. We got several runs and the summit was even more breath taking than the previous days of practice. I was really feeling the bike now and had come into my own in the dirt.  Steve and I moved as one while exiting tight turns, and I was able to relax my arms in right turns and still keep my balance. I was even styling it up a bit, doing the one-handed cool guy hang off. I was in a dream. What a cool way to race Pikes Peak! I would love to see it from the drivers seat, and I would love to race a quad or vintage car or bike, but driving the chair on an MX hack was definitely the right way to start out.

Dave and Jim were happier with the sidecar after removing one of the 50lbs weights, although the underslung weight had caught the ground in the bumpy parts of the course. The worst part was not knowing how things would work on the pavement. The TL1000 needed to be sharp on the asphalt to make use of it’s more powerful engine, but we wouldn’t know how the modifications would work until race day. We cleaned the bikes up, added some grooves to the TL’s rear tire, and gave each machine the once over for race day. Saturday would be a chance to sleep in and I was looking forward to it. The 3am wake up call is crazy; I didn’t even have to do that in boot camp. Come Sunday morning, I would be in for a surprise. I knew the event was big and there would be fans, but I simply wasn’t ready for the amount of people and the money invested in the fast cars. This was big time racing…

Coming up: RACE DAY.

-Johnny K-

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