Friday 24 November 2017

Small Update

Hi all

Well with the season over it's time to get busy in the garage.

It's funny, I read an interview with Guy Martin the other day in which he said that racing was a bit like groundhog day, in that when the season finishes, the next one starts with getting bikes preped. How right he is.

My first job was to have a look at what needs doing to my 600, which I'm 90% sure I will be using instead of my 400 next year.

The last time out for her was at Tandragee last year, as at Cookstown the following weekend she had developed a leaking fork seal,so wasn't taken out.

I fixed the leak so took her to be put on the Dyno to sort the fuelling, something which I'd never had done on her before.

So I loaded her up and took her to Double Take Motorcycles in Southampton, who do all my Dyno work.

I got a call from them to say she was only putting out 87hp, standard they are over 100hp, and with a race can and performance air filter mine should've been even higher.

I brought her home and checked the compression, all was well there. I checked the timing, and again all was good, so the mystery started.

I read that a clogged fuel filter had similar effects as to what mine was suffering.

Basically they make great power, but once they get to about 11k revs, it just runs out of steam.

Kawasaki don't list a fuel filter for mine, as it's part of the pump. But luckily some detective work paid off and I found one.

Once fitted it was back down to the Dyno.

Again, only 87hp.

Luckily the guys had a road ZX6R in for some work, so after much faffing around we got the ECU off and tried my ECU on their bike.

Sadly because of all the anti theft electrickery that is on bikes these days, it wouldn't even prime the fuel pump, so it all had to come back off again.

Fair play to the guys for all the help they gave me, and cups of coffee. To let me crack on and do the work myself, which obviously saved me a bundle of cash, was a real bonus.

Still we did come to the conclusion that the problem lay with the ECU.I had noticed that mine had a red sticker on and their one had a black one, which got us thinking.

So with her loaded up I set off home and this morning fired up the interweb to see what I could find.

The best thing I found was the phone number for Cradley Kawasaki, who I've bought loads of stuff off for my 400 in the past.

The guys there were also a great help, and after telling me that the frame number I gave them was for a 400, thought it couldn't get any worse as it now looked like it had a dodgy number, they then did some digging and found out that it was originally an import form America.

Guess what? American bikes are limited to 85hp. So that was one question answered.

Now how do I sort this?

In short the Americans don't use the same anti theft device we do here, so it's not a case of simply getting a full power ECU. I can't even have the ECU reflashed as they are designed not to have this done to them.

So the only way to solve it, is to buy a UK ECU and wiring loom, and fit this. I only wanted the fuelling checked!!!

So I'm now on the hunt for these bits. Still if it means that I'll get another 20hp, happy days. After all 20hp down on the rest of the field is a massive disadvantage.

I had hoped to do a track day at Brands in a couple of weeks if the weather held, but think I will be better off sorting the bike and doing one next year to see how she rides with the extra horses.

So with the 600 sulking, I decided to move onto the minitwin, as I want to put new rings in her.

Luckily she came apart easily and she is now sat waiting for the rings and gaskets to arrive for fitting, which will hopefully be next week.

In other news, I've seen that next years Manx Grand Prix will have two lightweight races, as opposed to the one they usually have.

I'm going to put an entry in, and fingers crossed will get an ride.

All I hope is that this will be a separate race, so more people can  race, and it's not just going to be a repeat of the lightweight race held earlier in the week. But nothing would surprise me with The Manx these days.

Talking of which, I wrote to the deputy clerk of the course to ask if there was a reason why I can't seem to get an entry. She passed it on to The Manx Motorcycle Club, who replied that I'd just been unlucky. Not really the answer I wanted, as I found out that there are about half a dozen guys who I race in the same class with at the Southern, and I do better times than they, and beat, get an entry for The Manx and I don't. It can't be because my face doesn't fit, as it was shaped by one of their Doctors!

So there you have it, I've not been lazing around watching Jeremy Kyle in the down time, I have been busy, and hopefully some, if not all, my hard work will pay off.

Until next time, when it will be all good news.

Take it easy.


Wednesday 11 October 2017

Thruxton 7th October

Hi all

So after what seems like 5 minutes, it was off to my last race of the season.

I set off and after almost 15 minutes I reached Thruxton on Friday evening with Stuart, who was there to give me a hand getting scruitneered.

With the bike and leathers all checked, I signed on and was still home in time for The Simpons at 6 o’clock.

Saturday morning I met up with Steve, who was going to come up by bike, but the weather was wet, so he came by car instead.

This meant it was a swap to wet tyres for the first practice session.

I got to the holding area early so switched the bike off. Come time to go out and she wouldn’t start.

Luckily I got a bump start from a chap so set off. Sadly I only got as far as the chicane and she cut out, and refused to start so had to be recovered at the end of the session.

Back in paddock we tried in vain to bump her, so swapped to a spare starter motor which I had after she played up at Cadwell earlier in the year.

Luckily she fired first time and I managed to get out for practice.

I’m glad I got out as she felt loads better compared to last year, bearing in mind the forks were bent back then.

Back to the paddock and there was just time to top up with petrol and I was back out again.

I got a decent start and stayed with the pack for the majority of the race, having some good battles with some guys.

I finished 18th out of 25, so was quite pleased with that, especially as I did a lap 7 seconds quicker than last year.

I had quite a few visitors who came by to say hello, including two armed with cameras.

So I’d like to thank Mark and Rob for these pictures of me.

I had to wait until the last but one race for my second outing of the day, thought it was going to get dark before I got out again.

Luckily the sun stayed around until my second race. I started further down the grid due to my finish in the first race but got away ok.

Sadly I still suffer from losing my way once I lose the tow, so ended up having a lonely race, still didn’t finish last, but felt I should’ve been further up the finishing order.

All in all it was a good meeting, obviously helped by being just down the road, just a shame that there are not more meetings there.

So that was the last race and it’s now time to start on my Winter jobs list, which is shaping up nicely.

I will keep you up to date as I whittle the list down, as well as what my thoughts are as to what my plans will be for next year.

So until then, take care



Monday 25 September 2017

Cadwell Park 16th & 17th September

Hi all

Well it was back to Cadwell Park for my last visit of the year, so hoped to end on a high.

Sadly I woke up on Friday to monsoon type conditions.

I managed a couple of practice sessions, but it was more a case of survival than getting any valuable track time.

The only outcome was I manged to not come off, which is more than a lot could say at the end of the day.

I'd hoped that the clouds had rained themselves out so that Saturday would be better, but no such luck and Saturday was just as wet. I still went out for qualifying, but didn't even complete a lap as it was so wet.

I felt my decision was justified as my first race was just as wet, which I'd decided to sit out due to the conditions, and was just no fun.

The trouble was that the circuit would just start to get dry and then it would tip it down again.

The second race was due to start just after another down pour, so didn't go out, which was a shame as by the time the race got under way it had started to dry out a bit.

I checked with the race office that I would still be able to race Sunday as long as I qualified in the morning, which was confirmed.

Sunday started wet again, so I just wobbled around for the session, but at least I could race.

The day got better as it went on and by my first race, dry tyres were back on so I lined up at the back of the grid, as I expected after my qualifying session.

The race went well, but couldn't make up any places as everyone just got further and further away from me. I wasn't surprised that I'd only manged a best time of 5 seconds slower that I've been round before.

The second race didn't go any different, so was frustrated that I didn't get anywhere near my fastest time around there.

After getting home I think I may have found the problem.

I was under the impression that I was running 14/46 gearing, however I actually had a 45 on the rear.

I checked my records and have noted down that I did my fastest time on a 45, but in my mind am convinced that I had a 46 on the rear, which means I may have written down the wrong number, as on both my visits since I went fastest, I've used a 45 and not gone any quicker.

This coupled with my lack of practice due to the weather may have been the answer, or so I hope.

Oh well I can't do anything about it now until next year now, which is a shame.

Still hopefully I will be able to make up for it at my last meeting of the season at Thruxton on 7th October.

At least this year I will be turning up with straight forks, which is more than I had last year, so that should help.

Fingers crossed it doesn't rain for that one.

Hopefully see a few of you there.


Wednesday 9 August 2017

Cadwell Park 5th & 6th August

Hi all

Well last weekend it was off to Cadwell for another weekends racing with the Auto 66 club.

The last time I raced with Auto 66 was Scarborough back in 2013. That weekend didn’t work out how I planned, so I hoped this weekend would be better.

John and I arrived on Friday evening and set up camp in what seemed to be a very empty paddock.

After making home, we had a walk around the paddock.

At this point I was somewhat concerned as I only saw half a dozen bikes, most of the paddock was taken up by go karts.

John actually asked if I had the correct weekend.

Still when we got up Saturday my concerns were laid to rest as there were more bikes than we’d seen the previous evening, which was a bit of luck.

John took the bike for technical inspection, only to arrive back shortly as the rear brake wasn’t working.

After an adjustment on the rear master cylinder all was working, so was given the all clear to race.

Not only did John twirl spanners, he was also the team barrista for the weekend, bringing his posh coffee pot with him

I headed down to practice and was amongst a wide variety of machines, which was just as well as there were only 5 Minitwin/Supertwins listed in the programme.

Practice went well and had a good dice with a guy on a supertwin, eventually getting the better of him.

So it was time for my first race, which I didn’t get a great start in and found myself amongst a load of CB900’s and GSXR750’s.

The CB’s had handlebars roughly half the width of the track, so overtaking was interesting. Still I got passed a couple and had a good race with a guy on a GSXR750.

Times were a couple of seconds off what I had done before, which I put down to a different gear ratio I was trying.

When we got the times I decided to go back to the previous gear set up to improve my times.

In The second race I was quicker, but still not as fast as had been, but I did have a good race with the guy on the Supertwin who I’d practiced with earlier. I was actually quicker than him on lap times and had a faster race time, but just couldn’t get passed him. He crossed the line 3 tenths of a second before me, it was that close.

Sunday started with another practice and I was 6th quickest overall, and second fastest SV650, which was good, so I hoped grid positions would be done on this, but sadly it was taken from finish positions from the Saturday race, so started in 13th, unlucky for some.

I managed to get a good start and saw the supertwin not get a great start, so was happy to be in front of him.
Things were going well until I tipped into a fast right hander, called ‘Charlies 2’.

As I tipped in I hit something so had to stand the bike up, which caused me to run onto the grass.

I’ve run onto the grass before and thought I was safe, until the front went down a rabbit hole and I went over the handle bars. So decided it was probably best just to lay her down, which I did.

When I got up I saw the bike that hit me. Yes you’ve guessed it, it was the supertwin I’d been racing with.

We were both put in the ambulance and taken for a check up by the track Doctor. Whilst in the ambulance the rider told me he went for a gap which wasn’t there so had no choice but to run into me.

As you can see from the picture below how close he was, the black mark up the arm of my leathers, is off his tyre.

Luckily we were both given the all clear by the doctor, so set about repairing the bike.

Luckily it was mostly levers that took the brunt of the impact, those that couldn’t be replaced, were hammered back into shape.

With the bike fixed I set off for the second race.

I wasn’t at my best as I banged my knee when I came off, and as time went on it started to stiffen up and got harder to push down on.

Got a good start and it was more a case of making sure that there wasn’t any other damaged that we hadn’t seen, my biggest fear was the forks could have been bent, but luckily they hadn’t.

Had a good battle with a few different guys, but still didn’t improve my previous visits time, but I wasn’t that surprised by that, all things considered.
It was a strange meeting and just didn’t really feel like it was a proper meeting for some reason. It was well run and relaxed, but just seemed to be missing something for me.

So I now have a few things that need some attention and I’m currently waiting for my knee of many colours to arrive, which is coming on nicely.

All being well I’m out at Cadwell next in September, so hopefully I’ll get the bike all sorted by then.


Friday 21 July 2017

Southern 100 Highlights, Part Two

Hi all

For those of you who enjoyed the highlights last night, part two is on same time next week, Thursday, ITV4, 8pm.


Tuesday 18 July 2017

Southern 100 Highlights On TV

Hi all

Just found out that ITV4 are showing highlights of this years Southern 100 at 8pm, Thursday 20th July.

Keep your eyes peeled for number 99.


Monday 17 July 2017

Southern 100

Hi all.

I’m writing this whilst looking out of the window, with a view of Snaefell. So yes, I’ve been racing at The Southern 100 on the Isle Of Man.

Neither Steve nor I could believe it was a year since we were last here, seems like yesterday. Sunday was the usual scruitineering, and chance to catch up with some familiar faces.

Was good to catch up with some of the guys who I raced with over in Ireland over the last couple of years, and hear the latest news, which included the concerns around the paddock about if Killalane will run, still doesn’t sound hopeful.

Anyway to Monday practice.

Both bikes went through technical inspection ok and so was due out on 400 first.

She seemed a little reluctant to start but when running sounded ok. As soon as I left the dummy grid I knew there was something wrong, but hoped it just needed a run to clear her as she felt as if she wasn’t running on all cylinders.

It was quite clear she wasn’t going to clear, so ran her back to the paddock.

Luckily I spotted the problem straight away, a wire had come out of the connector to one of the coils, so a nice easy fix.

We ran her back to be checked over, only to be asked by one of the scruitneers, “what’s all this oil?”

So it was back to the van to investigate.

It looked serious and as I was out soon and the second 400 practice was looming, I realised that it wasn’t going to get fixed, so that was the end of the 400 for the week.

It’s really annoying as the engine had ran fine last year and hasn’t been apart since then, so what is the matter I really don’t know.

Still, it was now time to take the 650 out.

She was running fine and I was catch the 4 guys that had set off in two groups ahead of me, so was feeling good.

Before I went out the forecast was for local showers, so when I got spots of water on the screen I didn’t worry. Shortly after my foot slid off the footpeg, so I then started to think it wasn’t rain.

Looking down at my temperature gauge my fears were confirmed, she was over heating, so pulled in and waited to be collected by the course car.

Word of advice to the organisers, please don’t get course cars with leather seats in to collect riders, as race leathers on leather seats have the same amount of friction as ice.

This resulted in me spending half the ride back behind the passenger, and the other half behind the driver, all the time trying to get my seat belt to connect.

On the plus side, the water from the radiator did wash off the oil from the 400, so all worked out nicely in the end.

With the bikes loaded we headed off to base to have a think about what we were going to do.
Tuesday morning arrived and we set about checking the 650 over. I drained the oil and what I put in came out, so no excess fluid had got into the engine, which happened the last time I had problems with the cooling system. Likewise the water level stayed in the same place in the radiator, so more good news.

Steve had found out that SV’s are prone to getting airlocks in the radiator if filled too quickly.

I’ve filled the rad many times and had no problems, but on this occasion it was looking like that I had managed to trap some air in there.

As we could find nothing else we headed back to the paddock for practice to see if we had cured the problem.

Practice went well, and despite endlessly watching the temperature gauge, I managed to knock a second off my previous fastest time around the circuit, which I was very happy with.

On the way back we worked out what the qualifying time was, and I was well under it, so happy days.

We went to the race office on Wednesday to see what grid position I was in and couldn’t see my number there, so went and asked at the race office.

I was told that I had qualified, but they were only allowed 32 riders on the grid, and I qualified 34th.

34th doesn’t sound great, but there was 50 entered, so not too disappointed.

Luckily the guy just in front of me was there and was told that one rider had dropped out, so I was now 1st reserve.

This meant that I was to take my place on the grid, do the sighting lap, and see how many had turned up to race.

I did my sighting lap, and sat anxiously waiting to see if I could race. Luckily I got the thumbs up, so got my head down.

It was a good race and was just coming onto Great Meadow when the leaders flew passed on the final lap. Still I was just pleased to have had a race.

With the bike loaded we set off back to base with a smile on our faces.

We arrived at the paddock on Thursday morning knowing that I may well not be out in the race today, but luckily Steve said we should get the bike through scruitineering first and then check with the race office.

This was a wise move as the scruitineer noticed the tyre valves were loose, so couldn’t pass me.

We got the wheels off double quick so new ones could be fitted, whilst Dave Clarke, went and checked to see if I was racing.

Whilst refitting the wheels Dave came back and told me I was once again reserve for the Supertwin race, but was on the third row for the Support race, one I didn’t even know I was in for.

With the wheels back on, bike was checked and passed, so we were good to go.

Again I was lucky enough to take part in the Supertwin race and had a much better race. As well as not being lapped, I also knocked another second off my fastest time, so still improving.

After having a mild panic about fuel, or lack of, for the extra race, we had loads, all was looking good.

Whilst sat in the holding area it started to rain, so we hoped it wasn’t going to last, and luckily it didn’t.

The race started and from my ninth place on the grid I set off and was 3rd into the first corner, which was great.

I was overtaken by one guy on a straight and stayed with him through all the corners only to loose him on the straight again.

My main racing partner this week was Kevin ‘Irish Ago’ Murphy, and sure enough he too also overtook me on the straight.

The three of us had a great dice, which included us being 3 abreast on the brakes into a corner, and Ago and myself side by side coming out of Cross Four Ways, and looking across at each other whilst willing our bikes to accelerate quicker than the other.

When we crossed the line the three of us were covered by just over a second, which was great after such a good race.

I eventually finished 6th, and had improved my time by another 3 seconds, so a cracking race all in all.

When I caught up with Ago later, he admitted that we were level ability wise, but his bike just had the extra speed on mine, which was a nice compliment as Ago was one of the guys who was way ahead of me the first time I raced the course.

So by the end of the week I’d finished all 3 races I started in, improved my lap time by 5 seconds in total, and got another finishers medal.

Another for the collection

If you had told me at the end of Monday evening, with a broken bike either side of me, that by the end of the week I would have been faster by 5 seconds than I’ve ever been around the course before, and that I would have finished sixth in a race, I’d have thought you were mad, so just goes to show don’t give up.

I really do think the extra track time I’ve had this year has helped and think that if I’d had the extra laps of the practice session I missed, I could’ve been a bit quicker.

It’s really odd because, even though I have been round the corners loads of times I still have to build myself up to going quick around them.

For instance, I know I can go round Stadium Corner with just knocking it down a gear, however at the beginning of the week, I brake and come down two gears, why I just don’t know. When I get around it I ask myself why did I slow down. Strange how the mind works.

So that’s it for another year, is always a shame when it ends, but hopefully I will be back next year, but I’m going to have to have a long hard think about what I will be racing as I now have doubts about if the 400 will last, which is a shame as love riding her., but we will see.

Not long to wait for my next race, as all being well I will be at Cadwell the first weekend in August back on the Minitwin.

So until then, take care


Friday 9 June 2017

Cadwell Report

Hi all

So it was off to Cadwell Park for the next round of the NG Racing championship last weekend.

I arrived at the paddock at about 10pm and set about setting up the 'Rayner Hilton' as I was staying there for the weekend.

Saturday I woke up later than I thought and set about sorting out the bike.

This is a bit late to start sorting a non running bike, but I had an idea what was the matter before I set off.

Basically to get the bike into the van I start her up, put her in first gear and run her up the ramp.

The day before I left I went to do this but she wouldn't start, just a click from the relay linked to the starter motor. Luckily my neighbour was on hand to help push her up after I had taken the battery off to charge it up, was hoping it was flat, and v twins need a really good battery to get them going.

So first job was to fit the battery, but sadly this wasn't it. Next on the list was to replace the starter relay, which I had brought a spare with me. Sadly this wasn't the issue.

So to plan B, bump her. I used a guy in the paddock roller starter, and sure enough she fired first time.

I had missed one session, but couldn't be helped.

First session I went out in I felt comfortable and the new gearing was working well, catching, passing and staying with guys rather than just getting passed.

During my first session I'd felt something dragging round a right hander, having suffered from dragging the fairing the last time here, I wasn't worried and carried on.

When I got back to the paddock I had a check on the fairing and was surprised at what I saw.

For the less eagle eyed amongst you, you will notice that there is a piece of gaffer tape with a very circular hole in it. Well, when I put it on it didn't have said hole, so I had the bike over far enough to drag the whole fairing on the floor, and the first bit to touch down was the fairing bolt. I ended up having to replace this every time I came in.

Also, for an extra 10 points, you will see the end of the exhaust clamp bolt has a nice chamfer on the end of it. Yep, this too was touching down.

Friday was roasting and all the sessions went well, but as the day went on people take their brains further and further out. The last but one session was carnage. At one point I was overtaken by a guy and he was all over the place. He was quick, but wasn't safe, and sure enough he crashed around a fast right hander, and that was after the red flags were out which means the session has ended.

After practice I had a look at the starter, but there was nothing obvious, oh well at least she bumps easy enough.

Awoke Saturday to a wet day. First up was practice but seeing as I'd spent all day Friday practicing, and the forecast was to dry up I didn't bother going out.

By my first race the track was bone dry, apart from off the racing line under the trees.

I was 8th on the grid so hoped for good things. Sadly the race was red flagged on the first lap so we reassembled on the start line. This meant turning the engine off. Luckily I got a push start before the restart, but as I put her into first gear I stalled her. We tried in vain to get her going and I was pushed into pit lane. Luckily she fired up but as I'd missed the sighting lap I had to start from the back of the grid.

Still I had a good race, caught a few, overtook and stayed with a pack of four.

By the end of the race I'd improved my fastest time by 3 seconds, so was well happy.

Second race was great fun, again with the same four guys, and again improved by another 3 seconds, so 6 seconds in one day.

The Rayner Hilton

One of the good things about staying in the paddock is that, for once, it was me cooking bacon sandwiches, as is horrible when someone cooks them and you can't have one.

Sunday was another dry day and both races went well. Odd thing was I was with the same group as yesterday, but we all went slower by half a second. Still racing was good and when I looked the times I did, it would have put me mid field with BMCRC, who I raced with earlier in the year, so looking forward to September when they race there again.

I maybe up there earlier as Auto 66 are racing at Cadwell in August, so will see how things go.

Back home and I'm now starting to get ready for The Southern 100 in July. Not much to do to the Supertwin, but the 400 is running, but doesn't seem quite right.

It has the engine I rebuilt fitted, but she seems reluctant to start, which is odd for her.

So I have a couple of weeks to find out what is wrong, and if I can't I will put my spare engine in as I know that one was running fine when I took it out.

Hope you are all enjoying the coverage of the TT. Have been watching it and can't wait to get back on the roads, so roll on Southern 100.


Wednesday 24 May 2017

Silverstone & Snetterton

Hi all

Sorry I've been a bit tardy with these reports, but been hectic here, which included a trip to Scotland for a wedding. amongst other things.

Anyway with this update you two for the price of one.

So first of all it was off to Silverstone, a track I last visited 20 years ago.

Arriving fashionably late on Friday morning I found an empty parking spot next to a power supply, happy days.

It was only after I set up that I was told that the bay I was in, was reserved for technical inspection later in the day. Thought it was too good to be true.

Luckily I was pointed in the direction of an empty garage by another guy who had also tried to sneak into this gift horse.

How’s this for a pit garage? It’s bigger than my house! Felt like I should wipe my feet every time I walked in.

Practice went well and the bike felt like it was on rails, so was looking forward to racing.

Having left the bike in the garage overnight I returned Saturday morning to find tyre warmers fitted and plugged in, thanks Brad.

Racing went well throughout the day and having made the changes to the gearing I mentioned before, was staying with people a lot longer, but still didn't finish any further up the field.

So first job Sunday was to get the bike put on the club dyno, that way I would at least know if it was the bike or me that was causing the problem.

Good news and bad news. Good news, bike is making 69.2 BHP, class maximum is 72, so am close. Bad news, must be me holding the bike up.

Still first race Sunday was great and was all over one of my usual race partners, but sadly just couldn't get passed him.

I also realised that I was being super smooth with the controls, whereas you should open the throttle, rather than ease it open.

I tried this in the second race, but sadly I was arriving everywhere quicker, so had to work out my braking points again, so second race was a bit of a disaster, running off the circuit on one instance.

I was a bit disheartened on the way home as felt I should be running further up the field than I am.

But during the ride home I realised that it's going to take a while to get back into it. Just look at Guy Martin, who raced at Tandragee the previous weekend. He hadn't been to the circuit for 12 years and despite being on a factory Honda, qualified 17th. This was backed up by his performance at Scarborough.

He's the fastest person around the circuit, but was 7 seconds behind Dean Harrison.

I know our abilities are worlds apart, but just goes to show, it doesn't take long to become rusty, so there's hope for me yet.
It was also interesting to see Michael Dunlop at Oulton BSB.

Despite being the fastest man around the TT circuit, and fast at every road circuit, he was 25th at Oulton.

This confirmed what I said before, I'm riding it like a road circuit, not a short circuit.

So as I'd never been to Snetterton, my next race, I booked an instructor to give me some pointers.

Before Snetterton I decided that I wanted to put some better brake pads in. This was for two reasons. Firstly the ones on the bike were showing signs of wear, and secondly, I haven't got a clue what pads were in there. So decided to fit the same pads as I run in my Supertwin.

A great evening job, or so I thought. I removed the pads and thought I could clean the calipers whilst there. I started to pump the pistons out, and a seal started coming out as it was stuck to the pistons.

This was going to take more than an evening. Thanks to eBay for being open so I could order the bits I needed, and thanks to Stuart for building a tool for blowing the pistons out and also helping me bleed the system when it was all put back together.

So with the bike all back in one piece it was off to Snetterton.

Before I got there I had a text from Bemsee with the name and contact number for my instructor, who also gave me a bell to say hello and see what I wanted to achieve. If any of you race with Bemsee, I can't recommend this service enough. It doesn't cost anything and is really worth doing if you want to improve.

I met Dave, my instructor, on Friday morning at Snetterton. Sadly it wasn't raining as much as it was a monsoon.

Dave set off and lead me round showing me where the circuit went.

Upon our return he told me that I needed to relax as I was looking nervous. Too right I was. I was on a track I didn't know, in the rain trying to follow someone who knows where he's going, and is fast with it.

In the next session Dave followed me and pointed out what he saw as areas I could improve on.

The biggest area was that I was entering the corner too late and not using all the circuit on the exit.

This stems from road racing as you treat most corners as having a late apex, and you don't want to run out right to the edge of the road as that's where rubbish and gravel collect, and also the camber drops away.

So with this in mind, I set off with Dave behind me. Having taken his points on board the next session was a lot quicker.

Luckily the guy I usually race with was also there so Dave said to set off with him and see how I got on.

It worked, and I didn't see him after we set off.
So Saturday dawned and it was time to put what Dave had taught me into practice.

I saw Dave ahead of me in qualifying, but didn’t manage to stay with him for long, but being an instructor I didn’t expect to.

I improved my times in the two practice sessions I had by 7 seconds, so that was a good start to the day.

The races continued in the same vein. The guy who I usually race with was in front of me in the first race, but as we came into the last corner I thought I could have him. Sure enough I managed to out drag him to the line and finished about a bikes length ahead of him, result.

The two following races I was with him I managed to over take him on the first lap of each race, despite finding neutral instead of second in one race off the start line, oops. Not only did I overtake him I finished 32 seconds ahead of him in one race.

I played around with gearing and think I’ve found the best set up for future races, which sadly there aren’t any this year. Still will be handy next year.

By the end of the weekend I did a lap time 12 seconds faster than my fastest lap in the first practice, which is a good confidence boost.

As well as my times coming down, at my least favourite corner on the circuit, a left handed hairpin, by the end of the weekend I was going round with my knee on the floor, so confidence in my ability is growing too. I also don’t mind mixing it up with other riders too, and am happy to be amongst 30 other riders.

I know that sounds a bit odd, but generally I’m used to setting off in groups of about 10 in Ireland. The reason for the difference in numbers is that on a road circuit you set off in smaller groups because you can’t afford to put people off line by much more than a foot in some places. On short circuits you can be 6 foot off line and still be safe.

So all in all a good confidence boosting weekend and I learnt a lot. Plus I didn’t finish last in any race all weekend. Small steps, but steps in the right direction.

I wanted to see Dave and let him know how grateful I was after his tuition, but I couldn’t find him.

Turns out he’d fallen off in the first qualifying session and busted his collar bone.

I phoned him up upon my return and his first words were, “do as I say, not as I do”.

I’m back off to Cadwell next week so hope I can continue my new run of form.

Speak soon


Wednesday 12 April 2017

Road Racing On TV

Hi all

Just to let you know that there is a programme on BBC1 Northern Ireland, Wednesday 19th at 10:40pm.

"It’s a way of life. It’s a drug. It’s compared to a big family. There’s a sense of community and togetherness. But when there’s a fatality, the impact can last for months or years.
Every year, more than 300 motorcyclists race on Irish country roads. Most of them are amateurs. A new three-part BBC One Northern Ireland series takes viewers into the racing paddock, to the other side of the race barriers and hedges, to capture the essence and character of the sport of road racing.
Road Riders, starting on Wednesday, April 19 at 10.40pm, reveals the passion, commitment and the enthusiasm of the people behind the sport. It also shows the reality of a sport that is often dangerous, and sometimes, even fatal. The racers, and their families, talk candidly about why they take part in the sport, how they got involved and what drives them to pursue their high-octane pastime.
The series – made by DoubleBand Films, the independent production company behind the feature length film, Road - follows 10 individuals, men and women, across a range of ages, during the course of the 2016 season. Many of those filmed compare road racing to a community or a family. And it’s a sport that can involve a rider’s entire family, brought along to events to help set up, act as mechanic and to cheer on. And to worry.
Viewers hear how the riders can have such a passion for a sport, aware that it carries a risk of tragedy or serious injury. And even when they experience it first-hand themselves they still go back for more.
While the racers are blasting their bikes around country roads at speeds of up to 200mph, loved ones and families are counting the laps. The series hears how they cope with the wait and the worry for their son, daughter, husband or father to reappear again and make the chequered flag. Why do they go through the agony and allow their loved ones to take part?

I heard about this programme last year and am glad it was made and look forward to seeing it.


Thursday 6 April 2017

Cadwell Park Report

Hi all

Yes I know, another race report, I’m used to them being months apart, not weeks.

So last weekend it was off to Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire for 3 days including a test day.

I’ve only been to Cadwell once and that was in 1994, when myself and some mates, who had also recently passed their bike tests, decided a race school would be fun.

All I remember was we did the short circuit, so not really classed as previous track experience.

My first impression was how narrow some of the circuit was,I thought I was looking at a service road rather than the track.

Once out on the track, it was a great circuit, so was looking forward to the meeting.

We had a small oil leak from a worn gasket, which meant I missed one session, but by the end of the day I had started to find a good line around the track and did a best time of 2:02.

Saturday was dry and so was looking forward to racing.

First race, and I got a reasonable start, but was reeled in before the end of the straight, so settled down to keep with them, which I managed to do.

It didn’t help that on one lap I came over the mountain section of the circuit, where the front wheel lifted as it had on previous laps, only this time it didn’t go down again quite as quick. Bit of a shock but did come down in the end.

I’ve since learnt that there are two lines over the mountain. The fast line and the good picture line. I’ll stick to the fast line in future.

Despite this I got my time down to a 2:00, which was good news.

Second race was better and I managed to catch and overtake the guy who had been in front of me in the first race, which was good. But what was better I managed to finish 14 seconds in front of him.

After the race I was ushered into the ‘dyno que’.

Minitwins are limited to 72bhp and this is checked on BMCRC’s own dyno to keep things legal.

Bike passed fine, but I was disappointed to find out that they won’t tell you what power you are putting out. So all I know is that I’m below 72bhp, but how much by I don’t know.

I’ve learnt that no two dynos give the same reading, so is very hard to gauge what power a bike is truly making. So the only way would seem to be, by tune the bike a bit, wait until you fail the dyno test, and then detune it, which seems a silly, and expensive way of doing things.

Sundays first race was a good one and kept up with the two people in front of me. Once again I couldn’t stay with them on the straights, despite being level with them on the exit of the last corner. But by the first corner I was back up with them, and by the time we got to the last section I felt I was being held up by them.

John who was helping me this weekend said the same as Steve and James before him, come the straights and the others clear off. So a bit of research has been done since I got home and I’ve found I have been way off with my gearing. The bike seemed to be revving fine, but the gearing I’ve found would certainly give me more acceleration, which is what I seem to be lacking, so will be trying this for when I’m out next.

Even though I had the wrong gearing I still managed to get my time down to a 1:58 in the first race and a 1:57 in the second, so at least I’m improving.

As well as getting faster, I’m also leaning over more as this picture shows.

Yes I’ve ground a hole in the fairing, which is good as it allows the stones I collect to drop out, but sadly would also allow oil out should there be any in there. I will of course be fixing this before I go out next.

All in all Cadwell was a good weekend with some positives, and a great track, which I can’t wait to race at again.

I was so excited to see the differences in what gearing I have been running to what others are, it has given me hope that with that simple fix I would like think I will be a bit further up the field, and it is the bike not working correctly and not just me being slow, but only time will tell.

Luckily it’s not long until I’m out again, this time at Silverstone at the end of the month, and yes I have seen a gearing I will be using this time.

So until then



Tuesday 21 March 2017

Brands Hatch Report (Another One)

Hi, me again

So here we are for another Brands report, as I was racing there again this weekend, this time with NG Racing, North Gloucester Racing for those of you of a certain age, and like when I raced with them before I was number 42.

During the week between racing I had a good look over the bike to see if I could shed any light on my handling problem which I suffered at Thruxton and again at Brands last week, despite having my forks modified after Thruxton.

The forks felt massively better after the work I had done on them, but still had a problem, as I mentioned in my last update.

I changed the wheel bearings which helped, but I also had a thought that the head races were maybe causing the problem.

I  lifted the front up, and sure enough the steering was stiff. I slackened off the head races and the steering felt light, as it should, so a nice easy fix.

Whilst checking the front end, I noticed that at some point in their life, the axle had been cross threaded into the fork leg bottom, as you maybe able to see in this picture.

When a thread is cross threaded, it means that the axle was cutting its own thread in the leg, and not using the thread that was cut in there. In short this means that the axle was not held in as securely as it should have been.

Luckily I had a spare fork bottom, but didn't have the seals and oil needed to swap it before I set off for Brands.

Being the stars they are, JHS Racing, agreed to take the bits I needed to Brands, so that I could do the job there, should I need to.

All I could do was hope that I didn't have to change the wheels at Brands.

Upon arrival at Brands on Saturday it was wet, so first job was to swap the wheels, just what I didn't want to do. But luckily the thread held and the axle tightened up with no problems.

Practice was cut short after someone dropped oil on the circuit, but as the weather was due to improve, wet practice wasn't that important.

When it came to the first race the track was still damp, and after last week I er'ed on the side of caution and stayed on wets, but just as I was on the way out the guy next to me came in from his practice and told me it was now dry all around he circuit, but sadly it was too late to change.

I got a decent start and stayed with the pack for a good while, until my tyres gave up and they started to move around under me.

James, who was my pit bitch for the weekend, said he could see the bike moving around as I accelerated, and it got worse as the race went on.

Still I had a good race and felt a lot more comfortable on the bike.

Between races we changed back to dry tyres, and luckily the thread held in the axle again.

The second race was dry and again had a good start, and held onto the pack through the race, and I managed to get back to a lap of 1:00.

As soon as I was back to the pits, James and I set about replacing the dodgy fork leg, which went with no hitches, so was pleased that we got it all sorted.

Sunday was still dry, but over night I decided to change the gearing as I was running out of gears at the end of the start straight, a sign that I was getting quicker as it meant I was going faster on the exit of the previous corner, so carrying more speed onto the straight.

First race Sunday and the gearing was a good idea. Not only did it help along the straight, but it also meant that between some corners I could hold the same gear rather that changing up, then down again, and all the time the clutch is pulled in, you're losing drive.

It was a good race and was less than 2 tenths of a second of a 59 lap, so fingers crossed for the last race.

The second race was good but that lap of 59 seconds, still eluded me, but at least my 1:00 laps are consistant now.

So a good weekend all round, and am now looking forward to Cadwell Park in two weeks.

I've only ridden Cadwell once before, and that wasn't a race meeting, so I've been watching lots of on board videos to give me an idea of whats in store. So hopefully they, along with a track day on the Friday, will help me for the weekend.

I've also been studying photo's of me at Brands to see where I can improve.

My problem would appear that I'm not using my body position correctly, so something to work on.

I've also changed the seat unit to the one from my Supertwin. This may seem a waste of time, but the Supertwin seat makes me sit in the bike and not on top of it, as I feel like I am on the Minitwin .I've always preferred sitting in a bike, so hope this will help me with the way I move around the bike, but only time will tell.

If you'd like to check out some pictures of me, check out EDP Photography, who is the club photographer.

Hopefully that is all the jobs done between now and Cadwell, so until the next update take it easy.