21
Sep
07

Victory/Defeat

When I look back at the 2007 Bonneville Speed Trials, and my opportunity to ride the B120 Wraith, I have some mixed emotions about the results. For one, I have never attended a competition that had victory and defeat so loosely defined. Even though there is a man waiting to record your time against those who have gone before you, you quickly find that the only person you can prevail over, or be defeated by, is yourself. This makes it inherently difficult to answer the question “How did I do?”

After more than a month worth of work crammed into a week, and almost thirty hours straight driving, just getting to Utah was a victory in itself. I can only liken the place to the Grand Canyon, or flying over Los Angeles the night before Thanksgiving; seeing just how far the lights of vacation traffic can span, to give anyone an idea of how vast the place seems. (Check out the sunrise pictures Paul took!) The sights and smells of the salt will forever be a trophy to cherish.

As we were building the bike, we (that means EVERYONE here at Confederate) asked ourselves and each other many times, “How fast do you think it will go?” We considered every imaginable factor that might give us a hint of just how fast it could go, so that when we achieved that speed we could taste victory.
The Wraith was able to make four passes down the Bonnevillle track. The early passes saw a well-prepared racing surface that the B120 was able to easily accelerate on and control. The chassis handled beautifully. This was obviously a surprise to some that were in attendance. Most of the machines there were purpose built for high speed racing,  exclusively.

The engine showed itself to be a wonderful piece of engineering and design. Once tuned to the great difference in elevation, full rpm power left me wanting another try at the track with significantly taller gearing.  The motor wanted longer legs! Much longer.

I would like to personally thank all those at Confederate who made this happen. Many people had a dream of victory, and worked very hard to achieve it. The B120 Wraith (we now call her Bonnie) worked flawlessly. To those who got her there, you may tell all who ask that you won. No matter the number of passes, how high the speeds, or the times recorded.

For myself; I have chosen something in between victory and defeat. To pilot our dream machine, in competition, representing a fiercely intense inclusionary team and family of Confederate zealots, is sweet victory.

Setting up for our fourth run, knowing full well that it would be our last chance, we geared the bike as high as we could. For the other passes I was topping out at redline far before the first timing marker. (Riders have two miles to accelerate, and one mile to be timed)  It was necessary to time the point in the track that I would pin the throttle in fifth gear, ensuring that I hit top speed right at the first marker. So far I had been able to get it pretty close to perfect. With that much torque to pull you along, it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. I knew as soon as I short shifted into fifth gear at a mere 4300 RPMs, that I had made an irreversible error; I had dropped the RPMs to about 3000 in a very tall 5th and final gear. Nevertheless, Bonnie pulled herself like a pack mule up to five thousand rpm and 155 mph at the end of the timed mile.  She was pulling harder and faster with each beat of her heart when I was forced to shut down.

I choose to harbor some defeat within myself for the twelve hundred RPMs she did not get to realize on that last run.

– Jason Reddick

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