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Discussion Starter #1
As hard as it is to come to terms with, my 2014 track season is officially over. Didn't make nearly the amount of progress that I originally wanted to at my home track, but improvised by trying out and incorporating a few new-to-me techniques which will help tremendously going forward. Also made some long overdue changes to the bike (which were pretty much all suggested more more than a few friends/fellow riders years ago....but I'm stubborn, lol). The addition of reduced offset triples, linear rear link, quickshifter, and slipper clutch have made this an extremely enjoyable bike to ride as well as requiring far less mental and physical efforts to ride.

Another plus was I was able to keep up my goal of visiting at least one new-to-me track per season. This year I got to ride at Streets of Willow Springs in CA, Circuit of the Americas in TX, and Blackhawk Farms in IL. All technical courses which really let me learn about what the new handling characteristics of the bike truly mean.

Thanks goes out to my wife for helping, allowing, and encouraging me to do this.
Thanks to Jessica Zalusky for giving us the opportunity thru her organization Zalusky Advanced Riding School ( ‪#‎RideZARS‬ ) to work on improving our riding skills as well as having safe environments to use our machines in the way they were originally intended. That's goes for our awesome support staff as well, because without you all, the well-oiled machine that are ZARS trackdays and ARS days wouldn't be possible! Thank you to Jim Wiles for supporting all of us with either the tires themselves, or simply the service of swapping them out for us. Means more than you know to pretty much know we're covered when it comes to those little patches of rubber holding us to the road!

Thanks to Keith Code and the California Superbike School staff (‪#‎superbikeschool‬) for accessing my riding and figuring out a solution to the lower body fatigue issue I've had since beginning track riding!! Thank you to Karl Rehpohl of ZARS for working with me yet again and evaluating where I need cleaning up out there. Wish we had more time together this year, but I promise both I AND the bike will be ready next season. Also thanks to MotoVid for having a couple of outsiders (Dennis Wegner :)) join you for a great day at one of the best learning tracks I've ever been on. Thanks to Doug for showing me the ropes out at BFR and getting me quicker than I was really expecting to go for my first day there. Huge thanks to RideSmart for giving "normal folks" the chance to ride the best road course in North America. Extremely well organized event, and the classroom incorporating skills from Yamaha Champions Riding School was very much appreciated!!

Big thanks to Nick Campbell of Steve Diamond Elements, Blair Hart of Hart Photography, Nick Schleitwiler of Redline Photos, and my wife for using their talented eyes and getting the shots that both help create memories as well as evaluate and analyze ways to be a better rider.

Thanks to Chris Kruzel of Drippin'Wet, Scott Karcheski of SR Sign Design, Nick Gnaime of No Squidding, Ken Conner of MotoSox, Montana Strait of Straitup D, and Clay at Track Decal for all the decals and personalization goodies to help set the bike apart!

Thank you to the awesome folks at Ducati Minneapolis and MotoPrimo for giving the local support to keep the bike going! Also thanks to Richard Boyd of Desmo Veloce, Randy Nedescu of Bellissimoto, and Brian Cavalo of Citta Corsa for the specialty parts that have turned this bike into a seriously fun machine!!

Finally, thanks to all my friends and fellow track addicts for being such classy, skilled, and fun group of people to ride with this season!!!

My only goal for this offseason is to bring the reliability and mechanical consistency the bike has shown when it's been in street dress to the track so I can get far more quality seat time next year, and not feel so left behind when our season enders come up again!









 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Since winter is now upon us here in the north, that means our trackday org (ZARS) wraps up with customer appreciation days for minimal money, which is obviously always a hit. :)

This year we had both an appreciation weekend for our ARS riders (Advanced Riding School riders at a local road course) on Sept 27/28, which was absolutely PERFECT weather. Mid-80's with sunshine and light breeze. And we also had a "big track" customer appreciation day in collaboration with Ducati Minneapolis (who unfortunately will be closing it's doors on Nov 1) at BIR today in, well, less than favorable conditions. :-/

It's no secret I've never really been a fan of DCTC since getting the Duc while it was in stock chassis configuration. It's a mile long track with 17-19 turns (depending on configuration), and the OEM chassis bits (36mm triples and progressive rear link) can make the 848/1x98 a little bit of an elephant to wrestle around that place. As many of you know, I finally made the proper changes to the bike (28mm offset triples & linear rear link) this past winter to make it turn and exit like a proper sportbike. So, I was eager to see what it would be like at DCTC and signed up for Sat, as I wasn't sure if there was space for Sun. An electrical issue, which oddly enough ONLY appears when the bike has the white (track dress) tank on, forced me to miss Sat. My wife, seeing me frustrated with a bike that I'd just ridden 4 hrs on Fri and 3 hrs on Sat with the black tank and had no issues, and at 10:30 at night I simply said "I can't switch this BACK to the black/carbon AGAIN, just to be able to ride it on Sun (which they made space for me). Awesome Wife of the Year award goes to her for letting me use her bike for Appreciation Day on Sun. Just ripped the mirrors, kickstand, & rear signal/plate off and taped the head & taillight and loaded her up.

This especially hits home for me because my very first experience on a closed course came via my first motorcycle, an '09 Ninja 250R, at DCTC with only 500 miles of street riding experience right after completing MSF 5 seasons ago back in 2010. Time to see if I'd learned anything. :)




Proof you won't "outgrow it in a week". Just needs to be ridden in the right places. :)



Looking into grabbing a set of proper DOT's for her bike since (if our td event organizer has her way) my wife may never ride it on the street. Possibly some actual clip-ons also once she gets use to riding it.

Also got a surprise during the week, as someone spotted a current Sportbike Track Gear banner ad!!


All in all, what an awesome day. Body position went to crap because of rearsets and bars not being in a true sportbike ergo setup, but when you're consistently getting waved by to pass by 600s on the small back straight (where they can easily pull away) because they knew I was on their ass in the corner sections, that means I must've learned a few things. :) Carrying momentum and corner speed is the name of the game on a 250, and I honestly had the best time on Sun at DCTC than I have ever had there. COMPLETE difference from what I was in store for today....

The pull was easy: Oct 3-DonnyBrooke (Long Course)-$99.

REGISTERED and IN!

Weather apps for about 8 days leading up to today weren't looking good with cold and 50% rain. But, being Brainerd we are trained by JZ (Jessica Zalusky) to be very opptomistic when it comes to weather. 2 days leading up to today it changed to even colder and up to 80% chance of rain. I wanted to ride, had never used the Dunlop rains I picked up over winter, and had a bike that would only run properly in street dress. So took a final street ride with it in full street on Mon to see for sure if no electrical errors would pop up. 4 hr flogging on the street and parking lots ensued. All good to go!!!

....and prepped her for a trackday in the full carbon dress by removing mirrors/plate/kickstand and taping lights. Pulled the headlight decals off the track bodywork and stuck them on the actual headlights (over the painters tape) to sell the look, lol.


Cool thing is I'd gotten pretty good at ripping both the front and rear wheel off thanks to the single-sided swingarm rear and quick change front axle setup for the front. No removing calipers or front fender, and could be quicker if I didn't run front axle sliders or pinch bolts...and had air tools.



Which came in handy because I showed up to BIR this morning on Q3s (no way in hell I was running the GP-As, as those are damn near worthless in cold OR wet....might as well just throw your bike on the ground in the pits if you ran GP-As in BOTH near freezing temps and rain. This was the forecast when I got to the track this morning, ground already wet, air temp about 39 deg...


So, did a magic trick and pulled both wheels off, had them swapped to the rain tires, and put them back on all before most in the garage had even taken both thier wheels off to swap for thier rains.


As stated above, today was supposed to be a day on the 3.1 mi long course, featuring "the fastest turn in North America", which I've never ridden (since I missed the second day of our BIR 2-day back in June...and also since I haven't raced in CRA at all this season. The reason it IS the fastest turn (T1) is because the straight before that first right uses the entire drag strip...

The bad part about that in the cold and wet is that the VHT compound used for car drags basically turns the strip into an ice skating rink. SUPER dangerous on 2 wheels. So Jessica errored on the side of caution and determined it unsafe, so we ran the 2.5 mi Competition Course layout the entire day. Still mid-30s temp, still wet/snow at the beginning and end of the day with 20mph crosswinds.

Unbelievably, I survived. Mainly due to only riding a few sessions because my hands were frozen and I figured if I can't tell what my brake/throttle hand is doing it's probably time to shut it down for the day, lol. Always a good thing to leave a trackday with the only changes to the bike being tires and fuel useage.



Not sure if anyone was actually out taking pics, but if they were it's probably laughable on my part. Full Marquez-style hangoff with the bike near vertical in the corners was happening. ^_^

Also found out my new helmet is seriously badass. No fogging whatsoever, vents like my Bell Star and Suomy Excel WITHOUT drowning me with water coming in the vents. Lightest lid I've ever owned. Should've looked into X-Lite earlier. I had a friend make some mini-track outlines of the circuits I've ridden so far, as well as gold "X-Lite" overlays to match the gold decals on my tanks. Sadly, I'll have to wait another year to add the BIR-DonnyBrooke outline to the windscreen and helmet...


Not ready for winter, yet. :-( Not looking like there will be any trips to a southern track for me this winter, as I'm trying to gather interest to get a small group to come down to COTA for me next season for either one of the RideSmart weekends or possibly Jason Pridmore's STAR/Ducati Revs America 2day school if they do it again next Sept.

Thanks for viewing! Hope everyone in the wrong parts of the country has a bearable winter offseason!

-Christian
 

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Good stuff!

Have you made a list of goals for 2015? If so, what do you feel are your strongest and weakest points to work on in the future?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Actually about to take off for a week in Cancun, so I'll have some down time to think about what the focus is for next year. No racing this year, and not even reapplying for my CRA license next year. Keeping it fun by playing with/pestering all my friends that I'm quicker than that have and used their licenses this season. :)

Weaknesses:
-Still need to learn to trust tires. No, REALLY trust them.
-Need to tidy up my lower body post-apex. No need to keep my knee dangling out after I'm already picking the bike back up from max lean
-Be more conscious to stay tucked on straights. New helmet is definitely going to help make this easier
-Need to be more willing to experiment with lines instead of just staying consistent. Consistent is obviously good, but I need to start playing around with attack angles like I learned at CSS this April
-Rear brake use is next to non-existent. Gotta change that....

New found strengths:
-Stealing meters under max braking before full tip-in is definitely working for me as far as both passing pre-corner and better setting entry speed
-Weighting the front at exit is letting me get on the gas harder without fear of lofting the front
-Using full throttle much more often, even in the short straights
-Reference points vision has improved dramatically. Instead of waiting 2 laps to pass (because I'd basically end up following the rider in front), now I know where to be and when to be there to get where I want to whether someone is in front of me or not
-Confidence is getting there. Just the fact I've tracked the bike 3 times this season in the full carbon street fairings means I'm finally at least not doubting I belong out there, lol.
 
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