Friday, March 29, 2013

Toronto Supercross!

Just returned from a trip to Toronto to attend the Monster Energy Supercross. We (Sandy, Hannah, and Charlie) left our house Saturday morning for the 7 hour drive to Toronto. The race is held at the Rogers Centre which is pretty much in the middle of the city, and is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. It's a dome. We got to Toronto in time to check in to the hotel, then walk to the venue and take a look at the schedule. We caught the last 450 practice session before they closed the track for intermission before the evening racing, so it was cool to get a little teaser of what we'd be seeing in the main program.

But we also had time go back into the downtown area and find dinner. Right outside the dome is a popular local brewery, Steam Whistle Brewery, so we stopped in to check out their pilsner, which was very drinkable. All the popular restaurants within a few blocks were jammed with race fans, but we found a nice little place just a little farther away that could seat us right away. They had a friendly bar menu, kind of similar to tapas, which was perfect for us.

One of the trains in a turntable by the Steam Whistle Brewery.

We got back to the dome with time to take our seats and a short time later the program started, with the "Lite's" class heat races. I won't go into detail about who won what, you can get the results online.

The racing was very cool to watch. It became obvious to me that the critical area for suspension set up was the "whoop" section ( short for "whoop-de-doos" but sometimes referred to as moguls ). This was where the noticeably faster guys (factory riders) were making up time by pinning the throttle and effectively skimming over the tops of each whoop, whereas the slower riders were allowing the bike to ride lower into each whoop, requiring more suspension compression and a lower average speed. On most of the rest of the track the bikes and riders seem to be a little more evenly matched.

Another thing that struck me, seeing it live, was just how mentally and physically demanding these tracks are. The only time riders get a "rest" is on the longish triple jumps, where they can actually take the time to yank a tear-off off of their goggles in mid-jump. The rest of the time they're either in rhythm sections, sand, whoops, or a short straight that crosses the starting straight. All of these sections just have different technical challenges that require constant riding adjustments.

#12 Wiemer, in the air as #800 Alesi has just completed the finish line jump and is hard on the brakes to make a 180 degree left into a short rhythm section.

#1 'Poto" heading into the whoops.

#18 Milsaps in the classic "attack" position entering the whoops. This guy is over 6" tall, which is a little unusual in M/C racing, but he's really fast, and was the most impressive to watch in the whoops. He'd jump the first whoop and carry the front wheel over the next three before allowing it to come down halfway through the section.

Track maintenance.

The start of the main event, #7 Stewart, #5 Dungey, #1 'Poto, #18 Milsaps, #22 Reed, #12 Weimer, #800 Alesi

Race Fans!