September 17th 2002

Tsukuba Circuit in the Rain!!
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Well, first off I  got to thank Russell, that was a great day!

Here are the pics!

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Russell and his Fantastic P.E.T. Duc!
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On the fly in the rain!!
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That's me (Stuart) and the Motarded RMX
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Two very different ways to
having a great time!!

It is really simple, it if rains on a track day you got to have one of two things, IMHO, a big fast bike and Rain Tires or a Small Motard and no fear of Back Wheel Slides, being that I started out riding dirt bikes, and rain tires are expensive, I took the latter route :) Russell took the first one, we both had a great time!

Man what a day, I had so much fun, I just loved stuffing that little bike into the corners way faster and sliding out sideways with the guys on the liter bike making room. A couple guys, one on a yellow VTR and the other on a Red Duc, got so tired of me passing them in the corners and then them reeling me in down the back straight they just let me by, waved shook their heads and let me go.

Russell was very, very fast, and yes the wets had something to do with it, but so does trusting your tires and being smoooth....!!

Now I'm not going to BS here, I was in the slowest group, the "My Pace" group, and it was PISSING down rain, but it was the first time I'd been on the Tsukuba circuit and except for one Honda 250 I was the smallest bike out there, heck I was the biggest guy on the smallest bike, EASY, remember, this is Japan.

I left the VTR1000F Fire Storm in the truck, no point in taking it out, I'm not really used to that V-twin engine breaking, and a rainy track was not the place to get familiar, IMHO.

The EBC over-sized rotor earned it's pay today, on the front straight most guys in my group where popped up and braking at the 150M marker, I was not off the gas until the 50M mark, then it was a double tap down to 3rd, hump the tank, plant the foot, go through the corner, usually out braked a few bigger bikes, and then on the power stepping out the rear, shift back to 5th, do that little kink, then bang it down to 3rd again and into another corner. Sometimes guys would look up to see what the hell that noise was, it was my boot dragging on the track :)

I had a few riders wave me through and give me the thumbs up, way cool!!

For the first session, when I came to the start line I could see people elbowing their buddies, and pointing, "Look at THAT, what is it? I can understand, I'm a big guy, stuffed in leathers, wrapped in rain gear on a 250 2-smoke surrounded by some of the best 1 liter sportbikes on the market today, they thought I was nuts!

Well by the third session there were only two guys I could not get by and keep behind me, in my group of 30 riders, they were slower on the corners, but not so slow that they could not keep reeling me in on the straights. Near the end of the last session, I took the last sweeper corner way faster than before, I was in 4th gear at almost full throttle at the exit of the corner and just about to pass these two on the outside carrying way more speed down the start of the front straight, when the flag came out for the ambulance....SHIT!! it was coming out pit row, so we had to slow to a crawl! (no one was seriously hurt, I don't know why the ambulance went out?)

You see these two guys never went very fast on the front straight and if I could get ahead of them going into turn one, I would be far enough ahead by the back straight, I figured, that they could not reel me in, (well that was the plan).

I could really feel the bike fighting me, the suspension was so soft, and under braking it was nose diving like a Stukka, but I was having such a good time, I can hardly wait to see what it is like with the suspension sorted!!


Here is a corner by corner trip around the track in the rain...

Coming down the front straight, brake at about the 50M mark,  this is a light bike, and I don't get going so fast, tap it down two cogs to 3rd gear, turn one I set up mid high, lower than most of the big bikes, and I dive right in, hump the tank, foot out and planted in 3rd gear, power on soon, the exit it is WOT and shift to 4th, 5th. Power on WOT.

The first kink is flat out, set up position in the second kink, and down shift to 3rd, for corner #2, not much brakes, take the corner much tighter than all of the other people in my group, I got a lot of guys in this corner, again foot out power on sliding a bit, exit double up shift,  WOT.

Corner #3 is a choice, if it was clear, I did it in 4th, not much brakes and then shifted one more down to 3rd for the chicane, if there were other bikes, I did corner #3 in 3rd, but braked later to set up a pass on the inside heading into the chicane.

The chicane was a lot of fun, would have been faster, but there was standing water on the corner :) I would take a much tighter and direct line than everyone else, and on the exit of the chicane I was WOT and shifting up two cogs, here again I could pass with ease, but I think that is because my group of riders were not on the power as more experienced riders would be (experienced in riding and this track). 

Corner #4 is a good one too, brake a bit, down shift to 3rd, not so high, swoop way faster way lower than the rest of the bunch, could snag a few guys here easy, but then on the back straight they would reel me in.

On the approach to corner #5 I would take a much tighter line in, shift to 4th, out brake a few guys and be ahead of them coming on the front straight, corner #5 is the only corner where I did not put my foot out, too fast for that :) 

Blast down the front straight and get ready to do it all over again!!

Man I just love bikes!!


The Tsukuba Circuit
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