Friday, August 31, 2007

MotoGp Poll: Gp Cinzano di S. Marino e Riviera di Rimini


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Melandri was the fastest under the rain in the first day of practice in the new Misano circuit. I have been there once, many years ago when Randy Mamola used to race in 500cc for Cagiva, the Castiglioni brothers' creature. The race was stopped for rain conditions and with some discussion among riders I recall that it was won by Frank Chili (not every body raced afterwards). Also about Mamola I believe that year the American rider received a Ferrari Testarossa as present for winning a race with the Italian bike.



Rossi was second, with Stoner separated by the doctor only by a few tens of second. I believe for the first time in the season we find Capirossi right behind Casey (it must be a question of pride for racing at home)and then Edwards and Hayden. Curiously the rain specialist are not leading the time sheet, and as of now I have not clue why. Anyhow for the first time, following the new rules, the race will be held clock wise so the old circuit, that was recently up-graded, to host MotoGp it's really a totally new track for everybody. Who is going win the very special derby among the Italian DUCATI with Stoner, and the local riders Rossi, Capirossi and Melandri? No that some foreign guys like Pedrosa, Hayden or Hopkins are not hoping to ruin the whole Italian party, but somehow I believe that it's going to be "cosa nostra". As usual with the PMP poll we try to pick the second place so, as Italian, I will be happy with Stoner behind a revived Rossi

Picture source

Thursday, August 30, 2007

PMP Event: VIR August 25-26-27


Last weekend we were in VIR for a three-day event: South Course Saturday and Sunday, and the beautiful North Course on Monday.

NESBA was the organizer, and as usual this big club put together an impeccable service for the 100-150 riders attending each day event.
Saturday we experienced temperatures above 100F. The heat was brutal: I was working as CR with the club so I must have ridden 7 beginner and 5 advance seesions drinking at least one half liter bottle during each brake and I think that still I went to the bathroom only once, maximum twice all day. I cannot wait for the announced Dainese leather suit with the cooling system: in a day like Saturday I would have spent even 3K for such a luxury. By the way, as reported by MotoinSight next Sunday in Misano we will see some Dainese prototypes with the airbag system.
Going back to VIR, regardless of the heat, we had a blast, laughing and joking the whole trip. Naim and Frank, as usual, entertained the rest of us (Antonio, Steven, Almos, Rosa and myself) with their endless comical situations like those in the videos.
video
video
In the race track there was not too much to laugh about with the local riders flying in a full fledged open race-practice atmosphere.Until the new track, Thunderbolt in South NJ, is ready we will have to leave with only two present options, Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania or Summit Point Main in West Virginia, that I personally consider too dangerous. In these conditions it’s very difficult to be able to compete head to head with the riders from South who normally practice in racetrack as VIR or Barber.
Anyhow, we are not racing as of now, so the main goal it is always to have fun and you can bet that … we do have fun.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

For the series ... that's how we instruct.

In almost ten years of instructing or couching in road racing clubs, it's normal to receive positive feedbacks from students or riders, especially since the explosion of web sites forums. The following one was posted this morning on the NESBA bulletin board and I believe that the author wrote it with passion ... the same pure passion that we, in the Lombardi School, have always used in helping people to improve their riding skills and in general their track experience.
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"How I Became a better rider, Thanks Alex!"

Author: Littlefish
I attended my first track day ever at VIR on August 25, and it was even MORE fun than I had expected. While I did expect to enjoy it, I did not expect to learn so much about riding my bike. I rode a couple of sessions and then spoke with a control rider (Mike I think) briefly about trying to go faster, which helped. I rode another session and I was going slightly faster each time.
Then the miracle happened.
Towards the end of my first session after lunch I had a Control Rider (who I found out later was named Alex) signaled me to follow him. I followed him through five or so laps. He patiently waited for me to catch back up when I made mistakes. I was not only able to see his line, but I was able to get a solid idea of how late I could wait to brake and how fast I could go into the corner. The first time through Oak Tree, I started to brake at the same spot I had been, when I realized he wasn’t slowing down….I got off the brakes. I was amazed to figure out how fast you could enter the corner, and then lightly brake in the first section. I didn’t get it right, but “I GOT IT”. For the first time I was able to SEE how the two separate turns were best taken as one continuous turn. It wasn’t just Oak Tree; I followed him through better lines on every section of track. Just that information made riding the corners much easier to negotiate at speed.
I was also able to watch his riding position and his head position. Alex’s riding position was vastly different from mine, but I wasn’t able to figure out how it was different. Every time I noticed his head position, I realized he was looking much further ahead that I was (when he wasn’t looking back to see how I was doing). I started trying to look as far up the track and through the corners as he was. I was amazed at how much things started to slow down. I was riding as fast as or faster than before, but everything seemed to come at me slower, and I had more time to plan and execute my turns. Before I had been reacting to the corners, now I was riding the corners. After the session I spoke with Alex briefly, he gave me some advice and said he would follow me next time so he could observe my position and the way I ride.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to work with Alex the next couple sessions because he was helping other riders, and I could hardly begrudge someone else getting the same expert tutelage I had gotten. It was probably just due to good planning on his part, because in the next couple of sessions I worked on riding the lines, braking and looking ahead that I had learned from him. No one was behind me and I didn’t feel pressured to impress or do things right. I was amazed at how much more controlled I felt and I assume I was going faster because instead of getting passed into and out of every corner, I was almost never getting passed. I also put my knee to the pavement for the first time. The feel freaked me out a little, but as I’m sure you all know, it exited the hell out of me at the same time.
Luckily, on the final session of the day, Alex pulled up to me just before the start and told me to fall in behind him. The first several laps I followed Alex again. More comfortable with taking the corners at speed, I was able to pay better attention to when he was picking up the throttle, his position, and the exact line he was using. Following Alex was so much easier than riding on my own. I didn’t have to worry about when to brake, how fast to enter a corner or where the line was. On just the second lap of the session I dragged my knee through a couple corners. I didn’t panic and stand the bike up like the first time; I was too intent on what I was doing. The next couple of laps it just became another thing that happened when I managed to stay on Alex’s line and not slow down more than I should at the entrance. Like all good things, the time to follow came to an end.
Alex pulled to the right and signaled me past. I tried to continue to ride the same, but with the added responsibility of thinking for myself, my riding suffered a little, mainly on the corner entrance. It seemed that if I got the corner entrance right, the corner flowed nicely. I rode several laps with Alex behind me. About half way through the session I made a big mistake and ran off the track exiting Oak Tree. I stood it up and rolled through the grass, more than a little embarrassed but happy to still be rubber side down. Alex signaled me into the pit. He told me that my riding position wasn’t right and it was causing me to fight the bike. He started to explain what he meant, but I guess it was obvious I was confused. He told me to follow him and brought me to his pit.
He patiently explained and demonstrated the proper position. Then he showed me my position. I had to admit that he had it right, and I had to admit it was ugly. I knew that my position was bad, but I have become comfortable with it. I had looked at my pictures in the Pics Of You trailer, and I remarked to my friend that I wasn’t going to buy the pictures because I looked so bad. With my poor position established, Alex told me to climb aboard his bike (which was on a stand now). He had showed me how to lock me knee in, bend my elbows, lean parallel with the bike and get my body AND my head down, but when I got on his bike I immediately took up my bad position without thinking. Then he put me into the correct position as he explained why I needed to be in that position. It made perfect sense and it FELT RIGHT. He also pointed out that I was tall (6’3”) and that the bike was built for someone significantly shorter that me. He explained how I could compensate for this and still use the bike to lock myself in with my lower body instead of holding myself in position with my upper body. This let me lower my upper body into a good position, and allowed me to use my arms to steer. I watch great riders on T.V. all summer (I have for years) but I have never been able to emulate their positions. It wasn’t until Alex forced me into the correct position that I finally got it. By the time Alex finished getting me into the right position, the session was over, and I wasn’t able to practice using it.
I came to the track expecting it to be fun and expecting that I would figure out how to get faster. After the first session I was certainly having fun, but I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. At the beginning they announced that the Control Riders would regulate the traffic, keep it safe and help out the riders. It amazed me that someone would actually take the time to really teach me how to ride, but that’s what happened. My short time working with Alex has been more valuable than all my years of riding and watching Speed T.V. When I returned to my pit and told my buddy that about my last session, he said that it was too bad that I missed half of the track time for that session. I explained to him that I would have given up all the track time I had that day in exchange for Alex’s help.
There are just two things left to say. Thank you NESBA, and THANK YOU ALEX.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Grand Prix Ceske Republiky: Stoner crashes his competitors


The Gp Cinzano di San Marino is only a couple of days away and the luckily all the expectations for the race in Misano are erasing the questionable taste left by the race in Brno. The trinomial Ducati-Stoner-Bridgestone has once again ruled against all the limits imposed by conditions and reasonable outlooks. As Jim has pointed out in his blog, next year it would be auspicious to have only one brand of tire to bring guarantee a “standard” field where are riders and motorbikes to win and not tire manufacture.
I watched the race in the middle of last week, and then I left NYC for a 3 day event in VIR, so, at this point I am not avoid to summarize the actual race because it would taste like re-heated leftovers. Anyhow, I still would like to post a couple of things that, somehow, are still vivid in my memory:

- I am still debating what it’s going on with hats among racers: Hopper and Hayden use these giant baseball type hats that look more like pots than a fashionable item. Unfortunately here in NYC that kind of hats are common among young kids brainwashed by rap music. In the future, the last think I would like to see it is MotoGp bikes with chromed rims used by rappers in their own videos.
- Anthony West had the umbrella girl next to him whose silhouette was so good to win the attention of the cameraman.
- Is Kawasaki paying Hopkins enough to renounce to his Suzuki, the best MotoGp machine after Ducati? Also, why Hopkins was using tighter lines than Stoner? His riding style or something Suzuki related? I am going to pay attention in Misano, to see if it was only my own impression or not.
- I have read that Ben Spies could have a shot in getting a MotoGp bike and if that’s the case I cannot wait to see his “gorilla” style on the new miniature 800cc bikes. Until then, let’s enjoy Elias’s unique if not questionable body position: he keeps his head against the tank but flipped on the opposite side of the turn. Anyhow, his performance was admirable after only 8 weeks from the terrifying accident in Assen.
- Last consideration, or better speculation, it is that I had the impression that initially Capirossi let Rossi to overtake him: for what reason? To let him to bridge the gap or because he didn’t want to steel precious point from his ex-friend? Maybe it’s crazy, but I think that he wanted to give Vale a chance to fight for the podium, and only when he realized that this was not a Rossi-Michelin day (as proved by Vermuellen) he re-took the position that belonged to him. Regardless, Capirossi is going to Suzuki and probably prefers to see Rossi on the podium than Pedrosa or Hayden. In these days both Rossi and Capirossi, once very good friends, are having problems with the government for taxes due and not paid in the last few years. Rossi, in particular, has had a very difficult summer, at professional and at personal level, with his life screened by the European media almost on a daily basis, to the point that two weeks ago he sent a video to two Italian TV with his own version of the facts and his obvious intent to eliminate rumors and lies on his person.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My 2001 GSX-R 600cc for sale



My beloved 2001 GSX-R 6000 is for sale and it comes with:

Suzuki 750cc type up-side down forks re-sprung and re-valved by the Thermos-Man
Suzuki 750cc type swing-arm
Rear shock Penske with high & low speed compression adjuster
Brembo rotors
Brembo Master cylinder
Steel braided brake lines
Power Commander
Quick shifter
Slipper clutch
Scott steering damper
Woodcraft rear set
Woodcraft clip-ons
Engine covers
520 conversion, gold DID chain
Akrapovic exhaust system
Quick release tank cap
Double bubble windscreen
Completely safety wired
Pirelli Supercorsa tires good for another full day.


Extras: complete set of well maintained painted plastics with a brand new tank and a few spare parts ..

If interested, please email me at aletalian2000@yahoo.com

Friday, August 17, 2007

MotoGp Poll: Grand Prix Ceske Republiky


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Second place to Capirossi: I watched an interview on the Italian news after the FP1 and he seemed very confident and relaxed. At this point of the season and with the new contract with Suzuki signed, he can just go and see what happens. He knows and we know that given the right conditions he is a tremendous fighter. On the front tires, I imagine another difficult weekend for Michelin and his riders, lead as usual by Valentino Rossi. Thumbs up to Guintoli: in the tire war between Bridgestone and Michelin he was able to lock a great time on qualifying tires. Capirossi was my first choice but he is 8th in the championship and we need to choose a name among the first 7 riders so my pick is another Bridgestone man ...Hopkins! Or maybe Stoner behind Vale ... (in that case Monday night at 8:00, when we will meet at Matchless we will have another round of beers while watching again the race)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

That's how we ... ride



In the last few years I have been reading of more and more professional riders that have made of bicycling their favorite form of training . Indeed, Robert Lombardi and I met because of our love for bicycles. Back in 1996 Robert was already a NJ mountain bike champion and a mutual friend of ours told him that there was a new “ginny” in the neighbor who used to road-race bicycle professionally in Italy. So one day I was in front his shop making eights on my Italian Scapin and Rob while looking at me thought “that guy is fat, but his legs …. and the way he keeps the balance on the pedals ….he must be the famous ginny!!!”: Robert approached me and here we are …
Today we race at local level (yes, recently he has convinced me to compete again after 23 years) and we consider bicycling as the best tool to improve our physical condition. There is not other sport that you could practice for hours with such precise control of the aerobic/anaerobic stages. Yes, running is easy, cheap, and quick but heavy onyour feet, ankles, knees and back and it doesn’t really matter how slow you go because it still causes physical stress. A long list of riders has chosen bicycling to control weight, strength their legs and improve their stamina, all critical variables in racing motorcycles at professional level. I definitely recall Bayliss, Stoner, Melandri, Capirossi, Hopkins, Biaggi, the Haydens, Mladin, Duhamel as passionate riders hitting the road 3 to 5 times a week as part of their training program.
Personally I integrate bicycling with rowing in order to maintain a healthy muscle balance between legs and torso. A few years ago I had a surgery to fix a dislocated shoulder and our “Dr. Costa”, Dr. Hausman told me that several weighlifters end up with arthritis on their shoulders because of the excessive stress caused by that type of exercise.
Anyhow, the road bicycle fever has been spreading among the PMP crew and recently Antonio, Naim and Mike have committed to start riding with us: someone to loose a few extra pounds, others to stop smoking. Either way, once they start enjoying the results of their training they will joint the increasing group of motorcycle racers in love with the way we …. ride.




Picture source: ctbkgroup.com, camorani.com, velocitynation.com

A special thank to: Tichetti, BVF Team, Bay Ridge Bicycle,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Isn't she beatiful?


Our friend John Glass has just sent me this beautiful picture of his Ducati 999 and of … his cat along with a very interesting link of a video with the Ducati Xerox Team mechanics at work.
The other cat on the dirt bike belongs to Diana Sliwa from JS Typography: her cat must have sit on all our bikes while she was working on the PMP graphics.

When is time to bail out?


The picture of Dennis Cuevas’s Jeep climbing another Jeep’s front tire and a spectacular accident in the FUSA course in Pocono(red course on the map) have suggested me a few considerations. Yesterday our friend and CR Greg broke the return cable of the accelerator and when he went to blip the throttle to down shift while already braking he lost control of the “now accelerating” bike that fortunately “got rid” of him before hitting the guardrail: Greg was very lucky because did not suffer any injury.

When Valentino washed out his front end at the beginning of the race in Germany, everybody praised the seasoned champion for having kept the engine on by holding in the clutch while sliding with his M1. On the other end there are other situations that would require the rider to jump out of the bike like our friend Lenny Santangelo did a few years ago in VIR. He had lost his rear brake in a previous race crash and after two laps into a new race, at the end of the straight before T1, when he went to pull his front brake lever, there was nothing because he had lost the brake caliper pin! At 150+mph he literally jumped from his bike letting it to continue its ride like a torpedo that exploded once it hit the trees at the edge the T1 run-off. Fortunately Lenny suffered only a fractured leg, not too much for that type of crash. To be honest it was not the first time that Lenny bailed out from a bad situation, because he already did it in Pocono Raceway after loosing control of his bike in the grass knowing that soon he would have run into one of the famous ditches crossing the field to collect rainwater.

Some time nothing can be done because the centrifugal force would abruptly eject the unfortunate rider off his bike. A couple of days ago the 39-year-old Duhamel crashed in T12 of Road Atlanta, in the most dangerous corner of the AMA Superbike Championship calendar. A sudden high-side that threw off the veteran rider: the bike went up in the air after hitting and displacing the air-fence while Duhamel slid until hitting the hay bales. He has suffered some internal injuries but it could have been worse after hitting a wall at that speed.

Personally I have bailed out in the mist of a crash only once, but while riding a dirt bike, and I am not even sure if I would be able to pull a similar action on a road-racing bike given the high speed involved. At professional level riders crash quite often developing the necessary experience to manage properly the unfortunate situation.
At my level, and for anybody else attending club events, crashing is something that we try to avoid as much as we can. Even a stupid low side can be costly financially and physically, especially when on Monday you have to go back to work.
My rambling has not provided a clear answer to the original question, but it did suggested that in difficult circumstances we shouldn’t exclude the option of … bailing out.