YADBS - Stage 4, first drag
so the bike shoots ahead hits the powerband and there is a
shout from the announcement system, "now thats what you call turbo". we are
all jumping up and the bike is ahead and redlined into first and its time
to shift to second and then - bang, bang bang. thats tom stamping on the
gear lever in frustration as the bike just simply refuses to shift to 2nd.
we are not yet sure what the issue is, whether it is a rider error or if it is a technical glitch that dropped on us out of nowhere. tom swears that its the latter, and that the gearbox was just not shifting. anyway we have two more practice runs and one is by krishna and the other by tom.
so soon krishna lines up for his run, and off he goes. but not for much, as the situation repeats and he finds stranded in first gear as the other bike snicks through the gears and disappears. krishna limps to the finish in 2nd gear, which he managed to find somewhere at the 200m mark, and i watch from the finish line and stare disbelievingly at the inane 72 on the speedgun dial. things are turning ugly and how.
we have one more run for the day, and as usual jaggu points us towards the unemotional side of things as he reminds us that its just practice and we have a night to fix things if something is wrong. without much hope tom prepares for the last run of the day and ron makes a pragmatic suggestion and asks tom not to push it hard while launching. the idea is to takeoff mildly, somehow get out of 1st gear, and start gunning once the bike is into 3rd or so. we dont have much choice and so thats the plan for the last run. wasnt a bad idea at all, but murphy had more in store for us.
suddenly, cant even remember how or why, a sudden bout of "weight reduction" siezes us. somebody points at the stock, and heavy, seat we are running and suggests to replace it with something lighter. i dont even remember why we even thought about such shit while we had such serious issues like gear shifting, but we did think, and worse, we went ahead and installed a thick piece of sponge like material in place of the stock seat and fastened it in place with generous lengths of duct tape. as the bike was rolled into the launch area, this was strongly objected to by the organizers and we were asked to revert to a proper seat, for safety reasons. so we bring the bike back and install the stock seat back in a hurry without even bothering with the clamps etc since it was time for the run. big mistake. so lesson 6 is as simple as - never make last minute changes and dont do things in a hurry.
so tom is in for the last run, and plan is to go mildly and see the first 2 gears through and then let it loose. the lights drop and the other bike, a chambered RD, takes off fast while tom just rolls out of the line as if he is moving from a traffic light and we can hear people laughing. but the bike mildly hits the powerband and it starts to move harder, and tom is about to slip into 2nd gear when our earlier mistake bangs us hard - the seat slips and slides away from under tom. cutting back on the throttle, tom somehow eases the seat back onto the frame, and struggles to refind his position. more time lost and the other bike is way ahead and blazing away to the finish. but this time, the bike slips into 2nd gear easily since the revvs are down, and soon tom finds 3rd gear as well and then the throttle is whacked open and the bike comes into its own for the first time that day. very soon the other bike is gobbled up somewhere past the 300 meter mark or so, and the tom goes past the finish at a good 140kmph. on a day full of disasters, something to cheer about in the end.
anyway we take the bike back, and rack our brain for a few hours checking the bike, the clutch, gearshift etc. we open the whole damn clutch, even replace the clutch plates, clean up everything. we cant open the gearbox anyway, and we dont have time too. so most of us get drunk and split for the day in rather gloomy moods.
so the next day finds us all back in jakkur airstrip and today we have the race runs. for some reason we are all back in an optimistic mood and we just have this hope that yesterdays was a freak phenomenon, which might not even show up again, ever. we remember to stock up with some beers and soon we find a place in the pits and park the bike out there. there is jaggu armed with a ciggy guarding the bike and you can see anands big bmw right next to it.
there is quite sometime for the runs to start and we have a nice time walking around the pits peeking at the various bikes out there. rajan joshuas bike is there and we are surprised to see the neat bike, its running stock carbs and local filters. thats where the small things end and the bike is fast, and easily crosses 145 at the finish.
soon we amble our way to the TVS pits and there is the shaolin, looking real deadly. awesome piece of work, the bike is simply stunning. look at those pipes, those sections, the suspension setup, those carbs, those rear sets, the seat, the tank, this is an awesome bike man.