The salty dogs chase their tales: the first few days

MONDAY

Once loaded up, the departure happened on schedule Monday morning.  A bright clear day greeted us as we headed west.  Twenty four hours in a truck with three other guys can turn ugly, but luckily Bob, Louie, Jim and I travel well together.  There is no way around an all-night drive in a 24 hour stint and it gets especially long if it is the last half.

About six hours into the trip we heard via cell phone that due to the weather the event was being moved back a day. Rather than stop over, we decided to push on to Wendover, drop the trailer and then ourselves.  Other than the snow in Wyoming and not being able to hear all of the Packer game it was a relatively uneventful trip.

TUESDAY

We arrived at Wendover about 10 in the morning and seeing the salt wasn’t open yet we drove into town, unhooked the trailer and sat in the motel lobby killing time.  At that time we met Rick Dorfmeyer, a sales rep from Indianapolis out for his first world finals riding a Honda CBR-600RR.  We checked in and after starting to wind down we got a call that the salt was open to park the trailer and off we went.  It is always a thrill to be pulling out onto the salt flats as you immediately loose your reference points due to the expanse of white that is uninterrupted once you are past  the end of the dikes used for water control.

Salt Flats

Pulling into the pit area 6 miles out from the entrance road, I immediately spotted my landmark…the porta-johns.  They are also strategically located near tech, timing and the SCTA office.  Pulling in we also noticed a big black trailer with Texas plates and were pleasantly surprised to see David Pilgrim pull in the pits next to us.  He was a joy to get to know and a huge help in getting the procedure right for licensing and calculating speeds on our first time here in 2007.  Unfortunately his wife was having a rough time with her MS and was unable to accompany him this time but it is hoped that next year she can.

Back into town and off to the Rainbow Casino to do a hurt on their buffet and then time to crash out in the motel in preparation for Wednesday’s tech.

WEDNESDAY

Tech inspection at an SCTA event can be a long process, even if the bike passes on the first go.  Because the Triumph was a new bike, it had to be inspected by two different inspectors.  Because the Ducati was capable of over 200mph (in theory) and the class record was 219.55 mph it also got two inspections.  Gary Ilminen who was out with us was a new rider and bike so he got doubled as well.  The people behind us were very patient but I’m sure they were wondering what in the heck was going on.

Other than two pinch bolts to safety wire and a steering stop angle adjustment, the Triumph and Ducati sailed through.  All the rider’s safety gear had to pass tech with the age and spec of the helmets, leathers and gloves with no perforations, and boots of the ten inch high plus type.  Gary’s leathers were close, but needed a bit of tinkering.  You can’t run on the salt until your leathers are marked with a medallion riveted on denoting them as acceptable.  The tinkering was accomplished and a verbal OK was given.  No tech medallion was given due to their theft from the tech director’s car in the motel parking lot the night before.  This would come back to haunt Gary.

There were a few items to take care of on Gary’s bike that we were able to do and back to tech he went, with the bike passing and getting his tech decal.

Once we were done with tech there wasn’t a lot to do, so I stooged over to the electric bike Aaron Frank was scheduled to ride.  There seemed to be a quite a bit of activity surrounding the bike and I must say I never have seen that many batteries and wires nor that large an electric motor before.  Staying well clear of the electronics, I offered what help I could and found the owner Richard Hatfield a congenial individual in spite of the challenges that seemed to arise in a ratio of 2 to 1 over solutions.  We started with the most glaring items that needed to be addressed before even going to tech and went from there.  All the fork axle pinch bolts needed to be drilled and safety wired and since they were buried, required all six flats be drilled.  Well that allowed us to use the sweet little vise we had just installed in the trailer.  Returning with the bolts, wire and pliers, we took care of that and moved on.  Getting the bike around was the next challenge as they didn’t have a trailer and the estimate of 500 lbs weight of the bike was a bit generous I think, making loading it in and out of the van out of the question.  It’s hard to explain the fine points of being towed around at the end of a long tiedown behind a van, but they were able to do it, much to their credit.

Next time: the first run

*All photos courtesy of Bob Crook and Gary Ilminen

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