What Went Wrong

Bar bang­ing and left turns on 500-pound street bikes

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Adam Wa­heed

THE CRASH

Af­ter hours of wait­ing and talk­ing smack on a sum­mer af­ter­noon, we fi­nally found our­selves on the start­ing line, ready to race. Twin-cylin­der en­gines roared, the flag dropped, and clutches re­leased. All 13 of us shot off. Thing is, hunt­ing for that key­hole-size gap for the in­side line into the first turn on a big, heavy street bike, things can go wrong in a hurry. You can’t bang bars like you can with a 200-pound dirt bike. When you try, the re­sults al­ways end the same: bikes ca­reen out of con­trol, usu­ally land­ing atop some­one. So, there we were, sprawled across the ground like Jenga pieces at the end of a party. A light ring of the bell here, some bumps and bruises there—for the most part, we es­caped un­man­gled.

THESCENARIO

No­body was think­ing that 500-pound street bikes and slick short tracks don’t mix, but that was the point of the in­au­gu­ral Moto Beach Clas­sic. Tak­ing place just steps from the sand, the Su­per Hooli­gan cir­cus rolled into Hunt­ing­ton Beach slid­ing their porky mod­i­fied street bikes around a tiny clay course. Fast for­ward to the main event, and I was on the back row. Yikes.

THELESSON

Ride faster dur­ing prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing. Like any form of rac­ing, start­ing on the front row is al­ways best. Pair that po­si­tion­ing with pre­cisely timed gas-clutch co­or­di­na­tion, quick re­flexes, and of course, a lit­tle bit of luck, and you’re at the front with noth­ing but clear track ahead. Now it’s more dif­fi­cult for an er­ratic rider to knock you down. Be wary, be­cause when you’re in the lead, jit­ters may run high. Fo­cus on your lines, stay in­side, and more of­ten than not, the race will come to you. On the other hand, if you find your­self start­ing from the back row, keep your eyes up.

So, there we were, sprawled across the ground like Jenga pieces at the end of a party.

You’ll be able to bob and weave more ef­fec­tively when you can see what’s ahead. About to col­lide with a downed bike or rider? Stay light on the front and wheelie over them. It may not al­ways work, but it’s worth a shot.

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