Mikey does it again! (and again, and again)

Mikey can be reached here should you wish to convey your condolences or send any comments.

November 20th, I went on the track for the first time at Laguna Seca. I was fully mentally prepared for what could possibly happen, and also how much fun I was about to have. We kicked off the day at about 9 am, running 3 groups of motorcycles, 25 in each group, for 20 mins at a time. That meant that every hour, you rode the track for 20 mins, and relaxed for 40. It sounds like a long break, but the time between sessions really flew by. When I went out for the first session, I didn't know what to expect. I figured I'd be getting passed left and right, cause it was my first time on the track. That was not true. The first session we pretty much ran the first 15 mins with one of the top riders leading the group around the track, kinda to give all the "C" class riders a feel for the faster lines around the track and to make sure none of us wrecked on our first time around. The last 5 mins they pretty much let us go, but the pace didn't speed up much because everyone was pretty clogged together in a pack still. Second session was a little wilder. I was going faster, running harder, and scraping my pegs through about half the turns really deep. This was getting better, and I was starting to learn the fastest ways around the turns. Definitely kewl.

Third session things got interesting. I was asking around if anyone could give me good advice on leaning through the turns. I wanted to figure out how to really hang off the side of the bike, keep my footpegs off the ground a little more, and I knew that better lean=faster turns=quicker around track=possibly squeezing in another lap or two in the 20 minutes. I found a guy that gave me some good advice, and the guy was one of the "A" class or "AA" class riders. Basically, he was one of the guys that went on whatever session they let him on for, and helped out the newbies like myself. Turns out, he positioned himself in the staging lanes so I would follow him through the entire next session, and we were really flying. This guy knew the best lines around the track, and kept the pace at a speed I could keep (he was riding a Ducati 996), while still pushing myself hard and having fun. The third session was definitely a fast one, and I was pretty damn psyched afterwards. At this point I noticed my HH boots and the scrapes in them. The first two sessions, I ran these boots into the ground so much that I'm now afraid that the sole is going to fall off. I have had these boots for almost 3 years, and in 3 sessions on the track, I've pretty much ruined them. Great. Oh well, I've got another set of boots in the van, government issue. I can destroy these. But at the same time, I'm keeping my foot pegs off the ground a hell of a lot more, and my boots are off the ground more, so with the new leaning techniques I've learned, I should be able to go the rest of the day and not destroy this other set of boots. My footpeg feelers were fully thrashed, so they were removed at this point. Oh well. LUNCH BREAK

Fourth session goes off with out a hitch. I'm flying. No one is passing me. I'm passing everyone that I come across. Everything is going great. I'm barely touching pegs down, yet going faster through the turns. I am DEFINITELY having fun. Oh yeah. I'm taking some turns that I was taking in 2nd gear in the beginning of the day in 3rd gear now. I'm doing the front straight a little faster. the straights between turns 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and 10 and 11 goes by a LOT faster now. In the first few sessions, I was able to run out of turn 10 in 2nd gear and hit about 10k RPM, now I am getting just about to redline in 2nd due to a better entrance, exit, and lean in turn 10. And I'm not even starting my braking late going into 11. These are some DEFINITE improvements. This is AWESOME.

Fifth session. I'm flying around during this session. Ripping everywhere. I'm going faster, getting a little ballsier. I know what I can handle, and I know what the bike can handle. When I start going hard, I'm REALLY going hard. I had to be one of the fastest riders in the group. A few of the instructors and a couple of the "club pros" you could call them, have told me I'm looking really good out there, and definably getting better, faster, and smoother. That's an ego booster. So I'm flying around, getting to the end of the session. I set into turn 6, a little hotter than before. I'm in 3rd gear as opposed to my normal 2nd gear entrance. After all, I've been taking turns a lot faster, I can handle turn 6 in 3rd gear, right? Wrong. I set into the just fine. I cranked on the throttle at the middle of the turn like I have been doing all day. Problem is, being in 3rd gear, I'm going a lot faster than I should be. I shot really wide, REALLY wide. I started getting to the end of the black top, and decided that I was going too fast to save it, and I better just run off into the sand a little, slow down, and get back on the track. I've had to do this a few times already today, coming up on slower riders in turns and fighting to get around them. So I figure, no big deal, I'll look stupid going off the track, but better than SHOOTING off the track and wrecking. Everything was going good as I ran it into the hard packed sand, until I saw the 1 foot deep ditch that it was too late to avoid. In went the bike, and down went I, high-side to the right. I was okay, bike was okay, just some cosmetic damage, nothing more. The worst damage I pulled was smashing my grollies into the tank pretty hard, but everything is okay. Okay, I went down, it was my own stupid fault for going too fast into the turn. Won't do that again. Lesson learned, I'm okay. Pick the bike up, have someone steady it while I adjust the smashed grollies, ride back to the pits as this session is over.

Session SIX. This was a memorable session. My buddy Terry was on his brand new 929 right behind me, and when I say he was trying to keep up, I mean he really was TRYING to keep up. He's a damn good rider, but he is still getting used to the bike and was unable to stay really close to me. That's okay, his ego wasn't bruised. Just about the end of the session, I'm flying into turn 2. Turn 2 went good. Pretty hot into turn 3, and that went well. Going into turn 4, everything is going great, good lean, great speed, tires are gripping, gripping, gripping............front end tucks under. Tire must've slipped a little. It was starting to get darker, and a little chillier, but still, this tire should've stuck. Well, it didn't, and at somewhere between 70 - 90 mph, I did a lowside. Oh yeah, I went down. It happened so fast, I don't know what happened. All I remember was I was on the ground, sliding on the blacktop. Something inside my head told me not to move, even though at that point I was still oblivious as to what just happened. Then my body rolled while sliding. Ouch. Then I kept sliding, this time my hands are on the ground dragging. Then, gravel. As I went into the gravel trap, my left foot dug in, almost standing me up as I kinda went from a face-down-feet-first slide into a tumble. That's when I finally realized that I was down and the bike was away from me. Then I stopped, and pain set in. FUCK! That hurts. My brain told my body to stand, but my body overruled my brain and I laid on my belly, pounding the ground. I looked for the bike through the dust cloud I just made in the gravel trap. It's sitting about 20 feet away dug deep in on it's side. it was only a few feet from the track wall. Damn, that was a slide. I looked onto the track to see if there were any marks. I could see the tire marks that I left. The bike slid probably 50 - 60 feet.

Lemme just say here that the wreck was a classic front tire gave low-side. I wasn't doing anything stupid, I wasn't riding beyond my limitations, I didn't touch the brakes, I didn't goose the throttle through the turn too hard, none of that. I asked around a little, and quite a few of the people there that day were running a track day there less than a week ago. They told me that right about the same time of day the track started getting a little slick, and they had a few accidents right about the same time last week. Well, useful information that I can now consider un-useful as it would've benefited me 30 mins ago, not 10 mins after my lowside. Oh well. Live and learn.

At this point, two other bikes had stopped and they had gotten off. One was the club president. One was someone I didn't know. Then my friend Terry showed up, and he stopped and got off. I was able to stand, and to walk, and the pain wasn't that bad. We walked to the bike, and the club president, Mark, wouldn't let me lift it up. The other three people lifted it up. I wanted to do it myself, but I didn't know how bad my ankle was, so I just let them do it for me. Mark got my bike started (took him a few mins to find Neutral, I had to tell him that the shift pattern was reversed, very confusing to someone that isn't used to it) and drove it through the gravel trap to the gate to leave the track. The worst mechanical damage was a very bent front brake lever. It now looks like a banana, but it is still very usable. Okay, well, it was the end of the session anyway. There should be one more. You bet your ass I'm gonna go out again if they let us. I get back to the pits, remove my boot, and I'm pretty okay. Against a few other people's advice and personal opinions, I'm dead set on going out for another session. Then, right in-between turns 3 and 4, a rider in another group went down HARD. They had to get an ambulance to remove him from the track, separated shoulder and who knows what else. That ended the day on the track. It sucks that the day ends with a bad accident on the track, but oh well. I had a lot of fun and will DEFINITELY do this again.

So now I'm thinking, well, I'm not hurt too bad, I'll go shower in the hotel and go out to eat. At the point that I got out of the van at the hotel to drop the trailer for the night, I was having a VERY hard time putting weight on my left foot. By the time I got showered and ready to go eat, I was hopping on one foot, unable to put any weight on my left foot. Oh yeah, there is definitely an emergency room visit coming tonight. Well, I'm gonna eat before I go to the emergency room, cause the pain isn't that bad. That and we all know how emergency room visits go. You sit there for 2 hours waiting for the doctor. I'm damn hungry, the foot can wait for the belly. Well, in the middle of dinner, I realize that the pain is much worse than I originally thought. Great, this sucks. By the time I get to the emergency room, I'm almost crying in pain. X-rays reveal nothing. Nothing broken, but DAMN does it hurt. I can NOT walk. I am on crutches, and in a SHITLOAD of pain. The doc gave me something which I think is in the Percocet family, cause it's pretty relaxing. I'm still in pain, a lot of pain. I have to wait until I get back down to base to have the doctor look at it and figure it out. Can't bend my foot, Can't wiggle my toes. This is definitely pain people. The bike is okay though. She's got 2 holes in the fairing from rubbing, the can has a nice flat spot, but she's pretty okay. I SURVIVED, although not fully unscathed. Oh well, shit happens.

So anyway, I'm hoping I'm not too damaged, cause I'd hate to have some serious damage that required surgery. It's now a few days after I originally typed this up. I am editing a little so JeF4y can post this on his website. The pain and the swelling have lessened significantly. I think all I have is a WILD sprain, but I'm still going to have the doctor check it all out and make sure nothing serious has occurred. Will I do another track day, HELL YEAH. Accidents happen, and I'm a little smarter for it. I'm just glad that I did it in a controlled environment. I have to say here that out of everyone in my group, I was one of the fastest people out there. I realize that a lot of people in my group were first timers on the track, much like myself, but I really seemed to have improved greatly as the day went on. A few of the "A" class riders and some of the instructors told me that I was doing really damn good out there. Some of them were really impressed when I told them that it was my first track day. The reactions I was getting from the instructors and "A" class riders were definitely ego boosting. I'm impressed with myself, and it seems to take a lot for me to impress myself when I'm dealing with my riding skills. That's all for now. I'll send out pics of the bike and the damage as soon as I can, although it might be a while. KEEP THE RUBBER SIDE DOWN!!!!! :)

Mikey trailing Terry.

Mikey is the second bike, following a 2000 Moto Guzzi through the Andretti Hairpin.

Terry standing with the bikes. That's a good pre-crash pic of Mikey's bike.

There's Mikey again, closing the gap on the 2000 Moto Guzzi. well, not really closing the gap. The guy on the Guzzi was WAAAAYYYYYY better than Mikey ;-)

Mikey & Terry gearing up to hit the track.

Mikey & Bike, ready to conquer Laguna.

Another pre-track shot of Mikey

The "guzzi-guy" Mikey was following

Mikey & Bike. Conquered by Laguna

Once is never enough. What the hell, it was already scuffed right?