Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Since the dawn of time, man has pondered the big questions: Why are we all here? What is the meaning of life? How fast is Superfast Matt, exactly? This weekend some light was shed on one of those questions. And the answer is: not very fast.
Let’s start from the beginning
The trip out was a little stressful, occasionally looking back to make sure there was still a bike on a trailer and half expecting to see said bike rolling down the 110 end over end, cars swerving and exploding with epic carnage so intense it would make Michael Bay cringe. We only had one small issue with transport when we lost a sponsor sticker. Too much wind. Sorry KLR Prototype and Design; we’ll get a better sticker next time.
Tech inspection was thorough because it was a new vehicle with a unique architecture. However, I preempted any major tech problems when I towed the bike to the head tech inspectors house a couple months ago and had him look over it. There were some concerns from the other inspectors about the flexibility of the frame and possible stability issues. So they said “Don’t go over 125” and “We’ll follow you down the track” to which I replied “Aiight”.
I had to attend rookie orientation later in the day, which was me and two people who had been racing for years. Whenever you screw up on course by not slowing down soon enough or going off course then back on, they punish you by making you attend rookie orientation again. So it was basically detention.
The rest of Saturday was filled with RC car desert racing, Choco Tacos, and a mini keg of beer. Good times were had by all.
Sunday morning, me and the other “rookies” watched the first few cars from the start line, then the next few from the finish line. After about 25 cars went, we got our vehicles, lined up and waited our turn.
For about as long as I’ve been building this bike, people have told me I’m crazy. “You’re out of your mind; I would never do that” they say. And I say something like “Nahh, it’ll be fine, there’s nothing to hit out there so it’s safer than it looks.”
Sitting on the bike in full leathers, helmet on, staring down miles of flat cracked dirt and orange cones, it suddenly occurred to me that I must be out of my fucking mind.
I’m gonna go down that, in this, and how fast? The starter gave me the motion to close my visor, and then pointed me down the lakebed.
Alright, I’ll just take it easy, go as fast as I’m comfortable with, and feel it out. First gear, slip the clutch, slide feet on the ground to keep the bike up, more RPMs, slip the clutch, ease out, aaaand 2000 RPMs! A little more, 2500, 3000, 3500.
At the beginning of the course, near the right side where the rookie line is, there is nice fresh packed dirt. But as you start to get down the track or move towards the center, the dirt is loose, kicked up by all the 1000 horsepower monsters that tore down the track earlier that morning. The rookie orientation guy told me to stay to the right, but that seemed a little uncomfortable given that my short bike was seemingly dwarfed by those cones wizzing by me in an orange blur like stars at warp speed on the deck of the SS Enterprise. I’ll keep my distance and take my chances with the loose dirt. Even in the hard packed dirt, I had to let the bike do what it wants a little bit and only make the big corrections. It’s more like a dirt bike than a street bike.
I gave it a little more, squeezed it up to about 6000RPMs and blew past the finish line at what I assumed was somewhere between 100 and 36,000 MPH. Turning off the track and coasting to a stop on the return road, I waited for Bobby to pull up with the trailer.
“How fast was that?” I asked.
59 MPH on a motorbike powered street luge in the Mojave is way faster than it sounds.
I did two more passes later on in the day at slightly higher speeds, but the engine wasn’t tuned well above 6500RPM so it was hard to get any more out of it. My top speed was just over 67mph.
The technical inspectors were a little concerned about a front tire wobble, but I didn’t think it was wobbling that much. Still, I have some new bearings and a few modifications in line for next month that should stiffen up the chassis and steering. Hopefully I can also find an affordable chassis dyno in the area and get a good tune on the fuel map. Then I shall return for a record setting run of hundreds, nay, thousands of miles an hour!
To Be Continued!