Mallory Park Trackday 07/05/10
The very afternoon before this day, I saw the forecast looked dry and so booked it up! As it was the first of the year and on a track I’d never been on, I decided to ease into it by booking the Novice group.
After the usual rituals of cleaning/waxing my leathers the night before, I packed a load of water and chocolate bars along with my cameras and settled down for a restless nights ‘sleep’.
I was up bright and early, and got to the dim, cold circuit to find the place almost deserted! I guess everyone had booked onto the Saturday trackday instead? I found Martin with the immaculately turned out Kawasaki ZXR636 B1H hire bike from Lady Snoots, chatted for a bit and then signed on ready to go.
The adrenalin finally started pumping as they gave the riders safety briefing. It seemed like over half the riders were booked into the Novice group, with most of them never having ridden at Mallory before. I began to wonder if I’d have been better off booking into the Intermediate group just to get the extra track space…
Before I knew it I was throwing my leg over the bike for the first time, but this time it didn’t feel quite as unusual after jumping off my big old bus of a ZX9R. Either way the first few sessions would be about learning how the bike handled as much as learning the track. I have to say I quite enjoy this part of hiring a bike!
I lined up right at the back of the pack in the pit lane (as I did in every session – mainly because I had the luxury of tyre warmers so didn’t want to be sat around before we got out on track), and took some deep breaths and got focused.
The sighting laps were painfully slow. I mean, to the point that I was having to pull the clutch in to get around the hairpin! I can understand things being a bit slow as this was Novices and first time out, but this was seriously slow. It seemed the same was true of the out-laps of every session (although not quite as bad). OK, so I had warmers so expected to overtake a lot who were still getting heat into their tyres, but many people seemed to be riding at a pace that was absolutely useless because there’s no way it would have done them any favours for their grip! If you’re not working your tyres at least a little then what’s the point?
This was where I realised I had booked into the wrong group, and should have been in Intermediates… As the day went on they did pick the pace up a lot, but there was only one person anywhere near me, and I think both of us were way ahead of the rest of the group. Again, I’m not saying this to brag, because I cocked up here and underestimated how quickly I’d find a good pace. Lesson learned and I think that may be my last time in Novices…
Anyway, the track was much better than I thought it would be. I thought I might get bored as it’s only short, but there’s a lot of fun to be had and a few corners with plenty of “Shit-I-Should-Have-Done-That-Much-Faster” factor to them! The weather held off with only a few spots of rain and not enough to wet the track, and I even got sunburnt!
The first corner is the infamous Gerrards. I NEVER got the entry speed right. It takes serious balls to hammer into it without being hard on the brakes, but you tip it in and then it’s a right-hander that goes on forever. This was great for me because I’m far better at getting my left knee down, and at Mallory I don’t think I touched my left knee down once all day! Definitely good practise for me.
This opens onto Stebb Straight before hammering the brakes for the left-right flick, getting hard on the power whilst still knee-down on the exit, scraping the knee again through the Lake Esses and back over to the left up the hill to the hairpin turn. This was another problem place for me as I felt I never committed hard enough around it. It is amazingly tight, though!
Then it’s hard on the power for a short dive into the very tight bus-stop chicane. You don’t want to run over the curbs here because they’re nasty.
After this it’s hard on the power again through Devils Elbow. Martin very helpfully told me to short-shift before this corner, as you really have to change up but as you’re banked over can’t get your foot under the gear lever to do it. Whacking it up a couple of gears on the entry meant I didn’t run out of revs and had the added bonus of putting less power through the cold left side of the tyre and catapulting myself off.
I’d been warned (and seen the YouTube footage) that Mallory is notorious for people binning it on the left-handers, purely because there aren’t many, so the tyre is still cold on that side. I took it easy all day on these and consequently didn’t die. The only ‘moments’ I had were a tank slapper through the Esses (caught on video), and a big wiggle around Gerrards which made me call it a day early as I was knackered to death.
Speaking of which, there were a few people who had offs, and they turned out to be pretty big. Someone on a yellow Triumph road bike went straight on at Gerrards, but then said the bike dug into the wet grass and flipped, causing pretty severe damage. Another ZX6R did exactly the same, and ended up in hospital with some neck problems (I believe he was ok). The biggest off was one of the No Limits instructors, whose wheel collapsed on the first lap with the Fast Group, and I heard he had some pretty nasty injuries… Hopefully he’s ok.
So my day was great! I thought it would show up my fitness, but I survived ok!
My right hand had serious muscle pump after the first few sessions (I blame Lil Boo for my lack of right hand stamina!) but that went away. The brakes on the hire bike were Bastard Strong, and my wrists were absolutely knackered by the end of the day! Something I’ll train a little for next time. The usual pain like I’d been beaten up came after the adrenalin wore off that night…
I did have a bit of a play with one bike in my group, and that will be the first video I upload. He and all the people I spoke to there seemed pretty cool, and there should be a fair few videos flying about from what I saw!
I look forward to doing Mallory Park again, as I have a lot of things to improve on, and I’m sure it will be a lot of fun doing it!
If you follow the links from these I’ve uploaded all of the last 3 sessions of the day!