Back Early From Cadwell

Quickly Setup in the morning Cadwell for the ACU TestWell that was rubbish, being at Cadwell for the races and not racing. “So what happened?” I hear you ask. Well, first off it was a bit cold, I was rusty as hell and I got to the track a bit later than I thought (I was up at 04:30 and still only got to the track at about 08:30, as every man and his dog was in my way and going slow). I could have rushed to get out on the first session, but decided to skip it and not miss anything in my normal getting out on track routine (that’s the way crashes happen). So I set up and settle down and chat to everyone that’s about.
Soon comes around to be my session and it’s time to be in leathers, this leads to countless countless “Have you got an Aprilia now?”, no they are just leathers, “Oh they are shiny”. So many in fact that I might have to get an Aprilia sticker made up and see how many people can’t identify a GSXR 🙂
I rode rubbish and was really struggling to get comfy. The track was cold and had damp patches on it, I was stiff, slipping around (new leathers are shiny and slippery over the seat)  and generally not “feeling it”, but that is why I need to practice before the race. I had a little issue as well in the first session. The bike was acting as if the quick shift was activating and cutting the power to the engine at random points. So I did about 4 laps and came in, just to give it a look over and make sure it wasn’t doing something strange. To be honest it could have just been old fuel, but the quickshift box of electrics controller voodoo-me-bobs had moved a bit so a little re-attaching was in order anyhow.


Session 2 was much of the same, though I started to ride better than before, concentrating mainly on body position and line rather than speed. I notice after this session how unfit I am, and will need to do something about that as I was really huffing and puffing after the 20mins which is never good for concentration. So less time at the office desk/pub and more time on the mountain bike/gym required. As the suspension had now been good and warmed, I took it to 100% Suspension, having used them before many, many years ago on my Daytona 600 and knowing that the money would be well spent on saving rear tyres and hopefully finding that “feeling” that make me more confident and with it faster. I’d had the whole bike set up here, at Cadwell, back in July last year, but have since changed the forks to the Ohlins cartridge ones, which were “quickly set up” by someone that knows his stuff at Thruxton as a quick favour. So all in all I was thinking it should be fairly in the ball park. Now here is something about suspension, I know what is the basic principles it’s the finer points of “how fast” it should come back up and the like that I am not sure of. I wasn’t particularly sure that the initial set up was that comprehensively done, it was almost as they were rushing to get through a few bikes in the time. They didn’t really look at the basics, sag and the like or bounce the bike that much at. When I got Colin to have a look the front was fairly well spot on (cheers fella) a couple of things to try and see if it made a difference. Then he got to the back. “Does this run wide on exit?” he asked, a quick think and yes it does. “Well your static sag is way to high.” A quick bit of spannering and screw driver tweaking and I am good to go. I am at the limit of the spring (see above about being unfit) and really could do with a slightly stronger one as I am now at the upper end of the preloads. Anyhow out and for a ride and the bike is holding a line better, now that could be a number of things: the tweaks to the suspension, the rust slowly coming off my riding, the little voice in my head saying “the suspension is better, go faster” or a hundred other things. Still it worked, so all good. Back to Colin afterwards the next session and a few more tweaks at the back (2 clicks more preload) as it’s got a little soft when being worked a bit harder but he doesn’t want to go too hard as it might make it rubbish at the start of the race. During this discussion I have already made up my mind to get a new rear spring and have him service my shock (as I don’t know when it was last done). In fairness to the person that set up my bike before I was more concerned with the front end rather than the back, as it was doing some interesting things before and eating up front tyres quiet a lot, so maybe my attention was there and not all around the bike as a whole.

Out again and it’s really starting to flow. I’m not pushing but it’s all much more comfortable and I am really enjoying myself. 2nd lap, I short shift to go into Chris Curves and there is a change in engine note and a loss of all drive. I grab a handful of clutch and the engine dies. I roll to the edge and park it up next to the Goose Neck. I am hoping it’s a simple electrics problem or a jumped off connection or something. On getting back to the pits and lot of helpful advise results in me taking the air box off to peer down into the inlets, the news is not good. Cylinder number 3’s valve has dropped. So that’s it. Game Over for the weekend… And only 2 weeks until Donington. No point setting off home, so it was too the bar to come up with a cunning plan of action. I agree to help out with some of the more manual tasks, like noise testing the next morning (not a good idea the way my head was after several “consolation” pints). The club, NG, were great about it. They rolled my entry over for Donington, minus some admin fee. So all in all not too bad a lost on the finances… as of yet.

Dropped Valve EvidenceThe plan as stands is to get a new engine (low mileage, standard) and put it in. Then see what damage has been done to the one that is currently in the bike and see if it can be fixed. If it can be fixed fix it and then either swap it back and sell the one I just have bought or sell the fixed one and change the paper work on the V5 documents.

Anyhow the positives:
The rust came off my riding at the end of the day and the suspension is feeling better than ever. I found out the GoPro needs charging alot, so an in between race charge would not be a bad idea and probably a second battery wouldn’t go a miss. The good feeling of all the offers of help from around the paddock I even got offered a ride on a bike (I won’t say who to save his embarrassment) the offer was greatly appreciated but I wouldn’t dare ride your shiny toy for fear of liking it too much and NEEDING one and more likely dropping it :). The failure came early enough so that NG could fill my space on the grid and I could get my entry rolled over to Donington, so everyone’s a winner. The valve didn’t go when I was on the track day with Spike and thus wasting a large amount of his time and my cash. Then there is the really big one: that it didn’t lock up and throw me off into something solid.

So the clock to Donington is ticking…. will I make it? Place your bets now 😉

Now the videos are a bit short as I didn’t have enough charge in the camera it appears, so it cut off some times. I have 2 videos. One is of an ok lap, but I forgot to fill up with fuel, so it’s an out and most of a flyer (the session before the valve dropped). I am really pleased with the quality of the video and the mount, just not the riding 🙂

Here it is:

and the other is of a much longer first session… oh lordy, the riding is terrible, but it was the first session of the day after a long time out of the seat, cold, on the suspension settings that weren’t brilliant and hundred other excuses 😉

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