Jo Rhett (jorhett) wrote,
Jo Rhett

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Riding at/beyond limits, success and failure...

This weekend was an unqualified success in everything I set out to do. I rode faster at the track than ever before, I convincingly (+20 seconds) beat the people I usually battle with, and I wrapped up 2 championships and pretty much guaranteed the third if I can keep the rubber side down at the last race.

However, I did slam into some walls where my success had very finite limits.

[backstory]Someone who watched me ride the piss out of my XR100 asked me why I didn't ride my SV650 like that. I told them that this was insane -- the XR100 chassis sucked and you had to toss it in and twist it up enough to lock up the chassis in the corner. The SV650 had real suspension and didn't reward you for pushing it around. I figured they were nuts.

Well, at a recent testing day I was working on suspension for my 2005 and it was all wrong. As we got fairly close to the right setting, my lap times got reasonable and I started having fun. In fact, the 2nd to last setting was wrong -- we went the wrong way, and I was pushing the front and rear in every corner. Knew it was wrong, but had fun with it and did my fastest lap time of the day. I was unable to beat this time when we had the suspension correct, even though it was clearly a better setting.[/backstory]

My suspension guy theorized that when I knew the limits I just rode the bike, but when I didn't know the limits I was too busy being analytical. (no surprises there)

Well this weekend, I stopped trying to ride cleanly and smoothly. I basically started slamming the bike into each and every corner as hard as I could, exited every corner as hard on the gas as I could -- until the front pushed or the back lost grip, or something basically prevented me from going faster. Then I tried changing my line or just settling in and focusing elsewhere.

It worked. It worked brilliantly. I did 2 seconds a lap faster than ever before within 4 laps of my first uninterrupted session, and I found another 1.9 seconds as we improved the suspension. And I stopped wondering. I knew, really knew just how fast I could do every corner. It was *sweet*.

Okay, so what's the problem? Racing Deion Campbell ;-) I needed to drop another 2 seconds to beat him. By Sunday afternoon I was comfortable and ready to do it. But the bike just couldn't. As soon as I tried to find more speed, I went slower. It took me a while to figure it out, but it really was simple -- the bike stopped turning. Literally. In the faster corners I could turn with the rear, but spinning up the tire lost me momentum (bad when trying to catch a 125). In the slower corners I ended up, no kidding, slamming my knee into the ground and whacking the throttle to get it back on line.

Pushing the front wasn't slowing me down. Trust me, on the final laps I was pushing the front in *every* corner but I was comfy with that, no problem. It was that even when the front tracked it just wouldn't turn.


1. When I really push to find limits, I go fast much quicker

2. I apparently like riding big, high-horsepower bikes at their limits. I had no idea. ("big" compared to minibikes)

3. If I ride bike at limits to get fast time, I can't pick up pace on raceday.
Tags: motorcycle, racing

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