It’s been just over two months since I last had any kind of track action. In anticipation of the birth of my second child with my wife, I had taken a sort of paternity leave from trackdays as my wife headed into the final leg of her pregnancy. I knew that my return to the track would be in November, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be early or late in the month.
My R1 officially blacked out, because nothing says “business” like black. And I’m all about business on it.
Fast-forward to November 3rd, when I joined my friends in our second private trackday (following our first time in February 2014), this time in Thunderhill West. I had been looking forward to a return to track action, not so much to brush off any muscle-memory atrophy since one way or another, we’re heading into the off-season for trackdays, but mostly because I’ve just missed being on my R1.
I also wanted to use this chance to test a spare fuel tank that I had previously bought for my R1, which I had painted to match the rest of the track bodywork. Prior to this, I had been using my original fuel tank that had been painted red and white to match my custom-painted street bodywork. The spare fuel tank though had some rusting inside though, which I had cleaned by sloshing some CLR in it, before moving the fuel pump in it and mounting it on the bike. Thankfully, I had no discernible fueling issues running it the whole day during the event.
Since Thunderhill West is still relatively new, I don’t have any personal lap times yet for the circuit, so there was no point trying to best my best around the track. Instead, this being only my second full day on the circuit, I used the opportunity to fine-tune my lines I learned for the circuit during my first and last outing on it, and maybe try different approaches for different corners. Some of the cones around the track that I used as my markers the last time out had actually been moved around, and they were indeed improvements in their placements and usability for a quick way around the circuit.
Still, it also had to be a day of reservations, not just for the fact that I had not ridden my R1 for a couple of months, but because I had been plagued with a failing 2nd gear in my transmission throughout the year, which has only gotten worse at every outing. In the mid-range of my powerband, my transmission lurches in 2nd gear under load when accelerating, forcing me to either short-shift up to 3rd gear (killing my drive), or to downshift to 1st gear into corners that I normally take in 2nd gear. The latter allows me to accelerate the bike up to the upper-range of my powerband in 1st gear before shifting up to 2nd gear, skipping the problematic mid-range. However, I noticed as of yesterday’s event that my 2nd gear is starting to also fail in the upper range of my powerband, exhibiting the same lurching symptom as my mid-range. I already have an idea of what my transmission needs, but I had been putting it off as a winter project this year. I just need to continue baby-sitting 2nd gear on my bike for the last event I plan on working with Z2 Trackdays this season.
Transmission woes aside, it was still a fantastic return to action that I had been in need of for a while now. Thunderhill Raceway even put the cherry on top by allowing us the first shot at running the circuit backwards – it was like having two circuits for the price of one as a track’s characteristics change when you run it in reverse.
Flanked by most of my trusted riding friends, there was simply no better way to return to action.