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200 MPH





As many of you know, and some don't know, I set a goal to go 200 miles per hour on a motorcycle.In October of 2000, I made a list of nine things that I wanted to do during this wonderful time on the planet. I have achieved five of them. I had no idea they would be so difficult! Especially drive a car 200 m.p.h. Later I decided to do it on a motorcycle, since they are my passion. There are lots of bikes that can do 200, right? Wrong. They have very optomistic speedometers.
I bought a used 2000 Suzuki Hayabusa ('hayabusa' means falcon, the fastest bird in flight.) The condensed version is I built the engine to a fuel sucking, horsepower building beast. It generates 186 horsepower at the rear wheel.
Skipping nine years of trial and error, I took it to the el Mirage dry lakebed with my buddy, Chris Jacot last weekend for another attempt.The Southern California Timing Association has been doing speed runs there since the fifties, and it is a trip! Every vehicle imaginable (and unimaginable) is on the lakebed, attempting the same goal; more speed.
My first run felt good. I go the bike up and running and tucked in, and went through the speed trap at 1.5 miles. The speed? 181. Drat! We loaded it up and got back in line. This time I tucked in really nicely, and got even more speed. 184. That, my friends, is a long way from 200, believe me. However, I could feel the problem this time. The rear wheel isn't hooking up. It is spinning and losing traction- at 175+ MPH! We'll keep trying. I just may go to Bonneville Salt Flats and give it a shot there in August.
So what's it like to go that fast? To be honest, it takes some nerve. Actually, the first hundred yards is tricky, as the bike is like a trigger, and it is hard to launch without spinning and fishtailing. Once you get wound through second gear and are passing a hundred, the bike lines up and just hauls, and actually, pretty straight. Once in a while the realr wheel spins, but fishtailing is minimal. From 150 on, the air works with the fairing, the engine is singing, and "ping!" the bike is flying, and it's zipping straight as a string for the horizon. At 180 mph, you pass through a football field in 3/4 of a second. That's pretty fast. What a rush!
The pictures! Take a close look at them. The green machine is a mobile bar, powered by a '60s Corvair flathead six engine. Very clever! Why go to the bar, if the bar can come to you? And it solves the designated driver thing, as they can drop you off.
The yellow beast is a '55 Studebaker. It has made many a run on the dry lakebed. The guy behind his bike? He's riding and old Knucklehead Harley from the thirties. The only thing factory is the engine. He fabricated everything else himself, except perhaps the Springer front end. He's lucky to hit a hundred. But hey, what a cool bike! It has a hand gearshift and 'suicide clutch' on the left foot. Now that takes some talent to ride.
The two guys are Chris and I and the 'Busa. Having a great time. Just have a need. A need for more speed.

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