When I got back yesterday I was too tired to re-arrange the bikes in the garage, so I went to work today on the Ducati again. Damp and uncomfortable are pretty much the only words that fit the bill. I uploaded my unedited footage to youtube yesterday and set up a Headbehindthebubble youtube channel, which I plan on updating with footage filmed at the track.
As you can see this is just pretty raw footage with no editing done, but its shows just how wet it was yesterday.I took some time to clean the Ducati today. Is it just me or is cleaning the bike one of the most therapeutic and annoying things at the same time?
So after starting the day in Birmingham, I ventured up to Donington and now I'm back in London, thankfully all in one piece. It has to be said that I have never ridden is such bad weather before, the amount of spray on the M42 there and the M1 on the way back was almost unbelievable.
The trackday itself was wet all day, with surface water all over the track. My Ducati was far from happy especially as she was still wearing her Italian designer boots in the shape of a pair of Pirelli Rosso Corsos. Awesome tyres in the dry, frankly dangerous in the wet.
To give you some idea of the conditions, have a look at this photo. This is one very scared rider
It has to be said, a huge level of praise has to go to Focussed Events and Ducati UK who both made the very best of a bad day. Both Niall MacKenzie and Neil Hodgson were both on hand and were both very approachable, admittedly thou, I just approached them as a fan because today, for me anyway, wasn't the kind of day to learn anything on track. In total I did six laps. Three in the morning and three after lunch. I'm uploading some raw footage to Youtube as I type and I'll get a link on here so you can see just how wet it was out there. The food at lunch was miles above the normal shite you get at a trackday and best of all it was included in the price. I spent some time over the lunch break talking to Neil Spalding of Sigma Performance fame, a very nice man who was very patient with an amateur like myself.
Ducati UK brought along some members of their race teams including Ayrton Badovini and the Superbike Project Director Ernesto Marinell. In the following Q&A session I won a fleece for asking a question about having particular riders from certain countries in order to enhance Ducati's market share. To be honest thou, the bloke that asked if hiring Rossi for two years was a mistake should have won it instead of me.
Bosch were also on hard to demonstrate the ABS on two Ducati bikes; the Diavel and the Multistrada. For those who took part, the process was three fold for each bike. On the first run, we were asked to accelerate to 50mph in 2nd gear and stamp on the back break. The second run, we were told to again get up to 50mph and grab a massive handful of front brake and finally on the third run, use a combination of the front and back. Jesus! All I can say is I want ABS on my next bike, its utterly fabulous.
Finally, there was a nice range of Ducatis on show which ranged from top spec 1199rs, to 999s, to Superlights to the super rare and frankly amazing Supermono Strada built by Alistair Wager. Check out his website www.britaliamoto.com for more on this amazing bike.
Finally finally, here just two nice pics of two older Ducatis
I was up and Donington today for the WSBK and wow, what a magnificent day weather wise. Totally stunning. I realised about 20mins into the journey that I'd left my ticket at home, but I still managed to get to the circuit in time to watch the 848 challenge. Nothing quite like a grid full of Ducatis to make the heart beat faster. I plan on writing something up, sort or a two days in May describing today and Tuesday's trackday, so in the meantime, here are some pics of Carlos Checa and his 1199
Today I met up with a mate to have a coffee and a chat. What could be simpler than that? Not much really, but the interesting thing is my mate lives 60 miles away in Oxford. I took the Ducati out as I needed to get used to it before I take it on track at Donington on Tuesday. Could be wet thou, so it may just be irrelevant. Anyway after filtering for the first twenty minutes on the flippin North Circular Road, I eventually got out onto the open road and really started enjoying the bike and the ride.
Neal and I sat in the coffee store, with the Ducati glinting in the sun outside, for well over two hours, discussing amongst other things, this very website.
The ride back was uneventful, but I think I should say sorry to the MX5 driver, whose car I may have rubbed my right knee slider against. Sorry dude.
My mate Andy recently went to the North West 200 and has updated his site with a lovely write up.
You can find the article here and its well worth a read, just like the rest of his site
http://www.motorcycle-diary.com/2013-nw200.html. Check it out and say I said hi
Leaving work this afternoon, I got utterly soaked on the way home. This, annoying, but almost inevitable event led to one rather big conclusion. The pin lock insert for my HJC helmet is total and utter shite. I'm sure if questioned the manufacturer will say that it not the visor, its the fitting and you know what, I totally agree. This is because no matter what I do, the f-ing thing has never fitted properly despite all my best efforts. The ones on the Shoei and the Arai helmets worked fine as you could actually adjust the fitting. The fitting adjustment on the HJC? absolutely worthless! This is really annoying as the helmet itself is pretty good as I explained in 'My kit', not perfect, but still pretty good. As this is my daily lid, I'm going to need to invest in some anti-misting spray and drop the pin lock entirely.
Not really that much to say about today really. I took advantage of a little free time in the afternoon to check and tweek a few things on the Ninja. I checked and cleaned the front pads and calipers, altered my rear brake light switch and took the baffle out of the exhaust. Not exactly exciting, but each job neded to be done. Thankfully Monday's trackday didn't take too much out of the front pads and there is plenty of material left and they are wearing evenly across the pad.
As Dinah Washington so beautifully said, what a difference a day makes. Yesterday I was thrashing the nuts off the big green meanie seeing over 140mph as the needle dived into the red line in top hammering it down the Hanger and Wellington Straights. Today I was riding the same bike, in almost the same kit and I was lucky if I saw 30mph and third gear. Yesterday was great and I know I was pushing myself because today I can hardly walk. After being sat at my office chair, the pain I felt as I got up for lunch was ridiculous. I'm not that old am I?
Looking back at yesterday, I think I enjoyed the day that much more as I'd been riding the Kawasaki exclusively since May 10th and the Ducati has only come out of the garage to be cleaned. I'm at Donington next Tuesday on a Ducati trackday, so even if the weather is shit, I won't be able to take the Ninja. This means I need to do some more miles this week whilst sat on the 1098s. Oh well, its a tough job........
There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a good trackday. All the muscles across the top of your shoulders ache, your legs feel heavy and your eyes and hands feel tired. To paraphrase Worf from Star Trek ' Today was a good day to ride'. I left the house on the ZX7R just after 06:00 this morning questioning my choice of motorcycle and headed up the M1 after having, what is for me anyway, a slight lie in. The weather was a little bit drizzly but that soon cleared and despite the clouds threatening all day, it was the only rain that I encountered. After getting some fuel just before getting to the circuit I pulled into the pit garage ready to start the day. Its always an interesting moment when you first get a glimpse of the riders and machines that you will be sharing the day with and it's probably just me, but at that moment I always feel out of my depth, although I know I'm not. After the mandatory safety briefing we head out on track for the first time and all goes really well. The bike feels good and I have loads of confidence in the tyres as they're giving me lots of feedback from the surface.
Unlike most other trackdays our session times were a little bit all over the place. For the first few sessions there were twenty five minute gaps in place, but as the day progressed that changed. We would do a session and then have to wait nearly an hour for the next two. Then at the end we went back to the twenty five minutes gap and I'm sure this was more to do with the race cars that were also present, but I just found it a little odd. Despite that, I felt that the Silverstone team did a wonderful job on the day and it was well worth the entry fee, which is a little higher that other similar days. I was really pleased with them as they also let me wear my helmet camera so I got some track footage, which I'll look at uploading.
In the afternoon, the insects arrived, splattering my visor the front of my bike in their DNA. Looking at the front of my bike in the picture above, it looks like it could do with a few sessions with a bottle of clearsil rather than just a good scrub down with some Muc-off.
As always there were some really nice guys down there today. A special hello to Clive and Peter who I hung out with for most of the day. At lunch we had a great little discussion about MotoGP out the back of the garages as the fire alarm was going off inside. I got the chance to say hi to John McAvoy again, meet John Hogan as well as having a laugh on and off track with Jon Urry, which all started because we wear the same leathers.
Silverstone will be upload the photos either tonight or tomorrow, so I'll get some of those up when I get the chance. All in all, a really, really good day. Did I take the wrong bike? Not a chance
I'm booked in for a trackday on the full Silverstone GP track tomorrow. The longish term forecast last week predicted rain, which meant that the Ducati was pretty much out of the question, simply because I find the Pirelli tyres, well, a bit rubbish in the wet. Last year I was at a sodden Brands Hatch GP and only did four laps all day as the bike was just wandering around underneath me.
So the Ninja is being called upon for track duties tomorrow as the tyres are much better and the lower power figures and calmer delivery would make it a better bike to use. So yesterday, whilst Sarah was chilling out inside ready for her Nike We Own the Night race, I set about getting the bike ready. I filled up the fluids, cleaned the bike and checked the chain. Doesn't she look nice
I then set about checking the pressures, which I'd set to 42psi on Wednesday. They had dropped to 36psi, which indicated a problem. Low and behold I found a small golden nail embedded right in the middle of the tyre. It looked like one from picture mount, but I was able to take it up the road where Artur sorted the puncture and popped some new rear pads in for good measure. The Ninja is all ready to go now, she won't be the fastest on the track, but she'll cope well. Despite the dark screen affecting my ability to get my head behind the bubble (see what I did there), the bigger tank and tyres should make it a more practical choice for the bigger circuit. Looking at the weather forecast today, its says that there could be showers, but its not guaranteed. Typical
I got an email today from somebody at Bauer media to tell me that I'd won a pair of tickets for the WSBK race at Donnington on Sunday 26th May, which is really nice. Its not all roses thou. I fully intend going to the race, but I'm working back in London on Monday morning, only to be heading to the Ducati Trackday on Tuesday, back at Donnington. Thats alot of miles to be doing, but hey, I wanted to ride my bikes more anyway
My name is Matt Brown and I'm a UK journalist formerly based in London, but now calling the South of England home. I've been riding bikes since 2007, but got hooked straight away. Nothing gives me the feeling of freedom, even when stuck in a city. In 2010 I became a RoSPA gold rider, but when it comes down to it, I'm Just a normal man, riding his bikes as often as he can.