Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Kari Track day - Solo ride to Coimbatur

Above pix by Freya



RTMC organizes a track day on March 3-4 and Abhi puts up an invitation at BN. I wanted to make it to this event badly as I had missed quite a few track days. None of the buddies seemed to head for the track. I decide to do it solo. Though the other bikers planned to transport the bikes in truck and get there by cars, the ride through satyamangalam was too tempting to leggo. So I planned to ride down to coimbi. Had to get new pair of shoes for my stead. Had to get it checked. The concerned friendly assistant of the mech wanted to fix a perfectly working front break and spoils it in the process!! Oh no, not before track :( But the service done, bike feels good. Bad time to have changed the tires as I put a different front tire and had to get used to it too, which behaved less than expected. Couple of visits to get knee and elbow guards din do ne good. Will have to do with the skating ones I have. Even had to manage a couple of visit to my dentist as a tooth had given way. Things goin wrong but the ride must go on. :)

Though initially planned to stay at chamarajnagar and have an early morning ride through satthy forest, would not be able to make it to the track by 9 so I left for coimbi on Friday 3.15 pm. Abhi and guys were going through hosur, longer and faster route for cars. The decision an hour late. It was a race to do as much daylight saving as possible. Wanted to make it to sathy in day light, not only to avoid riding in forest and ghats in dark but also to feast on vista. I seem to be getting some vibration above 100 that irks me a bit and slows me down. I make it to Mysore almost close to 5. That's slow. Wading through the evening rush I cross the city and catch the Nangungud road. Past nanjungud few patches of bad roads slow me down. At least its fresh road till chamaraj nagar. But it's got irritating speed bumps every now and then. I feel power loss in the bike may be dust in the carb or something. Tune it a bit rich and carry on. Its almost 6.30 in chamarajnagar and I fuel up. Looks like cant avoid night riding now. Its forest area after chamarajnagar. I ride as fast as I can in the fading light stop couple of times to take few pix. I knew am gonna miss the best parts of the vistas in the dark. When I zipped through a curve, I realized that I just passed an elephant with in 10 feet! That was shocking cos i had know idea i would be riding in such forest areas where u could see elephants by the road!!. It was munching its way by the side of the narrow road. Din have guts to stop and take a pic. Also short of time to plan strategies to take the pic as I had heard of elephants charging when ppl stopped to take pix. N I being solo carried on. It's dark now with very minimal traffic. I get anxious as I hardly do ne solo rides. Every truck I pass gives me confidence that ne thing goes wrong there would be ppl coming whom I can approach. Stock cbz light not helping much. It does improve the night vision capabilities :D. Hit the ghats taking my own time not in any hurry. Then I reach sathy in 1 piece by 7.45. Almost continuous ride and I feel like a vegetable. 70 more kms to coimbi(kovai) and its all normal roads with quite some traffic. Negotiating all the traffic reached coimbi by 8.45. That's 330 kms in 5.5 hours kinda ok considering half was night ride in ghats n all. I call up abhi for the place to shack up only to find they are still in hosur!!. It seems the truck were sized as the driver din have correct papers and the cops thought those were stolen bikes!. But they were out of it and were on their way. I get to the place where the guys have booked rooms and stay with Sunder. A very nice guy who is into freelance photography and had come to shoot the event. Have dinner, share our experiences and crash out for the day.

Its track day today :) Kari Speedway some 25 kms from coimbatur. The track is of 2.1 kms. Sunder lends me his knee, elbow and shin guards which were meant for hockey. The guys came pretty late and as expected late to rise. I meet quite a few ppl. I have seen prashanth in my campus before n I find him there too. Its small world. :) Then we move on to the track and things moves slowly. The unloading of bikes, briefing, and taking over the track. It went outside the track to remove my bikes center stand and crash guard and left it at the mech to collect it the next day. 12 noon before we can get on to the track. Then on its a gala time on the track. But was quite a humbling experience. Thanks to a couple of bullets I wasn't the last guy. But this does not mean no bullets were ahead of me. I never thought bullets could scorch the tracks like that. Guys peg scrapping their bullets and hard to catch on my sporty CBZ. Other than we first timers rest were quite at home on the track and were passing me left and right. I tried all the body positioning antics. But its more about the lines and the speed u enter the curve that matters. Cos I saw another CBZ guy sitting inline with the bike all the time and was moving quite quick. Last time I hit the tracks I din no my proficiency cos there were hardly ne Indian bikes to compare. This was a different story with most similarly powered bikes. So different from the ghats I am used to where one could ride twisties continuously above 6-7k RPMs and 70-80-90 speeds. But here u gotta slam the break and take the tight curves slowly and pickup again. Theoretically my bike had advantage with the bigger than stock tires for gripping and mods that has compensated for the tires and bettor. But I seemed to have been lost over there. The mess up in front break (previously I could slam only the front at 100 +! not now) and the new tire setup not helping either. Then on I ditched the comparison thingy and just wanted to enjoy the track with what ever best I could do. Now it was actually fun :D. Later the RDs entered the track and boy were they fast lapping quite a few bikes. Then there was prashant's Flying Flea heavily modded bullet which was taking on RDs !! it easily did 140 +. At the end of the day I had done 60 laps. I took adarsh along as pillion to ride till the hotel. In the conversation I found that it was the same adarsh whose Himalayan solo ride blog I had read. Again its a small world after all.

Next day I wanted to start early to bangy after lunch and hoped to reach chamaraj nagar in day light. I put in quite a few sessions not wasting time. I improved my timings from 1.42+ a lap to 1.36 by the end of the day. Even managed 119 on the straights. Could see the clear advantage of my bike when ever I lined up with another CBZ and go past it on the straights but by the next time I get to the straights the other CBZs are half way through the straights :)) and carving the corners. Abhi, poncho, killer, prashanth to name a few. Post lunch I couldn't resist going in for another couple of sessions. With still will to ride on the track, I decided to call it a day. Bid byes to the guys and started home by 3.45. The mech threw a tantrum about no time to fix the stand and crash guard back. Some how got it done and get to hotel room to pack up things. Fixing back the mirror with out the correct spanner takes quite some time. Fueling and cash withdrawal made sure that I will start as late a 5.15 pm!!. I decided to almost do a nonstop ride back. 6.30 by the time I make it to sathyamangalam. Awesome road none the less, and enjoying every bit of it. Hit the ghats in twilight. Take the last possible few pix in fading light. And its mostly night ride back home. Thought the progress got very slow with the lights not helping much. There was this occasional traffic keeping me away from lonely anxious feeling. All the while thinking what could I have done to ride bettor at the track. N how I wanted to turn around and go to the track and nail each and every corner :D. I am in Mysore by 9 pm. Its pay back time. I whip the throttle to the max and devour every vehicle in site. With no vehicles in sight it got boring but the moment I see a group of vehicles far ahead I say to myself "MEEEAT SLURRRRP!!" though I am a veggie hehe. Do the fun thing going past them. Though a few SUVs and cars challenged they would soon get lost behind lumbering trucks. I make it to bangy quick time by 10.30. That's a 125km run in 1.5 hours. At home by 10.45. Wow its again 5.5 hours for the 345 kms this time mostly in dark!.

That was 1 hellave party that weekend. N wanna hit the track again. 1043 the trip meter says. That includes around 135 laps both days put together. Too much u may say, but its comes to 270 kms in 4.5 hours and that's what we tourers do, ride around all day averaging 60kmph. :)