Category: Motorbikes

2013 Track Days

By , December 14, 2013

Given the arrival of Jr in August my track time was rather limited this year but I still managed to do another level of CSS and a couple of lovely sunny days at Snetterton; one of my new favourite tracks.

The year started with CSS level 3 in the snow at Silverstone. God it was cold, but CSS is always great.
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Then the 675.cc track day at Snetterton at the beginning of May.
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And quickly back to Snetterton for another go at the end of May.
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I also finally managed to get my GoPro on track. Here’s a video from the 675.cc track day:

2012 Track Days

By , November 22, 2012

2012 was a pretty busy year for me!
Started off with CSS Level 1 in March:

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Then the forum trackday at Cadwell on a chilly April day:

cadwell-675.cc

Back to Silverstone for a damp CSS Level 2 in May (still waiting for the weather to warm up):

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Then Brands GP with TripleJimmy:

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Unfortunately this also involved a little off-track excursion. :-(

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No pics from Rockingham in July with buzz675 but Bedford in July I felt was my most successful day. Lovely and warm and also ran into Farebro doing his licence:

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Back up to Cadwell in August (finally summer!):

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And finished the season at Brands Indy:

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Looking forward to finishing the CSS and another good year of track days in 2013!

Endurance Racing

By , September 7, 2012

This weekend is the Le Mans 24 Heures Moto. I went last year and it was an incredible experience. I really want to go again but I’m not sure I’m ready for that campsite again just yet. I have heard there are slightly less mental campsites than where we were but being Le Mans everything’s relative.

I like this description from May 2012 Bike Magazine:

Only the deranged or chemically numbed actually enjoy camping at a French 24-hour motorcycle race, but that’s no reason not to eagerly sign up for the experience.

The Gauls have few rivals when it comes to organising a race-centric party. They think nothing of goading the Gendarmes to the point of distraction, then scarper when the paramilitary CRS goosestep on to the scene. If they’re not doing that they’re revving a brand new GSX-R1000 until its headers glow cherry red. This kind of idiocy is best viewed through beer goggles, but it’ll stay with you forever.

Then there’s the racing. If you don’t camp you’ll be itching to leave by 10pm to get back to the B&B before it’s too late and you’ll miss what makes 24-hour racing special. Camp and you can sit, like a gargoyle with a swollen bladder and pink eyes, mesmerised by the glowing discs ’til sunrise. You’ll get a good 43 minutes shut-eye before a 1988 VFR750 with no silencer is ragged around your chosen field. But you have to experience it once.

Here’s a few videos I took last time.

 

 

MotoGP & BSB wallpaper

By , April 5, 2012

Both MotoGP and British Superbikes kick off this weekend. So in celebration, here are a few wallpapers from pictures I took last year.

California Superbike School Level 1

By , March 21, 2012

Originally posted here.

So I did Level 1 yesterday. It was on the Silverstone International Circuit which is the same southern loop that the Ron Haslam School uses; a really enjoyable circuit. It was a long hard day but I had a great time!

After scraping the frost off my bike seat outside the Premier Inn I headed to the circuit for a 7am start.
There was a familiar face at sign on.
After a general introductory briefing it was decided that as it was still a bit chilly we would start with the off-track drills first. Each level has a specific ‘off-track drill’ such as the lean bike or slide bike. For Level 1 it is a steering drill where they make sure you are counter-steering properly. Even though this was something I was already familiar with my coach still gave me a couple of useful tips to make my turns smoother.

The rest of the day followed a format of alternating classroom and track sessions. The classroom session first introduces the skill that you will be practicing and then you hit the track to put it to use. While on track your assigned track coach will observe your riding and give you some set hand signals to help you practice the drills. When you come in he will give you a debriefing before your next classroom session.

The first session was all about throttle control. We were restricted to riding in one gear and not using the brakes AT ALL! This is quite a change from what most people are used to on track and it really focuses you on achieving the correct corner entry speed and using a controlled throttle application to steady the bike.

The second drill was turn points. During the classroom session they had applied big yellow crosses to mark the turn points for the corners. This is not so much about your riding style but more a chance to practice thinking about and hitting turn points and observing what happens if you turn a bike-length sooner or later. We could use 2 gears here but still no brakes.

Drill three was the quick turn. This is where we practiced getting the bike leant over as quickly as possible. This has a big effect on the amount of lean angle required to get round a turn. I found quick turns were easier in slower corners than faster corners. Makes sense I guess. The faster you are going the more force is required to tip the bike over.

The next session was all about rider input and the importance of relaxing on the bike. I found this made a huge improvement to my cornering. Making a conscious effort to relax on the bars really stabilised the bike and I had never even noticed a tendency to grip the outside bar when leant over. For example on a right-hander I would tend to grip tighter with my left hand. Three gears and some light brakes are allowed here.

The last session was a kind of introduction to Level 2. This was called two step turning. We all know bikes go where we look, however this can cause problems for us as there is a natural tendency for us to look to the inside of the corner and to turn in too early causing us to run wide on the exit. The two step fixes this by making us pick out our apex before we reach our turn point; separating the looking and the turning. This was another massive improvement for me. It takes a lot of concentration if you aren’t used to it but it makes the corners so much easier as you already have an idea of where you want to go before you start your turn in.

Like I said, the day is a lot of hard work. It takes an effort to remember to apply each of the drills to your riding but when you do you can see the improvements immediately. Because of the concentration required they tell you to only ride at 80%. There were still one or two who wanted to prove how fast they were and treated it more like a track day (which it isn’t) but the coaches are pretty good at reminding them to show everyone else some respect.

By the end of the day I was knackered but still wishing I’d booked in for Level 2 on the next day. :-)

I’ll definitely be going back ASAP and I recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their riding and not just to go faster on track. It’s all perfectly applicable to normal road riding too.

Here are some pictures from the day. There are more in the gallery.

A history of hanging off

By , March 7, 2012

I found an interesting forum post by Keith Code from the California Superbike School about how we’ve gone from knuckle dragging to knee dragging. In it he describes an evolution of how racers make bikes go round corners. It’s very interesting but in it he gives examples of riders that typify the five phases of cornering evolution.

I thought it would be interesting to collect pictures of these riders to visualise the change.

Phase 1 – John Surtees

Phase 2 – Mike Hailwood

Phase 3 – Jarno Saarinen

Phase 4 – Kenny Roberts

Phase 4 – Cal Rayborn

Phase 4 – Mick Doohan

Phase 4 – Randy Mamola

Phase 5 – Casey Stoner

 

 

Le Mans 24 Heures Moto

By , November 4, 2011

Originally published here.

I went to Le Mans on the weekend. It was a bloody incredible experience.

After meeting up with a couple of BMW GS’s, a Suzuki Bandit and a Harley(!) at 4am on Friday morning we got the 6am ferry from Dover to Calais and then took some nice roads south to Le Mans arriving at the circuit at about 2pm.

Staying in the campsite was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Anyone who’s been will know what I mean. For those who haven’t, you need to imagine something like Mad Max. The campsite is between the airfield and the circuit but you can barely hear the noise of either the aircraft or the race track due to the constant insane revving of motorbike engines in the camp. This literally goes on without stop from Thursday until Sunday. All through the day and night bike engines are screaming in torture being held at the limiter and having their cut-off switches flicked to produce flaming backfires. The French call it the Rupture. The noise is deafening. Some take the cans off their bikes and some attach home made garbage can trumpet attachments for extra awesomeness.

Other features of the campsite are flares, fires and massive amounts of alcohol and drunkenness. Oh and dust. Lots of dust that mixes with the smoke of the campfire and the early morning mist to produce a kind of smog that coats your bike/tent and floats across the circuit.

Oh yeah, the circuit. That’s right. The race that everyone is supposed to be there for. The racing is incredible. I do not know how these guys do it. It’s pretty surreal. As a spectator you watch the start and several laps. Then maybe have a wander round the circuit, watch a bit more and catch up on the positions then head back to camp for dinner. After dinner you wander back over to the circuit, and those guys are still flinging their bikes around the track, lifting the front wheel through the Dunlop bridge and overtaking into corners. Then you might watch a bit of the rock concert and then head back to the track. They’re still racing. It’s getting late so you head back to camp for more drinking / general madness and try to get a couple of hours sleep over the noise of the rupture. You get up early to watch the sunrise over the circuit AND THEY ARE STILL RACING! They haven’t slowed down AT ALL! An hour or so later you head back to the camp for breakfast / beer and later on walk back to the circuit to watch the final few hours of racing. OMG THEY ARE STILL GOING FLAT OUT! I don’t know how they do it for 24h. I know the riding is split between 3 or 4 riders but it’s still insane.

The whole thing was unreal. I got back home at 2am on Monday morning and I still haven’t fully recovered from the weekend. :-) Oh and the French loooved the Daytona. I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone who walked passed my bike in the campsite either turned to gaze at it or more often stopped and discussed it with their mates. The Harley barely got a glance. :-) I only saw a couple of other Daytonas although there were a few more Streets.

I’ll add some photos I took when I have had a chance to look at them but here’s a great video of this years race.

A few pics. Full gallery is here.

 

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