Pikes Peak 2016: Thursday Update From Sidecar Land

Motorcycles were on the top section today, running from Devil’s Playground to the Summit. Conditions were excellent with only a light wind, clean surfaces (some oil on the track from yesterday proved a non-issue) and fairly warm track temperatures. It serves to note that by “track” we are talking about a section of asphalt that buckles under freezing winter temperatures as the earth moves under it.

Photo: Drew Phillips
Photo: Drew Phillips

The bumps were not as bad as I remember from my last attempt in 2013, but they were more numerous. The chassis I am using this year might be better able to soak up the abuse, I’m not sure. Without a doubt the jarring effect has me crawling around the machine each night with a flashlight looking for cracks in the frame. It will be worse on race day when we cannot lift the throttle over them, but I suppose that is part of the character now that Pikes Peak is all asphalt.

Sadly, our fellow sidecar teams are in dire straits. Subculture Racing has seen a ray of hope with their drive chain problems. They have not solved the problem but have minimized its effect. Rising Sun Racing has still failed to make a single run. Their machine will start in the parking lot of their hotel, but once they reach the altitudes of America’s Mountain they engine will not even give a faint stutter when cranked or push started. They have not given up though and have been to every session while they also work overtime in the evenings. Team Les Marluches did not make practice today. Apparently there are Honda parts that fit their Benelli engine and they are attempting a rebuild.

The sidecar gremlins seem to be leaving us alone for the most part, perhaps thanks to our Guardian Bell. The shifter and front brake are giving us hassles but it is a set of problems I would gladly have when I look around at my fellow three-wheeled hooligans.

Engine no workie for the Project 156 bike. The problem did not appear serious.
Engine no workie for the Project 156 bike. The problem did not appear serious. Photo: Johnny Killmore

On the two-wheeled side of things, the Project 156 Victory lost power during one of the final runs of the day and had to coast back down to be looked at. The inside parts of the engine were still on the inside, so in all likelihood they did not have a major failure. Don Canet remains fastest overall aboard Victory’s Empulse TT electric bike by a small margin over Bruno Langlois on his Kawasaki Z1000. Things will certainly be interesting this Friday during qualifying on the bottom section.