I Must Be Solar-Powered…
…because my best just isn't there unless the sun is.
I was back at Sonoma Raceway on the 21st, for Z2 Trackday's last Sonoma event for 2013. I've had over a week of rest since the Laguna Seca double-header on the 12th and 13th, and I was really looking forward to a more low-key trackday to work as Grid and Recovery. Then again, you just never know what can happen in any given trackday, so I was, as usual, prepared for the worst.
Fortunately, forecast for the day showed highs up in the upper-70's, knocking on 80 degrees. Unfortunately, the first half of the day was spent under heavy fog that took its time to burn off. The fog was so heavy in the first session of the day, that I was genuinely surprised that riders still went out to do their sessions when I could barely see the end of the back straight where I normally could. Brave souls, I tell you. The sun did break through well before the lunch hour, and only continued to burn off the fog to reveal clear skies for the rest of the day without one presence of a cloud. Better late than never! And as a welcome reprieve from the eventful Laguna Seca weekend, I only went out ONCE to pick up a bike and move it out of the track's impact zone, despite the handful or so of track incidents.
What's with the entry title though?
Well, in the fog-laden morning, I did go out and ride the track, cautious and conservatively as I tried to gauge the grip available from the pavement. Despite appearances, the track actually had good grip in spite of the heavy fog hanging low over it. There were at least a couple of riders out on track that flew past me like it was nothing, pushing their tires a lot harder than I was willing to given the conditions, yet their tires stuck like glue and their machines went through corners as if on rails. That's scenery I'm used to in dry, clear, and sunny days, but not that morning. Now typically, after seeing that I might just have been overly cautious and conservative, I would've just said to myself, "Well there you go, you can push it after all!" That morning however, I couldn't.
Then I've come to realize what hindered me out on track; I didn't have the mental fortitude to see past appearances despite first-hand experience. The darker the gray pavement, the less grip I attribute to it despite actual grip available, and therefore I could not get myself to run the pace I would otherwise be able to. If it's foggy or overcast, or just generally lacking the presence of the sun, it's not dry to me, therefore – yet again – less grip. Truth be told, my tires didn't even slide or provide any feedback that would make me think there was no grip, but I still could not get over my mental block, which I think is a lot harder to get over than a physical limitation. It's your survival instinct. Have you ever tried rewiring it?
The irony in doing it is you just have to be pragmatic about it, and take that leap of faith. Easier said than done.
Eventually, the sun did come out to bask us for the rest (and most) of the day, and just like that, I was back to full form, riding the bike around the track like know how.
My survival instinct simply likes it sunny.