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Old 08-17-2012, 11:17 PM   #1
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My Pike Peak experience

I raced the pikes peak international hill climb this year and I wanted to share a few things in case anyone is considering racing this event.

First off this race is dangerous. Nothing can prepare you for how scary it is. the videos do not do it justice. You want to be confident in not only your abilities but your machinery. Last thing you want is your 450 supermoto to spew oil all over your rear tire when your life is so clearly on the line.

You get 3 days of practice. Each day you learn a 3rd of the course and on race day you get to string it all together. You will want a go-pro to study your runs all week leading to the race to learn the course. You are waking up at 3am to start practice at ~5:30... its cold.... tire choices vary. Street tires are popular due to cold temps in practice and fast warm up. I rode a soft front and med rear race tire all week. They worked fine and showed no wear. You could get away with a soft rear easily unless you developed a cold tear.

I approached learning the course by learning first what turns would kill me as opposed to just me up. Once you are confident you can remember how not to die, you can concentrate on learning what corners you can carry some speed into as most are blind.

If your bike is carburated you will want to become an expert on changing jets (main and pilot) neddle positions ect in a fast manner as there is only about 10 min to work on your bike before you miss a session... Your bike set up for sea level will not run right at altitude and will need to be leaned up. Race starts at 9,000' and ends at 14,000' so your jetting changes for each day of practice. I think you should jet for the middle section that way you limit the amount you are off either way. IF you jet for the top, your bike will be so lean at the bottom it may over heat. If you have FI, look into an auto tuner and possibly a switch to change maps.

Also I overestimated my gearing. so bring a lot of sprockets. IT is uphill so that limits the speed somewhat on a 450.

This year was the first year the entire mountain was paved. As such, a few sportbikes showed up. There is no class for these bikes and they are allowed to run in the exhibition class one time only. clip ons for an uphill 90 switch back is a bit awkward.... high bars are preferred. The speed the big bikes (ducati multistradas) are carrying is insane. Try not to get in front of them during practice as the closing rate is too high and several near misses happened.

A well built 450 supermoto is the best bike for a first timer i think. Joe Toner built a really cool ninja 650 which he placed very well on in the 750 class. Aprilia 550s are great if you can keep them running.

Race day is nuts as you are not warmed up at all and have never strung all 3 sections together yet. The anticipation and atmospshere is very tense. You have to calm yourself down and run a smooth race and race the mountain. This year they eliminated the 5 person start and let each rider go one at a time with 30 seconds gap. This rubbed some people the wrong way but I think it helped keep us safe. That way you are riding the mountain and not each other.

All in all ppihc is a great rewarding experience but it is also a lot of work and a large time commitment.
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Last edited by 244; 08-17-2012 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:41 PM   #2
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Congrats, awesome pics, thinks for sharing
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Old 08-18-2012, 01:22 AM   #3
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Ninjer 250

It's interesting to hear that all of it is Paved. I remember a while back it being a whole lot of dirt. What made you want to race there? Was it something you always wanted to do?
250cc's of pure Nutz
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Old 08-18-2012, 01:35 AM   #4
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Congrats man. My buddy just raced there as well, in the Vintage Class.
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:17 AM   #5
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Wow that's nice, I've never actually heard about it until now
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:08 AM   #6
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That's bad man!! Congrats!
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Old 08-18-2012, 06:31 AM   #7
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Very glad you got to experience the Hill Climb. I worked emergency services for the event in the 1980's. It is a very scarey going up but three times coming back down.
Hot Brakes. Thanks for sharing your experience it is one Fun event. Bless
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Old 08-18-2012, 10:50 AM   #8
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Interesting how fast those multistrada's are.
I guess when you think about it, most of the people who ride those things ride A LOT, and are extremely comfortable on their bikes.
They probably log more miles in a year than most log in their lifetime.

Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like one heck of an experience.
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Old 08-18-2012, 12:05 PM   #9
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Thanks for sharing, Erick. How did you do?
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Old 08-18-2012, 01:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cuong-nutz View Post
It's interesting to hear that all of it is Paved. I remember a while back it being a whole lot of dirt. What made you want to race there? Was it something you always wanted to do?
This was the first year it was all paved.

Originally Posted by kibitzer View Post
If you don't shake it after you pee the terrorists win.
Ben C.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:01 PM   #11
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Congrats on your run. I bet it was a great experience.

I camped up there and watched the race 25 years ago when there was not so much pavement. Just driving up at 30 mph, slower in the corners, to camp seemed sketchy enough. The drivers and riders hung it out on the edge then so I can only imagine how much they push it with pavement under them.
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