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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to do an update to my race season on my 2004 RC51 sp2. It probably will have some ups and probably a bunch of bummers as racing season is actually quite difficult. At least it is for me being 50 years old and this is the start of my second season on my bike.
My bike is a well used and modified race bike for its entire life. I bought it out of Florida. I think it sat for quite a few years as it needed a lot of attention. I fixed what I could see and then fixed what broke. Last year it broke at every race I went to. Over winter I fixed quite a lot of pieces to get it reliable.
Friday we practiced at Blackhawk Farms in South Beloit Il. It is seven turn 2 mile track. Tight and technical. More right turns than left. I haven’t ridden this bike on a track since last Sept. My best lap is a 1:17.8. I started out very slow and conservative to make sure my bike was working well. No issues. I tried to increase my pace. I never felt comfortable. I couldn’t get my times down. I am out of shape and had big time muscle fatigue of my legs. I couldn’t throw the bike around easily. My feet never felt comfortable as I was always moving them trying to get leverage. My best was only a 1:20.8. Horrible. But the bike didn’t break!!
Drama moment came when a guy riding a new Ducati V4R dripping in carbon fiber body work, after market wheels, and Apropovic exhaust making 235 hp slammed into me at a fast right apex, standing me up into the grass at 120mph. I rode it out the best I could with lightly touching the rear brake and not turning. No crash. A-hole was pitted near me. He came by to see if I was OK. I had words with him and didn’t talk to him again.
Saturday was drizzle and cold. The track was wet. I dont have rain tires. No racing for me. My legs hurt and I was feeling beat up and tired from practice.
Sunday race day I skipped practice as the track was still wet. I was in the first race: GTO. Track was dry. I had a mediocre start racing against 1000cc fours. Following around to the backside of the track on the first lap, I see A-hole rolling through the wet grass with his Ducati laying on its side in the grass. Red flag. Start over. I got blown away by the big modern bikes. Scored third place point since two guys crashed out. Still didn’t feel fast and wasn’t.
Next race was Formula 40. Forty years or older and any bike. I got smoked there. I just didn’t feel like I had the leg strength to move around like I needed to. Riding this bike at race speed is quite demanding.
Third race was Heavyweight Superbike. I started to feel better during this race. I was able to pass and hold off a guy, while trying harder to catch the guy in front of me by just a few lengths. My competition mode turned on and the bike felt better. My legs didn’t hurt as much. Finished 6th out of 11.
Last race of the day was Classic Unlimited. Any big bore bike older than 06’. So I was racing two older R1s. I was on the track with 600 Superbike also. Two wave start with the experts clearing turn one, then the 600s on the front and the old bikes in the back row separated by two grid spaces. I got a GREAT start. I was position on the outside of the track grid. One R1 got a jump on me, but he drove into traffic on the inside of turn one. I kept driving in deep and fast on the outside, passed eight guys, and got in line with some guys going for it. My determination kicked in, I didn’t feel pain, I was able to move around a little more, and I kept up the charge. Felt real good. R1 dude passed me on lap three. I could follow him around the entire track until we hit the straight away, where he would pull me by a few lengths for each lap the rest of the race. I finished second. Best time 1:19.8. Still pretty slow.
No real mechanical failures. I do see a little bit of leakage out of my clutch master. I will get that fixed. I need to change my brake pads. I run Metzeler TD for long wear characteristics. They are stickier than I can use at this pace. Saves me money in the long run. They still look like I can get another practice out of them.
My biggest barrier to getting up to my previous times is both physical and and mental. My lack of conditioning was a major problem, and I was not in that competitive mode because of it. I start a PT program this week for an off season injury that prevented me from getting into shape. My goal is to get stronger for races in a few weeks.
I still love this bike. Best comment I got on it was at Friday practice tech. A guy yelled out to me “AHRMA isn’t until next month!” My bike is pretty old. Like me.
Next race in a few weeks.
 

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I'm not qualified to give you any riding advice to get faster, but here's a few hacks I use:

I've done quite a few track days in the past few years, and I always start out slow, then pick up the pace as the day goes on. Usually one of the slowest A-group guys in the morning, and after lunch only a few people pass me per session, on the old pig. Only out there to have fun and develop some skills, not racing, but certainly hunting down riders and trying to pass them while riding a slower bike. I did ride the Metzler TD's on my buddies RSV4 and they are way different than the Dunlop slicks I run (med soft front, med rear). The TD carcass is super soft, whereas the Dunlop is pretty stiff ( Pirelli's are on the soft side, but not as bad as the TD's). I don't know how that translates to your riding style, or suspension setup, but it might be worth a swap. They can last me 3 track days depending on how hot it is (so far up to 110F), and how many red flag sessions we get. I have not tried any other slicks or TD's on the track, only street tires.

The PT is a good idea too, I was cramping at track days, and a friends buddy came out to watch us, and I was complaining of pain and cramping. He is a physical therapist, and he worked some magic on my forearms, then told me to hydrate more and stretch before riding, and between sessions. This has helped a lot as I'm 55 and have so much trouble getting motivated to work out on a regular basis. I also bought a 20" (or so) inflatable exercise ball and put it between my legs and practice squeezing it for 15-20 seconds at a time at different levels of intensity. Eventually you can work your way up to a minute or more depending on how often you do it. This really helps you grip the tank, and gain strength for hooking one side of the bike with your leg, then pulling yourself up with no arm use. Really saves the forearms!

I also drink a water with an electrolyte tablet or two between each session, which helps reduce cramping, and the pounding sensation when your noggin gets overheated on hot days. Fatigue and cramping can ruin the fun as well as kill your endurance.

Pro athletes have found it worthy to visualize "winning" or completing a perfect lap in their minds just before a race, and it probably does get you in a better head-space. I have never tried it as there is way too much going on between sessions, and too loud for me to concentrate with all the bikes going by...

I hope some of this may help you, and post up some pics from your next race!
 

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I don't actively "race", just do as much track riding as I can. I'm 63 and I totally understand the cramps and fatigue, but conditioning is of the utmost importance. Hydration and electrolyte is also key to a successful day, along with the right nutrition to complete the day without running out of fuel in the body. Road course riding (and racing) is very isometric in nature as there is a whack of constant muscular strain with little total movement compared to more active sports. I'm a martial arts instructor so I know of what I speak on this subject. Do all you can to get your body in the best shape you can and your times will drop and the enjoyment will increase correspondingly. Above all, relax as much as you can. Tight muscles are slow and tiring muscles. With your track experience I'm sure you already understand the body mechanics and position shifts, but timing is everything. Make sure your body shifts are well ahead of the corner entry zone and that way you're not fighting the bike trying to hit the proper apex point. True, we have a power and rpm build disadvantage compared to the modern bikes, but ridden competently, we can still hold our own in many situations. Remember, fast isn't always quick, but quick will always make you faster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply’s. You both are saying exactly what is going on. My riding was so sloppy and not my usual. I’m still pretty sore today, but I started some more stretches and light exercise until I’m recuperated for a full work out. Having strength and stamina will make racing much more enjoyable. And my lap times will drop. It sucks starting the season with and injury, but some PT, stretching, and strength training will benefit me in all ways. I will get there soon. Hard work coming up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just finished another weekend racing CCS Midwest series. This weekend was much better than last time. I had no trouble with my conditioning. Two weeks of working out paid off! During practice on Friday and Saturday morning, I was spinning my tire out of a couple of fast corners. It was 90* all three days. I was running a Track Day tire, and the heat was too much for that compound. I switched to Pirelli SC2 green tires for today. No traction issues and much better lean angle and power delivery at those lean angles.
I spent a considerable amount of time on body positioning. I wasn’t working the fastest times since i was working a new technique. By the end of the weekend, I was able to race much more comfortably by staying in position though out a series of corners. I did my body shifing prior to braking and also held my half off the seat position until I was moving down a straight away. That way I wasnt fighting the bike by moving at the wrong place or time.
I finally got used to my HealTech electric shifter. Full throttle upshifts No clutch!
On Saturday with my worn out tires:
GTO I was pretty much last, and I had the least HP bike out there
F40. Pretty much last again or near the back for sure. Same story, I have the small HP in the unlimited class
Heavyweight super bike I finished mid pack out of 13 guys. I felt a little more comfortable
Classic Unlimited. I finished first!! It is the first time I have every won a race. Only three of us. One 2005 R1 and an older GSXR1000. I hole shoted both of them and caught the 600 superbikes in the front of the wave. I kept my head down and they never came around me!! I placed mid pack overall including the 600 Superbikes.

On Sunday with new Pirelli tires:
F40. I finished mid pack out of 14. Lots of track drama.
Heavyweight superbike I finished mid pack out of 13
Classic Unlimited I finished first out of 3. Same R1 and GSXR1000.

To summarize,
I did pretty bad, I did some mid pack, and I won a couple. It all depended on the competition and my ability to ride. I have a ton more work to do. Every time on the track is a learning experience. I am starting to feel more comfortable with my shifting and basic throttle applications. I will continue to work on my body mechanics. Nest time I want to work on lines, early throttle application, corner speed, trusting my tires and feel at full lean angles.
 

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Awesome, sounds like you're going in the right direction.

I am sore from my track day this weekend as I have not been doing much street riding, or anything but work lately and it's showing. Also frustrated as my slicks never showed up, and worked until 1 on Saturday, then packed up and left for the track. In the morning sessions my lap times were improving, but then I got really fatigued and tired after lunch, and my times suffered. I would pull 3 good laps, then nothing but crap for each of the last 3 sessions. The S22's did awesome, but I need to get more exercise, riding, and not let work take over my life.

Keep posting your progress, I'm too slow to race!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Racing is hard!! But, the more I do it, I get stronger, I get smoother, and I get faster.
I am only mildly sore today in my right quad. My throttle blister hurts. Not bad in general.
I looked at my bike some last night in a sleepy stupor, and thought about how to become more efficient and not work so hard. I decided that I will build a foam butt stop so that I dont slide back into the seat while I am accelerating. I have to hold onto the bars very tightly. If there is a pad for me to slide to, it should take away the strain on my arms so that I can steer and brake easier, I will feel looser on the bike, and the stamina of my arms will last longer during the weekend.
I saw that my lap time on my final race was a second faster than I had turned the entire day. Maybe the tires made a difference. Maybe a lot of factors made a difference. It was still fun, but I feel it will be more fun if I could drop my times by another second.
 

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Have you seen these? There are many things you can do to shave fractions of a second, and they all add up....



BTW, your bike looks awesome!

Although I've heard a duct taped, zip-tied, rat bike thrasher is worth an extra second per lap...:LOL:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the videos. I am working on my body position. i am sort of old skool and sort of old. Not sure I can move like that and still throw this big bike around. I am working out, so next track session, I can try to copy those positions. I always have more to learn and try.
 

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I just sold the SM to my buddy, and he took it to the small track with me. We were having so much fun slicing and dicing each other!
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