Gay Pride March, Birmingham 2011

Gay Pride March, Birmingham 2011

I knew there was something going on when we first got near Birmingham city centre to find all the roads being closed off and traffic getting gridlocked all over the place.

I’d driven in with a mate to go to the Soy Cafe – awesome Chinese/Vietnamese food that’s always fresh and served up quickly.  They also have a £6.95 set menu deal where you get a drink, pudding and choose a main meal from the ever-changing selection.  Trust me – it’s good stuff!

So we walked towards it, with the distant sound of whistles and signs announcing disruption for Pride (as if we hadn’t noticed an increased number of, well, ‘The Gay Community’ mooching about the place), and as we got near the Chinese quarter we were headed off by the parade itself.

Now, I’ve got no problem with homosexuals myself.  Why would I have?  I’m straight and proud, so if they’re gay and proud that’s fine by me, and everyone’s happy!

I’m not entirely sure what the whole Gay Pride march is about?  Whether it’s political, raising awareness, or just an excuse for a big old street party, or all of them!?

Gay Rights?  Give it to ’em!

Why should any straight person give a damn if gays want to marry?  If you think it through, those straight people are the only ones who WON’T be affected by gay marriage, because they’re not gay so probably won’t be forced into marrying a gay.  Get over it!

Anyway, the actual parade seemed a bit tame compared to what I was expecting.  I thought it would be more of a carnival type affair, with heavy partying.  I guess the march was only around 1pm, so it’ll all get a lot more lively as the night draws in.

It was actually quite a good atmosphere there!

As we were starting to starve to death, and the parade seemed to have stopped, we made the choice to cut through it to get across the road to where the restaurant was.

Of course, just as I got right in the middle, surrounded by scantily clad gold-sprayed people, stilt-walkers, and banners, everything started to bloody move again, with cameras going off etc.

So you just KNOW that on the front page of all the newspapers reporting the Pride March will be a picture of ME right in the middle of the damned parade!

ARGH!!!

And to top it off, I picked the worst possible day to wear my crotchless jeans and nipple clamps…

This was a moody Police biker, sat staring at the Fire Brigade bike in the parade, which had loads of people having photo’s taken with it.  The Police biker looked miserable at being left out, so I found it funny and took his picture:

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

I always used to have a (possibly unfounded) hatred of Pirelli tyres.  It was probably more from having ancient tyres on my very first Yamaha TZR125 that had all the grip of a paranoid schizophrenic watching a bad Kubrick film.

Despite this, I was impressed by their claims and marketing when they brought out their brand spanking new Angel ST tyre – I was first aware of these in early 2009.  They promised more grip in the dry and wet, better cold performance, and claimed to see over 9000 miles from a rear tyre on a Hayabusa!

Oh, and they had a funky picture in the tread of an angel, that wore down to become the image of a demon.

I’ve used many tyres on many bikes, so am fully aware of just how far tyre technology advances in the space of a few short years, and so decided to take a chance on them being fitted to my trusty Kawasaki ZX9R C2.

I very quickly found that they met all these claims of more grip, and even when running them in (personally I think more like 10 miles to run new tyres in, rather than the idiot-proof 100 miles they recommend) they were well behaved and inspired confidence.

Over the next few years I found they offered at least all of the grip of other sports-touring tyres on the market, and can also confirm that where I got 3000 miles from a rear tyre such as an Avon AV56 or Bridgestone BT021, the Angels give me at least twice that, of very hard road riding all year round.

I even tested these tyres on snow and mud and ice.  They were crap, of course, but I didn’t fall off and tear my petticoat!

Recently, I had decided to do a trackday on my ZX9R, and not having the funds to switch to track tyres, decided to try out the Angels.

I thought that they would overheat and slide, or just fall apart at track temperatures, as they warm up so quickly on the roads.

I’m no Rossi on track, but usually run at the sharp end of Intermediate groups, laying down 2min laps around Oulton Park and around 1:03 at Mallory on 600cc hire bikes.

Well I can now confirm that at a super-abrasive Rockingham International circuit, they gave absolutely no problems, and I even put in a lap in the low 1:40s – with warped brake discs meaning I was making up the time through corner speed and very heavy trail braking up to the apex of corners!

They wore extremely well, with no tearing and just a bit of balling-up at the edge of the tyres.

I heard from several people around 5 years ago that the sports-touring tyres of the time (before the Angels came out) had the equivalent grip of the best Grand Prix level race tyres of the late 1990’s.  Now, with that in mind, and considering they had a lot more to give when I tried them on track, then WHY exactly does anyone believe they need some super-sticky tyre for the road that only lasts 500 miles?

I think you could happily run in the fast group, and they would be enough for 90% of trackday riders – let alone road riders…

What Tyre Pressures Do You Run?

That’s an important question that I missed!  Everyone in the pub is an expert on tyre pressures.  Almost always these ‘experts’ will tell you to run low pressures for grip – probably because they heard it off a racer sometime.  Well, even if they are on a track, they’re probably wrong!

Generally, I’m a believer in the Universal Standard road tyre pressures of 36psi front and 42psi rear.    I may run a 40psi rear because I don’t take many pillions these days, so don’t need the extra psi.  Sort out your suspension and riding/body position first before touching your tyre pressures!  And here’s why…

I consulted a REAL tyre expert at Rockingham, and was advised to run pressures of 34 front and 32 rear on track.  The reason they’re not much lower (as I’d expected to be told) is that tyres like these aren’t designed to run lower pressures, and so by lowering them below that, you overstress their structures as they move beyond their intended limits, causing not just less grip but the potential for a total failure.  You don’t want this on a racetrack, and you definitely don’t want this on the road!

We All Know You Aren’t The Police!!!

We All Know You Aren’t The Police!!!

The rest of the title should read: “So Stop Putting Your Fucking High-Viz Vest On The Parcel Shelf!”.

And here starts my rant…

I’m sure we’ve all seen it.  You’re driving down the motorway when suddenly brake lights come on in front of you, because there’s some Tit-Head sat in the middle lane at 60mph with a high visibility vest on full display on the rear parcel shelf.

WHY?!?!

“Ooh, look at me!  I’m a High-Viz Wanker!”

Yes, yes you are!  And well done for getting hold of a high-viz vest. 

So which exact type of High-Viz Cunt are you?  Builder?  Security Guard?  Lollypop -ing Lady???

You’re a twat!

I know WHY you do it – it’s because you think in your tiny little deluded and self-important mind that it makes you look like you’re a Police Officer, and so all the nasty drivers won’t overtake you or drive too closely to your shitty 1992 Rover Vitesse.

Well go shove your head up a dead badgers ass!

You know the only people who DON’T put their high-viz vest for all to see?

It’s the fucking Police!

Next time I see your idiotic ass with a high viz vest on display, I will ram you off the bastard road, set your car on fire, and piss on your burning eyeballs.

Stop being a big glowing retard and stop fucking doing it!!

Cunts.

Rockingham International Trackday 21/05/11

Rockingham International Trackday 21/05/11

I was watching this for ages, and as soon as the weather looked good (just over a day before!) I booked my first trackday of the year and my first for almost a year!  With No Limits trackdays and as Intermediates was all booked I was in the Novice group with a mate…

I quite liked the International track when I did it before, and to be honest liked it a lot more this time.  Compared to circuits like Oulton it’s a bit soulless – but there’s no denying that in the dry it’s still a -ing great place!

This was also the first trackday I’ve done where I was using my road bike – a Kawasaki ZX9R Ninja C2 – rather than a fully tricked-out hire bike.

I figured I’d take it easy in the first session I’d just feel out my bike and then had options from there, as you may have seen in my last blog.  

I HATE sighting laps!  OK, I see their point, but FFS people don’t cruise around them – use them to get some heat in your tyres!  I didn’t have the luxury of tyre warmers this time, but already know my Pirelli Angel ST tyres are good for kneedown from cold (I did a video to prove it!), so unsurprisingly I was still flying past almost everyone on the warm-up laps.  That’s not because I’m great on cold tyres – it’s just because I know the limits and still leave a massive safety margin whilst getting a move on.

There were a fair few incidents, but considering most ‘hardcore’ trackday riders pick mid-week dates, this Saturday event didn’t seem to have any Nob-heads in the Novice group.  Sure, some were slow, but generally the pace was pretty quick and there were a few very fast riders – including my mate and a few from TrackDayRiders.co.uk who I met.  I couldn’t stay with them.

I got advice from the Tyre Guru to use pressures of 34psi front and 32psi rear.  After noting that my front tyre was screeching like a teen at her first fisting mitten session under heavy braking, instinct told me to drop the pressure even more, but the same Tyre Guru advised against it, and I had to admit what I already suspected…. That my front brake discs are warped.

Major issue, but I just had to brake early and try and ride around it.

My worries of ground clearance were unfounded, because on track I hang off so much more than the road that my foot pegs were clear.  The tyres were also much better than I thought, and although I could have pushed harder they never failed me.  Sports-touring tyres?  Well the videos will show me on full throttle, kneedown at 12,000rpm and 120mph all the way around the left-hander after the first chicane with not a single glitch!  Very impressive for tyres I honestly thought would overheat and try to spit me off!

I was a bit proud that my mate and I were representing 90s sportsbikes and how cheap trackdays can be done, with him on a 1996 Fireblade, and both of us riding around the outside of much more modern machinery.

Then, in the 5th session my mate lowsided it into the last chicane thanks to one of the TDR riders (only joking lol) – amazingly little damage, but unfortunately he broke a footrest hanger sliding over the curves so his day was over…

I found my fitness was a major problem, and I was proper gassing when I was on the pace.  And I was lapping around 1min 50 – which for a 12 year old ‘sports tourer’ on sports touring tyres and with warped front brake discs that I knew I couldn’t afford to crash – was very impressive!  And also seem to have got one lap in closer to 1m40!

Great day – good to meet all those who I did, and I should have a ‘highlight’ video uploaded soon… The professional photos should be sent out soon.

EDIT: There are 3 good laps through traffic then a load of mistakes, crash victims and other stuff at the end.  You can hear my front tyre screeching under hard braking if you listen closely – and also hear I was doing some serious trail-braking into some of the corners to compensate!


Putting A Road Bike On Track

Putting A Road Bike On Track

As funds suddenly got tight this year, I was left with the choice of either risking riding my every day road Kawasaki ZX9R C2 on track, or simply not being able to afford a hire bike and not doing a trackday at all.  So that was a no-brainer!

I am capable of riding the ZX9R quite rapidly on the roads, and am more comfortable with it than jumping on a totally unknown hire bike as I have done previously, but the disadvantages are that my road bike doesn’t have race-grade brake pads, I use Pirelli Angel ST (hard-wearing sports-touring tyres) rather than super-sticky trackday tyres, I scrape my footpegs on the roads, so on track could be a major problem with ground clearance, and of course a road fairing is VERY expensive to repair or replace.

Ideally, I’d sort all this out by using a race fairing, race rearsets to raise the footpegs, shove some race-grade brake pads in there, and fit some filthily sticky tyres for the day – but of course the reality of that is that you’re looking at close to £1000 just in preparation.  That’s the very reason I decide to hire bikes before!

So what to do?

Well, I know I can get a Chinese made fairing from Ebay for around £340.  I figure if I just use my bike as it is, and the worst happens, THEN I can buy the replacement.

The Pirelli Angels are great tyres, but I think they will overheat on a track.  What that actually means in real life terms I have no idea!  So I’m going to give it a go, and if I’m getting huge filthy great slides then I shall just call it quits or take it easy.

The brake pads I’m running are again great for the road.  They’re actually unbranded pads from www.blackshadow-uk.com that can be had for £12.99 for FOUR pads!  Compare that to the £120 that Lady Snoots use on their hire bikes, for example.  Generally, braking is my ‘safety zone’ on track just as it is on the road, so I’ll simply brake nice and early, slow-in, fast-out, and see how it goes!

Someone from www.zx-9r.net came up with an ingenious solution to the footpeg situation, by recommending I tape a 5p coin into the hinge joint of the footpeg, instantly giving vital degrees of extra clearance.  For the fit session I’ll go out as standard, and then give this a go to test it.

Aside from this, I had Stealth Motorcycles of Redditch (the only garage I still trust to lay their hands on my bikes) check my valve clearances and balance the carbs to make sure everything there is ok.

Then it was just general maintenance to prep the bike: lube and adjust chain, give it a quick clean for the photographs, and get the brake calipers off for a good clean and check all is working perfectly.

I got to test the brakes this morning as a lorry ahead on a dual carriageway slammed on it’s brakes and indicated right in front of me.  All was clear behind me and I had no idea what he was trying to get past, so hammered on the anchors from Um Plenty Big Speed and all was perfect.  Apart from my pants.

Tonight I will go through my usual trackday ritual of cleaning and treating my leathers (again, more for the sake of the photographs!), and then I’ll be off to Rockingham in the morning!

For anyone reading this who hasn’t done a trackday before, as well as the above, take loads of water, and quick-carb foods like chocolate bars.  Snickers and bottled water is my staple diet on a trackday, to keep the energy up, with maybe a burger and chips at lunchtime.

When I arrive at Rockingham I shall remove my number plate, tape over my lights, and fold my mirrors in, as removal doesn’t seem like a great option for them.  Then I’ll speak to the tyre guru’s about what psi to drop my tyres to…

Oh, and FFS buy a camera to film the day onboard the bike!

You can get an MD80 from Ebay for under £10 that will do the job, so there really is no excuse.  See my previous blog about these cams here:

I’ve been excited since the second I booked it last night!  Just pray for a nice dry day!

Removing The Time/Date Stamp – Veho Muvi HD Cameras

Removing The Time/Date Stamp – Veho Muvi HD Cameras

Some of you may have seen on one of my previous blogs a comment was posted linking to YouTube where someone explained how to get rid of the time/date stamp on a VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ and VCC-005-MUVI-HD7 camera.

I’d had a good look around the camera options, and even read the manual, but somehow missed this!  I guess I just figured it was the same old story as the smaller Muvi cameras and it was just tough titty as far as removing the stamp went.  Well apologies to Veho, and I’m very happy to say I was wrong, and they HAVE addressed this issue which almost every user found to be a major bad point.

Here’s how to do it:

1.  Switch the camera on.

2.  Using the touch buttons on the back of the camera on the display screen, tap the ‘M’ sign to bring up the main menu.

3.  Press the ‘>’ button twice to take you to the ‘Setup’ screen.

4.  Press the ‘-‘ sign to scroll down the menu right to the bottom (7 times on the HD10+), or the ‘+’ sign once, and the ‘Date/Time’ option should be highlighted.

5.  Click the round middle button to go into this option and press ‘-‘ again to get to the bottom where there is a box.

6.  This box says whether or not you want the stamp displayed.  If there is an ‘x’ in this box, press the round middle button once to tell the camera not to use the time/date stamp.

7.  If the box has a tick in it, that means it ISN’T displaying the time/date stamp, so leave it alone!  Unless you want to turn it back on again, of course.

8.  To check this, touch the ‘M’ sign twice to go back out of the menus and back to the camera display, and you should see that the infamous time/date stamp is now gone!

Thanks to Oox for your comment (I’d link to you if you had a link!) drawing my attention to this, and I hope others see this and word gets around.

My Super Serious Near Fatal Horrific Death High Speed Bike Crash

My Super Serious Near Fatal Horrific Death High Speed Bike Crash

Some of you lucky buggers from Facebook and TheRevCounter.com may have already heard about this and seen the video…

Last night, after some expert riding where I raced my riding partners Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi (and won), jumped over a medium sized canal, and wheelied for 25 miles non-stop, I pulled off onto a gravel driveway and slowed down to sensible speeds, crawling along with nary a blart coming from my exhaust.

And then this happened:


That’s right – after two and a half years of careful ownership, I’ve only gone and crashed my trusty Kawasaki ZX9R.

You’ll see from where the car pops out that I had no chance, and also that the lady driving it couldn’t possibly have seen me, and so I guess neither of us is at fault.  It was just one of those really unlucky moments where I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The wheels locked the second I touched the brakes on the gravel, and somehow I still managed to steer around the back of the car but by that stage the bike was already going down and nothing would stop it.

I think my knee hit the deck, and apart from the standard pulled muscles in my arms etc I seem to have twisted my lower back pretty nastily.

Ah well – I didn’t tear my expensive petticoat or hit the car, and I don’t think I’ve done a serious mischief to myself.  The bike survived well, too – a few scratches on the fairing but no cracks or breaks, and the crash bung seems to have done it’s job well!

You’ll also notice that after the tiny little woman asked me if I could get it up – *blushes* – and I answered “I don’t know, I’ve never tried it with this one” – *cringes* – she heaved the bike upright probably taking more of the weight than I did!

Time for me to read up on techniques for lifting up a fallen bike, methinks!

Weird, because for the last week or so, I’d been getting a feeling like I was going to crash whilst filtering on the bike.  I have uploaded a couple of filtering vids on YouTube to show you Yanks some proper ‘lanesplitting’, so figured it was probably just this on my mind.

I have had premonitions before – for a few days before my last bike accident I actually had dreams of losing the front end on the brakes, and then suddenly some tosser did a u-turn in front of me and I lost the front end on the brakes and nearly splatted myself!

Yes, I’m a Rubberhead, but rest assured my hatred of the modern ‘compensation culture’ ensures that I WON’T be claiming on anyones insurance for either the bike or my injuries.

And all this is even more ironic if you read my very last blog about mechanical sympathy…  Plus it was only around a week ago that I had a full valet done on my bike…  Doh! 

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