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Well, this one is going to be a bit shorter...

Friday practice:
I rolled in to the weekend with the goal of getting down 1:46.5 (about a second faster than I'd gone last year). The thinking was that would put me within spitting distance of the time I'd need to qualify for the AMA round at Sears in a few weeks. I felt like the combination of running rocket fuel plus getting towed along by faster guys would be enough to find an extra half-second there.

Coming into the weekend, I had been having intermittent clutch issues with my stock Ducati clutch. I'd click a downshift and the clutch would not re-engage in the lower gear until I'd get on the throttle again. Just a weird thing and it was really messing with my head. We tried a few things at the trackday on Tuesday and thought we had it figured out.

First session out, I got down to a reasonably good pace (1:51) with a pretty cold track at 9am. I was sliding in a few turns and just wasn't willing to push it. Next session out, I turn in a new personal best at the track (1:47.5). The next session out, I take another tenth out. However, now I've got suspension issues -- rear tire wear is bad and front end is very close to bottoming out. I make some adjustments and go back out in the first session after lunch and drop over a second: 1:46.4, as part of a string of 3 laps under 1:47. I was REALLY happy!! After that session, I spent the rest of the day working on a few turns and chasing tire wear issues. Also, the clutch starting acting up again, so I disassembled, cleaned, greased, and reassembled.

Saturday rolls around, and with my burned-up tire, I couldn't put together anything better than a 1:48. *sigh* I felt optimistic that Dave Moss had solved the tire wear issues on Saturday -- it was unfortunate he wasn't allowed to be at the track on Friday to help or maybe I wouldn't have chewed my tire up so bad. Anyway, I felt confidence I'd get the most out of my tire on Sunday and the bike was handling pretty good. I was also glad that my re-do on the clutch was enough to get it through a full day. We overhauled the clutch again on Saturday night and put in a different (used) pack since the new pack I had tried since Friday was too difficult to launch. I was due for starting farther in the front in my classes and was concerned about stalling out, so I went with the clutch pack I could trust.

Sunday morning practice: I turn in a 1:47.4, so I felt ready to roll. Good news: the clutch is working perfectly.

750 superbike rolls around. I grid up in 17th, and actually get a decent start. I didn't get passed by anyone from the row behind me, and ended up tucking in just behind everyone from my row in 18th. After a couple laps, I manage to work my way up to 15th, and felt I still had the ability to get close and put a move on the next rider in front of me.

Coming around, I think on lap 5, I come over turn 8A, the fast right-hander leading down to the slow chicane at turn 9. I got some headshake coming over 8a, and as I straighten the bike out and point it down the hill, I see something shoot out in front of my bike -- I couldn't see exactly where it came from, but it looked fairly big. I assumed it was my brake lever. I confirmed my suspicion when I attempted to start braking and felt nothing. 0 front brakes.

Now I'm doing over a 100mph, pointed downhill at a wall of tires. I didn't have a lot of time to think here -- and I'm sure other riders would have tried other things. Knowing that my rear brake was fairly weak, and seeing another rider just in front of me, I decided to point the bike to the right of the tire walls and just bail. :wtf Yep. I can't remember exactly how I did it, but I just thought "I need to be off this bike" and kinda rolled off the right side -- I'm pretty sure the bike tipped over with me at that point.

Next thing I know, I take a couple tumbles and then am on my back sliding -- thinking to myself "I hope I slow down before the tires, I hope I slow down before the tires".

In retrospect, I might have been able to click a couple downshifts and slow it down enough with the engine and rear brake to navigate the turn through the dirt around T9 on the right, or to go through the gap in the tire wall.

Anyway... the end result was:
-I got a little banged up
-my bike got thrashed pretty hard
-no one else was harmed
Not an ideal result, as it would have been better if me and my bike are good, too. I'm just glad my decision, right or wrong, didn't get anyone else hurt.

It turns out the piece that I saw flying in front of my bike was not my brake lever or the plunger from my master cylinder. It was the cross-over brake line from my right calipers to my left. It had gotten caught up between the fender and the wheel. A simple zip-tie could have prevented everything. In the future, I'll be running a t-line setup to avoid this problem. Anyway -- I'm giving full disclosure here so it might prevent the issue from happening to someone else: the brake line got caught under the front fender. If you don't have a t-line setup, please zip-tie/etc so this doesn't also happen to you.

As a parting message, I'd like to thank my crew with TigerBike racing: Dan, Dan, and Adrian. Also, all the DML folks who showed up to lend support today. I hope I at least gave you guys a good show. I'd also like to thank Helimot for supplying me with gear that got me through my gnarliest crash yet without a mark on my body -- to literally walk away from my highest speed crash with a twisted knee and a sore bone in my foot is pretty incredible.

Anyway... after the crash, I was bummed out pretty hard. Reasons:
-it was *so* avoidable by being more thorough in my tech inspection of my own bike
-I've never been scared so shitless in my entire life

I'm sure I'll be back out, and I hope I'll be welcomed back. It's hard for me to get past today's incident too quickly. At this point, I'll probably sit out the AMA National in a few weeks... but we'll see what the doctors say and what my credit card companies say.

Respectfully submitted,
Tigre / Steve
AMA/AFM #944
'04 749GRRR
 

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Re: TigerBike Racing - AFM Round 2 - April 26/27 - Infineon Raceway

Clutch kharma...

so for quite awile now I've enjoyed poking fun at Steve's hourly clutch changes. In fact I don't ever remember a time when I've been at the track with Steve and he hasn't been changing his clutch. Even last night as it was being detailed again I was quite happy to laugh. he assured me it was preventative maintenance and that I didn't do enough of it. yea right, I'm on an indestructible jap I4... famous last words.

750SBK - I have a decent grid position due to Buttonwillow results and I dropped a few seconds yesterday in practice. 2nd call for the race and i go to the hot pit to do some practice starts. First goes well...second goes well... third...not so well. No pull, clutch is fried - smells like popcorn. This is how I start every race normally without issue.

I'm bummed, but figure not such a big deal - I'll find a clutch pack somewhere, change it out and be good for Formula 1 - a few hours later. I find the plates and Dan helps with the installation. i ride it around the pits and it feels great.

F1 - again a decent grid position. Off for some practice starts... first start... ooh, nice and grabby... second start... nice! front wheel just skimming above the ground and awesome pull!! this is going to make a difference at other parts of the track as well. Warm up lap is just fine and I take my grid position. The flag drops to start the race and I gun it... well I try to gun it, but the bike isn't pulling more than a few miles per hour. The clutch is gone again... I barely make it around the track to pull off at the exit - some bonehead hits me at the exit of the chicane - no biggie, but dumb anyway.

At least I didn't loop it like the guy at the start of DTM's race [laugh] classic!

Moral of the story - no racing for me this weekend and I'll lay off Tigre and his incessantly fidgeting, tinkering, cluth changing self...


At least for a bit ;)
 

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Tough luck man, still it was good seeing you out there and don't doubt yourself on the lay down I tried to think to myself "**** wtf would I have done..." hard to say until you're in that situation.. I think you made a good call cause you're up and mobile so the most important part of the dismount was successful.

I look forward to seeing you ride soon.
 

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Kudos brother! We race, we fall, we race again.

I'd like to add that I take equal responsibility for not catching the brake line snag earlier. I should've taken the extra 2 seconds to have a look at what was binding the tire warmer. It was a stupid missed catch on my part. :mad:

Let's see what the doctors say (and see if you'll need to eBay a kidney), and we'll get back up and running again.

We're all so relieved that you are ok. We can always buy more bikes and parts, But we've only got one Tigre! [thumbsup]
 

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It was awsome seeing you guys out there today. It was my first time seeing the 749grrr in person, very sweet! it made me feel much cooler to be sporting my orange back pack. I hope you heal up soon Steve!

I cant wait to head out next month to watch again, and maybe we will get to see Adrian rip it up out there this time.

What are the second race results DTM?
 

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Bummer about the crash man -- I was thinking today when I was riding just how weak my rear brake is -- couldn't drag the rear tire if I wanted to.

Anyway, good to hear you're not in too bad of shape -- bikes can be replaced...

m
 

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It's never a good moment when an ambulance pulls up with a friend in it, but when the doors opened and you were grinning, I felt a lot better. Heal up quickly amigo.
 

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Steve - so glad to hear that you are okay! I've not known you long but the one thing that has always struck me is your very analytical thinking in trying to cover all the 1,001 points to ensuring that you are well prepared for the riding / racing that goes on the next day (i.e. Keigwin's 2-day Novice School Apr 7/8 - you were out there til late Monday night dealing with your clutch issue rather than having beers with us ;) ) - it just goes to show your dedication to being prepared and thus methodologically being able to reach your goals in racing. So kudos to you. I look forward to seeing you race in person very soon!
 

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Dude, you are my hero, you're like superman or something. [laugh]

Glad you're ok.

Bailing out on a biike doing 3 digits.....now that's ballsy!! [clap]
 

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Steve, I hope you're feeling as good this morning as you did yesterday, considering. It's amazing how this stuff happens to even the most meticulous of racers.

I didn't get a chance to ask, was the pit board effective?

Adrian, keep us posted on the clutch issues. I'm curious to see what the real cause of the problem is.
 

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Now I really wish I'd have made it out there yesterday (I got sidetracked early).

So sorry to hear about the issues you guys were having. Glad Tiggy and A seem to be none the worse for wear.

Tigre, as to the wisdom of you bailing on the bike...don't second guess yourself. You made a tough decision in a split second. And you walked away from it. That's all the matters.

Next round is on me at the 'Geist. [thumbsup]
 

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As everyone has said - great work out there yesterday, Steve. It may please you to know that you got a mention from the announcer as you were coming up the front straight a couple laps in - "Steve Metz, on the tigerbike, working his way up through the crowd!!" or something like that.

Rachel was a little dismayed by your dismount - but glad to see that you came out smiling. It was certainly no worse than seeing one of the Keigwins instructors highside right in front of us coming out of turn 2.

Get well soon - I'm looking forward to working with you at Sears in a couple weeks!
 

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well on to the good news from Tigerbike racing

250P

Had a front row start in 2nd position which is very helpful when you want to get out in front early. The start was OK, one 'tard and another 250 got in front of me by turn 2. Me and the other 250 were able to get in front of the 'tard going in to 6. The I was to take the inside line into 7 to get by the other 250 to take the lead. Its weird being in the lead. Its lonely, nothing but empty track in front of me. Almost like there was no race just me on an empty track. I just tried to stay focused and ride as best I could and not look back. I think I held the lead for about 2.5 laps before I got passed going up the hill between 1 and 2. I stayed with him for a bit but got to tangle with some lap traffic that held me up which allowed him to break away. Coming up on the last few there was no one within striking distance behind me so I started to take it down a notch and bring it home with a 2nd place finish. Not a bad start to the season, 2 2nd place finishes. If my math is correct, i stand 1 point behind the leader in the series.


500T
Bah! Got off to a lazy start and settled in behind another 250. I've been faster than this guy in practice so I figured I would just follow him for a while and pass when I get the chance. So I'd catch up to him then we would hit some lap traffic and he would get away, and back and forth like this for a few laps. Eventually I got stuck behind another 500 and he was a roadblock till the end. I think I ended up 6th and beat a few 500's in the process.



My lap times were faster than previous, but not where I wanted to be. I could have really used an extra day of practice there to get connected with the rhythm of the track. My shift points were the same but everything felt a little off, maybe my gearing?? Body positing wasn't as comfortable and relaxed as it normally is, and I wasn't attacking the corners like I should have been. I was riding lazy. Most importantly my focus was off. I realized I was doing all this stuff at the track but did nothing to correct, not sure what my problem was. I was riding better during Saturday practice but as the weekend went on, I just lost focus. I need to hammer that out before the next race weekend.
 

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Congrats on your strong finish, Dan. It's always good to hear that you finished well, but still know how and where to improve. Next round could be the one!
 
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