England: Weather, Not Climate

Let’s see: Friday through Monday — cloudless skies, warm breezes and everyone wandering around in shorts and T-shirts. Tuesday: Wet, windy and ‘orrible. Wednesday: The day I’ve booked myself on Keith Code’s California Superbike School’s training day at Brands Hatch. Wonder what the weather’s going to be like?
Scrutineering for the day is at 7am and I live about 65 miles from Brands Hatch, so it’san early start, with everything (including waterproofs) laid out the night before, ready for a quick start. By 5:15am (when?!) I’m kitted up and ready to go, so it’s time to fling back the curtains and see whether I should put my waterproofs on. White. Very white. Nothing but bloody white. Total blizzard conditions. Thanks a bundle — it’s hard not to take this sort of thing personally. So layer up with full skigear and waddle out to the garage. Start the bike (with unspoken apologies to the neighbours for warming up a race-piped Duke at 5:30am). Onto the bike and slither backwards down the drive, both wheels locked, until I reach the road. Ice, slush and a delicate snow topping. Yum. Comfort myself with the thought that, with our village’s local microclimate, it’ll be fine a couple of miles down the road. Optimist. Thirty minutes later, I’m ten miles away in Milford and things are, if anything, worse — riding through ridged slush, with wet sleet freezing solid on my visor. Visibility zero — can’t even see the damned instruments. It’s a silly game and I don’t want to play any more.


Now I’ve never been a fair weather biker — spending one’s formative biking years in Aberdeen means that anything short of a three-foot snowdrift can be regarded as reasonable biking weather, but this was just too much — beyond interesting-dangerous and into stupid-dangerous.
So it’s another half-hour’s slither back home, where I find I can’t even get the Duke off the road onto the drive — the front wheel just disappears off sideways when I try. At this point, it’s time to park up by the kerb and go back to bed until the world becomes a more reasonable place.
Why was I doing this? Simple — it’s about time I learnt to use just a little more of the machine’s capabilities. And the best place to do just that? A racetrack, of course. The California Superbike School has a good reputation both in the US and now the UK for the systematic quality of its teaching of cornering technique — so this was me starting with the introductory course. It’s an interesting point — almost all of the advanced training courses I’ve come across are entirely focussed on road use and awareness, rather than on improving machine control, which surely is much of the point, and the reason for buying a sports bike in the first place. That’s the theory — I’ll now have to wait until the Cadwell Park course in July to find out.

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