Sunday, 19 May 2013

Page 39, some more changes...

Well, hello again! I know, I know, it's been a little while since my last entry, but there hasn't been much to report on lately, up until this week that is!

I was fortunate enough to work a shift with Traffic Management on a job site last week that the Hamilton branch was supposed to be covering, but for a lack of staff they sent myself and a couple of other guys from the Auckland branch to it for one day. Way out in the middle of nowhere, we found ourselves on an old gravel forestry road, assisting a crew who where building a set of retainer walls on the road edge to stop it breaking away and falling down the cliff. The road was nice and quiet, so rather than just stand around I decided to jump in and help the work crew out. Well, lo and behold, at the end of the day their boss came up to me and asked if I'd like a job! Pretty significant payrise, plus a few other benefits, so when he rang me back on Saturday morning I said yes! So, as of Monday I've been working on the same site, we're getting further up the road to the third wall now, it's much more enjoyable work and I'm getting paid a whole heap more now too! Plus no more night shifts, we get weekends off, travel allowance, I've got my own work truck and fuel card, it's awesome! Sure, the work is pretty physical at times, but it'll be great to get back in shape again! (FYI: I was only a casual staff member at Traffic Management, so was able to give short notice and start pretty much immediately with the new job...)

So, due to the change in jobs and the extra pay cheque, I was lucky enough to be able to attend another 'Playday On Track' event yesterday, with the bike, and despite the on / off weather conditions, I had a blast! It started off pretty wet, but then the sun came out and we had three perfect sessions with a nice dry track. I found my cornering lines again pretty quickly, and the bike ran flawlessly all day. The rain came back in force mid-afternoon, so I decided to finish up early, rather than risk an accident. Lots of people were coming over and saying how cool my bike was, and how well I was going on the track, giving me tips and advice for certain sections, and boosting my confidence! Being that I'm still only a beginner when it comes to the track, and still very slow compared to some of the others, I was more than happy for the comments! One of the guys that was helping instruct our class was from Spectrum Kawasaki, up here on the shore, he had heaps to offer, even saying we could car pool our bikes down to the track together in future as we live pretty close together. He made a point of telling me about another 'school', namely the "California Superbike School", who take all forms of motorcycle rider and teach them skills to vastly improve their riding, suited to both road and track. I had heard of this course previously, but hadn't put serious thought to it until now. So, now that my finances are on the rise again finally, I'm going to start saving up for a two day course down in Taupo later on this year. It seems to be the one course that all the experienced riders rave about, so I have to go and see for myself! Watch this space for further updates! :-)

Huge thanks of course to Ash, Gary, Tony, and all the team at Playday On Track! You guys put together an awesome day, the track was fantastic, and I had a blast! Also thanks to Tuna (yep, that's his name!) from Spectrum Kawasaki, you're a legend mate! I wouldn't have had nearly as much fun if you hadn't shared your advice and watched me on track. When you passed me with a big 'thumbs-up', that made my day! Cheers mate!

Other than that, there hasn't been much to report, as I mentioned earlier, so I'm off to give the bike a good clean, return the trailer we borrowed (from my partner's brother, thanks Barry!) and enjoy the rest of my weekend off!

Hope everyone out there in internet-land is doing well too! Keep smiling!

Until next time...!


Friday, 19 April 2013

Page 38... A very long rain check...

Well, a few of you may have noticed I've been a bit slack on the posts lately... Things here have been very quiet as of late, with only a couple of highlights in the last couple of months.

The Nightspeed crew recently held the final round of the 'dragwars' competition, which we went to support, as a friend was at the top of the points for the ladies class. I was lucky enough to win a bunch of free tickets to the event, courtesy of 4'n'rotary promotions. I decided pretty much last minute to see how fast our car would run, just for the fun of it, it's a 1996 Mitsubishi Legnum 2.5L V6 non-turbo. Admittedly, it's not made for racing, but I was pretty chuffed with the quarter mile times I got. I was more worried about breaking something, than anything else, so only ran a couple of passes. I was there mainly to support my friend in the ladies class, which she ended up winning, and taking out the season championship! Everyone was stoked for her, due to the fact that she was on a bike, racing against all the other girls in their cars! Personally, having taken both the car and the bike down the strip now, I can say it's much more fun on the bike, and if I'm allowed, I'll be taking the bike back in the future. I think if I change the sprockets to a lower ratio, I'd be able to get a high 13 at least, which would put the bike pretty close to being on par with the 400cc bikes that run... add to that a couple of other small changes that will take place over the winter, and the bike should be running even better for next season!

As I mentioned in my last post, my partner and I also took our Legnum to a show'n'shine day, organised by a local mag wheel business. A couple of my friends from (insert shameless plug here!) had a bikini car-wash running as well, which was great entertainment for the day! Even the rain couldn't dampen the spirits too much! I didn't get a count of how many cars were in attendance, but the carpark was pretty much overflowing, with all sorts of cars, from hard core track cars to old school street cars, heaps of Skyline's, Evo's, and Sylvia's, even a couple of rare Honda NSX's! All in all we had a great day out, cheers to Nic and Matt and the girls from, keep up the good work!

Last weekend I received an invite to go hang out with a bunch of my biker mates in the Fat Bikers Motorcycle Club, at the Riverhead Tavern, where the club president and good friend "Fatt Max" was playing in the Blues lineup. I have to say, if you haven't met him yet, you should definitely do so, he's a top bloke! I haven't met anyone quite like him in all my travels, he's just an absolute blast to hang out with! Funny as all hell too, might I add! Catching up with him and the rest of the Fat Bikers was awesome, I highly recommend anyone and everyone out there, be you a biker or not, you should go meet them! They're regulars at the Riverhead, and always out and about on rides for charities, as well as a bunch of other stuff, look them up on Facebook! (Was that yet another shameless plug? Lol) Their symbol is a steaming hot pie, you'll know it when you see it! :-)

Well, that's pretty much all I have at the moment, hope the wet weather isn't getting to you too much, keep an eye on this blog in the future, even though it's been over a year since starting it I'm still gonna keep it going! Stay safe out there!

Till next time!


Monday, 25 February 2013

Page 37... BBDO!

Would you believe it, I've had yet another absolutely epic weekend at the track! Only difference being, this time I got to ride! Hampton Downs racetrack hosted the "Big Bike Day Out", a new event organised and run by the awesome crew at Playday On Track. Two days worth of bikes doing laps, at a comfortable pace for pretty much any rider! Last weekend was the first in a new ten year venture between the organizers and Hampton's, and it was a huge success! Saturday had a reported 120 bikes, some of who continued into the 100 odd that made up Sunday's numbers. Add to that a few cruisers, some extremely quick Super-Karts (on Sunday), as well as a small contingent of classic cars, it was pretty packed! One of the countries top suspension gurus was there giving out free advice, as well as the teams from the local Kawasaki and Honda shops. There was no end of cool toys for any avid biker to admire!!!

The organizers somehow managed to squeeze in 6 full sessions for each group on both days, which I thought was pretty amazing in itself! I only had enough finances to attend on the Sunday, but I spoke with a few people that did both days and the story was the same all round - there wasn't a single complaint to be heard! From what I could gather, everyone in attendance thought the event was top notch. Even the top Superbike guys were happy to chat, share advice, and give the newbies (ie: me!) any help we might need to improve upon our skills.

First session out, I was pretty nervous, and only turned in some pretty slow laps. I'm not entirely sure, but the rear tire on my little 250 felt a bit squirmy, and I wasn't getting as much top end power as I thought I should be. So at the end of the session I pulled back into the pits to check my tire pressures, and drop a couple of PSI out of the rear. Quick check of the oil and water, anything that might have come loose, bolts, etc, then it was pretty much time for the second go! Straight away, once back out on track, the bike felt way more stable through the turns, and I was getting better power out of the turns, which kept the revs more in the "power" range, thus giving me more top end, especially down the main straight. The whole bike really felt like it was working properly, which had me smiling! I finally got the rear tire heating up enough to start scuffing it on the turns, and my leaning is definitely looking better than before. I was told the track temperature at mid-afternoon was 54 degrees Celsius!

I skipped the third session to talk suspension with the guru himself, Mr Robert Taylor! Such a worthwhile decision, he has just sent me an email following up on our discussion, detailing in specific a whole bunch of small things I can do with my setup, even though I don't have any 'proper' adjustable settings like most new sport bikes have. Simple things like filling my forks with slightly more oil, to reduce the air gap, or installing longer spacers on shorter springs to reduce the spring friction inside the fork tubes... Lots of things the average biker would never think about! Whether or not I'll even be able to feel the difference if I do slightly change anything, I don't know, but it's nice to know that I can change things up eventually if I choose to.

For the rest of the sessions on track, I concentrated on my lines through corners, focusing on things I had been told by previous instructors, and got quite a good flow on by the end of the day! My confidence in my tires, suspension, and throttle control are definitely growing with every lap, and even though I'm far from what others would call "fast", I reckon I'm doing pretty good!

The only slight issue I had throughout the day was the bike overheating towards the end of sessions, but only if I was changing gears over 14 thousand RPM. If I shifted before 14k, the bike's temp stayed in the middle, but if I got even close to the 19k redline then things started to get hot quite quickly. I think I need to upgrade to a bigger radiator, and my research has found that one off an NSR250 will fit with only small modifications, and has a thicker core for more fluid. Apart from that though, the bike is running mint!

Anyways, a huge thanks to Ash and Gary and Tony from Playday On Track, you guys put on a great event! I'm already looking forward to the next one!
Next weekend my partner and I are taking our car to a show'n'shine, something a little different to the usual I know, but bound to be fun too!

Check out some quick pictures from the track below, I've also uploaded a full set to my Flickr account...

Till next time!