On March 15th I was released for weight bearing by my doctor. Up until that point, I had been at zero weight bearing status, or “toe-touch” only. Needless to say, after nearly 4 months of being on crutches, I wasn’t exactly going to be dancing out of the office, no matter how much I wished I could. Along with weight bearing, however, he also released me to ride as long as I was comfortable holding the bike up, which was news that made me very happy. This meant I was likely going to be able to ride that brand new Roseville Kawasaki ZX10R I had been building all winter at the next scheduled track day on April 9th and 10th with Pacific Track Time.
The day was rapidly approaching, and DareDevil Motorsports started to wrap up the bike, however, it had a leak in the water pump. They had double checked it, but it was going to need parts, so I decided to make use of that warranty at get it in to a dealer, however, this was the of the trackdays, and I was really nervous about getting it ready in time if they needed parts. First they tried replacing the seals, however, that didn’t seem to solve the problem and it was still leaking pretty bad. By the time all of this was found it, it was now Thursday afternoon. We left for the track on Saturday, and it was past order cut off time on Thursday.
Thankfully Roseville pulled some strings and got the parts overnight and they were able to get it working without leaking. I got that call at 2pm Saturday afternoon. There was a scramble up in Sacramento to get the bike, the parts I’d need from the shop, and wrapping her up, but everything arrived at the track and it looked like I might get to ride her once we finished up a few little things.
During lunch DareDevil got the bike ride-able so I was able to get on it that afternoon. Now, I hadn’t ridden this bike, so it was a maiden voyage. I also hadn’t been on track at any speed with the leg, so I wanted to take things nice and slow to be sure everything was working out okay. I started out by taking it out in C group and that session seemed to go fine, so I went ahead and headed out with the next B group session. Despite everything, that was still feeling pretty slow, so I decided to jump out into A group, even if I was the slowest one out there.
I was feeling pretty decent, starting to try to get a feel for the bike, finally got my tires warmed up, and about the 3rd lap decided I could try adding a little more speed. I went rolling into turn 1, but I couldn’t find my shift lever! Argh! Okay, foot had been giving me some little issues, so just rolled through 1 in 6th gear, figuring I’d get it going into 2 – um, no, still couldn’t find the lever. My foot wasn’t THAT bad, so between turns 2 and 3 I got a look – my lever was still there, but really low, and it looked like my quickshifter sensor was dangling – okay, something broken. Rode it in to the pits in 6th gear and took a look.
Turns out, when I put on the rearsets, I apparently didn’t put the shift rod on properly, and the whole thing fell off somewhere. Explains why I couldn’t find my lever! That was pretty much the end of my afternoon, but I was getting tired so that was okay. I managed to source a rod from a fellow coach, and DareDevil finished wrapping the bike up that evening. I was all set for a full day of riding on Monday!
All morning I’m tied up with C group, both classroom and instruction, so my first couple sessions out were just puttering around in the C group. I rolled my bike up to the classroom for our body positioning segment, and when I looked at the bike, noticed there was oil on the side. UGH, WTH. Not another leak! I walked over and started looking to see if I could locate the leak, which didn’t take much time at all – my oil fill cap was missing! My boot and bike were both oiled, but the bike didn’t seem low on oil so it didn’t seem like I really oiled the track or anything major (plus, A group had already been out for about 5 minutes at this point and I wasn’t hearing of any issues). Still unsure if the cap backed out or was stolen, but it wasn’t there. I wiped the bike down and after the class we pushed it back to the pits. Luckily the OEM cap was in the bag o’ bolts that were taken off the bike, so I was able to use that.
The rest of the day, the bike seemed to be in pretty good shape. I decided to jump out into A group and start getting to know my new beasty and see how we’d get along. There was a lot for my brain to process, which I knew would be the case.
1. This bike scoots. I mean, you twist the throttle and it GOES somewhere. Really quickly. And I never did get to using the throttle like I should be, mostly due to not trusting the electronics just yet.
2. Auto blip is the bomb, but boy do I have to readjust my thinking. I keep braking WAY to early thinking I’ve got to do this whole process, and I don’t. I brake, and I hit the lever. That’s it. Hit it a few times if I need to. No clutch, no waiting for things to engage, no having to think about what my left hand is doing.
3. Decent suspension is, well, trustworthy. Good geometry + good suspension means that bike is planted. It’s there, and it’s going to be there. With a number of corners, especially, as an example, turn 3, I go into it expecting to be fighting to keep the front wheel on the ground. This is not an issue with this bike, the thing is planted. But my mind keeps saying the front wants to wash out because that’s what I’ve been dealing with the past 2 ½ years. I swear, every single time I went through turn 3 I kept thinking that I could have been coming in soooo much faster.
4. Overall, I just need to learn to trust the bike and what it will do. I know that a little seat time will help with that, and hopefully the fundamentals I’ve built the past year or so will help that process move along a little faster.
There was a moment during one of the A group sessions when the bike and I had a “moment.” Not a bad moment, but a good one. Just the lap prior I had been trying to push my braking a little bit to see what the bike could do and was hard enough on the brakes to have the rear wheel in the air. That was good in that the bike never got squirrely outside of that fact, and while it was harder than I had been willing to brake on my previous bike, it was good on this one. As I’m continuing around the track, I’m going back through turn 3, recognizing how the bike is just “there.” We had a moment right then, and my brain managed to process that I can, indeed, trust the bike. For the rest of the day that was with me – while my reactions were still bad based off previous experience I knew I could trust this bike. It wasn’t going to let me down, despite being a complete beast!
I still have a long ways to go, and I still need to re-train my reactions to things, but overall I became really, really happy with my choice in bike. By the end of the day, despite my leg starting to fatigue really badly, I felt like the bike and I were starting to jive just a little bit. I still wasn’t carrying the corner speed I can, and I was still braking way too early most of the time, and I definitely wasn’t twisting the throttle like I can, but we were picking up the pace and feeling confident each step of the way.
I’m really looking forward to the remainder of the year as I reprogram my brain and learn to ride this machine like it’s designed for. I’m super stoked on what we’ve done to it as far as set up at this point, and I’m especially glad I chose this bike when I was buying. Looking forward to the continued progress!