…and hung around to hassle innocent motorcyclists.
As the weather forecast for Sunday morning was good (being England, this simply meant it wasn’t actually raining), there was a early rideout to the new Ducati Owner’s Club venue — the Punchbowl Inn, at Oakwoodhill near Ockley in Surrey. The early bit was dedicated to the production and consumption of large volumes of strong coffee, before everyone felt sufficiently aware to survive the ride down via breakfast cholesterol at Box Hill. That was the good bit of the day — things went rather pear-shaped thereafter.
OK, so it wasn’t actually snowing this time. Which is about all that could be said for the California (hah!) Superbike School Level 1 course at Cadwell Park. This time, I’d taken no chances and had ridden up the previous day, staying at a B&B near the circuit. However, come 7am and scrutineering, the local ducks were waterskiing on the Cadwell hairpin. So we all trooped into the first classroom session feeling a tad dispirited, and waited for the whole thing to be cancelled. Not a bit of it: “It’s wet out there, but that’ll focus you all on riding smoothly, won’t it?” Guess so – in fact only one person binned it, and that in the dry at the end of the day. Format? Simple – five track sessions, interspersed with classroom lessons, each adding another element to the mix of things to try. The order went something like:
Throttle control and no brakes drill – fourth gear only: lap times in the 2’15” range. In fact the ‘one gear, no brakes’ bit was something of a theme for the day. Then Turn Points – bloke standing at edge of track pointing to bit of tarmac at which to turn in. Ah, that late? Lap times down to around 2’03”, just by concentrating on turn-in. Next, Quick Turns: in late and use scarily heavy counter-steering to take bike to desired lean angle as quickly as possible. Lap times around 1’58”. Rider Input — better use of information, camber and track reading. Another 6 seconds off the lap time. And, finally, the Two Step — putting everything together with greater anticipation of the stages of the corner. Final result: lap times around 1’49”. OK, so some people could run around the Cadwell short circuit faster, but that wasn’t the point – it was all about technique, being smooth and thinking ahead. Definitely felt like I’d achieved something.