So, lets get the ball rolling and start on Saturday. As I'm still commuting a frankly stupid distance, I don't try and get the bike out for a long ride at the weekend, so instead I taxed the Ducati and picked it up from Conquest Motorcycles after having a few jobs done, mainly the lack of an electronic neutral and rode it back home the dull straight way. Well I should say I tried to ride it home. I managed to get it about 20yards down the road before it cut out and wouldn't start. Turns out the tank was totally dry and the guys helped me out by siphoning a few litres of unleaded out of one of their own bikes. After a quick trundle around the industrial estate to make sure all was okay and then I rode it home.
After spending the last few months on the FireBlade, the Ducati took a bit of getting used to. I was pleased with the new Ducabike slave cylinder that I had installed, mainly as the clutch action was still fairly stiff and it may sound strange, but I was actually a little worried about the clutch being as easy as the FireBlade. This wasn't the case as there is still clearly a nice level of resistance at the lever.
With the Ducati back home I took the opportunity to clean the Honda in preparation for my visit to the California Superbike School on Monday. I'll be writing up a proper review once I get the photos of the event. When cleaning the bike I noticed some fork fluid around the fork bottom, which I wiped away, bounced the bike up and down a bit and checked again. Nothing. Cool.
The next day, and after exploring causes as to why my front brakes were squeaking just as I was coming to a halt, I decided that I should try and free up the bobbins in the brake discs before the track day. I searched online and found some great video footage of how to do it easily.
So all ready to go, I sprayed the bobbins and started to try and free them, but they weren't budging. I certainly wasn't going to try and force it, so decided to stop. It was at this point I realised that I'd inadvertently sprayed chain cleaner on my discs....the day before I was due to go on track. Idiot! Not good...not good at all. What followed was a mixture of bike cleaner, brake cleaner, water and riding it up and down my cul-du-sac to clear all the rubbish from the pads. Thankfully, it worked as about an hour later, I was back in business.
On Sunday afternoon, I loaded the bike into the back of the U-Drive rental van, strapped it down and headed off to London. Instead of trying to do the nearly three hour drive to Silverstone in Monday morning traffic, I decided that it would be a lot easier to start from North London instead. It was a good idea.
Getting to the circuit just before 07:00 I unloaded the bike only to find more fluid leaking from the from fork leg. Speaking with the CSS guys, we agreed that it was only weeping and that I should keep an eye on the forks and if it got any worse, I would probably need to stop the track sessions.
What followed was a magnificent day of coaching and riding, which really took it's toll on my legs. My on track instructor was Sam and he was fantastic. He gave good clear instructions and guidance about my riding, backing up and reaffirming what Glenn was teaching me in the classroom. The Pirelli Rosso Corsa 3 tyres were utterly flawless, with some truly fantastic side grip. Good news is the leak didn't get any worse and I was able to get five full sessions in. I can't wait to do level 2 as this was the best money I've ever spent when biking.
On the way home and I was intentionally taking it easy, but a few miles from the M40, I heard a loud thump from the back of the van and knew exactly what had happened. Like an idiot, I didn't tie the bike down properly and she had fallen on her left side, breaking the mirror, denting the tank and cracking the rear tail fairing. Gutted doesn't even come close. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, but I would have preferred it if the bike hadn't toppled on it's side.
What followed was careful navigation of the roundabouts and traffic lights back home, stuck in fourth gear on a big V Twin. At lower speeds, I decided to rev the engine up to 8000rpm and slip the clutch in order to maintain drive. I knew that if I stopped, I'd be pushing it home.
Somehow I made it back and already wet from the rain, I went about finding out the problem. Simply put, the bolt that held the lever to the linkage had made a break for freedom on the A31 this morning and replacing the bolt fixed the problem. I made a point to put two nuts on the end of the bolt, locking them in place with some Loctite. Once I was up and running I headed back out into rush hour proper, joining all the people on the A31, M27 and M3.
What followed was the worst rain I'd ridden the Ducati in since riding through Switzerland back in 2014 coming back from World Ducati Week. That journey left the Ducati looking like this.....
So after two long journeys I finally remembered just how much hard work riding this bike is. Would I have it any other way? Probably not. Still love her, even if she does drive me mad every now and again.