Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lebanon Valley Speedway

I have a new favorite 1/2 mile track, located only 3 hours away from me in the lush Taconic foothills of New York. This place should be referenced in the Webster's dictionary under the definition of "paperclip", because you won't find a better example of this type of oval racetrack. I tried to lift an image off of Google Earth, but I lack the appropriate hacking skillz.

Anyway, Hannah and I met Scott at the track on Sunday for the opening round of the Electric City Flattrack series. They always run one race here, and the rest at the Indian Lookout track near Schenectady.

Scott and I signed up for Vintage Medium, which is a new class this year to allow for less hurt feelings when the 500's smack down on just about every other engine size that shows up.

Hannah and I got there a little early which allowed us some time to watch the drag racing going on right next to the oval, and we also had time to walk the track. This place is intimidating to a first timer, long straights and fairly steep banking in the turns makes for a bit of second guessing about how to ride it.

Here's turn 1

Scott and I were able to get two practice sessions in. We took it easy for the first lap but got comfortable pretty quickly. By the end of the second session we were both feeling confident about the track and conditions. The only problem was Scott's bike was running a little rough, and his gearing was off. We borrowed a taller rear sprocket from Hugh of 6th Street and put it on, which required an extra length of chain. I had a spare couple links as well as a spare master link, but the master didn't fit his chain as well even though it was the same 520 size. That came back to bite him in the feature race, he completed four laps before the bike spit the chain coming onto the back straight. Tough day of racing for him.

Scott taking a high line in practice, before the groove got established.

I had a better day of racing. Got a second place in the heat race after a decent start from the outside position on the line. I followed Nick Wiemer around and actually closed the gap a little bit towards the end of the race while he was experiencing some high speed wobbles on the back straight.

The Feature race was fun, I started next to Nick on the bottom and we both had a good start. He was below me and first into turn one but I had a better position on the groove and was able to power around him coming out of T2. I held the point down the back straight and through 3 & 4 but Nick was on form and passed me at the line to take the lead starting lap 2. I was racing at a pace I was comfortable with. Two more guys passed me but one of 'em was racing against himself in Vintage Light, so I still wound up with a 3rd place finish.

On the line for the main event.

This picture of the start shows the length of that front straight.

Hannah was pit crew, push starting me and minding the photo/video department as well. Good work.

I had a great time out there, good speed, great racing visuals, and a decent performance overall. The last time I showed up at a new 1/2 mile track it didn't go so well for me, I didn't complete a lap before I was in the hay bales, so walking away with a trophy was icing on the cake. Now we just have to get Scott's bike up to speed.

Here's some GoPro video of the feature, you'll have to cut and paste it to your browser;


Saturday, May 19, 2012


Here's an X-ray of my hand, the scaphoid bone is the longish one between the thumb and the arm bone. It's healthy.

I'd rather not learn the names of bones in my body by having them X-rayed.

The reason for the X-ray was that a few weeks ago I crashed my KTM into a birch tree, pretty hard. Both my wrists were pretty sore from the impact transmitted through the handle bars, but the right wrist was still bugging me a week later. I did a little research and decided to at least determine if the scaphoid was fractured , since that's a common injury.

The report back was that I didn't break it, but I should take it pretty easy until there's no pain. I bought a brace that helped isolate the wrist and thumb and I wore it during the day for about two weeks, and I iced my wrist when I could remember to at night. It's not 100 percent, but it's feeling much better.

Racing tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Aka Heinemann's Hotrod, the McDonnell Douglas A4.

Hannah and I headed south for a Sunday ride through Bristol on our way to Middlebury for lunch. As we were riding north on Rt. 7 past a Chevy dealership, I spied this A4 in the back of their lot. We had to do a quick u-turn to check this thing out.

It turns out it's not in the dealership lot, it's a gate guard for the local VFW next door. When I saw it from the road I couldn't identify it right away, the large canopy through me off, as well as the lack of a radar hump behind the canopy. This is a trainer, and I don't think I've seen one before, I've only seen the Blue Angels A4's and a few active duty later model A4's with the hump.

Go here for more info on the A4;


Thursday, May 10, 2012

XR250R progress

I spent some time on the XR250R today. First order of business was repairing the wiring harness from the stator. It had been hacked into several times, and it was looking pretty sketchy. I suspected that it was part of the reason I was getting weak/intermittent spark, so I removed the stator and rewired it. Electricity is not my strong suit, and wiring falls in that category, so I'm not going to show you the "after" photo 'cause I didn't take one, but here's the "before" photo.

Next on the list was the seat cover. I got a replacement seat cover on eBay. Fred gave me some advise and loaned me his tools to do the job, which was very helpful.

The seat cover had been replaced at least once already, and that one had worn through and had been "repaired" with gaffer's tape.

I stripped the old seat cover off.

I wanted to take some foam out to lower the seat height a little bit. I used Fred's die grinder, an effective tool but tricky to use on seat foam. I was able to change the profile of the seat a little bit.

I didn't realize that the seat cover would show every fault in my die grinding work. Oh well...hopefully good enough for a dirt bike.

Friday, May 4, 2012


This isn't exactly a first for me, but it sort of is. I've owned and ridden a few Hondas over the years, most notably the '86 XL600 streettracker that I've posted about, as well as an old CB125 "peashooter" project and some other dirt bikes, but this is my first modern Honda street bike.

Behold my new 2001 VFR800FI Interceptor

I say modern only because it was born this century, not last, but it's a fine distinction because it's a 2001 which is the last year of the 5th generation VFR that started production in 1998. After '01 Honda went with V-Tec camshaft technology, which some of the diehard Interceptor riders didn't really cotton to. But it is fuel injected, which was one of my priorities in a street bike.

Here's an old mechanical drawing that I lifted from Cycle World of the VF1000R Interceptor engine. Such a wicked cool design. Vee four engine with gear driven cams in an era when everybody else was putting the money into inline fours. The exception being Yamaha with their V-Max, but that was aimed at a different market segment.

I'm looking forward to putting lots of miles on this Interceptor...