On Sunday, with a closed road, a temporary motorsport license, some accurate timing gear and an ambulance ready and waiting I rode my bike through a quarter mile trap at an average of 215.9Km/hr. Not bad for a bike without a fairing but peanuts compared to the 230-270k average being laid down by the supersport bikes and the 297k best on the day.
It was terrifying. Well, the first run was terrifying, the second, third and fourth were studies in the art of concentration. Let me tell you about it.
You launch - the first 50km/hr or so. V-twin bikes need to feed in the power as hard as they can without flipping it backwards. Inline 4's need to rev the engine then feed the clutch in similarly. I'm terrible at it so just put it in gear and shot off like an over-enthusiastic boy racer. As the revs build over the first second or two the torque from the engine increases and fairly soon the dual threats of front-wheel-skywards and hitting the rev limiter start to rear their ugly heads. You click up into second ...
...and there is no let up whatsoever. The front stays attached but RPM continues to shoot towards the rev limiter. Click up again...
...in third you finally become aware of the considerable quantity of speed you are now carrying as the wind pushes against your body and finally up and underneath the helmet, trying to tear it off. Sometime before this happens it's smart to push your bum to the back of the seat, head down into the microscopically small aerodynamic bubble created by the "fairing" a speed 4 has, knees in, elbows in, and peel your eyes up and towards the horizon. Because you are going to need to pay attention to where you are going. And you're going to need to click up a gear, again...
At this stage you might catch a first glimpse of the speedometer. 140, 150, 160 pass in a blur. The bike is still pushing hard. On my first run I began to wonder if it was ever going to end, particularly since at this point there is still two gears to go and the rapid approach of the rev limiter means it's time to go for another.
Into fifth and the question starts to be raised as to whether or not we'd be better off carrying lots of revs in fifth or fewer in sixth. However, third, fourth and fifth are really close together so before we know what's happening it's time to click into the final gear and go for it.
Now we're moving. The acceleration, thankfully, starts to die down. Engine revs are still building but at a decreasing rate. Anything sticking out - be it the top of a helmet, an elbow or whatever is met with a loud laminar hiss that starts to become a deafening turbulent battering as speed increases still further. The speedometer shows around 200 and the serious business of tucking everything in and aiming about 1/3 the way along the start line (the smoothest part of the road) can start. There is a brief respite for, say, ten seconds or so while we cover some ground to the start and let the final few K's settle in. Breathe.
The start line is where the spectators are so some last second concentration watching for escaping toddlers or similar nightmares is called for. Not that there's a whole lot you could do about it. As you cross the line the speedometer is generally showing somewhere over 220. The finish line is six and a half seconds away and you need to get to the right hand side of the road because there are some bumps on the left. Steering is interesting - you'd expect it to be twitchy but the very significant amounts of gyroscopic effect on the front wheel mean that some deliberate effort is required to steer at all. Other than that, the usual laws of physics apply and a microscopic countersteer is enough to bring you across the road. And just like that we cross a pink line spray painted on the road with the speedometer showing around 225-228 and still, very gently, climbing - perhaps 1km/hr every other second.
I slow down by coming off the throttle, gently. A few seconds later I stick my head up, still moving at perhaps 180k and let air drag take me down to around 130. Now all we need to do is wave to Simon (marshalling most of the way down the road) and finally actually use some brakes, drop down a few gears, and join my mates in a rudely gravelly car park at the end of the road.
Hang out, ride back up to the top, do it again. Easy :)
Previous next big things include development of the capture and intermediate compression technology in iShowU-HD; design and implementation of a small advertising network; the refinancing, technical direction, and a lot of the donkey work for Virtual Katy; technical direction, project management and (again) donkey work for VoiceQ; creating code and intellectual property around load balancing that was acquired by Allied Telesis; and the research and an implementation of the h.264 video compression protocol.