Although I usually ride on my birthday (which was Sunday) I switched with one of the other registration girls whose birthday was also on May 22. I was going to be at the racetrack both days anyway so she might as well get out and have some fun away from the smell of exhaust, race fuel and trackfood–which I find palatable–on her own birthday. I am thankful to be able to ride AT ALL so I was game. I’m so glad we switched! The weather was perfect!
Okay, I will admit it, I have NEVER cleaned my front brake pistons. Ever. And it shows. I figured that out Saturday after the solo race when I saw that my pads were getting low. Then Shawn pointed out that my pistons were disgusting. I would need new front brake pads before the next race so I would do both before the next trackday to get them set in and tested. I am learning as I go…
What You Will Need: (This is for cleaning the pistons while on the bike, if you want to go the distance and remove the whole assembly, pistons, springs and all, go for it. Doing it this way is a heckuva lot easier and without messing with any brake lines.)
- tools you need to remove your caliper bolts and pins
- small bucket or container of warm water (I used a 1 qt Pyrex measuring cup set inside of a clean oil catch pan)
- regular liquid dish soap (just enough to mix in the warm water and make it sudsy. I don’t use brake cleaner on my pistons or caliper assembly because of the seals)
- firm toothbrush
- clean shop rag or paper towels (I used papertowels)
- blue threadlocker
- New brake pads if you are changing pads (Laughably the OEM pads were $38.95 per pair, vs. $44 for Galfer Sintered HH per pair)
- Scotch-brite pad (green or red), if you want to clean rotor
- brake cleaner, if you want to clean rotor
- safety wire and safety wire pliers (for race prep)
- RTV silicone (for race prep)
I have about 10 minutes before my next race, C Superstock Novice, so I pull in, get the bike immediately on warmers. I downed a ton of water and put on the jacket again, it was stupid-cold and the wind was really kicking up. So much in fact we had to take down the canopy. People’s canopies were breaking and flipping all around us. The halfway flag had been flown so I made sure we were going to put in 3 liters of fuel, and I was going to start getting ready. It is worth noting that my fuel indicator light is broken, it shows 2 bars at empty, or at least it has in the past which I found out the hard way. I look with a flashlight, measure with a stick, factor laps, distance, blah blah blah but it has a mind of its own. I knew we probably had a liter or so left from the last race so I felt 3 additional liters would be more than sufficient for a 6 lap sprint. I keep it at pretty high rpms so I go through fuel more than your standard rider on the street.
And then the worst happens, the wind laps at the surface of the fuel (Maia had not put the lid on the pitcher) and it went right in her eye and all over her face. I had less than 2 laps left (about 3 minutes) for the 5 board, but I grabbed her arm and walked her to the garage. She could not see and it was burning like crazy. After I got her to the bathroom and she was washing out her eye and I ran back to my pit to get everything in order. Edward and Shandra had taken care of everything and all I had to do was get on the bike and get into race-mode. I am definitely bringing them cupcakes next event! I got my helmet and gloves on, got on the bike, they removed the warmers and stands and I was off.
Up at dark-thirty again, this time with our routine down. Breakfast? Check! Smoothie with a securely lidded cup? Check! Fuel? Check! At the track 6:45 AM and the pit set up by 7 AM? Check! We are women, and we are awesome! LOL! 😉 Why so early if we’ve already teched? The bike needed to be on warmers because practice for 600cc Novices was during session 3–early! The night before after I left the track I had told Maia we needed to be sure to pump the brakes because I wasn’t sure we had done it after changing the wheels. She had written on her hand with a Sharpie “PUMP BRAKES!!!” I am super anal about pumping the brakes and checking pressures. It seems that these two things can easily be overlooked and either can ruin your whole weekend. We took care of that, the front was done, the rear was not. Always doublecheck. Maia picked up the transponder and we put it on the bike, we were ready.
It was FREEZING!!! Layer after layer, I had a hard time keeping my body temperature in check. I couldn’t stop shivering so it was imperative I keep my leathers on and stay warm. Edward from SD BMW let me borrow a neckwrap to wear while riding and a large shirt to keep warm while off the bike. I still can’t believe I forgot all of my Under Armour and clothes sitting in a bag in my garage.
The clouds were threatening rain most of the day and it was pretty windy. If it was going to rain, I did not have rain tires and honestly, it wasn’t worth it to me to attempt riding in anything remotely wet on DOTs. I was looking forward to testing out that DOT front, especially with the pre-load changes the day before. The result was incredible even on that slick. It should transition really easily now and be an entirely different animal. I made a mental note to take it easy at first to be sure it didn’t flick too severely and come unglued. The last thing I needed was to tuck the front in practice.
I went out for practice at around 8:30 and could tell immediately the front was agreeable with the changes we made. The brilliance was most apparent in T5 where I had had trouble the day before. The DOT now cut through that turn like butter. I still took it easy because I was getting used to the profile and pressure differences, not to mention the chill of the track. but it all worked out and finished practice with some extra sessions. We would not be running as much fuel today since my races were sprint laps (6). We also cut a Uhaul blanket in two and wrapped the tirewarmers like a pair of ghetto Tiresocks. This really helped keep them warm.
Shandra was still messing with her set-up so she wasn’t going to race afterall. We attended the riders’ meeting and saw the coolest riding vest/leathers set up. Essentially it had a system similar to a dead man switch (a tether) and as soon as you walked away from (or flew off) the bike, CO2 cartridges inflated spine, neck and chest airbags and protected all of your vital parts. Sure, uninflated it looked like you were getting ready to go SCUBA diving, but as soon as inflated and was needed, who cares what you looked like. After the meeting, I got my grid positions and wrote it on pink duct tape for my tank.
Fortunately the sun came out for my first race (WSS, HWT SB, V6 HW, V7MW, etc. combo race) however it was still windy. Basically I was racing behind a group of expert women in my wave and a bunch of novice and expert guys on bigger bikes from the first wave as well. I was the absolute last rider on the grid, second wave, on the inside AGAIN. Very cruddy place to be. Basically a first wave consists of a separate class of riders that they let go and then once they clear turn 1 we (the WSS) start our process to go.
Everything went a lot more smoothly today. Edward, Maia and Shandra helped me make sure everything was ready. I was running 33/26 hot (three above normal on the rear) and everything was set to go. After rolling out for my site lap, I noticed the wind was AWFUL! I thought to myself, “They are going to make us race in this??” (OMG Seriously? This is where they separate the men, the girls and the boys and I am worried about the wind. But in this case even little boys are faster than I am, lol)
I gridded up, but passed my grid marker by a couple inches so I tippy toed my bike back into position. As I was backing it up a second time, I then saw a girl on the row in front of me miss her own marker and I don’t know what happened but she got thrown off balance and dropped her bike. I think it was Marisol. All I kept thinking was how everyone is looking and I know everyone has done it but I was hoping people weren’t being critical blaming the girl card. Marisol is tiny and her R6 is still heavy compared to her own weight and leg length. It could happen to anyone. I remember feeling protective over her and then all I could think of was please don’t let it happen to me. It seemed like I was so far back from everyone! I would never get a good start. The 2 board was up so I started thinking about my start, we all revved up to our starting sweet spots and then the 1 board went up, turned sideways and the green was flown….and!
Up at Dark-thirty with breakfast in our bellies and smoothies to go. Except for the unfortunate fact that I knocked over my smoothie cup and it went all over my truck. So off Wal-Mart (gasp)… We split up the duties, Maia to get the ‘heavy’ stuff, while I searched for something to wear under my leathers. It was even colder today than the day before. I approached what turned out to be a very blunt German lady in the women’s department and inquired about sportswear. Wal-Mart doesn’t carry Under Armor but any spandex or lycra tights will do. My only options were cotton leggings, see-through tights like a dancer wears, and get this, Miley Syrus brand leggings with slits and studs. Really? There was one pair of black lycra pants in a size 0. Who the hell wears a size 0?? I told the lady that I don’t think I could wear a 0. She proceeded to tell me in a snide tone, that no, she did not think so either. Thank you for that blow, Helga. So I grab the cotton leggings and we’re outta here.
We got to the track and I still had a ton of things to do. I had to remove my kickstand, and RVT some bolts, pins and clamps. Great. Tom Bednash helped me with some removal instruction, but I couldn’t even crack the torque on the Vortex shifter assembly. We were pitting next to San Diego BMW Racing, so Gary Orr and Edward Bell helped me out. Okay Gary actually did it while I learned because I was afraid I’d screw it up. After he removed the complicated parts, we safety wired and ziptied the assembly and it was complete. Unfortunately, Gary had crashed the day before so he wasn’t using his generator and let me use it for my warmers.
Don’t cut the red wire, I repeat, cut the green wire, not the red wire!!
I registered and went to tech but I had forgotten my receipt. Maia held my bike in the tech line so I could run and grab it. My bike passed tech but my helmet was going to need to be replaced before the next round. It was “expiring” in the world according to racing. Seriously! I need a new helmet now?!? I went back to the pits and rechecked everything. The tires were hot and I was waiting for practice. We were to have 2 practices before the solo race around mid afternoon.
Let me first start by saying that prepping your bike both sucks and is very rewarding! The prep process had its Oh Crap! moments and its rewards, thank goodness not equally. I was a Googling queen because I had no clue where to identify some of the parts, such as a brake torque arm. Seriously, I didn’t. Thankfully that didn’t apply to my bike.
. I didn’t have a really good drill so I found one on sale at Home Depot for $79. I also bought quite a few packs of 5/64 bits because I was told I would break a ton of them. However, I only wound up using 4, and broke only one. YAY!