Tuesday, 31 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Seventh Practice - A Bit Damp

Saturday brought rain. It stopped raining by 16h00, but I decided not to go out. Having qualified and happy that the bikes are as good as I can get them in the current circumstances there was nothing to learn or gain by hooning around here in the wet and damp. For the first time on the Isle I made a decision not to go out to practice - it was pure luxury!

The BAMF hustling through Quarterbridge on a previous evening practice  - thanks Northline Photography

My mate Mike Minns (2nd in last year's Ultra Lightweight race) broke the end off his crank during Friday's practice... so he had to get out on a spare bike (his brother's SV - very simmilar to mine) to do the minimum number of laps on that bike to qualify. He'd been running in the top 10 Ultra Lightweights all week.

Frank Biggelaar from Netherlands just back from evening practice on his big old Post Classic 1000cc 'Magni' Suzuki 

My knowledge of pre-1998 bikes is pretty embarassing... any knowledge on who/what/how/where Magni Suzuki is?

His heavy beast takes a battering around the TT Mountain Course - "I thought I heard it getting louder..." says

Only about 20 bikes went out... probably all just to test certain aspects of the bike or to do emergency qualification. It was our turn to watch. The house I'm renting has a galleried landing with a bay window on Bray Hill side. The views are fantastic! Sitting in a warm house, sipping a cup 'o tea we watched race bikes streak down the last half of Bray Hill and scrape fairings as they bottomed out at 130mph at the Bray Hill traffic lights. I tried to get some pics... but the bikes were just too fast for my little  point-and-shoot camera.

The Paddock was alive with the 'Puk-puk-puk-puk-puk...' of trials bikes from early on Saturday morning for the beginning of the Manx 2-Day Trial. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go watch some of it.

Mike got 2 laps in and qualified. He has been doing laps of 106/107mph on his broken SV all week... he only managed a quickest lap of 93mph in the conditions - fast enough and enough laps to qualify.

Monday, 30 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Sixth Practice

Apologies for the belated post - had a brilliant surprise visitor on Saturday morning... :-)

Friday's practice - another brilliant sun-shining day. It was a bit chillier than the previous days, but it was dry and sunny all around the course. The day started with the usual few hours prep on the bikes... checking bolts, refastening fairing dzus bolts, checking tyres, chain, taping up scraped belly-pans, checking and refuelling, cleaning etc...

The BAMF on the Mountain - thanks Northline Photography

Got out on Suzy V first. Started pushing from Union Mills onwards. Feeling good and getting a nice flowing rhythm going. Making good time... thru Ballacraine, Kirk Michael, ramsey then up the mountain. Started to get a good flow up the Mountain... I love the Mountain section and normally make up time on other riders up there. Mountain Mile and Suzy is at full chat... white needle in the rev counter vibrating like mad around the 10k mark. Into Mountain Box... carrying a bit more speed than usual... I tip in... knee out and half way to the apex the front starts sliding. Ooooooooh shiiiiiit!

'Suzy V'

I push the front for what seemed an eternity... wire fence and nothingness then the Mountain Box skimming past my peripheral vision. The tyres grips after I've pushed it about 1 foot off-line and I scoot through the rest of the double left-lander in one big arc. Shit! That was scary!

I back it off a rung or two as I think through what just happened. I think back to the tyres... hmmmm... I did Silverstone Desmo Due with these boots back in May on the Wee Monster. And the the Snetterton test... and this was the 7th lap on them around here... they're probably past their prime. Yup... probably. I fly through for another lap... taking it just a bit easier through any corner where I am asking a lot of the front end, but still getting a wriggle on everywhere else. 2 good laps 100.2 and 99.7 were the result. I'm happy!

Clear and sunny going over the Mountain towards Ramsey - across the sea you can see the mountains of the Peak District - first time I've ever seen 'Across' (a local word for mainland UK) from the Isle 

I get back to the pits. Gloves off, helmet off. Start the Aprilia to get her a bit warmed up. Mash a banana through me teeth... a quick drink of Lucozade. Helmet on, gloves on and move into line to take off down Glencrutchery road. To get up onto Glencrutchery road, there is a steep ramp. this sloshes all the fuel to the back of the tank... some dribbles out onto my crotch and the rest pisses out the overflow... the overflow bottle soon fills up and I've got fuel spewing into the belly-pan. Third time this had happened. Another mechanic notices this and points it out... but none of the officials see it this time so I just nod and shout "It's OK!".

First lap of practice - take it easy for the first few miles through Braddan Bridge on cold tyres - thanks Northline Photography

The previous two occasions meant me stopping, siphoning the extra fuel out and mopping up the belly-pan. I'm fed up with doing this so just line her up and blast off from the start line, taking a bit of extra care in case fuel spills onto the front tyre under braking... but with the 140mph wind down Bray Hill I think it had all evaporated long before I hit the brakes at Quarterbridge. Through Union Mills and all's well.

The tyre situation is on my mind as I count this lap as the 9th on these tyres. The rear was looking really worn and raggedy... but it's the front that I put my faith in... so I just take it that much easier whenever there is a lot of load on the front. I only brought one set of new tyres for each bike, not expecting to get so many good days practice in and didn't want to put too much mileage on them before the race. Next time... I'll bring two sets.

The BAMF rear tyre... a bit shagged out and way past it's prime

Feeling good on the BAMF, but still too much stop/start. I go very fast, get a bit scared so brake hard for the next bend, killing my corner-speed. But learning more sections a a faster speed. Before I know it I'm blasting down Glencrutchery Road again for my flying lap... the last of the evening.

Another good lap. Push a little bit more in each corner... and learning what happens at the next corner once you add 3mph corner speed to the one before. Learn, learn, learn. 104.9 and 106.3mph were the two laps. Improving. Sulby Straight through the traps is only 150mph... way down on the top guys who are pulling 170 mph thru there. This old Aprilia is way down on horsepower compared to the 2010 GSXR 750's that have been tuned to the moon that those guys are on. Suzy V however gets 138.9mph... good enough for the top ten Ultra Lightweight! :-)

'Suzy V' on the Mountain - thanks Northline Photography

A great evening practice.

Friday, 27 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Fifth Practice - Up a Gear

Spent yesterday frantically trying to find someone with an air-ratched to help with the clutch. I guess if I woke up early I would have more time... but hey... I'm on holiday here and it's great to take a break from the alarm clock... if only for two weeks. Besides... I'm giving my body as much rest as it needs... my upper back, neck and shoulders are still so sore, stiff and knotted up. The rigors of the TT Mountain Course! (also all the laying down, picking up, pushing around of the BAMF.. and hauling tools-boxes etc. around the paddock)

A great pic from John Turnton for the shopping basket - this must have been wet Monday evening

Finally got the clutch changed on the BAMF with the help of the able hands and air-ratchet of Geoff Martin and air-supply from Ernie Coates (one of the paddock race shops). Thanks guys! Turns out I got the wrong filter - never a dull moment. Old filter back, fresh oil in a and ready to rock!

How to change a clutch on an Aprilia...

Conditions yesterday evening were perfect. Light breeze, sunny, warm, dry. As I gunned the BAMF down Glencrutchery Road, she wheelied on the gear changes - the new clutch works! Getting some heat into the tyres and on the stops out of Union Mills. Whooooo-hoooo!

Job done.. and Mr finger is larfing!

The only problem with evening practice when it's sunny is sun dazzle. You come hooning around a bend, and despite acknowledging the 'SUN' flags you get a face-full of setting sun. You can't see jack diddley squat! Roll the throttle, get your bearings and get going again... losing precious time.

This guy built his own Moto Guzzi works replica frame for the Post Classic class - it's beautiful! I must get more info and spend more time looking at other machines than working on mine...

Got 2 good laps in. The BAMF is really pulling now, despite running with the Co-Built dB killer (don't want to get pulled for too much noise before the race - it'll come out for the race). Pulling so much that it gets scary to hold it at full pelt. I'm working up to that. Also, the brakes are so damn good that I'm braking far too soon for corners and losing my corner speed. No worries... the bike is working good... good enough for laps of 104 and 105mph. I'm happy with that... but she did 108mph around here with less horsepower in 2006, so there is still more room for improvement!

Geoff Martin (red overalls) who was a great help with the BAMF clutch

Had a 3 minute break and headed out on the little SV. The acceleration is so tame compared with the BAMF. The BAMF just wants to rip your arms from the sockets... the SV just gently pulls. The SV's brakes are rubbish... but this is not a bad thing because I land up carrying more corner speed. She's feeling good. So light and planted. The BAMF is really hard work around here... you have to muscle her around the bends and on every little bump on the road she's trying to wheelie. Where the SV just skips over the jumps, the BAMF launches skywards. But... the SV's poor engine gets tortured around here... flat-out at over 9000 rpm for so much of the lap... I hope she can go the distance.

Found this pic online... not sure who took it... looks like the entry to Braddan Bridge

Despite a few yellow-flag incidents, the laps were good. 99 and 101mph respectively! I am so pleased with that. The ton on the SV was my aim... We've done it! The Suzuki SV650 has now been christened 'Suzy V'.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Suzy does the Ton!

Quick update... been a long day. Got out in perfect conditions tonight and did 101mph on the little Suzuki SV650. This was my goal... we've done it! Fuckin' A!

She is no longer just a Suzuki... no longer just an SV... she is 'Suzy V'!

Practice finished an hour and a half ago... my upper back, shoulders and backs of my upper arms are all knotted and in agony. Bejeesus! What I wouldn't give for a massage right now! Bring on the lager and Neurofen...

Yeah baby!

ManxGP 2010 - Fourth Practice - Faster

My new clutch arrived by special delivery yesterday morning... but of course Murphy was involved. It was a lot earlier than expected and I had just nipped out to get some oil and a filter. Doh! Spent the rest of the morning doing all the other prep and trying to hunt the delivery down.

Cranking the BAMF over through the Bungalow... blue skies, Mountain Course, Vee Twin growling away... doesn't get much better than this!

Finally, at 16h15 I tracked it down and got out in rush hour traffic to pick it up. I was only back at the house at 16h45. So I drained the oil and whipped the clutch cover off only to discover that I needed an air-wrench to get the main nut off. Double Doh!

Thing of beauty - STM slipper clutch. For me, on the BAMF it's worth a second a lap around short circuits... but should only slip on downshifts! These Barnett race clutch plates have lasted 6 seasons of racing including 2 ManxGPs - good stuff!

So I put everything back together and arrived at the day-paddock at 17h50... only 25 mins before practice. With 2 bike to get scrootered and filling up etc. to do I was never going to make it. Pete and Ken Minns were fantastic and came to the rescue.

Both bikes through scrootineering, topped up, changed and I was back at the pits as the first riders were getting away. I was only planning 1 lap on the BAMF - just to test the new aerodynamics. With a slipping clutch, not much use risking further damage or breaking down half-way through a lap. As Colin Edwards said: "If you ain't riding at 110%, you're just wearing out the machinery."

The BAMF was looking just so gaddamn pretty in the sunshine... I don't answer the "Where's the fairing?" question anymore. Some folks however do get the idea and say "Cool".

It was a beautiful day, warm (for the Isle) and sunny. The new aerodynamics on the BAMF are a treat! I can get on and keep on the power. On the run past the Crosby, over Wagon-horse Leap and down towards Greeba Castle she was flying! For the first time I saw my shift light flickering in top gear. :-) Now we got some speed back! Whooooo-hoooo!

No time for paddock stands... the BAMF waits patiently for practice to get underway

I caught and passed quite a few riders, but was always braking way too early for the corners... the brakes are just so much better than the SV's. When you drop anchors from 150mph, she wants to do a stoppie... the SV just reluctantly slows down. As a result my corner-speed is way down. My straight speed or acceleration also wasn't what it should be because of teh slipping clutch... but despite this I still managed to clock a lap of 103.7mph from a standing start on cold tyres :-)

The SV through the Bungalow - thanks Dave Kneen for the soon to be bought pics...

A short break in the pits and then out on the SV for 2 laps. I haven't touched a thing on the bike so it was just a case of learning more of the circuit on that little machine. A great first lap of 98.2mph from a standing start on cold tyres. Got the hammer down for the second but there was an incident after the Cronk-y-voddy  Straight (just love that name!) and I slowed right up for about 6 marshal posts under waved yellow flags. Despite this... I still bagged a 97.7mph lap. Speed through the Sulby Straight trap was 138.9mph - 9th fastest out of all 110 Ultra Lightweights! And this is a stock engined bike that is within British Minitwins rules - there are a lot of SV's in the paddock with more horsepower... let's see if we can maintain it. My 98.2mph is 32nd fastest. Very happy with that too.

A Rotary Norton - this guy's mate is racing one in the Post Classic class - it sounds very different. Will try get some pics...

A great day on the Isle!

ManxGP 2010 - Qualified!

Oh... forgot to mention... on Tuesday evening with a 97mph and 101mph average in the Ultra Lightweight and Senior class respectively... I've qualified!

No more begging in front of the committee :-)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Third Practice - Dry!

Woke up early to do a lap or two... it had rained and all was wet. But that was the last of the rain. By the time practice rolled around, it was chilly and windy... but dry!

Got out on the SV first with her new rear brake-line. Gave her a right canning for two laps. :-) She is so well behaved, even through the real bumpy sections. Great fun!

A pic from John Turton (thanks Edwin for finding it!) from the Bungalow

Came in, ate a banana while the BAMF warmed up and headed off down Glencrutchery Road. I short-shifted all the way to St Ninians, but by the time we reached the traffic lights we were ticking along a lot faster than on the SV. Got the tyres up to temp and then opened her up after Union Mills. Baaaaaarp! Shit! Clutch slipping. I ease the throttle open. She hit 8 500 rpm and 'Baaaarp' clutch slips again. Bollocks!

The offending brake line

Shiny and new - thanks Dennis at Dennis Trollope Race Spares - he's got everything!

Couldn't get her cranking along at full throttle with the slipping clutch... but as soon as we started to get up some speed, I'd have to hang on real tight. On the flat-out run from Glen-Vine to Greeba Casle, the airflow hitting my head was so much that my helmet strap started choking me. Not good. I tucked down as much as possible, but still too much wind hitting the front of my helmet. It was like this on every straight. I had taken the little wind-deflector off because it obscures one's vision (especially when wet) and I landed up looking over it most of the time. It helped a bit.

Best lap on the SV: 97.7 mph. 32nd out of 110 with an 11th best speed through the Sulby Speed Trap of 137mph. Not bad for an almost standard 2001 SV! :-) The Wee Monster last year could only manage a trap speed of 124mph.

I jumped Ballagh Bridge 4 time last night... 1 screw-up and 3 in style (I'm getting better at it)... of course the photographer only got the screw-up. Thanks Dave Kneen... another pic for the shopping cart

Best lap on the BAMF: only 101.4mph with a trap speed of 147mph (the top boys are getting 170+). With a clutch that works and a bit of aerodynamic work, we should get that closer to the 110 mark.

Looking at the aerodynamics over the nose of the two bikes, the SV is quite steep - this give me a nice bubble of  still air to have a cup of tea behind. The BAMF has a Ducati 1098 nose, a lot sleeker and sharper. Great for short circuits (and looks wicked) but around here is just directing too much wind into me. SV screen angle is 56 degrees, BAMF 38 degrees... a full 18 degrees lower!

Found out my ally paddock stand has some nasty edges that can open you up... and give a mouth to a finger- puppet

Did some work on the BAMF nose this morning... now got the screen up to 47 degrees - that should help. The clutch arrived... but I wasn't here (I was getting a filter and oil for the job... doh!). It's stuck somewhere in the Manx mail system... I hope to get it soon and have enough time to fit it... running out of time here. Might have to go out tonight with a slipping clutch... at least I can test the new screen angle. Got a stonking migrane at the moment too... so could do without the running around...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Second Practice - The BAMF is Back!

The rain stopped yesterday at 14h00. Sun came out and the course was drying out nicely... then 45 minutes before the start of practice it started raining again. :-(

This year they have shortened the scroot time from 14h00 - 18h00 to 16h00 - 18h00. For the proper teams with mechanics to get the bikes through scrootineering this is no problem... but puts it puts a lot of pressure on us one-man-shows to get two bikes through scrootineering and ready for practice. If something that takes more than 10 minutes is needed doing as a result of scrootineering, with a team it's no problem because the mechanics can have an extra hour or so while the riders gets ready and goes out in the first session on the other bike. With a one-man-show, you're fucked!

Rear view of the BAMF... I'm hoping to show this to most competitors...

Got the BAMF through scrootineering no problemo. Took the SV up... as I rolled up to the bay, the rear brake didn't feel right. I checked it out. The brake line had cought the bucking swing-arm (something that wouldn't happen on short-circuits) and been kinked. It was leaking. Shit! To source an new brake line (from the brilliant race shops in the paddock) and fit it shouldn't take more than an hour for a spanner-numpty like me. But in 30 minutes the Senior practice would start and I still had to top the BAMF up with gas to make 2 laps... and get kitted up. So... yesterday... I got fucked.

I wheeled the SV back down to the van... and gave it a kick. I was angry... but channeled that energy into the next two laps.

Poorly positioned brake line for the rigors of the TT Mountain Course - if a bike has a weakness, the TT Mountain Course will find it! This is what practice week is for...

Out on the BAMF. By the time I was crossing St Ninian's (200 yards from the start) I knew the radical geometry changes I'd made on Sunday were working. I went steady, steady till Union Mills (cold tyres - tyres warmers are just more hassle and things for me to do before practice...) then opened her up. Yeeeeeeeha! Fuck me! She's got grunt!

By the time we were at Glen Helen, the roads were wet. easy, easy... just feeling my way around. You gotta be soooo gentle with the quick -action throttle with so much torque and horse-power.

First lap at Greeba Bridge - knicked the pic from Dave Kneen... fear not... I will be buying them without the banners...

As I went around, the voice of Mike Dawson was in my head: "Catch and pass". Once I'd caught a rider, I gave myself just 1 corner to get past them. None of this following bullshit of previous years. Pull moves... show them you're determined to get past them... and around here they will normally get you get past. I did a lot of catching and passing :-)

Failing to qualify on the BAMF because of the weather last year was on my mind... so I gave her some beans. Getting quite a few slides on there too... and either the clutch is going or she was spinning up a lot (I've got another clutch arriving tomorrow- just in case!).

Second Lap on the BAMF

On the second lap, at the wet Gooseneck, I caught a rider... tried to outbrake him, but he was having none of it and slammed the door shut on me short-circuit style, forcing me to pick the bike up... bastard! Go I gave the throttle just a wee bit more than before comming out of the slow right-hander and the back slid around... big-time! I eased off, the tyre gripped and I got catapulted out of the seat. I landed with the bike pointing straight up the hill so opened her up again... wheelspinning all the way up the hill... past the rider I had just caught! The spectators hanging off the wall 8 feet away must have loved it... I certainly did!

Forlorn SV and happy BAMF in the day paddock which has moved for this year... as far as possible down the steep hill from scrootineering - thanks guys! It's the same field that I was swimming in in 2006.

My lap speeds were 89.9 and 92.5 mph. Not great... but in those conditions it was good enough to be 27th fastest in the combined Junior & Senior (out of 94). Yeah baby! The BAMF is back in business!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Isle of Pisle

After some lovely warmth and sunshine on the Isle yesterday, I cleaned the Monster and set my alarm for an early morning blast around the course. I woke to rain... it's now 12:30 and still raining. :-(

This year I've managed to hire a house right on Bray Hill with great views of the course :-) It also has a double garage the the owner has kindly cleared.

The view up Bray Hill.

The view down Bray Hill... awesome!

My Dad and Ian are joining me halfway through race-week... until then it's just me knocking around this big 4 bedroom house. So, if anyone wants to come over to the Isle, watch modern and classic machinery being thrashed on real roads, do a few laps and have a cup 'o tea... you're welcome to crash at my place.

On days like today I am so glad I'm not camped in the paddock!

Brother Igor - National Off-Road in Brits

My brother Igor in South Africa has been doing well at the National Off-Road series:

Did the 5th round of the National Off-road series on Sat, it was in Brits and surrounds and used a lot of our usual De wildt trails so course knowledge certainly helped.

The track had everything from mud, sand, rocks, river crossings, whoops etc so was a very interesting but punishing race. Took it easy in the time trial on Friday and started 61 out of about 180 bikes. Race went quite well considering, had a huge off early on which shook me up abit - moved over for a faster rider and my front wheel rode up against a side lip on the path, it slid for a few meters slowing my momentum, shifting my weight over the handlebars, then of course the front bit sideways, high-siding me like a champion.

All the time I'm flying through the air I'm hearing the “Wooooow” reaction of the rider that I let past. Tucked and rolled twice, landed on my feet, clapped my hands to check all was in order, gave the now stationary fellow competitor the thumbs up and remounted... still shaking the stars out of my helmet. Bike was also lucky enough to come away from that unscathed.

Plugged along nicely until I came upon a close rival in the championship points and it was 'GAME ON', the two of us traded positions all day, he blitzed me in the open stuff, but I always got him in the rocks, and sand.

I was ahead of him with 40km to go and one major obstacle to master, a deep river crossing. I approach and the two main lines are blocked by quads! Naturally! I try go around and half way through the back wheel bogs and bike is standing up at 45degrees with exhaust in water. “Dumbass” switches off and bike sucks water back up into motor... F-ing brilliant!

Takes 5mins to wrestle the machine out of the thick sand and river with help, by which time Neil had passed me again, and another 5mins to pick bike up on its back wheel to drain water and crank it till it eventually takes. On I ride with a new sense of urgency. It was now a part of the course I knew very well and scythed through it knowing that I am making time on Neil. I catch and pass another two riders that got past while I was taking a bath and knew Neil wasn't far ahead. Finally I catch him on a long rocky climb called "coconuts".

I struggled up 'Cococnuts' on a previous trip to SA - it's got to be punishing after 7 hours riding!

I can see he is battling with fatigue and pain in his hands (as we all were) from 7 hours of pounding. So I try put the hammer down even more and focused on the last stretch home. Barely able to hold on an longer. Made it! Got in 4 or so minutes ahead of Neil who looked spent. We shook hands and congratulated each other on an awesome chase and he thanked me for the inspiration.

Race distance 320km, time 7 hours 22 mins. Result 6th in Senior class which moves me up to 7th in the National Championship. Good job, bike needs a new top end and I need a few days sleep.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Flattrack Buxton - Grand Final Video

Today is the next round of ShorttrackUK - it's the TT event at King's Lynn. Sorry that I'm missing it :-(

But it reminded me that I had uploaded a vid of the Grand Final at Buxton a few weeks ago but never posted the link.

Here it is:

A good race - great battle for 4th between Darren Trapmore (#20) and Marco Belli (#6)  :-)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

ManxGP 2010 - First Practice

Up earlyish to offload the bikes, unpack the van and get some repairs done. Found out I also bent the Suzy's footpeg when she went down on Thursday night. Doh!

Signing on. Kit inspection. Rider's briefing. Some grocery shopping and lunch on the go. Technical briefing. Back to the house... finish repairs. Clean. Load bikes. BAMF sails through scrootineering (she should.... the only thing I've done to her since last year is change the wheels and put on some numbers). Suzy sails through scrootineering  (they didn't like the number '1'... so I'll knife it for Monday). Hurry up and wait as practice is delayed an hour. It was brought forward an hour... but a rain shower and mist on the mountain but us back on the original schedule.

Bikes repaired, loaded and ready to get down to the Day-Paddock

Was a warm evening with a passing shower. Sun shone and it all dried out quickly. Out on the Senior first - just one lap for the old gal. Line up facing down Glencrutchery Road. Tap in the shoulder and we're away!

Little wheelie from first to second... shit! She pulls! I short-shift on cold tyres and first time back on the course after a year. Before I got to the bottom of bray hill, I knew that the handling problems of last year are still there. She felt twitchy, nervous. Over every bump she just doesn't feel stable. The faster I go, the worse she becomes... but she's pulling like a train!

I take it easy and try let it flow. But I'm a bit nervous as she twitches and shimmies along to Mountain Course. Also need to recalibrate my mind to the speeds we do at such close quarters to things like kerbs, walls, trees and lamp-posts. Fuck! This is quick!

3 bikes up and fully loaded - the new Air-Suspension system on the Chev-dawg is brilliant!

Coming over the mountain there is mist... not too bad and doesn't slow me much. Glad to bring her back to the pits. She is a scary to to ride around here. She'd a be a treat on short circuits the way she dives into corners and feels so agile, but this place demands stability... stability at speed. We got some work to do on her. We've solved the horsepower issue :-) but she still feels terrible around here. Scary terrible. I think it's the geometry.

I have a 15 minute rest then swing my leg over the SV. Before I even start going down Bray Hill she feels miles better than the BAMF. I take is easy on cold tyres, full tank and an untried machine. By the time I get to Ballacraine I'm really enjoying it. The Wee SV is just so well mannered and behaved. Dead easy! Fast enough to be fun, but not too fast to be scary. A bit like the Monster of last year... but a bit quicker.

I manage to get a second lap in and am enjoying holding the Wee Suzy on the stops for most of the lap. One of the 'works' Post Classic bikes (it was one of those Heron Suzukis) passes me coming out of Ballaugh. I stay with it over Ballacrye, through the Quarry bends (holding her flat-out through there!) and it starts to gap me down Sulby Straight... then poof! Smoke billows from it's one exhaust and the acrid smell of burning oil fills the air. I dive off it's line and keep well away from the trail of oil it's leaving all the way up to Sulby Bridge. It's going to be a busy few days for the mechanics in that garage!

The girls back home after a good day in the office

The mist on the Mountain had turned to fog. It gets dark and you just knock off 40% of your speed and follow the centre line. With no reference points you're constantly second-guessing when the turns are... "long left coming up... now... no, not yet... now... now? Shit where is it... then zap! the line you're following veers off to the left. Shit! Now! I knock off 60% of my speed. I pass about 6 riders that where really touring. we get out of the soup with a murky visor and a few clear miles back home. I think we got the gearing on the SV spot-on.

Despite the fog, it's probably been the best ManxGP first practice I've ever had. 3 laps done and thoroughly enjoyed it. The BAMF is a bit scary, but the Wee SV is a treat!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Manx Grand Prix 2010 is Go!

20h00 Friday 20.08.2010 – Liverpool Docks

The 2010 Manx Grand Prix adventure has begun!

3 into 2 - the ManxGP 2010 Trio.
From left to right: #106 Suzuki SV650 - Ultralightweight, roadie Ducati Monster S4r - scratcher, #94 The BAMF - Senior

After busting my ass for the last 6 weeks moving house and making final preparations the journey over to the Isle has begun. A little bit of excitement on Thursday night when I loaded the bikes onto the trailer. Single-handedly wedging 3 sports bikes on a 2-bike trailer in dark and rain is not as easy as it seems.

During the 2 hour mission, the SV only tippled off the trailer once (balacing horizontally on the trailer wheel Italian-job style) and the BAMF fell onto the SV once, breaking some bodywork and the screen. Great! Bikes thoroughly prepped, painted and looking pretty getting trashed before they turn a wheel down Bray Hill. Not the start I was looking for, but the good news is the Monster didn't go down and hasn't got any damage (that I know of).

Bit of fairing damage to the formerly pristine SV

Going to be fun getting them off tomorrow morning! Busy day tomorrow... offloading, unpacking, fitting exhausts and footpegs ant putting handle-bars to where they should be (part of the secret to getting the 3 bikes on 1 trailer...), final prep, signing on, rider's briefing, technical briefing, scrootineering and then hopefully a lap on each bike to break the ice.

Broken screen and fairing on the BAMF - bit of superglue should sort it!

Looking forward to the lap... not looking forward to the pa-lava to get there.

Of course, no trip to the IOM would be authentic without a bit ferry excitement either. The 19h30 ferry I was supposed to be on has been delayed till 22h00. Will get into Douglas at 01h00. Need to be up early so was kinda looking to get more than a few hours tonight. Oh well... guess that's what Sunday is for. On the bright side... I'm chowing down now so don't have to eat the Steam Packet Companie's shit food.

Tthe picturesque Peak District - straight from work to Liverpool docks

Hope the weather holds out and all things go smoothly (ha, ha, haaaaaa....) and I can get a lap on each bike in. After last year's BAMF clutch and power problems and appalling weather I'm desperate to give the old gal an good run in the dry... to see what she can do. Keen to feel what the SV feels like on real roads too.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Rhino 200

Brother Igor in SAfrica has been ripping up the dirt in his latest race meeting a few weekends ago at the Rhino 200 (sorry for posting it so late Chief):

Twas a brisk , misty morning, felt about 10 degrees colder than home so Tanna and I were well under dressed and I was a little worried about the lack of warm riding kit I had packed. Nevertheless we busied ourselves with pre race routines and wasn't long before we were heading up to the start, which was a short ride that drove home the fact that I hadn't ridden the big 450 four stroke since the last national about a month ago. Didn't feel comfortable at all.

A chilly, highveld winter morning

I was again lined up alongside Ian, my team principal. We have our own little challenge going which often leads to some good scrapping out on the trails. I am 5-2 ahead in that little fracus, with all the pre-race banter and trash talk the pressure is always on. Time to move into position, adjust goggles, give Ian a last knowing look of domination, flag drops, "Clunk" bike stalls...WTF !!!

Ian shoots off, not to be seen again till the end. Crap! 5-3 is the score already and I haven't left the start line yet, "frickking amateur". Hit the starter button, bike in gear, lurches forward. Try neutral. No - bike lurches again and then again. Never occured to me in my haste to grab a hand full of clutch!

My niece Tanna - getting into bikes and racing at a young age!

Time to get off and move out the way for the next group, off to the side try and stay calm while all the 100 or so spectators all seemed to be looking at me and taking pics and I just knew the T.V. camera man was lapping this up... "What people! Never seen a guy stall on the start line before?" Clearly not ! Battery is now flat, bike still wont take. Flustered now, kick kick kick kick. "Start you Bastard !!!!"

Finally, off I trundle. Knew if i had to gun it and vent my anger I would bin it properly in the first corner, so just kept it tidy until the spectators thinned and then got down to business. The courses for this Inland Off-road series offer a good mix of everything from rocks, tight twisties, flat out 140 kmph sections, mud, dust you name it. So it is a really cool bit of saddle time. I started to get a good rhythm going and rode hard, really enjoyed getting the bike sideways into fast corners, flicking the back against the outside berm and punching out. Starting to get the hang of that, and it really makes a big different to your times if you can maintain good corner speed in these fast Off-road races.

Igor getting some air-time on the big Four-fiddy

The race wore on and everything went smooth apart from a little incident where I only saw a whoop at the last second and hit it under braking. Kicked my ass so high in the air - never ridden a bike doing a handstand before...styling!

After 200km of racing I felt remarkably fresh. Got stuck into the cooler box for a little larger action to drown out the chatter from the team members. A cool days riding after a epic balls-up at the start, defiantly not my finest moment in motor sport.

Gaining Weight

After spending an unreasonable amount of time and money rebuilding the BAMF last year, I managed to get her half-wet weight (ready to go race but with just a liter of gas in the tank) down from 186kg to 175kg. This bodes well for the power to weight ratio (acceleration) handling and braking. Part of the weight saving was using a trick LiFE battery pack supplied by Durbahn. It saved my 2kg over the stock lead acid battery and it's had loads of cranking power (used it in the BAMF, Fourfiddy, Wee Monster and Duke flattracker).

Somehow after the Snetterton test I managed to run the battery completely flat. Doh! Mr. Durbahn has been really helpful on the phone as we tried different things to try get it recovered. But, it was to no avail... I now have a very expensive Durbahn paper-weight. The BAMF is getting a stock item replacement... not ideal but the Durbahn is just too expensive to replace at the moment... so the BAMF is gaining weight. :-(

But hey... not all is lost. I've shaved 2kg of lard from by body through my gym punishment over the last 6 weeks... so we're evens!