Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hampton Downs Superbike Level 2

My last post on the subject of Hampton Downs was how I had been the only cruiser at the California Superbike School and how I had said:
[sigh - where is that Ducati 748 when I need it? - I wish...]

...well, I went back for Level 2 and instead of the red Suzuki Boulevard C90 I had my black Ducati 916 - so this was to be an education on cornering as well as learning to ride on a full on sports bike. The USS Enterprise was at left at home, and the Evil Stig took the stage.

Evil Stig

Level 2 of the Superbike School was different from the first, in that we were all in no doubt that we would learn as much or more about riding a motorcycle than we knew so far... and we weren't disappointed! The format was similar, with the early no-brakes rounds opening our mouths, eyes and eventually minds to the track and getting us focussed on where we were and where we were going next.

This time there were no floor-boards scraping on the track, and there were large handfuls of throttle and the seemingly never-ending acceleration available from the Ducati 916. It was just fantastic to be able to twist the wrist and just... fly...

The flying part was fine but there was a small problem with the clutch that was a little distracting - there was no clutch. While changing up or down the gears was not a problem, coming to a stop meant finding neutral and coasting back down pit-lane. I had some very good help from Bernard, the mechanic on site, it didn't fix the problem for long. BTW thanks Bernard you were awesome! I have since given the slave cylinder some love and replaced the fluids, which were full of moisture and dirt.
Riding home was entertaining and thank goodness for riding buddies Ivan and Dave who had to push start me at the lights when we hit civilisation ;-)

The next training days are in March, and that is going to be too soon for me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Coromandel Field Trip

Three Ducati's and two Yamaha's took to the Coromandel for lunch in sunny Whangamata.

Ducati Field Trip

Having only had a short ride through Clevedon so far on my new black Ducati 916 I was really looking forward to getting out on a real ride to get to know the bike better, and to test my fitness for riding a sports bike. That opportunity came with Ivan hankering for a ride and planning a nice trip through the country-side with lunch at Whangamata and lots of Waikato and Coromandel roads to tame.

We started from the Mobil on Greenlane Rd, down the main highway to Ohinewai where we turned off and headed for Tahuna. That stretch of road is very good riding, with excellent sweeping turns and quick straights - and only the odd tractor or two ;-) The thing to remember about country riding is to be very aware that every gate could produce a tractor, a farm bike or a herd of cows - at any moment! That said, we made good progress on warm dry roads towards Tahuna, and then Paeroa. Gassed up and photo taken it was off through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi and on to Whangamata for lunch. I left my sunglasses at the petrol station in Paeroa, which meant I was back there at around 3:30PM to pick them up.

Dave and I decided to find our own pace to Whangamata which meant that we arrived there and had lunch ordered before we received an alarming txt from Ivan:
"I'm going back now somebody went off leaving intersection with Tairua Rd"
I tried to believe it was that they had gone off the wrong way - not that they had gone off the road... Turns out the R1 did a bit of 'field work' after leaving Waihi. Rider was OK and bike saved by the knobs. I was very impressed that the damage had been kept so minimal. He will be picking grass out of a few strange places for a while though, I bet.

Lunch done it was up the road towards Tairua and a left turn to get us over the Kopu-Hikuai road. I was really loving the Ducati, and I was getting the love back.

I left the guys at Kopu, so I could show off the Ducati to my family and pick up my sun glasses (!) I headed up through Kaiaua to home, stopping to see a very good mate in Kaiaua, and as the time went on the clouds gathered... so I had a few spots of rain to contend with on the way home. Just as I thought the rain had set in, I was back in Auckland sunshine for the remainder of the trip past Mangatawhiri to home - where we wouldn't mind if it did rain a bit (at night eh!).

View Larger Map

I was a bit tired after the 450kms but not sore or aching from my new position - poised over one amazing motorcycle.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Black Ducati 916 Monoposto

There is a new beast prowling the streets of Mt Eden, and it is currently resting in the garage - my beautiful black Ducati 916. And it sounds awesome too with a pair of carbon termignoni's pumping - nah - throbbing behind - making sweet Ducati music.

I picked her up this morning and after a couple of hours riding out to Clevedon and back through Whitford I know I have made the right decision. And as hardened cruiser-boy I was able to ride very comfortably without getting pains in my wrists like I have after even short rides on other sports bikes. Just awesome.