Thursday, August 26, 2021

Champion's Champion Day


With the Queensland round of the ASBK being cancelled due to more Covid related border closures, Champion's Ride Days snatched up the weekend to run two track days at Morgan Park Raceway up near Warwick, on the Granite Belt . A QANTAS mate was booked in to do one day on his ZX6 and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get the R1 out of the shed and into it's natural environment.

Not having done any track work since the California Superbike School day back in October 2019 I re-read their bible, "A Twist Of The Wrist II" during a work trip to Perth in the week leading up. It was interesting to note that I picked up some tips that I hadn't even registered last time I read it. This highlights the need to be continually reading and trying to improve - something I have sadly neglected these last 18 months.

Will was coming along to be my pit crew/official photographer. We threw the little TTR230 on the ute so that he could access different vantage points around the track, a sure fire hook to get him to come along!

We decided to head up to Warwick the afternoon before so that it wasn't a stupidly early start on the Sunday morning as the track is about a two hour drive from home. It was an early enough (and cold enough!) start from Warwick but we were at the track super early and got through the unloading and scrutineering process quickly.

We were so early that there was plenty of time for a coffee and a wander around the pit garages.

I noticed with some trepidation that I was one of just a handful of riders on a road registered bike and one of the even fewer that didn't have tyre warmers. I was glad I chose the second slowest group (Green group) but was wondering if that might even be above my pay grade!

It was soon time for the riders briefing and this was pleasantly easy to hear and understand, even for an old deaf bloke who hadn't done a track day since 1994.

We were going to be the third group out on track so we had fifteen minutes or so to chill before needing to gear up. The organisers gave a 5 minute warning, then a 2 minute warning for each group's start time. I struggled into my leathers - the leathers that were slightly loose two years ago for the CSS track day but today were just a bit too snug around the middle...... a thousand curses on 2020..... but to be honest, being able to fit into the leathers that I bought at the age of 23 when I am now just over half a century isn't too bad!

The 5 minute warning was the time to don the lid and get out to the pit exit. Mike and I were pretty enthusiastic and were at the front of the queue to hit the track. Whoops. Which way did the track go again?

Once allowed out I took a few laps to get my tyres warmed up and to figure out where the track went again. Mistake number one was being too keen to get to the pit exit and thus having the entire pack of Green group behind. Even though this group has overtaking rules, namely no overtaking on the inside into corners, I was carved up by all the people who knew where the track went, had slicks on their bikes AND had warm tyres. Already I was wondering if I should have started in the beginner group. 

Surviving the first session I resolved to make sure I was the last to leave in our group for the remainder of the sessions. This proved to be gold as I had a mostly clear track until maybe the second last lap of each session for the remainder of the day, as it took most of the session for the fast guys to catch up that lap.
This gave me more time to think about all of the "Rules" from Twist Of The Wrist and to try to apply them.

Meanwhile, the roving photographer had been cruising around the track taking some snaps for us. Access at Morgan Park is pretty limited in that you can't get right around the track or access the bridge over the track at turn 3, so Will did his best to find a decent vantage point. A great excuse to poke around on his dirt bike!

Mike on his ZX636

I settled in after a couple of sessions but to be honest I hit a wall (quite early on) speed wise during the day. I just couldn't make myself push any harder into corners as I was concentrating too much on trying to go faster, not on the basics that would allow me to be faster. Feeling like I was holding traffic up didn't help with just being able to concentrate on the mechanics of riding the bike smoothly and I wondered if I should have actually gone in the beginner (Red) group as there were some riders in the Green group who were significantly faster than me and who I think should have been up one group in Blue.
Another mental block was having "rain" tyres on and needing to do a couple of laps to warm them up when everyone else was at pace right out of pit lane on their warm slicks. Michelin PR4s and 5s probably aren't the best track tyres but I know they have way more potential than I used.
My tight fitting leathers also proved to be a distraction, making it hard to move around and to breath. It might be time to admit defeat and go up a size (or two if necessary!). Besides the fact that I don't know how 28 year old stitching might fare if I do take a tumble.

That isn't to say I didn't have fun. I had a ball in fact!! My problem is that I expect too much out of myself and I had just forgotten too much since I last did this almost two years ago. I am definitely going to do the remaining CSS training levels once they start scheduling their days again (they cancelled all 2021 days as of May as it was just too hard to organise with the Covid bullshit/border closures going on)

Mike again.

Mike and I.

There was an official ride day photographer in attendance and she cruised around on her Tiger snapping everyone doing their thing. Her photos are really good (sorry Will) and I may just support her yet by purchasing a package.

Lori Poffenroth image

Anyway, we finished the day with our bikes and ourselves intact and huge smiles on our faces. Their next track day is mid week, in a months time. Time to get the valve clearances checked and some stickier tyres fitted to the old girl.


Friday, August 20, 2021



Again, it has been a little while since I wrote something on here. Things have been predictably unpredictable in Australia. We are trying to keep Covid levels at zero and of course there are constant outbreaks with cities and states locking down continuously and the other states locking those states out. As it stands today the only states not under any restrictions are Tasmania and Western Australia. That means they can go to any other state or territory but no person from one of the cursed states can travel to Tassie or WA. That means about 23 million people are locked into their own states or territories.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Homing Pigeon


About a week (or was it two?) after my bike trip south to Sydney I flew back down to pick 'er up for the trip home. I had a few ideas for the route home and it looked like the weather was going to cooperate.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Turning Pedals Instead Of Twisting Throttles For A Change


Things haven't been all about motorcycles here this year. I have been keeping up a slightly irregular cycling program - nowhere near as intense as last year's effort - but still reasonably consistent. Well, maybe not that consistent as I felt the need to test out the legs on a couple of longer rides recently.

These were an Audax ride called the Dirty Marburg and the Brisbane To The Bay charity ride.

What is an Audax ride I hear you ask? Well, follow that link and it will explain all but essentially it is a long distance, non competitive ride with a pre defined time limit. This particular ride, being on gravel roads and in the Lockyer Valley appealed to me as it is pretty country AND it is pretty flat. My fitness (and weight) isn't what it used to be so this 100km gravel ride would be a nice test of the legs.

An early start was required to make the ride start time in the little hamlet of Marburg, west of Brisbane. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and found myself ready early so was able to watch all the other riders roll in. Most seemed to know each other and I didn't speak to anyone apart from the ride organiser, Peter Watson. Coming from a mountain biking background where most people are friendly and chatty, I find this a bit strange with road riders. If you aren't in their "group" then they tend not to even say g'day. 🧐

After a few words from Peter we were off.

It was a fine, clear, cool morning and the group quickly spread out. We were soon on gravel roads and I was near the front but after a couple of steepish climbs I was getting dropped like a stone by some of the lighter riders. 

The road soon crested though and there were some steeeep, fast gravel descents. I like going stupidly fast on gravel descents. (Most road riding types don't.) Well, stupidly fast on 38mm wide tyres that is. I did clean up all of those who had passed me on the climb here and I was pretty sure there were only two riders out in front now.

 Of course, I didn't stop on the fast downhills but I did get this shot looking south west over the Lockyer Valley before another steep sealed descent.

The next couple of hours consisted of gravel roads that alternated between silky smooth and "patchy", with some sealed stuff thrown in. It was pretty lonely going here as I was alone for about 40km.

The southern end of the route turned left here at the Mt Mort rural fire brigade shed. This was almost the 50km mark and the first time I stepped off the bike for the morning.

There were a few small hills as I headed east. I was joined briefly by another rider for a few kilometres. We got to the half way point of the ride and signed each other's time cards. I don't think this was strictly necessary but he seemed to know the protocol for these types of rides and who was I to argue?

He stopped for a break and being what I thought was a stronger rider said " I'll see you when you catch me again". This was the last time I saw him for the morning.

I soon turned left again at this intersection and was heading north, back towards the start. This section went up and down some pinchy climbs that had me grovelling, then hollering down the back side.

The ride became a bit tedious, especially as it got back onto some relatively busy sealed sections. I was glad I had my bright orange Masaka cycling jersey on. It is almost fluro orange, so stands out quite well.

The ride organiser had mentioned some muddy track near the end and I would have to say this was the most fun section for me. I like a challenge and this hilly, narrow, slippery section helped the time to fly by. Of course, I didn't stop for photos here. I just wanted to finish and get home by this stage.

Which I did! Not that this was a race but I am pretty sure I was 3rd rider back in 4 hours 35 minutes total time for the 101km.

Not bad for a fat, unfit middle-aged bloke who hasn't ridden much this year!
Here is the Strava proof.

They even give the finishers a cool little badge.

The next challenge was to fill in for a mates, not like that! 😳 ...... in the Brisbane To The Bay ride. She hadn't done any riding at all this year so 100km on no training is a big ask. Naturally, I was to be the stunt double.

A couple of other mates were roped in at the last minute as well (it helps when you know the ride organiser) so there were four of us to share the suffering.

A cool, early start from Southbank in Brisbane was the order of the day and it was busy!! About 7500 riders were registered for this thing and honestly, the riders didn't ever really thin out around the 100km course!

It was all Dan's fault so here he is possibly indicating the temperature at the start.

And me being his "wife" for the day. 

We were soon off and enjoying the softer ride that the fat tyres of our cyclocross bikes gave us.

 Us and a few mates....

Shane and Will.

A quick comfort stop at the ~30km mark had us then turn south and parallel the coast. This IS winter in Brisbane. Glorious!!

I became detached from the group somewhere around the 80km mark and decided to phone the others at about the 90km mark. They had suffered a flat on Will's bike and were quite a way back. I decided to keep going to the finish, then circle back and meet them for the last five or six kilometres to the finish. 

This made for 116 kilometres for the day for me and I actually didn't feel too bad. I am finding I am not so much into these mass participation events these days but it was fun doing the ride with a couple of mates, ignoring the odd dickhead who cropped up along the way. 🤭

Strava stats for the day are below.