Two weeks after the Taupo meeting its time to head to Pukekohe for another bucket list ride on the ever faithful Bimota YB8.
Do i change the chain and sprockets to the new 520 for higher gearing? Nah leave it , what if the tyre clearance was wrong? or i screw up the chain chop? Nup its still going good ,but that rear guard has to go so the tyre warmers can fit, (I wasnt keen to butcher the beautiful original light weight chain guard hugger). Hmmm if it rains water is gonna probably cause grief in the now exposed electrics ,so i need something..aha theres that old piece of the shed spouting, should do, bit of cut and tuck, yep cool. Tyre warmers fit ...just.
Load her up, still cant quite afford a $195 practise day, and wanna keep the tyres as new as possible too.
Arrive after dark, we find our assigned open pit, There's many already here, Campers and vans, buses, tents and good humoured clumps of chat, good vibe, unload bike, set up bed in van, walk about and talk a bit but retire romantically early.
Awake, make coffee, do the checkin thing and scrutineering, All good, I'm even in the programme, ( but forgot to add under sponsor "pension") Hi Xen, (IMOC ally racing his SB6r) Connect tyre warmers to...? Ducati guys next door lend me a multibox ,so we dont need to run a geny, Leathers on.
15 minutes of practise/qualifying, where's that track go again? That weird thing of the front brake lever occasionally nearly hitting the bars first pump, is back like last year (but wasn't at Taupo????) A little unsettling.
Ex Freeth bike with Dennis Charlett (superbike champ) goes by, I.ll try and see his lines , Shit I'm going too quick for left hander, bail out towards pit lane escape road, across a bit of grass, i have time to think , dang, this could hurt ,(and its only practise!)(images of a broken bike as the wall ahead appears real fast,), but the instincts, brakes and lean, instantly sort it and I'm ok, just heading in early , eh,.? Great bike just saved me !
Get grid #17 out of 31, Nice breakie and its nearly time , Get cut up quite aggressively on warmup lap, Line up RedRedRedRedRed go. Lower gearing means it wheelies too much, so I have to ease a little and don't make much ground, But i CAN go fast into first corner now with warm tyres. Seems everybody else has this idea too, and a couple pass me, Stay with bunch up straight and then start to gain on Big Macintosh Suzuki, He outbrakes me into chicane, I get him back til braking again, and theres lots of bikes close as we fly out of hairpin (front just off ground) into left and faster left, then throw body over to right and hold constant over right crest ,bikes either side and bumpy.( must be 160ish)
This rebuilt shock by Jebbi Bruin is good and the bike feels stable as the weight resettles heading out towards the grass, power comes in strong and i can pass...Maybe in top 10? . Wheres that braking point? ease off, hang off to the right and turn in , didnt slide across horse crossing poo line....can go faster.
A guy goes around the outside on smaller v4 500 2 stroke , but i haul him in on the straight ,Hit 250, pumpcheck the brake and i win this braking duel, next target...that macintosh, can hear that stroker closeby, then we're at the back of the faster group , FZRs, GSXs etc, No ...,a Red flag , dang 3 guys down at railway, one is that superfast 916 #137, Since im ahead of the Graves Ducati F1 I'm now running top in class, But No ! a restart, back to 17th on grid.
Quite a wait ,when we reexit the bike feels different, Off again, Not so good ,hold place ,but every lap it feels worse, Thinking front tyre going down. If i push harder it should warm up and be better? Bad idea ,nearly wipe out at railway and the hairpin, but that 4 hours of a flat front tyre in that 1980s enduro, sees me confident itll be ok, F...... over the hill, straight ok ,white flag, faster corners hmmmmm, railway ...nooooo jezz ,decide 200 is enough , 5 pass, a few more scary corners to the flag , phew is an understatement, slow down lap is just as bad.
Theres zero pressure on gauge! Big black marks all around tyre wall, No nails , pump up to 30psi, find proper valve cap, wait 30 min.it stays up?? Try different fluid level in front brake as it would be nice to feel more confident in that. Could it be rotor flap, pushing pads back?
Next race is again cut short to 2 laps by nasty cartwheeling 851 in brake zone off straight. Brakes now great, but? some doubt remains. Am up to 12th.
Pressure has already dropped to 20psi???Somebody says " oh yes those old mags can crack and just explode at high speed" Not a nice visual ! Pump up again, BBQ , free beers, Sunset and gossip, great,
Morning : I get toothbrush and detergent and find valve stem is the problem. Phew not a crack. I make a rubber gasket from an old inner tube ,(,kept to make fire with wet wood), So now the bubbles appear smaller but from up the thread. No tyre guys here.......but......
Nice young UK rider from Ducati pit next door(who are rebuilding a valve damaged motor) suggests this fancy silicon he has , Worth a shot. Seems to hold while drying. Pressure constant. Good fun dicing this whole race . Pressure only drops 3psi. 13th Ducati guys next door have changed whole motor, requiring repositioning lots, even the swingarm pivot, Amazing to watch, Last race : Also not such a great start ,wheelie then miss a guy ahead who has wheelied even worse, wheelie again, hold my spot but no gains, good dices all race, slowly gain a few spots, Bike handles the bumps over the hill well so i can gain a few metres and with momentum get past another Ducati and manage to hold out under brakes,( theres still heaps of time to save round here ), felt a few small power drifts out of hairpin,and chicane, with front just off, Hope there's a pic of that! , good fun.
Thats it, checkered flag, no damage ,great.( still the only bike in F1 with a current wof)
Have a drink and watch the last races with newly made friends, The results come out and I won the Pre 95 F1 points, and dropped another 2 secs off lap in last race. yayayhaya. Really should have done a test day , practise does help. A few guys come up and say good things, how the bike sounds real good and raspy at full wick, is fast and such, "must have been quite the ticket 32 years ago",some amazed I've kept it completely standard, even down to shocks and 532 chain, Some offer help with parts and everything . Coolas drive home into the sunset feeling good.
Looking forward to a good hot shower, oh thats right, the hot water cylinder sprung a leak on Thursday night ( lucky we came home from that raging jam party)and i only had time to block it off while badly hungover, so the kids can use the cold system, and collect another one from trademe before heading out.( Also lucky the floor is Kauri with some holes, and not chip board) Jezz Bike'l have to wait, do need to change that water cylinder.