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Vo Knows

Mind Games

Friday, September 11, 2009
National Guard Jordan Suzuki
Time to step up and play with the big kids...
Every once and awhile life will throw a serious curveball your way. Sometimes this job can be no different. But I’m not talking about your first day on the job or the blind date your aunt set you up on. This tends to be a far more dangerous and much higher horsepower curveball. Let me explain...

You see, ‘been there and done that’ is the status quo for most things motorcycle related after seven years of moto-journalism, during which time I’ve experienced everything from riding MotoGP bikes to racing 250 Ninjas to jumping 80-foot metal ramps on Supermoto bikes. But from time to time there will be an assignment that takes a bit more… ya know… how do you say it? Well … balls, I guess.

I’ve always been a relatively quick learner, especially when it comes to motorcycles – be it riding new tracks or learning new bikes. I’ve done enough of each to be quite efficient at both. Even when mixing the two together; still not too tough. Add in 200-hp AMA Superbikes and factory riders, however, and it’s not quite so easy. In fact, it’s quite daunting.

This all didn’t seem so bad until I was sitting in the Jordan Suzuki big rig, gearing up, looking at a set of Aaron Yates’ leathers. That’s when it sunk in that I had no clue what I was doing, at a track I’ve never so much as seen a photo of, amidst a field of guys who get paid to race Superbikes for a living…

Time for some deep breathing and meditation. Okay, now I’m doing better. Must keep reminding myself that I’ve raced against these guys before, it’s just been a couple years. Though, it was on a 600. In a class of all 600s. Not a Superbike. Damn, here comes that uneasy feeling again… Off to pit lane it is, then. A bit of fresh air mixed with that sweet cancer-causing smell of racing fuel should melt my brain into relaxing. And it did. For a minute…

I swing a leg over the bike and looking at me smack in the face was a gizmo cabinet stocked to the brim. Digital dash, traction control dials, wheelie control buttons, wires, plugs and readouts galore – enough to make any mere mortal’s head spin. Mine was doing backflips as the Jordan Suzuki data guy tried to tell me what everything did. His voice quickly turned into nothing more than a humming white noise as he plugged away on his computer, talking a mile-a-minute and pointing at each button and dial. ‘Just remember which one turns the bike on so as not to look like a total idiot’ I thought. Back to square one. Whoosa… Whoosa…
Mind Games Blog
As it turns out, this is the easy part. A tow from Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young helped as well...

Slide my helmet on, continually reminding myself that it’s ‘just a motorcycle’ and I have nothing to worry about. ‘Which way does Turn 1 go, though?’ I thought. Guess I’ll find out when I get there. Thumb the starter button, the bike roaring to life like a caged beast that had been starved for months and I was dinner. The transmission falls into place with a solid, rifle-action-like clunk. Start to let the clutch out and it grabs quickly, chugging away as I’m not expecting it to pick up so soon and I’m light on the throttle. At least I didn’t stall it. Make my way down pit-lane, rolling onto the throttle and figuring out just how much power I’m strapped onto. As the windscreen proceeds to try and hit me in the face as I click third gear I realize – A LOT!

Time to figure out the track without launching myself to the moon on a nearly 200-hp Superbike with the likes of Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden flying by. Luckily, once my visor was locked down and I was underway the intense nervousness turned into pure adrenaline and to my own surprise I was quickly up to speed. A tow from Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young didn’t hurt, either. While not quite on pace with the top guys, I was still within a couple seconds after only a handful of laps on a track I’d never seen.

But what rally amazed me was how quickly sheer terror manifested itself into pure enjoyment. For the rest of the test everything went smooth as silk; my times only dropped and by the end of Day 2 they had to pry me off the National Guard Superbike I was having such a good time. It was great to check yet another unforgettable experience off the books.

Funny how sometimes the buildup far exceeds the actual riding in terms of sheer terror in one’s mind. The human brain is an odd thing. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a curveball thrown my way, but enjoyed the hell out of it. To which I say: Bring on the next adventure! Just don’t tell me too many of the details ahead of time…
Post Tags: mind games, ama superbike
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Comments
tomq -NIce September 15, 2009 10:37 AM
Cool piece. Fun to read about what I can't do. Thanks for giving us a taste of what it is to ride a Superbike with the big boys.
clarkjw -Cool September 14, 2009 10:20 AM
I'm buying new leathers, so I'll get your mag free :)
Looking forward to the write up!
Really hope you get the Moto2 test. I think Bluesens needs a rider ;) Anyway, things should be a bit more sorted at Valencia and if I see your leathers, you'll hear my airhorn!
Nor-Cal Filth -Chill out September 14, 2009 09:35 AM
Clarkjw, take it easy on Steve, I would rather read about how he was as fast as the Daytona Sportbike guys on a superbike, than about how his musician buddy's club race win was just like Dovi's GP win in the wet! That one cracked me up. I wonder how many free guitar strings Steve got for that one?
Steve Atlas -RE: clarkjw - More ride detail, less ego stroking September 12, 2009 12:20 PM
Buy the upcoming issue of the magazine and you'll get an 8-page feature on the bike...
clarkjw -More ride detail, less ego stroking September 12, 2009 01:47 AM
We get it, your fast. You used to be a racer. Blah, blah Now tell us about the actual ride. Power delivery, tc kick in, suspension setup, geometry changes from stock, electronics options, corner entry, getting towed, etc. You had 2 days, I hope there is more. I'd love to hear it.