April 23nd, 2005

Earlier this year I was getting annoyed with the M Coupe due to how much everything was costing. I've already spent several thousand dollars on mods this year (the track wheels + tires were over a grand by themselves), and placed an order for another grand worth of stuff this week (look for install updates shortly). It almost makes me question tracking the thing... then I thought I needed to direct some of the love towards the bike. I thought of some mods I've been wanting for a while, and was amazed how cheap everything would be. I think I'm going to totally change the way this bike feels at the track for under $500. Research into what to do was done, and I kind of let things pile up before any updates... So let's get into it.

The first order of business was the damn battery that has caused me so many issues. From the first day I replaced the POS battery the bike came with, my new battery gave me trouble. I did a bit of research and found out about these sealed batteries. Many people just call these "gel cell," but a lot of them aren't gel. Many of them have the acid electrolyte in an absorptive fiberglass mat (AGM). The standard Yuasa part number for this bit for the T595 is YTX14AHL-BS. I went with one from the Universal Power Group at a very reasonable price. It shipped quickly and I threw it in the bike. Nice not having to route any breather tubes through the bike. Just drop it in, connect the leads, and done! So far it is fantastic. Even when the last battery was brand new it didn't crank over strong. This one's really strong (comes fully charged, too). I'll see how it holds up.

I also finally got a rear stand! I'm not sure why it took me so damn long to get one. Kind of silly. Part of it was I just thought the PitBull stands were way over priced, and looked like crap. There weren't many others making SSSA stands... then I found this nice looking red one from Handy Industries.

Price was about $100 shipped. Unfortunately it came with the box rubbing on the top of the stand, so part of the red paint has been removed. Kind of lame. Time to get a can of spray paint to touch it up. It seems to function pretty well, but I think it doesn't hold the bike straight. The bike seems to lean to the right while on the stand. This doesn't get in the way of its function, but if I'm ever to want to display my bike in the living room (yeah, what kind of freak does that?) then it may be annoying. The thing looks true, so maybe my garage floor is just crooked everywhere? I doubt it... Also the right wheel doesn't spin freely. I may wind up ordering their front headstock stand too, just to have the matching set (it's also cheap).

Next, I wanted to finally replace my air filter. About a year ago I bought a stock replacement from my local Triumph dealer, Cascade Moto Classics. However, after reading up on the K&N's, I decided I wanted one. They didn't seem to add any power, but the general consensus was that they smoothed out the throttle response a bit. The friendly people at Cascade Moto let me exchange my stocky for a K&N a year after purchase! Nice. Swapping an air filter should be a pretty straight-forward process, but I still wanted to find step by step instructions, which turned out not to be very easy! Finally I tracked this down:

  1. Remove the seat.
  2. Remove rear body work (to expose fuel connections)
  3. Disconnect fuel lines (quick-disconnect)
  4. Remove tank bolt (near seat)
  5. Remove bolts at front pivot points of the tank (I removed the whole thing instead of just pivoting it up)
  6. Lift off tank partially (VERY carefully... as I learned)
  7. Disconnect electrical wires to tank (there are two), and thin hose.
  8. Remove tank
  9. Undo four T30 TORX bolts holding the air filter cover on
  10. Pull air filter out
  11. Put a bit of silicone grease on outside edge of new filter, just to secure the seal and collect any grime that wants to develop.
  12. Reverse above.

The filter that was in there wasn't that dirty, per se, but it had TONS of bugs and other three dimensional stuff in it. Kind of nasty. I was surprised how much thinner the K&N air filter was than the stock one! About 1/3rd the thickness. Odd. Oh well, in it went. Afterwards, I started the bike up, and instantly the revs jumped to 3,000rpm. Hmm.. that's odd. I let it sit there idling, and it just remained that high. I then revved it up a bit, and it seemed to stick up higher, and only slowly come back down. Damn. After letting it warm up a bit more, the engine started ticking. Well, it sounded like it was coming more from the engine than the exhaust, but it was little backfires coming back through the throttle bodies, I guess. I took the whole thing apart and put it back together three times and I never could figure it out. I was getting frustrated as all hell, so I just broke down and brought the bike into Cascade Moto. I left all the faring at home in hopes that they wouldn't bill me for as long, but that didn't seem to matter. He claimed 1.5 hours labor to remove the airbox! With all the faring off, I somehow doubt that, but whatever. That's probably what "the book" told him. Okay, so it turns out a "vacuum line to idle stepper motor" was disconnected. I guess there are three of these, one per cylinder, and one was disconnected. This makes it think there is way more air than there really is, I think he said, which caused my high idle and backfiring. He also said the Idle C/O% was lean, and adjusted accordingly. Of course now after the adjustment, once the bike is warm it will dip its idle below 1000rpm every once in a while and almost stall, so I'm not sure it needed adjusting. So anyway, the moral of the story is: be very careful when you're removing the tank!! What probably happened is one of the wires was some how wrapped around that vacuum line and somehow pulled it out when I removed the tank. A $117 mistake. So how's it ride? Well, I do think perhaps the throttle response is smoothed a bit. Blips of the throttle on down-shift occur much smoother and quicker. It's nice. I only have about 40 miles on the new filter, and all around town, so we'll see on a hard ride if it's better.

Oh yes, and remember those fuel elbows that have busted on me twice now? And one time while 150 miles from home? FINALLY Triumph recalled these parts. They were $16 for a piece of plastic that always broke. An after-market company made steel ones, but they wanted $75 for two. I always planned on getting them, but never did. The recall caused Triumph to manufacture a metal bit of their own, and it costs like $4! Kind of funny. Surely so cheap because they had to make tens of thousands of them all at once since every bike made for the last 7 years was effected by the recall. Anyway, at first Cascade Moto claimed my bike wasn't in the VIN range that was effected (yeah right; they busted twice on me), so I printed out the recall to bring in, but by that time they realized their mistake, and had them covered under warranty. The $8 wasn't a big deal, but with all the trouble they've caused me it was a matter of principle. Oh, another lame thing was they billed Triumph for the labor, but didn't subtract those hours from the 1.5 total hours the job took, so they effectively billed twice for those hours. Lame. Anyway, here's the bits:

Next: 520 chain conversion and 17/45 gearing. This is an exciting one. I've been wanting better gearing for a while, but I just didn't want to pull the trigger. Not sure why... cost? All things relative, it's pretty damn cheap... especially for the performance improvement relative to what something similar would cost on the M Coupe. Why 520? Well, for the weight savings in rotating mass. The install is pretty straight forward, but I did a detailed writeup explaining why I chose what I did. Note to self: mileage at install: 14,460.

It's been raining so I haven't been able to ride the bike yet. Look for an update soon. More in the days to come: suspension linkage modification (just need to find a drill press). Hopefully everything will be ready for the first track day I do.

UPDATE: It's a couple days after the install of the 520 chain conversion, and it was a beautiful day so I went on one of my favorite loops, at about 45 miles. Go back to the 520 Conversion page and look under Performance for my impressions.

This was also the first real ride with the K&N air filter. My previous impressions hold, but also I'm now noticing that when I let off the throttle at high rpms, there's a lot more burping and gurgling going on. Honestly, it sounds pretty damn sweet, but not sure if it's an issue I should worry about. Probably not... it doesn't happen when I'm on the throttle in the slightest. I'll have to just watch to see how it behaves.

June 2nd, 2005

Poor thing... looks like a bird that had all it's feathers plucked off. I had it apart chasing an electrical nightmare... here's the story: Almost a month ago now I went on a ride with a friend. We were out in the middle of no where... corner of Skyline and Rockey Point Rd. We talked a bit at the stop sign, and then when I took off the bike just died. I knew something was wrong... I was fully in gear, so it's not like I killed it starting up. I tried to restart it several times, and it wouldn't start. Didn't even seem like it was trying (it was turning over, but nothing was burning). Seemed like I had no fuel. I got off the bike and turned the key on and off and listened... when the key turns on the fuel pump should prime, but I heard nothing. Great, I figure my fuel pump just died. I got out my phone and was about to call AAA when I decided to check the fuse. Sure enough, the fuse was blown. Hmm okay, so I put the spare in there, turned the key, and heard the pump prime! Then, I started the bike up, and once it had idled for about 30 seconds, I declare victory, and start putting all my gear back on. About then it died again. Check the fuse, and sure enough, it's blown. I check all the wiring leading to the fuel pump and it looks fine. I unplug and replug a few things in the path, pull a fuse from the right side head light (I only need one right??) and put it in the fuel pump spot... turn the key, and it blows instantly. Shit. Okay, call triple A. It was 6:30. She says the tow truck will be there by 8:30! 2 hours! I tell her we're in the middle of the street and she expedites it, so now they will be there "within an hour" Sure enough, the tow truck shows up at 7:30.... and it is the shittiest tow truck ever. The driver was like 70 years old (literally). When he was turning the truck around to get it in front of the bike it died about four times. Finally he gets out and we discuss what to do. He lowers the bed (flat bed, of course) and I decide I don't want the driver pushing it up the ramp, so my friend and I put it on the ramp. The bed previously had a car that was leaking oil all over it, so it was really slick.. so we had to watch it putting it up there. We get it up, and he flattens the bed. I say, "do you have cloth tie downs?" and he says "yes" and pulls out a bag from hi-school pharmacy. He stopped by and got them on the way, I guess. We wind up tying the bike down, and now I have to ride in this POS truck for about an hour with the crazy old driver. Before I got in I noticed after he put the bed back up it was leaking hydraulic fluid all over the place. I pointed it out to him and he says, "If you had as many miles on you as this truck, you'd be leaking hydraulic fluid too!" The truck was on its 5th engine and 4th clutch... and about to be fifth. The thing basically had no clutch, so he had to just try to rev match and throw it into gear. Most of the time he would just grind the gears like crazy. It was scary. Finally we get on the freeway and the thing starts to sputter. He says, "damn Carl!" and we pull over because we run out of gas! I said, "now we need a tow truck" and he says "no I have some gas in the back" Good thing. So he put a gallon or so in the tank and we were off again... and got it home okay.

Okay.. back to the bike, right? Fucking British piece of shit... Oh, I mean I love my bike. I was just talking to someone about how much more "character" the Triumph has over the jap bikes... well, it's dishing some of that character out to me now... I figure the pump is shot or something, or clogged, and that's what's causing the short. I wind up taking the tank off entirely, so the pump clearly isn't even connected. I put a new fuse in, and the damn thing blows the fuse!! So it's not the pump at all... Chasing down electrical gremlins in these things is a pain in the ass. The fuel pump fuse is also shared by the ECU, so now I'm thinking maybe ECU is shot. Hopefully it's just a short somewhere. As you can see from the picture above, I took all the faring off in hopes that I could chase down the short somewhere in the harness. I spent hours and hours searching all over the harness and couldn't find a damn thing. I went through about 10 fuses. I pulled all the relays and checked them... all good. At one point I pulled the ECU, turned the key, the fuse didn't blow, plugged the ECU back in, and the fuse still didn't blow... so I figured I just needed to reset the ECU. Alas, not so lucky. Once I moved the bike to put the body work back on the fuse blew again. Damn. Just so I knew, I got a quote on a new ECU... I knew it'd be pricey, but I almost fell down when I heard just how much... $1500!! That's disgusting. I was getting way too frustrated with the thing, so I decided to bring it to Cascade Moto Classics, with a bit of trepidation. Problem is, these guys are basically a bunch of monkeys. I told them all that I had done, isolated it down to the circuit it's on, and what I had done. The guy sounded clueless when I was talking about the circuit. After their hour "inspect and report," at $75/hour, he calls me and tells me that they haven't found anything, but it "has to be in that area underneath the headlight." I said, "what makes you think that?" he says because when he moved the handle bars it sometimes would blow and other times not. The thing is, I had a wiring diagram, and that circuit doesn't go up to the front of the bike like that. I told him this, and he said, "Well, it has to be up there!" Come on... electronics are electronics. It's not voodoo. These guys probably didn't even look at the wiring diagram. They just chased wires trying to find "something" on any random circuit, on any random wire, without even knowing what circuit they were looking at. They were just looking for "frayed wires" anywhere. Problem was, I didn't really know what all the parts on the wiring diagram were (they are just labeled with numbers, not names). The dealer should have been able to find those things. Since I thought it was pointless to look under there, but he insisted, I said, "Okay, spend no more than two hours on the bike, and call me." He called me a day later and told me the situation...

The bike has a "Road Speed Sensor" on the rear wheel, and this thing broke off. The mounting point actually broke, and the sensor was lost on the road somewhere. What it left behind was raw wires that were grounding themselves on the rear sprocket. So... basically something that should have been totally visually obvious! It probably looked really nasty. I was pissed off at myself for not noticing the thing to begin with... though also pissed at them, because that is definitely one of the items on the circuit (OBVIOUSLY). Problem was, as I said, I didn't know where all the things were. They should have been able to know, and check all those parts before digging into the rats nest under the headlight. They charged me $197.50 for their 2.5 hours labor. Whatever... at least they found it, but I'm sure they just totally stumbled upon it while walking past the bike, while wasting all their time on the front. Rather frustrating. It will be difficult to take my bike there again. Also, he just left everything he tore apart at the front of the bike apart, and there were wires dangling all over the place, with the harness cut into at various points. I had to spend some time putting that all together when I got the bike back. Anyway, all they did was tuck these wires from the road speed sensor in to make sure they won't ground out. Here's the look of it now, and you can see where the bracket actually broke off.

Some bikes had the road speed sensor, and some didn't. Apparently this bit doesn't actually do anything useful, but you have to leave these wires and brackets here to show that it once had it, because those that did have it have a different cam, so in case a new tune needs to be downloaded, the presence or absence of the road speed sensor (or in my case, the wires for it) are an easy way to tell which cam is in the bike.

Once I put all the body work on the bike I tried to start it and the battery was dead (surely due to all the on/off attempts, powering the lights each time). Great, my brand new battery... hopefully there wasn't much damage done to it. I jumped it with my battery charger, and let it idle for ten minutes to charge the battery. Just for fun, I then grabbed a bit of throttle and raised it to 8k rpm. The sound got me all excited again, and I just had to ride it. I went on a brief 10 mile ride... you know, about 5 minutes worth. ;-) Glad the bike's working again...

July 2nd, 2005

Yesterday marked the start of my trip to the SF bay area to visit friends and tracks. Last year I did so in the M Coupe, and this time with the Triumph for two days at Thunderhill. Hopefully this will continue to be a yearly pilgrimage. Being that I didn't much look forward to riding the motorcycle 600 miles in one day on straight freeways, I decided to borrow my good friend's (Roy and Paulyne) pickup truck. There's a running joke about these vehicles, causing our friend Dennis trouble when he borrows them, but I've always had good luck, so I didn't hesitate to borrow it. The only thing I was worried about were the tires, since the truck was hardly ever driven... sure enough, about 10 miles north of Eugene a heavy vibration developed at the front of the truck. I didn't know what was going on. I pulled over and checked the wheel. It seemed secure... I continued on into Eugene where I went to a Les Schwab tire store. They looked at the tire and told me it was separated. I had them replace it, and asked if perhaps the other tires had an increased chance of doing the same thing, and they assured me there wasn't. Great, back on the road. All was well... for about 120 miles, when the vibration came back! This time 10 miles North of Grants Pass. Once at the city, I took the main exit, and just drove down the main strip and actually found a Les Schwab there. I arrived at 6:10pm, and told them the situation. Sure enough, the other front tire was separated. They had closed at 6pm, but said they'd replace the tire anyway. After expressing concern about the rears (and running out of open Les Schwab stores on the road!), I had them replace the rear tires as well. Four new tires, and things were fine for the remainder of the trip down! The Lewis vehicle curse strikes again! ;-) I pulled into Willows at 10pm, and went straight to bed.

Today I met my friend Ken (who lives down the road in Walnut Creek), and his R6 at Thunderhill around 8am. It was a Zoom Zoom Track Day. As you can see in the photo above, I finally got a rear cowl for bike; it really finishes off the bike... it looks so good in it's battle dress now. I was curious to see if my knowledge of the track from doing it in the car would be applicable on the bike at all. I was running in the B+ group, and with the first session underway, it indeed seemed like a totally different beast. I guess I knew where the turns were, and what they'd do, but as for figuring out how to attack them, it was all new. It's strange how different the track looks coming at it from a totally different kind of vehicle. On the bike, the track seemed really bumpy and I wasn't comfortable at all. It was quite a drag, really. For the second session I asked to have an instructor show me the line. He followed me for two laps, and after that passed me and gestured for me to follow him. However, at turn two he just totally dropped me! Wasn't even checking to see if I was there. I figured he was ridding behind me to get a feeling for my pace and to see what I was doing wrong, but he just totally ran away from me. At the end of the first lap he looked for me and saw I was half way down the straight behind him, and seemed not to care too much about it. Hmm... so it goes. It really wasn't that big of a deal, though, because that second session I basically figured it out for myself. I guess it just took a session. I felt way more comfortable in the second session (and for some odd reason the track no longer seemed bumpy). I think there were two things... one was of course just figuring out the track on the bike, but besides that, I had only done one serious ride in the previous 9 months, so I just had to get comfortable on a bike again! By the third session I was pretty comfortable, and getting a knee down in almost every turn, including turn 8, which is taken at around 90mph. Having a knee down at that speed is awesome. The guys from Got Blue Milk were there taking pictures, and got some good ones once I felt comfortable.

Photographs 2005 Dito Milian

I decided to run the helmet-cam in the sessions after lunch (which you can see on my helmet in the last picture above). It was the first time using a helmet cam on the bike. The results are pretty good. It took a while getting used to the camera pack slipping down to my side, but I got used to it and I think got some fairly representative laps. Checkout the highlight video (17.0 meg MPEG) for various clips. A lot of it is shown playing back and forth with my friend Ken (in all black leathers, on the blue R6). Another interesting bit is where I got way inside of turn 2. Since I'm hanging off the bike so much, it looks as if I'm driving on the grass! Kind of neat. Another bit shows me leaving the braking way too deep before 14, trying to catch up to and pass another bike in 14, and winding up running straight instead of trying to make a turn I was already not comfortable with. I also made a video of my best lap (20 meg MPEG) at 2:16.7. The weird thing is that this happened just after lunch, with two more sessions left. I was doing some things much better in those later sessions, but I guess I never put it all together. I guess it must help having a rabbit in front of you as I did on this lap. You'll notice I was faster than this guy through the second half of the track, and he was faster than me on the front (and straights). On the next lap I passed him (and 5 others) under the bridge. That clip is actually in the highlight video. Overall I was thinking I would be turning faster laps than this... When taking into account the cyclone, I'm still probably running a bit slower on the bike than I was in the M Coupe (things are reversed at PIR). Most of my lap times without traffic were in the 2:17 range. I know I could turn quite a bit faster times, especially after watching the video. There are lots of places where I'm just not pushing very hard at all. I guess it'd just take more laps!

At one point during the second to last session, I saw Ken standing next to his bike way outside of turn 2. I was hoping he was alright, and when the session was over and he pulled in, I was told the story of a tire slide in two with a near high side, but instead a tank slapper that worked it's way out and drove him off track (up-right the whole time). A scary moment, but all worked out.

Watching the video a week later now, I noticed a few things that I certainly think I was doing a bit wrong. Perhaps the most damaging (see tomorrow) was my path through turn 10. I was actually quite fast here, gaining on people in the braking zone and into the turn all the time. However, I could have been even faster if I took a slightly different line, starting a bit wider, and cutting back in more. I was always entering the turn more from the middle of the track. This works quite well in turn 14, but not 10. Speaking of 14, in watching the video there seems to be a false apex at this turn, which I always seemed to hit. I think this is why it was such a difficult (slow) turn for me. I think hitting the apex very late here is the way to go.

Overall today was a great day. I made a lot of progress, and by the end of the day was one of the faster guys in the group. I kept on running up on guys in the braking zones, especially at the entrance to the cyclone. People brake way too early for that turn! I was exhausted at the end of the day, but a dunk in the pool at the hotel was a nice relaxer. More tomorrow.

Photograph 2005 Dito Milian

July 3rd, 2005

To be honest, I kind of had an unsure feeling about this day from the beginning. The night before I was exhausted, and was almost content with just the one day. I did watch a bit of the video and it got me excited about another day, though, and of course it was pre-paid... Before the session I checked my front pads and decided they needed to be changed. It's amazing what a quick job this is on the bike; took me about 15 minutes tops to change both sides, and probably only that long because it was the first time. I drove the bike a bit around the paddock and the new pads felt good. Today I was registered for the A group. As used to be the case with car days in the advanced group, I was probably the only guy in the field on street tires. After a few laps around my first session I settled nicely into a groove. I was keeping up with one rider, while most everyone else was passing me. However, in certain areas, like running up to the cyclone, I was still gaining on lots of people. I'm sure I turned a faster lap here than my fastest yesterday. Half way through I was happy I chose the A group. Dito snapped this picture of me in turn 10.

It was around this lap that I started to loose confidence in my tires. Through turn 2 the front end started to slide out from underneath me one lap. This was honestly the first time I have ever really noticeably slid the front tire. It is NOT a good feeling. Almost a helpless one. I began taking turn two a bit easier as the session went on, and had the thought, "This is the last time I'm going to do a track day on street tires." I felt I was getting to the point where I really needed the stickiness of race tires. I was even thinking of changing tires mid day... perhaps I was just doing too much thinking, because I was still on the track. Perhaps I lost concentration. In any case, I went down, for the first time ever, and very hard, before turn 10. I'm not exactly sure at what point I went down, but I think it was a fair bit before corner entry (perhaps at the start of the braking zone). If this is the case, it means about 100mph (I get on the brakes here at around 115mph). This happened to be directly in front of the photographer, which is kind of interesting... I've been debating whether or not I wanted to put these pictures up, but if nothing else, I think it's interesting to see the progression. And after all, I paid $65 for these, so I'd might as well get my money's worth... Click on any of the below for a link to a page of the whole sequence.

Photographs 2005 Dito Milian

It was quite strange all the things that were going through my head as I was going down. Before I could really get a grasp of what was going on, I was already on the ground. Honestly, my first thought (probably as I was sliding across the tarmac) was, "Wait... am I crashing?" Then I began to tumble end over end, then roll repeatedly. I hit my head on the pavement quite hard three or four times. The first time I thought, "Damn! That sucks!" Then it happened again (about a half second later) and I thought, "Shit! I hope this head banging stuff stops soon or I could get really hurt!" The next few times the impacts were smaller and didn't concern me as much. Also, between all the thinking of the head banging, I was concerned about the proximity of the 748 behind me. On every single roll (probably 3 a second), I'd see the 748 RIGHT behind my body. I'd hit my head, have the above thoughts, keep tumbling, face back, and think, "Damn, that 748 is still there... I hope it doesn't run me over." The odd part was during all my tumbling I was actually recognizing it as a 748, not just some bike... but every tumble it was still there, and every time I was concerned that he would run me over. I thought, "This crashing business isn't that bad so far, but if that bike runs me over this could get much worse." Then I just started tumbling and rolling down the track, for what seemed like forever. My next thought was, "I probably look just like those guys I've seen crash on TV." Then, while still tumbling, remember, I thought, "Boy, this gear seems to be doing the trick," and then, "I can't believe Ken doesn't have a back protector!" It was so strange all the things that were going through my head during these few seconds of me tumbling down the track. Eventually I came to a stop, and popped up right away. The 748 had come to a complete stop a foot from me and I heard him ask me if I was okay. I said yes, gave the turn worker a thumbs up to let him know I was okay, looked at the traffic, and ran off the track, towards my bike (as you can see in the picture above, with a bit of a dejected look on my face), the whole while wondering how bad the damage could be. While I was in the middle of the crash I also was thinking, "I hope my bike isn't damaged so badly that I can't do the rest of the day." Another thought was that I really wanted to ride to MotoGP at Laguna Seca the next weekend. Once I found my bike I just stood there staring at it for a while... I was about to try and pick it up when another rider stopped at the side of the track, got off, and came over. He helped me pick it up. I was so far off track that the session was not black/red flagged and it was able to continue on.

I'm writing this now many days later, and I still don't quite know what caused me to go down. It was one of two things... I'm kind of wondering if perhaps something funky happened with the brakes, since they were new and not bedded properly. I'll have to do some research here on if bike pads need to be bedded like car pads, and if something could have happened when they heated up quickly the first time, without any previous heat cycles on them (perhaps they binded up?). One of the riders behind me said I left a huge black streak across the track, and he was convinced I locked the front brake. I very highly doubt that I just grabbed a fist full of brakes and locked them without something else odd happening. One thing, though, is that with the new pads I had a lot less travel in the lever, and it also started grabbing much sooner. The lever was more extended, and it started braking much sooner than I had ever experienced before. I almost had to "reach" for the brake. I wonder if maybe this contributed? I had the lever set to 4, which is the farthest out. I didn't realize this until later, but after a few laps I had thought about coming in to try and adjust it, but didn't Perhaps I should have. Again, I'm not sure if this contributed since it all happened so fast, but maybe. Maybe since I had to "reach" for it, I applied the brakes in a abrupt, strange fashion that caused them to lock. Here's what I know happened... the steering on the bike locked to the left as I was setting up for the turn. Being that I was setting up, and not actually fully on the bike or fully into my lean, I probably wasn't firmly attached to the machine, which put me in a precarious position. In any case, the steering to the left obviously made the bike pitch quickly to the left, bringing it very close to the ground. What I think I did was when the bike was almost on its side from the steering going left, I basically just rolled right off the bike, as it was catching itself. That's why I started my tumble on my side then back (as seen above). The brake possibility is one thing that could have caused this to happen... another is just that the front tire began to slide, like it did previously in turn 2, but worse. I kind of doubt that due to where this happened before 10... it was way before the apex, so I doubt the bike was leaned over very far at all.

Overall, I guess I'm fairly lucky. The gear works; what can I say. I really think the back protector helped out here. The only real noticible injury I had was a bit of road rash on my leg and arm, and I do mean hardly any. I think it's from the areas of my suit that are vented. My gear isn't too damaged... the leathers are a bit scuffed, but not close to wearing through anywhere. The gloves are about the same, as are the boots. Obviously I'll want to be getting a new helmet since it took a number of fairly hard hits. As for the bike... well, I don't know if it's salvagable. Over the next few days and weeks I'll be taking it apart and seeing what all needs to be replaced. Knowing Triumph parts, it'd probably cost way more than a new (used) T595 would cost to buy the stuff from the dealer, so I'll probably just have to wait for the stuff to come around on ebay, if I decide it's savable.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with these kinds of things, I was reminded later on in the day how much worse it could be, when another session was red flagged... there was quite the delay (10 minutes) and we knew they had rolled the ambulance... about 10 minutes after that, we saw a helicopter come in and land in the infield. I never did hear how the rider was, but with a hospital just 7 miles down the road in Willows, it must have been fairly bad if they had to call in the chopper (surely to bring them to a more major hospital)... I guess I'd better count my blessings that the thing that hurts most on my body is a bruised thumb.

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David Paris
Last modified: Wed May 10 18:52:48 PDT 2006