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Old 07-11-2018, 10:03 AM   #1
Honey Badger
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Daly City, CA
Motorcycles: 2017 ZX10R (race); 2016 ZX10R (street)
Name: AJ
Honey Badger's AFM R5, 2018 A Somber Weekend

Photos by Oxymoron Photography and 4theriders.com

Races were coming quickly and furiously. With only two weekends between rounds, finances, time, and mental stability were all getting stretched. After Round 4 I had decided I needed to upgrade to the Race Kit ECU and harness, in order to eliminate and have the ability to adjust things on the bike that needed adjusting. I came across a screaming deal on one, and it showed up the Thursday before. I installed it that night, the bike ran, so I headed up to the track early Friday to avoid traffic. I still had to work, and money was tight, so there was no riding to be done, but I took the bike around the parking lot to be sure it shifted and such. It seemed fine, so I looked forward to spending Saturday getting used to the new mapping and power and making any needed adjustments.

Going into the weekend, I knew there was a chance things wouldn’t work and I may end up scratching the weekend. Coming into it with that mental outset probably kept me from freaking out all day Saturday as things immediately plunged off a cliff.

I headed out for my first session of the day, and before turn 1, I knew I had a major issue. The bike wouldn’t get above 9-10K RPM, and twisting the throttle did nothing. Went around and pulled off the track. We started to take things apart, and I saw a fuel line looked bent, so we straightened that, and reassembled. I headed back out thinking that was the likely culprit – nope, same exact issue. Then we started trying to use a couple of the different maps – nope, same problem. Tore the bike down again to look for loose connectors – couldn’t find anything. Connected the computer to the ECU – couldn’t find anything. Had a pro (Fuzzy) take a look at the ECU settings – couldn’t find anything. Finally it was the last practice session and we still hadn’t solved the issue, so I went in and cancelled my races, planning to take Sunday to try to go through the bike and just help out with my pit mates races.

As I was coming back from cancelling, Fuzzy was leaving the pits having dropped off a new fuel line – he thought there was a chance it was still kinked underneath the rubber cover. We pulled the tank up again, and pulled off the old fuel line – sure as shit, there was still a kink when we pulled back the rubber cover. We installed the new fuel line, my teammate ran back to registration and had my cancellation cancelled, and I went out on the warm up lap of Race 1 to see if the bike would GO – we zoomed all the way to turn 1, and went around the track with a normal throttle response.

I headed out for my AFemme race (Race 3), having yet to complete a full lap on the new electronics and maps. Valentine and Shelina had great starts, and while I wanted to chase them down, I was still feeling out the “new” bike. Some of the responses, especially in downshifting, were very different than what I was used to. Despite everything, I still managed to get down to what was around my best times the previous weekend, and I was feeling pretty good for the rest of the weekend, thinking there was a pretty solid chance of reaching my first goal on this bike.

That evening was an enjoyable time as I savored some delicious tacos made by a fellow racer, watched the rather amusing slow races, and hung out with my friends, eventually tootling off to bed looking forward to what Sunday had in store.

Sunday dawned warm and bright, promising a toasty day ahead. I went out for a few laps of the morning practice session, then got ready to head out for Race 2, Open Superbike which has been my worst race all year, even simply comparing myself to myself. I had no expectations for this race, but knew I needed to see how I was feeling about some of the settings on the bike and keep figuring it out. I also decided to try the launch control on the start. Well, the launch control didn’t work to well for me, and my start was horrible. I decided to fight back anyways, and ended up coming in to find I was matching my times from the night before and my better times from the previous round. Awesome, as there was a ton of time to be made up in several places that I could see, and I was pretty stoked to head out for our following races.

Unfortunately, there was a crash in the race before ours, and the race got red flagged. The delay went on, and we could all tell something wasn’t right. As it turns out, it was all very bad, as word started to reach us that it seemed the rider had passed away as a result of injuries from the crash. Eventually the track was cleared, and our race was called, but all of us were wondering if the rumors were true. This was in the back of our minds as we gridded up.

I tried the launch control again, but again, it did me no favors whatsoever. My start sucked, and I was elbowing around for a spot. As we started to head through Turn 1 towards Turn 2 early in the race, there was a yellow flag out, and it smelled like a bike may have blown a motor. I had it in my head that if that was the case there were two things: 1) Watch out for oil on the track, there’s a good chance there might be some, and 2) that the bike was probably going to be on the outside of the track, so hold a tighter line. Even though I saw the bike in the middle of the track, it just wasn’t registering with me that was the blown up bike – and about the time I got all of that processed (all the while watching for oil) I realize my front wheel is pointed at a big oil spill and there’s no avoiding it. I was on the front brake, too, so I just tried to stand the bike up as best I could, very carefully control my brake pressure, and manage the slide that was almost immediate. My bike slid around, and I ended up shimmying to the outside of the track praying that anyone over there was paying attention and able to give me someplace to go. Thankfully Jeremy King was able to do just that, and I was able to control the slides and managed not to crash. By the time we were through the corner, the red flag was out and I cautiously went through a few more corners in case of any remaining oil on my tires.

The track got shut down again while they put the (engulfed in flames) bike out and then cleaned up the oil, and during this they called the lunch break since they knew we would be down awhile. A special riders meeting was called just as we were coming in, and I headed over as soon as I could. The rider’s meeting was to make an official announcement about the earlier incident and to confirm everyone’s worst fears – the rider had, indeed, passed away. It was discussed a bit, and one of the racers offered up a prayer. We then had a little down time before the afternoon was to commence, and needless to say, it was a somber lunch as we all pondered the morning.

A number of riders decided to scratch the afternoon, and while I considered that for a bit, I also felt like going back out there was the right thing to do, so when they finally called our restart, I decided to get back on that horse and focus on riding. We headed out, and gridded up. One last time I tried the launch control, thinking I was maybe beginning to “get” it, and my start still sucked. The first couple laps I just wasn’t feeling it, and just decided to ride my own ride, but then a couple other riders came by who’s pace wasn’t that far off of mine, and I started to get my fight back a little bit, making the last half of the race feel more like a race. I was still a second or so off my earlier pace, and I still wasn’t willing to push myself beyond what I was very comfortable with, but I was at least getting back into race mode a little bit.

I got back on that horse and decided to finish out the day.

Open Superstock eventually rolled around, and I thought I was feeling pretty good. When we gridded up I decided to say the heck with the launch control and just do my normal start, and it was quite good. I was comfortable and ready to go, but the track was feeling a bit greasy, and everything from earlier in the day plus a long day of being in the heat was quickly taking its toll. By the end of the second lap my legs were already tiring, and my arms were trying to pick up the slack, and then I started to get arm pump in my right arm. I tried to focus on forcing my legs to do their job, but it was a struggle all the way around. Rather than finding any pace, I just managed to keep doing what I had been.

I finished the race, and that’s about all the good I could say. It was a long, rough day for most of the paddock, and I’m pretty sure everyone is feeling the sting of losing a fellow racer, whether we knew him well or not. We’re a family, and losing anyone is always a painful experience. Between that and my little oil excitement, and the fact that I’m still having some issues with the bike, I didn’t consider the weekend a loss, but far from a win, too. I kept the rubber side down, kept my head in the game (despite a LOT to push it out), but I didn’t gain anything, either. I can thank my coach, Tyler O'Hara, for giving me the tools to keep my head screwed on straight despite it all.

Thankfully, we have a bit of break until the next race round. I want to take a look at my bike’s transmission and see if that is messed up (my gut keeps telling me there’s an issue there, and I’ve tried enough changes with electronics and still have the same issues, so that feeling just keeps getting stronger and stronger). I’m happy to have the kit ECU in there, and want some seat time to tweak a couple of the settings that aren’t quite working for me.

I really feel like all the puzzle pieces are falling into place, and I’m not far from making a noticeable (in latptime) breakthrough. Teetering on that edge, where it’s right around the corner. I’ve been building into it slowly, with some breakthroughs along the way, some small, some huge, and I can just tell it’s not far off now.

My condolences to the family and close friends of #780, may you ride on in peace.
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Last edited by Honey Badger; 07-11-2018 at 10:04 AM..
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:41 AM   #2
budman
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A lot to overcome for sure.

Oil on the track...!!!
I hate oil on the track. Cost me 8,500 bux and ended a season early cause I was quickly broke and the bike destroyed (back in the day).

Good on you for recognizing and taking appropriate actions to save your butt

Glad you got back on the horse. Best wishes for that lap time breakthrough!

Sweet pics too.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:59 PM   #3
Smash Allen
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Nice report AJ, crazy about the turn 2 oil slick and 9krpm lock! Whose bike was that in turn 2? happy you kept the sticky side down, see you at Sonoma
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Old 07-20-2018, 08:42 AM   #4
Honey Badger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smash Allen View Post
Nice report AJ, crazy about the turn 2 oil slick and 9krpm lock! Whose bike was that in turn 2? happy you kept the sticky side down, see you at Sonoma
Tyler Wolters is the one who blew up/burst into flames.
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Special thanks to my 2018 sponsors and supporters!!
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Old 07-24-2018, 02:09 PM   #5
jaybocc2
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Was a rough weekend for you AJ and from FB it seems like still is.

Glad you got it fixed for the races though and it was fun racing with you!
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