Track Day Nine, Mid-Ohio 6/5/06

Sticking with my goal to attend some different tracks this year I'd been thinking about possibly doing Mid-Ohio, but being 350 miles away, it would be the furthest track I'd been too.  Not only that but NESBA doesn't do Mid-Ohio, so I'd have to sign up with SportBikeTrackTime.  Unfortunately they run rain or shine; no refunds if it rains.  So, that combined with the distance, and the fact that it wasn't a very bike friendly track had me hoin and hummin about going. 

So, one day I go up to the chicagolandsportbikes discussion group and find a video of the NEW Mid-Ohio track; completely repaved, and the concrete barriers around the track had either been removed or moved back in all critical areas.  Well, that combined with the fact that NESBA  was only doing Autobahn North and Putnam in the month of June, got the wheels rolling.

To minimize my chances of hitting a rain day I watched the 10 day weather forecast and actually didn't sign up for the date until six days prior.  At that point it was a toss-up between the 5th or the 6th.  The 5th was actually showing a chance of rain and the 6th was not.  But I figured, that far in advance they have to be wrong, so I signed up for the fifth.  I had to pay an extra $20 because I signed up so late, but I was going to be spending a lot of money, so I figured it was a good insurance policy.  Actually a week earlier I had signed up for a membership with STT and later found that this particular track day was officially a Mid-Ohio run event, so I didn't even need a membership.  Oh well, I may need that membership for later in the year.

Well, as time got closer to the event the weather forecast was looking better and better.  It ended up that the whole weekend and days of the event were beautiful.  Here's a shot of me driving there on the 4th.  Mid seventies and billowy clouds.

You just can't ask for better, and it was like that the whole time.  Actually there were even less clouds most of the time.

Driving there I was surprised that I80 wasn't as straight as I remember it being.  Well, at least not the whole way, and when I got off 80 and took Ohio 250 south, it was a genuinely a nice ride.  Beautiful lush green fields, small towns, farms, and just enough curves and hills in the road to keep it interesting.  Approaching Mansfield and Lexington the roads just kept getting better.  Even as I was going south on I71 the road gradually descended into what seemed like a valley.  Now I understood why Mid-Ohio was a hilly track.

I stayed at the Motel 8 just off I71 and Ohio 13, which it's self was on a hill.  It was actually in good shape, and, among other restaurants, there was a Bob Evans within walking distance. The motel was about 15 minutes from the track, so that worked out well.  I got checked in, hauled my cooler up to the room, and got myself over to Bob Evans, where I ordered a Cranberry Chicken salad.  I'd actually never been to a Bob Evans before, and that salad was a good choice.  Kind of a sweet & sour taste and not too heavy.  Also with the salad came the best banana bread I'd ever had.  Definitely will have to make a point of visiting Bob Evans more often.

After dinner I got myself back to the room and spent the couple hours before bed relaxing and watching some TV.  Getting to bed and waking up wasn't much different than Grattan.  I had trouble falling asleep, woke up about 2:30 in the morning, and spent the rest of the time just laying there with my eyes closed so that I could at least pretend to get some sleep.  At least the bed didn't have a huge dent where people normally lay.  Well, maybe a little, but not as bad as the Candlestone in Belding.

Well, the alarm clock finally rang, and I got myself ready. The shower was refreshing... had one of those dial-a-massage shower heads... everything from a light as rain setting to beat me up with the water... I set it somewhere in-between and got myself a shoulder massage. Breakfast consisted of  some whole wheat cereal, a banana, and some milk from the cooler... quick and nutritious.

I got myself loaded up and headed for the track about 6:45.  Directions to the track weren't the easiest to follow, but I made it just after 7:00.  The drive was pretty nice.  Two lane roads up and down some very big hills and through a small town.

There were a lot of people already in the paddock area when I pulled in.  I parked in a spot just inside the paddock area close to the exit.  In this photo the blue splotch is my beach umbrella... which didn't survive the wind gusts... actually bent the aluminum shaft that holds it up... so I'll need to replace that with another umbrella or a canopy before next track day.

I asked the guys that parked in front of me about registration.  They pointed me to the paddock garages... quite few of which were rented out.  That's the white roof just to the left of the main tower.  So, I got myself registered, finished unloading my bike, took it through inspection.  One thing that was different with STT is that they require that the glycol be removed from the cooling system even for intermediate class.  So, that was some extra prep I had to do on the bike.

8:30 rolled around and we had the obligatory rider meeting.  Pretty much covered the same stuff as NESBA.  The passing rules are much simpler in "I"... basically pass where ever you want, just leave six feet of room as you do.  Worked for me.  And while the Novice group continued their education I went back to my bike and got ready for the first outing.

Well, at this point it gets fuzzy because one run blends into the next.  The track is just fantastic.  Freshly paved and smooth as can be, wide, and it has some nice elevation changes, including the turn before the back straight and everything between the back straight and the front straight.  There's even one spot where you can get some air if you're carrying enough speed.

Front straight I got up to about 120 or so, then hit turn one at 90-100, back up to 120 before the shikane which I entered at about 90 to 100 slow down some through it, then brake and double downshift before the downhill right-hander.  I entered that at about 1/3 of the track away from the inside and then tighten up to the apex and drift out on the exit.  Crank it up to what ever you'd like down the back straight... No need to stop accelerating for the kink... I could easily see 150+ before braking heavily for the right-hander and downshifting at least a couple gears.  Immediately after the right is the up hill left that apexes at the  top of the hill.  I found it best to stay close at the top of the hill and not drift  too far at the exit because you have to get back to the left side of the track to take the next right, and then left, which exits up hill and leads to a blind slight right.  If you get enough speed over that up hill you get some air on the other side.  Next is the uphill right that apexes just before the peak of the hill.  You carry some good speed through that turn and accelerate down the short straight.  Stay inside on the kink, bake for the left, stand it up, brake, downshift, and gradually slowing right.  Fast flick to the left and you're back on the front straight.

I think the picture below is going into the downhill right before the back straight.

Random interesting points:
- I was running pretty much at the front of the I group most of the day.  A one point I lined up first for the session, and there were no control riders, so the track marshall comes over and asks if I think I can make it around the track without wiping out.  LOL... He let us go... cool.
- Turning into the turn in the photo above, one time I could feel my front tire slide a bit, but it was barely noticeable.
- Later in the day I flipped one of my knee pads 180 degrees cause I was string to wear one side.  The pads definitely got a workout.
- In the last session I was behind this guy for a while, so I planned to pass him going into turn 1, but he really picked up some speed on the straight.  More than I anticipated... so I was like... should I, shouldn't, should I... he slowed down quite a bit for turn one so I passed him on the outside.  After the session he came to talk to me, and said that I spooked him a bit.  I apologized for being as close as I was and we talked for a while. 
- My umbrella kicked the bucket... the force of the wind bent the support rod, so the last few session it's all I could to to stay out of the sun.  I had to rig it should it was at a 45 degree angle and cast enough of a shadow so that I could sit behind it and get some shade.
- My brakes started acting up when I used them hard.  I've since figured they're just glazed up so I sanded them and the pads.  We'll see if that fixes it.  If not, I do have new pads for it.

Next... Autobahn Full Course July 3... God Willing.  Should be fun.