Practiced the top section today from Devil’s Playground to the summit. As I have often said, after making the summit on race day, it takes the excitement out of seeing it at any other time. I actually don’t remember the view or anything like that; we will enjoy it on race day. What’s important is that Chris Rizzo and I have found a really good rhythm with each other and a really good set up with the bike.
The top section is a combination of high speed and medium speed corners, with only one section of slow corners and only two of the dreaded right-hand hairpins. This allowed me to work on high-speed driving, which requires some unique efforts on my part. Reading the road is a big deal, as some of the left turns are 4th gear and long, whereas some of them are 4th gear and very short. If you get them mixed up, you either go way slower than you needed to, or you go rolling down a hillside. The top section of the course is the one I have the least memorized, so it was good to get in several runs.
The right hand hairpins let us practice the all-or-nothing way of sliding the bike into the turn. It requires you go at the corner faster than you want to, brake heavily while downshifting to 1st gear, and going past your turn in point. You then hammer the handlebars to the right with the throttle closed… the cardinal sin of sidecar road-racing. If you get it right, the bike drifts like a road car and you’re set. At the moment I think we are about 80% of where we need to be to do this effectively, and about 50% of where we need to be to actually look smooth at it, though I still haven’t seen our video or any still pictures of it. My guess is we are going much slower than it feels.
The important thing is the overall, and we have the bike doing well on high speed and slow speed sections. The grip level isn’t where it needs to be for the front tire, but we are doing okay with what we have. It’s predictable, so the sketch factor is only moderate.
The other sidecars are doing fairly well. Wade Boyd and Christine Blunk of Subculture Racing are coming up to speed well. They haven’t raced their sidecar in over a year, and have never been to Pikes Peak (though Wade has raced the Isle of Man TT 13 times). The are still a ways behind us in outright speed, but not as far back as I’d like to see them considering it’s their first time to the Peak.
Hans Shultz and Steve Stull are on a street-based machine and they are struggling. It looks like the geometry is off and it causes the bike to steer like an overloaded school bus. They are having fun, but as Hans said yesterday, “we are just here for the show.”
I have not been taking many pictures, and even if I had- the lackluster internet here and the absolute failure of every handy piece of technology I have- would negate me from uploading them (are you listening hootsuite?) So, with my laptop screen broken and my coffee cup empty I will sign off for today. Tomorrow is the bottom section, and qualifying. The only money available to us is for fast qualifier in our class, so I am taking tomorrow seriously. Unlike previous years, every timed run will count, not just the last one of the day. Your fastest time is your qualifying time. The clutch can only survive so many hard starts, so we will try to lay a good time down once we have our course memory dialed in.