Taking Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone

During the warmer Ohio weather months, April through October, my blog posts may include information about taking my motorcycle to some road course tracks (and now even a cold month or two).  I take my bike to open track days where (mostly) amateur riders can get on a proper race course. There are people on the track for the first time and people who race professionally.   They will generally divide the riders into several groups, Novice, Intermediate or Advanced.  The control riders/coaches at the track will help you to determine what group you should ride in and then help you throughout the day.   Below is a video of a control rider that is also a professional rider at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.  (Don’t mind the music, it’s not my cup of tea either.)

For the novice group there are classes after each session, as well as skills practiced in every session.  This is to help teach the beginning track rider that the same habits you use on the street are not meant for the track, as well as how to be as safe as possible while being on the track.  This is the most watched and controlled group due to the fact it generally has the most riders and they are all the newest to the track.

For intermediate group there are optional classes and you just run your own pace.  They step up the skill level by not enforcing you to focus on a skill during each session or requiring you to go to a class after each session of the day.  The pace is considerably faster than novice and the only ways to get instruction are to either ask a control rider for it or if they see something to help you with they will generally stop you and coach you on how to do it better.

The final group is advanced, or race class.  This has the same elements as a professional race minus the grid at start-up.   There aren’t really any passing rules and the control riders are mainly all professional racers or former racers who can still make your head spin as they fly past you.  Similar to the intermediate group the only way you will get help is to ask for it.

For the past two years I have been running in the intermediate group and it is a serious meat grinder.  You will have people in there that are fast enough to be in advanced group, but are too scared.  As well as having people who let their ego and pride tell them they don’t need to learn anything from a novice class and should really be in novice learning as much as they can.  I stayed in Novice for over the first year of track riding that I had done.   Some people choose to never leave the novice group because that is exactly where they are comfortable.  They don’t want to worry about the other classes and are perfectly fine with not even being the fastest person in Novice.  This is perfectly acceptable for some, but I had to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to really enjoy the entire experience.  Even though I have been to the track several times now I am always out of my comfort zone in intermediate because there are always new people showing up and you never know when you will running with a group that should be racing, or a group that should be getting coached in novice.

Here at EXAIR we have customers that could fit into each of these groups also.   The customer who doesn’t know what an engineered solution is and doesn’t understand the cost of compressed air.  The intermediate user who has used some of our products in the past but is encountering new issues and knows that we can help lead them in the right direction.  As well as the advanced users who know exactly what they need and sometimes even request a special unit to fit their exact needs.

No matter the case, we can help as well as coach even the most advanced users of our products on how to use compressed air better.  If you are reading this and you don’t know the difference between a Super Air Nozzle and an open pipe, then give us a call.  We will help teach you the differences as well as make sure you understand the need for engineered solutions on your compressed air system.  It may be out of your comfort zone for the first few calls but we will make sure you get to the level you want to be so you get back into your comfort zone.

Brian Farno
Advanced Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Quality Of A Knock Off and Racing Motorcycles

That’s right folks, the first track day of the year is getting close.  The first for this year will be held at Putnam Park Road Course, with Midwest Cafe Racers Association.  We will be heading out on Friday, April 19th, for the weekend.  The preparations already began a few weeks ago, actually over a month ago.  This year I am not only prepping my track bike, but also my friends track bike.   The best part is, I am learning more and more about his bike, and the bells and whistles that it has.

One of the many parts to prepping the bike for the track was changing out the coolant to a non-glycol based coolant, changing the tires, removing all glass / plastic from the bike.  Not to mention drilling and safety wiring the oil filler cap, oil drain plug, and oil filter.  Those are simply the necessities, we have taken it a step further and changed out some other stock parts for nicer track ready parts.  The main obstacle has been that he elected to go with a non-branded rear set foot control.  These were copies of a very large name brand rear set foot control.  Everything seemed to fit together until I went to install the shift linkage.  The linkage length should be 9″ long, the one they sent with the new set was actually 9-5/8″ long.  Because of this it actually placed the shift lever about 3″ too low and will not work.   Luckily, I have the knowledge and ability to modify things like this.  After cutting the extra length off and re-tapping the hole, the linkage is now to the correct length on the bike, and ready to go racing.

IMG_2363 IMG_2364

The point to the story is this:  my friend went with the company who said they were just as good if not better than the big name brand, yet considerably cheaper and not made locally.  In the end the quality of the product was not what they made claims of over the internet and they don’t have near the level of support that the brand name does.  After some fixing, the units will work but it could have been a costly replacement as the manufacturer of these doesn’t stand directly behind their product.

Here at EXAIR we have instilled quality into our product and customer service.  If you were to receive a part that doesn’t work, we will be here to help figure out why, and then make the correct actions to remedy your problem as fast as possible.   So don’t always believe what you read on the internet about how great some products are when they are so much cheaper than a well established, market leading brand.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Prepping For The Heat. (Not Solar Flares)

Well, the first day of Spring is right around the corner.  It’s hard to believe that the Summer heat isn’t that far out for us here in Cincinnati.  Of course the first thing on my mind is hanging out outside with my daughters, and track days.  What isn’t on my mind is the heat that most production environments feel.  It most likely isn’t on your mind either, and won’t be until the heat is here and the machine is shutting down.

High Temp Cabinet Cooler

Why not be proactive and fill out a Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide so that we can help to prevent that down time in the Summer months?  Even though the temperatures aren’t as hot as they will be in a few months, the temperature differential will still allow us to calculate the heat load that is generated within the enclosure.

Sizing Guide

There’s no better time than now to start preventative measures to keeping your machines running.  Whether that is by installing a thermostat controlled Cabinet Cooler System, using a Chip Trapper to filter coolants or a Cold Gun Aircoolant System to keep a cutting tool cool.  All methods will help you to keep production up and lessen the down time and the costly replacements of your equipment.

If you have any questions on how we can help, feel free to contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Time for Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

This Sunday afternoon I will be leaving for a two day trip to The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for two straight days of Motorcycle “Racing”.  It’s my second track riding event of the season and isn’t even actually a race.  For those that ride though they may understand how amazing it feels to be out on the track without having to worry about drivers that are distracted by cell phones or not seeing you.  This is because it’s only motorcycles and they even divide everyone one up per their skill level.   Here’s a good video of one of the Coach Riders having some fun with the Intermediate and Advanced group.  (Yes, the reason I chose this video is the music and I know the rider.  Also, yes, those are his dreadlocks you can see every now and then. )

The last time I was at Mid-Ohio I ran in Novice class on my SV 650.  I was told then that I should be running in Intermediate but the class was too full so just hang out and work on passing.  This year instead of going straight to intermediate I am hanging back in Novice for the beginning of the day just because I am still learning the ins and outs of the 600RR race bike I will be riding this year.

Along with the bikes the three of us going will be taking all of our protective gear, lots of snacks and drinks to keep our energy up, and an entire workshop of tools.   This is because we never like to be at the track and not get to ride because something breaks or comes loose.  I can guarantee our EXAIR E-Vac Motorcycle Brake Bleeder will even be in the tool box.

As long as everything goes according to plan I’ll be right back here on Wednesday and start working on another Friday blog that I can hopefully entertain all our readers with.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Review the Tape, Evaluate, Improve

With the first track day of the year under my belt it’s now time to start looking at what I could have done better and make the next track day an even bigger success.   This will be done over the next month or so and I will use pictures, video, and even tire inspection to figure out what I could have done better.   Much like a football team reviews tape and prepares for their next game.

Here at EXAIR we offer a service which is similar to this style of review.  The EXAIR Efficiency Lab will let you send in your blowoff device and we will run it through the paces to find an intelligent compressed air product that will perform better than the previous method.  This is a free service that we offer to any and all customers.  Not only will we tell you what your unit is consuming and possibly costing you to operate but we will show you which of our products will perform the same and how much air and money you will save.   The best part is it’s all for free.

If you have an application that you are trying to improve, let us know and we’ll get you the information to send a test piece in to the EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

It’s Track time yet again.

Even though we didn’t get much snow this past Winter the road courses are just now starting to open up here in the Ohio area.   As soon as I get home from work I will be kissing my daughter and wife goodbye for the weekend and heading towards a small town in Indiana called Greencastle.  There’s not much there and the only two things close are Depauw University and Putnam Park Road Course.   I know I have blogged about track days many times but with this much anticipation for the first track day of the year, I can’t help but bring it back again.

Two good friends of mine and myself have spent the last week prepping out bikes for the track day.   The main difference this time is I will have a different bike at the track.  It’s not mine unless I wreck it and it’s quite a bit different from my SV.  So of course I have went through it as best I can and think I’m ready.

All I know is I am ready to get some footage similar to what is shown below.

This track day is of course going to be interesting and a learning experience.   Much like I went through when I first started here at EXAIR and began to learn about our full selection of products.  You see as an Application Engineer here at EXAIR I not only need to know if we sell something but I need to know how it works, why it works, and what kind of applications it can work in.  So this weekend I will be learning something new much like I still am here at EXAIR.

We’re constantly coming up with or hearing about new applications for our products.   If you have one and would like to share or need help with an application just let us know.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Another Day Another Track

That’s right folks, it’s that time of the year and I really lucked out this time by winning a track day raffle for a day at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and School. I had a spot for Novice class at the track day school.  I then proceeded to talk two of my good friends that always go to the track into taking off work and going with me.

They had been to Mid Ohio before and ran several times.  I on the other hand had never even seen the track.   I knew it was quite technical compared to Putnam Park but, the school that they put on for first time attendees receives nothing but excellent comments and reviews. Since I didn’t know what to expect I of course went straight to their website and  then to good ole’ Youtube.  I started my research and talked with a few other people who’d been there and was completely amped about going.  A map of the track is below.

My nerves were on high alert and I couldn’t wait to see this historic race course.  As we pulled in I noticed a bunch of large factory sponsored trailers, the track day just happened to be the day before the AMA Superbike Races started.  Because of this we got the luxury of not only pitting on hot pit, but also we go to watch all the pros get setup in the garages and even see a few of them.

Once we got the bikes ready we went to the morning riders meeting where I found out there were only 6 people total in the Novice class.  This  was unheard of, normally there would be 20-30 people, Because of the small numbers we divided up into two groups and each group had a coach rider.  My coach rider was a gentleman by the name of Dennis Myrwold.  He took us through the basics and each session we practiced different aspects of riding the track.  At lunch time he approached me and commented that my lines were looking good and lap times weren’t bad either.  He asked about why I had blown a few turns, I gave him my answer, then he said you should step up to Intermediate.  I was amazed, I had never been commented to by a Coach rider before let alone told I was good to step up my first time at a track.

Needless to say, I declined and stayed with him and the two other people he had under his group.  By the end of the day I was dragging knee on the freshly painted curbs and passing people on bigger bikes on the back straight.  My two friends and I were all packing the trailer and loading up the bikes when I saw Dennis walking down pit row.  He came up to our trailer and once again talked to me about my riding ability stating that I would really benefit from stepping up and that I should definitely come back.  My two friends were both standing there saying we told you that you’d have no problem with this track.  I thanked Dennis for everything he had taught me that day and told him I’m sure I will be seeing him again later in the year.  At this point I went straight to cloud nine, not only had I gotten to do a track day at Mid Ohio which I never thought I would get to, but I had been told by the instructor after my first time to the track that I should step up.   I realize that I am no where near the fastest rider but it took a Coach rider telling me I should do something in order to get me to do it.

The moral of the story is even though my friends and my peers were encouraging me to do something I had to have a person with technical expertise in the field in order for me to listen.  This is the case in a lot of areas, if you go to a car dealer and the salesman tells you the car has zero maintenance issues you may or may not believe them.  On the other hand if there is a service person there and you ask them the same question, if you are like me you’ll take his expert opinion over a commissioned sales person.

This is why when you call EXAIR and have a question on a product or application you speak directly to an Application Engineer.  We are not commissioned sales people and we are all experts in our field of efficient compressed air usage.  We are going to be up front with our recommendations and also back our recommendations up with a 30 day guarantee along with a 5 year built to last warranty on all of our compressed air products.

P.S.   The track day video footage is still being processed.   I’m sure it will makes its way to our Facebook or Twitter feed.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

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