I raced my little Suzuki yesterday and had a great time, but it was tough going.
Craig Murcott did his usual brilliance with some fabrication, including moving the footpegs well back as I requested. The problem with this bike is that unless I can get to a racetrack, I can’t check how changes effect things. I sat on the bike in Craig’s shed and it felt great. I even did a sneaky run up the road outside home. That meant I did about 400m each way in a straight line, but it seemed good. We also swapped the standard carb for a 28mm flatslide, which seemed to run clean enough – again, as far as I could tell with the bike on the stand. Craig made a new throttle cable to suit the new carb. He’s pretty fricken handy.
So I fronted up at the Lismore track for the final round of the club championship yesterday.
I’d been through the class restrictions as best I could, and I was pretty sure the bike would fit in the ‘Stock’ class, despite the bikini fairing, so that’s where I entered.
I always feel like these North Coast Road Race guys are trying their best to get everyone on the track. When I’ve showed up at road-race meetings at big venues in the past it always felt the biggest challenge of the day was getting through scrutineering. I understand the need for safety, but some of those guys seem like you’ve ruined their day if they can’t fail you and your shitty old bike.
But not the North Coast Road Racers. It seems to me they try really hard to get you out there. I rolled up to scrutineering for the first round – I think it was in February – and I’d only just bought the bike. I fuelled it up and left the fuel cap on the bowser here in Coffs. Instead of knocking me back, the scrutineer lent me the cap off his son’s spare bike to get me through. On this occasion I arrived late, and only just made it to rider briefing. The scrutineer was happy to give the bike a once-over after briefing while I pulled on the leathers, but as I rolled the bike up to the spot, the clerk of the course came over and said, “This one passes just because it’s a Suzuki”. Everyone cracked up, but that’s the friendly attitude that goes with these guys.
The bike was scrutineered anyway, of course, and I missed practice while it was done, but I was thankful the club bent the rules a tiny bit to help me out.
The zip had busted on my leathers since I last wore them, too, so I rode around all day with my fly open, much to everyone’s amusement.
When I rolled on to the grid, not only was I on the only bike on the grid that wasn’t a Honda CBR125R, I’m pretty sure I was on the only bike from last century.
That didn’t matter too much to me. I just love the road-race feeling, even if I’m not a contender.
The first race was a six-lapper, and it became obvious straight away that my riding position was still way too cramped. Craig had opened up the riding position heaps, so now, with some effort, I could at least reach the rear brake, but it wasn’t easy, and it meant shifting a fair way across to the left of the bike, which didn’t suit a lot of the time, and my toes were dragging on the road in every corner, both sides, because I couldn’t bend my legs any tighter to move my feet up higher on the ‘pegs.
Still, the motor was crisp and the jetting on the flat-slide carby seemed to be very close to right, so I settled in to learning what I could about the bike and the track and trying not get in anyone’s way when I was lapped in the final race (a 12-lapper).
I was a tad cramped though, and as a result I’m hobbling around like a bloke with a brick in each hand today.
The biggest eye-opener I had yesterday was being allowed to practice with a different class, and while the restrictions on that class suited the Suzuki, I thought the bike would be so underdeveloped it would be swamped there. It turned out I could run at the back of the pack, and my times weren’t too far off not being ridiculous. There were plenty of modern bikes in the class, but there were a few building-enthusiast racers who were fooling around with performance mods, and they obviously weren’t all having a positive effect.
That’s very interesting.
I’m not keen to monster the bike with huge modifications, but in that class I wouldn’t have to be careful about brakes, carburetion, exhaust and so forth. So maybe I’ll give that class a try next time.
But first I have to find some room on the bike so my creaky old knees can operate.
During the week I had to drop in to Dan Vaughan’s and I found Pottsy standing around. We had a very quick chat about a poker run, but it’s kind of up to me to get myself together and name a date.
I will, too.
Not much on the dualsporting front from me this week, but I do feel great any time I get on to a road circuit, I have to say.
It’s a long weekend next weekend. I hope you folks all have rides planned.