Sometimes things don’t work out as you hoped or planned. Ideally I’d have been on track a few times this year and done a few tours on road, but alas that’s not how 2017 worked out. I sold my BMW K1300GT back in February, and the only riding I’ve done since then was 1000kms in two days on an Indian Chieftain in Canada, which I have to say was epic, but was at a much more sedate pace than I might have ridden at, had I been back home in France.
The year has flown by, and Mark and I took too long in deciding whether to sign up for a late season event at Aragon, and by the time we’d made up our minds there were no places left. With the year looking as if it was going to turn into one without any track riding at all, we took the only interesting option left to us, 3 days at Catalunya in October. Our usual third eventee Andy had to rule himself out as he was riding in Portimao a few days after, but David was keen to come, so our contingent was back to three.
Neither Mark nor David have ridden much on road this year for various reasons, and Mark and I last rode on track together in Catalunya in March 2016, when the second day had been so wet we had been forced to abandon any hope of riding, and pack up and go home early. With such a long gap without any speed fix for any of us, to say we were all keen to get back on our bikes again, is, as you can imagine, something of an understatement. Mark has told me he’s going to take it easy, isn’t interested in laptimes and just wants to enjoy the riding, but as we’re faster than the debutant group we signed in for (only spaces left), I have little doubt that a competitive element will very quickly kick in!
Over the past months I’ve made some small changes to the bike, mainly to the graphics. Some time ago I created a design incorporating the Rossi turtle. It was a joke amongst us, as Mark used to tell me I was slow (I’m not!) and the number was indicating my age. Unfortunately not being blessed with the body of Benjamin Button, I advance in age each year, so by the simple addition of a plus sign after the number, I’m able to keep the same number every year.
Here’s last years fairing/screen design
and here is this years updated design
With the bike looking better (IMHO) next up came a change in tyres. I’ve always ridden on Pirelli slicks. Initially the Superbike Pros and latterly the SC2’s, but chatting with Simon Crafar, who used to race this exact model of R1, revealed that in his view one of the biggest improvements in handling came from tyres with a more triangular profile, ie Michelins, so as my old tyres were toast and needed to be changed, I decided to follow his advice and bought a pair of Michelin Power Evo slicks. It’ll be interesting to see what difference they make.
As the time got closer to the event, the car decided to play up, but determined not to allow it to stop us going, it was booked into the local Audi dealer who relieved us of €523 replacing two sensors, and then dropped the bombshell that it needed an EGR valve at a jaw dropping €1250. Said part was duly fitted and to be fair, the difference in performance was amazing, but made us realise how badly it had been running beforehand. The phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” sprang to mind, as I guess we had become used to how it drove over time and hadn’t noticed the drop off in performance, although we had noticed increased fuel consumption. With the car running well now, next came the bike prep.
With so few miles having been done since it was last ridden, there was very little to do. I removed the fairings, changed the oil, cleaned it from top to bottom, and checked torque settings everywhere. The seat unit needs a little reinforcement where it sits on the subframe, and I’m going to try some alternative positions with the rearset positioning to see if I can get a little more comfortable on it. Apart from that, the bike is sorted.
Next came the trailer which is parked outside and under a cover, but I’d noted a few days earlier that wasps had been flying under the metal overhang over the rear lights and doubtless building nests there. I hate these creatures as they’ve attacked and stung me several times, so I took great enjoyment from destroying their nests (albeit they were tiny).
Final jobs will be checking tyre pressures, packing and checking my list of tools and gear is complete, and then we’re good to go.
Report to follow.