Waking up in the morning to the sound of heavy rain can be quite relaxing. As long as you don’t have plans to take your motorbike on a race track in a few hours’ time. Don’t get me wrong, I have done a fair amount of wet weather riding; enough to know that I don’t like it and am happy to call myself a ‘fair weather rider’ (or giant sook to use the technical term).
So you can imagine my excitement when I booked a track day at Sydney’s Motorsport Park (formerly Eastern Creek) only to look at the weather forecast to see a questionable outlook at best. Leaving from Canberra for the drive to Sydney the night before, we loaded up the two GSXR1000’s and my sole ZX-10R into the bike trailer/ute in the rain and then proceeded to travel for three hours…in the rain. I should point out that the month before the track day, Sydney had been enjoying one of the warmest autumns on record. It’s fair to say that numerous beers were consumed to drown our weather related sorrows before the rain took care of it for us.
As I mentioned, the weather on the actual morning of the track day was still less than ideal, but we checked out of our accommodation and drove to the track. After claiming ourselves a pit garage and going through the “rigorous” scrutineering, it was our group out onto the wet surface first. This was the first time that we had ridden on the new track format (called the Brabham Circuit) which includes an extra seven turns with fairly substantial elevation changes. To say that the track surface was ‘slippery’ would be an understatement. So after 15 minutes of front end slips and third gear wheel spin I was more than happy to see the chequered flag.
As the day continued, the sun made an appearance and the track was quick to dry (in most places). I have done a little track riding in the past, but this was the first time I had the luxury of tyre warmers. All the gear and no idea springs to mind, but as I ride the bike on the road and track I usually tend to stick with fairly road orientated tyres. With the warmers keeping things at a balmy 80 degrees Celsius the tyres go through far smaller and less numerous heat cycles, preventing un-due tyre wear and tearing (plus you look like a badass).
So as the track dried the speeds rose and so did my general level of self-worth as a rider. However there’s nothing more humbling than thinking you’re really pushing hard into the braking zones, only to have three bikes dive underneath you in said braking zone. This was the third time we had been to Sydney Motorsport Park, so we booked ourselves into the yellow group (or second fastest) so while we definitely weren’t the fastest of the group, we weren’t the slowest either which is always a plus. Times are monitored by transponder stickers that are attached to each bike at the start of the day. So if you are too slow (or too fast) for your group you’ll be moved into a more appropriate group. Thankfully no one came looking for me to move me into a slower group, as I would never have heard the end of it.
So after seven sessions that ranged from soaking wet, to baking hot and numerous crashes (one in the first lap of the first session) thankfully none in our group of riders, packing up was an effort to say the least. The prospect of a three hour drive home, only to have to unload in the dark and cold was also less than appealing. The plus side? using a 180hp super bike like it’s meant to be used…Yeah, the pluses definitely outweigh the negatives but I still don’t like riding in the rain.