What I learned at Putnam...Thanks RonHix - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:28 AM Thread Starter

 
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What I learned at Putnam...Thanks RonHix

Posted this on NESBA too...it's a long one:

I learned a great deal this past weekend at Putnam (04/06), and most of it comes from the tips gathered at RonHixís seminar at LVC. This might get longÖbut here goes.

I had 5 oops moments throughout the day, but I had a great time, and increased my speed drastically. The oops moments actually helped me learn a lot, and gather great confidence in myself and the bike. Iíll cover those with the lessons learned.

Trailbreaking Ė Ron mentioned this at his seminar, and went through the basics. My previous assumption was that if you touch the front break while going into a lean, or leaning, youíll tuck the front. I also assumed that great riders could learn the art of trailbreaking, and it would take me a while to get there. No so true. I was one of the guys that accelerated to a turn, broke/downshifted to my comfortable speed, entered the turn, and then added gas half the time because I was going to slow. This also meant that I was basically stuck in my turn/radius because I wasnít truly controlling the bike throughout the whole turn. I practiced trailbreaking all day, and became pretty comfortable with it almost immediately. My biggest barrier was the mental aspect of entering a turn ďto hotĒ, or so I thoughtÖbut because Iím slowing going into it, my breaking lasts longer thus slowing me. I would pass my breakmarker and entrance to the turn going much fast than I had in the past, so my brain would freak out, but I quickly learned to accept this, and understand that I will slow enough because Iím not breaking then waiting for the turn, rather breaking all the way into the turn. This also helped me control my corner speed because I didnít have to break, then add throttle because I was too slow, rather as Iím entering the turn Iím able to scrub speed all the way until I was happy, then get on the maintenance throttle. This leads me to my next bike control technique.

Maintenance Throttle Ė Ron covered the importance of this and how to use this to help you in the corners. Before, I would break, wait for the turn, half the time give it gas, and half the time be happy with the speed I was at, sort of be on the throttle, then stand the bike up and gas it. If I was going to fast in the past I would let go of the throttle and think that because Iím giving it less gas, I wouldnít go so wide. This is true actually, but I didnít put it together that releasing the throttle tightens the turn, which is what causes you to not go wide (similarly, getting on the gas stands the bike up pushing it wide). This is how Ron explained it, and it really helped me control the bike more. If I was trailbreaking in too hot, or mid corner felt I might push wide, I could release some maintenance throttle, get back on line, and the accelerate out of the corner when ready.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:29 AM Thread Starter

 
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The break and throttle control helped me avoid 2 accidents, and gain much confidence. I would watch the MotoGP guys adjusting lines mid-turn, and wonder how they did it, and now I know. Before I was stuck in my line, and if something happened, I was probably going to crash. Now, I have much more control of the bike through the throttle/break, and can control what I want to do mid turn and adjust causing me to be faster and safer.

I had 2 oops moments in mid turn, both going right at full lean. I felt the front go, adjusted and kept going on the first. On the second, the bars wiggled/jumped left on me, then right, then left, and finally I controlled them. Scared the crap out of me, but because I was in control, and was able to keep moving and exit the corner safely, and without losing much speed. While talking with Aaron after that session, I was showing him what happened, and he pointed out the Ron said to keep the elbow tucked. I had my chest on the tank, head pointed where I wanted to go, but my inside elbow was pointed out into the infield, instead of tucked in and down towards the pavement. So, I was actually pushing the front away from me, and I feel thatís what caused the front to get out of control like that. I adjusted this, and focused on it the rest of the day.

I also had 2 oops moments in the last turn onto the straight (which is the worst place to crash at Putnam). The first was a mental lapse. I watched the guy in front of me, thought about how awkward his line was, and the next thing you know I drifting out of the corner, wide, full lean on the rumble strips, and moving towards that quicksand over there. I stood it up, expected to sink in the sand and tumble in the wall, but thank God that didnít happen. I went offroading, kept my feet light on the pegs, ran parallel with the track, and as the wall closed in I merged back onto the track. Very scary considering thereís only wall right there and almost no run-off. So I slapped myself for that one, and realized I need to continually focus on the basics (like looking where you want to go, and keeping focus). Each turn is its own battle, and you need to focus 100% of the time out there. Any lapse in mental thoughts/processes and you could end up off the track. The second oops has to do with staying in your limits and pushing when youíre comfortable. I was not 100% comfortable with those last 3 sweeping corners coming onto the straight all day. I was chasing down a guy on a Repsol that was really fast, and kept with him the whole lap up until that portion. I said to myself, here just ride normal, donít push yourself, youíll catch him in other corners. But as we came to the last right before the straight, he slowed for whatever reason, and I thought if I get a solid drive out of that corner, Iíd be right even with him. I got excited and gassed it too quickly before I should have, causing the rear to slip, then catch, and buck me off the bike. I was able to gain control and continue my pace, however still scares the crap out of you when youíre looking down at your bike!! This is a lesson in riding to your ability, and pushing it when youíre comfortable. Go fast in the fast corners, and slow in the slow corners. Donít push it in areas where you are uncomfortable.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:29 AM Thread Starter

 
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The last oops came when I was chasing down Grasshopper. We had a few good laps, him in front of me, then him waving me buy, then getting back in front, and we were doing a pretty decent pace. I came flying through the kink right before the bus stop. I knew there were some slower riders up there because Grasshopper and I had been gaining on them, but I didnít expect them to slow so drastically. Because I had been trailbreaking all day, I was entering the turns faster and breaking later and longer. Some people out there were faster than me, others slowed much more for the corners. Since this was a SLOW corner, they riders in front broke hard. I came flying through the kink, stood the bike up, about to break, then realized they were breaking REALLY hard. I wanted to go faster through the turn, and had set myself up to go faster, but they were there, and I didnít want to sneak in under them, and there was no room on the outside because of them 2 plus Grasshopper, so rather than slam on the breaks, risk packing into them, or standing them up or anything, I just took it off road. I knew there was plenty of room for me there, and since I was going wide I just kept going, turned around, waited for the corner workers to waive me back on, and kept on my way. This lesson taught me to be aware of those out there a little more. Donít get me wrong, its not like I didnít know they were there, or they were going to slow down a lot, I just didnít expect myself to be pushing that pace coming up onto them. As we came around the few corners before them, I had thought they would be just through the bus stop allowing Grasshopper and me to follow right behind them and hopefully pass them on the straight into the bear claw. But, the slowed more than I expected, causing me to run wide. Not there fault, and not mine, just a lesson to be learned.

Now all this seems like maybe I was dangerous or out of controlÖbut thatís absolutely not true. I was more in control than Iíve ever been of the bike, allowing me to push myself and try new things. This extra control gained me some confidence because I realized that the bike does give you signs before it gives out/crashes. If you can control the bike, you can adjust to those warning signs so you donít crash. Before I was afraid of pushing it because I felt that Iíd reach a limit and crash without warning. But thatís not the case (sometimes it is I guess). Overall I went from 1 min 34 second lap times to 1 minute 25 seconds at the best, and averaged 1:26. The techniques Ron taught allowed me to gain almost 9 seconds in 1 day!!!! So a big thanks to RonHix, Grasshopper, and all the CRís in the past that gave their advice. I was able to put it all into action on Sunday, and it realy helped.

Cliffs
- Trail breaking works, and itís actually kind of fun
- Chest down, elbow in / tucked
- Releasing the maintenance throttle tightens turns, throttling stands the bike up making turns wider
- Riding is very mental, you must stay sharp
- Donít get excited, push where your comfortable, and go slower where youíre not

Thanks again RonHixÖ..and thank God I didnít push too far.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:37 AM
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great write up man!...just makes me kick myself even more i wasn't able to go

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:42 AM
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great write up man!...just makes me kick myself even more i wasn't able to go
+1000, but I pick my new track bike up Friday so I will def make the next one!
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:42 AM
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great write up man!...just makes me kick myself even more i wasn't able to go
Wouldn't your track sponsor pay for race school?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 09:25 AM
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Very good write up. I enjoyed reading that. Ron knows his shit no doubt. I feel like I was maybe trying to push you a little bit too much.

You're at a dangerous stage rite now in your learning curve. Let's face it, we all go through it. You are trying new things and experimenting with how the motorcycle reacts when you do "this" or "that". That's good, you should know how your bike will react.

Your concentration should be on not going as fast as you physically can rite now. When I took Rick Breurs Learning Curves advanced school in 2003 he told us at race pace we should be riding 9/10s. If you are riding 10/10s you are on the verge of crashing.

Avoid making unneccessary movements on the bike. Don't move around too abrubtly because the suspension on your bike doesn't like that. You want to move around on the bike as smoothly so you can so you don't upset your suspension. This can help you save on tire wear especially on the exit of corners. When you are exiting a corner and moving your body weight back onto the center of the bike be smooth about it. If you are abrupt the traction on the rear tire can get loose and cause the tire to spin or the suspension to do funny things. Crawl around on your bike smoothly like a cat to keep your suspension and tires happy.

Remember your suspension is happy when you are leaned over "on the gas". When you are leaned over if you chop the throttle shut the motorcycle hates you. A motorcycle carves through a corner and is essentially steered with the rear tire "on the gas". This is where the "maintenance throttle" comes in. If you can keep that little bit of throttle open through a corner it keeps the chassis and suspension happy. The more smooth corner speed you can carry the longer your tires will last because you aren't hacking the throttle on and off to regain your speed/momentum when you stand the bike back up. It's all about corner speed, that's what makes this sport so much fun.

You need to be patient and try and keep yourself from crashing and soil sampling. Progressively pick up your speed. You seam to have all of the fundementals down you just need to put them together. The more seat time the better.

Build up your spares box. Clutch, brake, shifter levers, foot pegs, rear sets, clipons. Don't end your weekend over a simple lowside.

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Last edited by Grasshopper; 04-10-2008 at 09:40 AM.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by PolishPete View Post
But, the slowed more than I expected, causing me to run wide. Not there fault, and not mine, just a lesson to be learned.
That is one thing I always try to keep in mind when running in B group over there, you can sneak up on slow traffic so quickly from T4 to T7. That 5-6 combo can be taken very fast and lots of B riders run it slow and then park it before T7. It seems that I've had the least amount of open track in that section, lap after lap.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 09:58 AM Thread Starter

 
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Thanks for the input Grasshopper. And no, you weren't pushing too hard. It was fun and I was comftorable...so all good. I really was the most comftorable on the bike than I've ever been, so that made the day extra fun. Seat time is key, and we plan on doing 2 to 3 trackdays each month this summer, so hopefully I'll be able to improve a lot more too.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 09:59 AM Thread Starter

 
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Originally Posted by shadrach View Post
That is one thing I always try to keep in mind when running in B group over there, you can sneak up on slow traffic so quickly from T4 to T7. That 5-6 combo can be taken very fast and lots of B riders run it slow and then park it before T7. It seems that I've had the least amount of open track in that section, lap after lap.


I agree with you on this...and now I'm more aware of it than ever. So I learned something and didn't crash. Definitely a plus.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-10-2008, 10:19 AM
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Glad I could help. You were definitely paying attention during the A.R.T. seminar a couple of weeks ago, seems like it really paid off for you.

I'll try to do another one later in the season.

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