This was another rough one, but we take the good with the bad. Last weekend, the weather report was rain for upstate, so I packed up the truck and headed to New York Safety Track in Jefferson NY again. I wanted to get some wet riding laps in because riding in the rain is always great training. It teaches you to be very gentle on the inputs, to treat the motorcycle, to hang off more to keep the motorcycle more upright on the fatter, safer part of the tire and it gets your synapses firing, as the feedback come in fast and forceful.
Personally, I find New York Safety Track to be one of the trickier places I ride. It’s a great track that produces massive amounts of grip and an equal number of challenges. A few of the corners are multi-radius so you really have to learn the correct line. The track is situated on the top of a mountain. When you get to a few corners, like turn 1 and 6, the outside of the corner starts to trail down the mountain, creating an extreme negative camber. Entry into those corners needs to be slow and methodical so you can reach the first apex, get your direction, roll a little throttle and then tuck it back in for the second apex and corner exit.
The first session in the wet was fine. I warmed myself up and the trusted SV650 and started to pick up the pace. Then the second session struck. I threw down a sensible out lap to warm the tires, put in a second lap where I increased the speed a bit more and then went full throttle on lap three, which ended at turn one. I was carrying too much speed through the braking zone. I made it to the first apex in that corner fine, but was carrying too much corner speed to bring the bike back around to finish the bend. This sent me wide and into that drop off negative camber. I kept my radius and continued to trail on the brakes, but the wet tarmac made leaning more a bad option, so I rode off track just a touch and that’s all that was needed to crash. There’s no run off there, so you’re immediately met with wet, rutted grass – sport bikes don’t like the grass so much and I binned it. Complete operator error.
The good news is, like every other session and mile on the bike this year, I didn’t have a freakout. Earlier in my riding career, that situation would have had me in full freakout mode, but that doesn’t happen to me anymore. I could see what was happening, I did what I could to mitigate it and then accepted it when it was about to go down. I was able to pick the bike up and ride it back to the pits. There was no major damage, but the front wheel was about eight degrees left of center from the handlebars, due to the triple trees and forks twisting in the tubes. The tools I had with me weren’t the right ones to fix the front end, so I thought I drove all the way there, best to jump into another session and ride around the issue. I found right corners very easy but the left ones were a huge fight. In those conditions, I wouldn’t learn anything more and would most likely crash again, so I packed up the truck and headed home early.
The takeaway was to not let myself get sucked into the entry of the corner. Something I’ve been taught many times, but still have a tendency to do. Next up is Monday at New Jersey Motorsports Park….. and I’ll be on my new race bike. More on that in the next post.