All posts by Tony Down

SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, BLOW

SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, BLOW

SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, BLOW

The Title sounds like a Porno movie but is in fact father’s description of the four stroke cycle of ICPE.
So after further review of the first four rounds of the Ahrma Trials Championship it seems the only
logical class to ride in will be the Premier Heavyweight Expert division. All the others have somewhat
considerable head starts so I would be fighting a rear guard action and with only 6 contestable events
I rather suspect I would have once again been on the wrong side of the birthday cake with insufficient candles!

Down on candle power

Having just made the decision I haven’t told the Enfield yet and I’m quite sure the Cub will be very
upset but if other plans come good then she could get outings at Steamboat, the Ute Cup and maybe
the Canadian Vintage 2 Day.

Happy Enfield, on the other hand a sulky Cub

So with the “tool”decided on all that remains is to “get out there” and do something about it and get
over any reservations I might have on weight. The Enfield was last out and about in 2008 when it took
the Prem Int Championship with ease. At the time it was eating plugs but I rather fancy this was carb
related and I think I got that finally sorted last year so we will see how it runs when I have her out for
some light practice sessions.

Nice handling with tight turning

Uphills are fine ……. just big steps and logs make me think twice !

As I have said before the No Excuse Cub is such a delight to ride and does everything I ever ask it to
do. Whereas the Enfield is nearly 100 lbs heavier and although it handles and turns well, big steps
and log crossings always give cause for alarm as by comparison it is slow to repond. So far it has
climbed over things I didn’t think were possible but the “engine room” definitely requires some
advance warning if the front wheel is to be lifted.

Nice lightweight “factory” engine and gearbox at 120lbs !!!

Last question to be answered is should I change the front end or not ? Time will tell.

TONY DOWN

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EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH

EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH

EXPLODING ANOTHER MYTH


 Gas prices where I live last November, ……. and then …….

With some knowledge on the subject the current ridiculous fiasco at the petrol pump needs a little understanding for the layman. We “the populace” are fed yet another pack of lies, are soft talked on
how it is a global problem, ….. disruption caused by mini wars……..and how we will be self sufficient
and not dependant of middle east oil. Honestly what a load of CRAP !!

Weak government, lack of global knowledge and understanding are perhaps the greatest failures
here and allowing investors and money markets to run riot without holding them in check are making
matters worse for everyone. I have watched our current leader having the audacity to say that despite
the rise in oil prices the average family should be able to cope with the costs thanks to the tax savings
given by his party?????

Where we are today……

Let’s be VERY clear here, there is NO OIL SHORTAGE, thats right NONE !

Back in the 80’s when I was flying around the UK and European coastlines there was NO Oil
shortage, the UK was enjoying all the North Sea harvests from off shore drilling and all our refineries
were FULL. Tankers from the world’s oilfields sat at anchor just outside the 3 mile limit and with their minimum crews waited out the FIVE years at anchor rusting away until they could come into port to
offload their cargo.

Riding out the 5 years at anchor

Each one carries more than the daily total output from Libya 

These “Supertankers” were built in Taiwan and were lifed at 10 fully laden trips before scrap and if we
cast our minds back to that era there were several so called “accidents” as these vessels neared the
end of their 10 trip package. Do we remember Torrey Canyon, Amoco Cadiz, the Exon Valdez and
many others ? Maybe the insurance companies at Lloyds do as the Lutine Bell kept sounding.

When I was in Saudi after the first Gulf War gas prices were so low that I could fill up the Range Rover
for peanuts as the price was about 10c a gallon. While I was in Saudi the main oil pipeline to
Dammam, their major oil terminal, was running at 1/2 volume as their own refineries were full and
there was nowhere to pump it. Did we all forget that Saudi Arabia financed the WHOLE of  Gulf War l ?
They did this by turning the valve to 5/8 and this paid for everything.

All the post war rearmaments were negotiated between the Arabs and the Western Powers in Petro
Dollars which of course continue to flow except the Western World really doesn’t have anywhere for it
to go as we haven’t built any more major refineries. Also during my four years in Kingdom I met many
officials of Saudi Aramco the state oil company who told me they had discovered a major, and I mean
major, oilfield under the Empty Quarter. They were unable to develop this field as by their calculations
this deposit was bigger than ALL the rest of the World’s current oilfields put TOGETHER !!  In OPEC’s wisdom the price of a barrel of crude needed to be fixed at around $30-35 such that gas prices
globally remained fixed within their own economies. If they had developped the Empty Quarter, as
they eventually will do, the price of oil would have plumetted to below $10 a barrel.

So where are we ? we have all the oil we need, there is no shortage and irresponsible reporting and govermental rumouring that prices are being driven up by the manic forces jumping in to have a war
with anyone we don’t like. Neither the US or UK has ever imported oil from Iraq or Libya since the last
time the US had a skirmish with Gadaffi back in the 80’s. The loss of Libya’s 1.3 million barrels a day
to the world market would not even be noticed as Saudi has an emergency capacity of 5M per day to
deal with world losses or disasters. So yet more lies to cover what is really going on…… and we the
sucker taxpayers fall for it again.

In my 50 years as a user of fuels I am somewhat amazed that we have made little or NO progress
with our internal combustion engine. My first cars in the 60’s ALL did over 30mpg and here we are 50
years later with advertising for our newest vehicles claiming 31 and even 33 mpg!!!…….. as though this
is a major step forward ?  I rather suspect we really don’t want to develop the all electric car.



Man that things ugly!

Almost there, the Volt

…….. and what happened to the cheap alternative fuel?  As we started refining for better petrol or
gasoline we ended up with a whole load of less volatile crap and had no idea what to do with it !
Eventually someone invented an engine that would burn this junk ……and he-ho the diesel is with us.
Down on power, noisey, smokey, and all the rest but what the hell we can get rid of this bi- product ,
we can use it commercially for big trucks with big engines, burn as much as we like, let the engines
run all day, and who cares if we only get 4-9 mpg as there is a ton of it and it’s cheap!!!

Not any more!!!

So with farm machinery, generators, RV’s and big trucks and rigs using all this “cheap” fuel we have
a good balance between cars and bikes and the others. Strangely the once cheap fuel bi-product is
now seriously MORE expensive and this adversely affects everything. As the USA only has a road infrastructure all goods and foods are transported by road and if we leave fuel prices to free range
with the “futures” speculators EVERYTHING will go UP in price!……… and all because of what ? ……
…Yep, a false economy that doesn’t exist!!

In the last few days some of this “futures” trading in the oil market has seen a massive drop in the
price of a barrel of crude as investors tried to offload and make huge profits in a commodity that has
yet to be drilled or pumped. Of course with pump prices where they are it will no doubt take forever
before they come back down and we are still paying for something at a grossly unfair price.  The fuel
that you are pumping into your car was in all probability bought 5-7 years ago, was refined 3-5 years
ago and has been in suppliers depot tanks ever since. All paid for way back when. The instantaneous increases have been seen daily as the world “bad news” is reported, and while it “may ” have been
true had there ever been a shortage or increased cost to produce the commodity…… that is ALL in the
future and has no reflection on the stuff you are currently purchasing which has ALREADY been paid
for all the way along the line!

The fuel that was delivered by the road going tanker to your local pumps 2 weeks ago was invoiced
at a set price, yet the pump price has gone up 22 cents a gallon in that time and WHO I ask is making
ALL this profit and, why, oh why, are they allowed to ?

Time to go into town for groceries and vitals….. I might be awhile

Back to the bicycle and Shank’s pony !

TONY DOWN

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  • 7/18/2011 9:02 PM Jose wrote:
    You have some very well reasoned arguments here. I do believe in the profit motive, but there seems to be a crying need to ELIMINATE the tax at the pumps, especially for the sucker (me ) who fills up a luxury sedan almost EVERY DAY , so that, when fuel hit $ 4.00 plus a gallon last summer, My fuel bill for one month was the same as my mortgage. And I had to pay both.
    Or when we got the contract to drive High Schoolers to a private school, from Boulder to Arapahoe Rd and Parker Rd, the one run would cost the driver around $40.00 in Diesel. ONE WAY ! The argument for the other side goes that 1 (or maybe 2) out of every five jobs in America have some connection to the Automotive ( or Truck) World. So we have created the monster which is eating us alive. The perfect example of a really toxic mode of Laissez Faire exists in the Greater Metro area of Los Angeles. You would think ” Hundreds of thousands of people on Motorbikes, right?” Weather’s on your side,maneuvers better than anything on 4 wheels, the MPG factor, etc, right?
    Au Contraire! Non, Monsieur! A very small percentage indeed. Take the bull by the horns and do Lane Splitting. It’s like the ultimate Trials, splitting lanes by riding the white stripe on the Freeway. It’s legal. Also, you can move up between the cars at any intersection, so you can take off first. Not many do it.
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AT LAST

AT LAST

AT LAST

Sunday 17 th April and the weather has cooperated today and some of the garden clean up will get
under way and the key will be turned in the workshop door at last! Having recently written on the
subject of Scotland the brain is on fast idle to get a leg over a bike or two!

6 months of inactivity !

Of course prior to that as they have sat since last September it will be the normal rituals of carbs and
fuel and as enthusiasm builds oil changes all round and then the start up and testing……… and this
year as a bit of a first I might just get some practice to refresh tired muscles and aging grey matter.

Yesterday was the “last chance” at the Hollywood for the end of season competition prior to the arrival
of the Snowbirds. Having only had two shots at qualifying and one of those getting the booby prize I
was certainly up against the odds on the last day! I draw one of the best players in the area in round
one in the shape of Brandon. I get off to a good start and Brandon misses a few which lets me back in
to clean up. Round two and I’m up against regular winner Ron who has a very delicate touch. Slip
through this one as well and now I’m playing the only other undefeated player, Angela. This one is for
a place in the final and I have my easiest game to clinch this one. A small delay as the losers battle it
out for third place and who I will meet in the final.

Brandon wins and racks the first game. Perhaps we both have nerves but the cue ball seems to
continually end up in some of the worst spots possible. I get on the black first but there is too much
chance of a scratch so elect a safety. I get another chance and it rattles in the jaws……… crap!
Brandon cleans up for the win.

The second game is very similar except this time I’m coming from behind but I end up with a shot on
the black from a very awkward angle. I can either just touch it and hope I have perfect speed to drop in
the center bag or go long to the corner and risk leaving it in a good position. I take the long option and
it was very close but fails to drop. Never mind two very good games to finish and I have qualified…..
at last!

Some serious leaf bagging required

Not nice

Sunday and the Shade Garden clean up begins. The blanket of leaves is raked back, the raised bed
cleaned out and the fountain runs once more. 4 hours of raking and bagging and the place looks presentable and Mrs Down is happy.

With only a month to go to my first ride time to get in the workshop and prep those bikes. Better get
the RV over to Howard and have the oil seals replaced or we won’t be going anywhere.

TONY DOWN

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ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER DOLLAR

ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER DOLLAR

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DOLLAR



The 47 seater that goes like the wind

Living in the mountains is often full of surprizes weather wise and strangers in the road of a wildlife
variety. This week has been one of those. On the home front, despite the weather, nature has decided
“its” time and things are pushing through and everything is coming into bud.

The bleeding heart is off again as are the clematis and hops are flourishing at the brewery. With the
snow for the most part gone the river is rising and the grass is now turning green from its dormant
state under the snow and of course the weeds are making the most of the spring sunshine.

For those of us up at the crack of dawn and even the butt crack of dawn in extreme cases to drive the
school bus the temps are pleasantly on the rise. However just so that the “bon ami” is kept in check a
crisp 30 mph wind reminds you of where you are and live. This week was no exception and as senior
driver Karen was away I had Wednesday through Friday driving her bus on the Dolores -Rico route
which is our longest run of the day totalling 182 miles for the combined morning and afternoon runs.

Karen has a 47 seater Bluebird Vision which drives like a sportscar and seems to have unlimited
power. Her run leaves the yard at 0550 with a straight drive to Rico to pick up the first passengers.
Thursday morning and before leaving to do the pre trip inspections its time to check the weather.
Well at 0500 its saying 45 and a 20 mph wind that will pick up to gusting 40 by lunchtime.

Behind the wheel of the sporty little Bluebird

Leaving Dolores at just under 7000′ I set off for Rico at 9000′ and I’m enjoying the super headlights
and empty roads as I drive up the valley. The light begins to change as dawn approaches and it looks
like there has been a light dusting of snow  but nothing on the road. I pass a county snowplow with his
lights on parked beside the road but don’t give it much thought. At about 8500′ the snow starts and
some is now begining to settle on the road. By the time I draw into Rico its coming down hard and the
roads are covered.

Pulling in to the Rico stop in a near white out ! 

Thursday morning in Rico

Gingerly set off down the hill and come out of the storm pocket but within 5 miles I’m into another and
near white out conditions. Pick up some “snowmen” who are more than pleased to see a nice warm
bus. They breed ’em tough up here as some didn’t even have a coat……. such is the fashion of youth!

Another 30 mins battling the whiteout and real thick snow I suddenly burst into daylight and sunshine
on the 3 mile straight into town. Friday comes and the same trip is completed in very different
conditions as today is just bright and cold.

Friday morning at Rico

A cracking little bus, I only hope I get to drive it again.

TONY DOWN

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A SPORTING HOLIDAY IN THE HIGHLANDS

A SPORTING HOLIDAY IN THE HIGHLANDS

A SPORTING HOLIDAY IN THE HIGHLANDS

When the entry forms arrived for the SSDT there was the joke sentiment written at the top of the form….
“A sporting holiday in the Highlands” and indeed for the most part it was. By this time of the year all preparations had been made, new machine tested, final ride prior to the event completed, last few
details to be done, kit to be inspected, tube changes done, with and without the stand, and final
checks of machine, tools and equipment gone over one last time.

As the annual pilgrimage draws near for those lucky riders in this year’s 100th running of the famous
event the excitement will be building for the old hands while the “newbies” will be full of a mixture of overconfidence and self doubt. You may be a superb one day rider at your local events but do you have
the fitness, stamina and mind set to last the week?

Well of course you could have signed up at the gym, could have been out running 5 miles a day,
perhaps been on a diet or have adopted the RAF training regime of 1/2 a pint/section the night before!
…… and with 30 odd sections a day you had better be in good drinking shape. No doubt all of these will
have helped but the one thing that will keep the body going is bike fitness. How often do you ride 200
miles a day across all terrain for six continuous days? Now, as we know, the course is shorter by
about half the distance but none the less arduous even though there are not the long road stages in
the rain and biting cold. For those that make it to the end, then they will have attained the necessary
bike fitness. They will have had the blisters, that have turned to callouses and then rubbed blood
crystals into the palms of their hands. They will have had the nightly “cramps” they will have endured dehydration, minor levels of hypothermia, heat exhaustion, bruises cuts and scratches along with
burns from touching hot items on the bike and of course the abject misery of “trench foot” from todays
less than waterproof riding boots.

The “Will” to finish must be paramount as it is all too easy to give up when body and machine are crying “enough’s enough!” The mental planning is what will get you through. The night before we
would always have our team meeting and discuss where the fuel stops would be and then with
ordanance survey maps everywhere we would go through the route and the more experienced riders
would give their words of advice.

I can remember cresting ridges on those open moors and seeing wheel tracks every which way and
trying to pick out a flag somewhere ahead or a rooster tail from someone in front. The determination to
finish at all costs and trying to keep yourself in check and ride with a little in reserve was hard.

Now where ?

Memories from previous years would suddenly flash through the mind and ways to avoid some of the
worst going clicked through the brain’s archives, in some cases a micro second too late!  The joys of
coming up to a Loch and remembering last night’s briefing you suddenly knew you were going the
right way and were halfway across Hell.  Time to stop and have a refreshing cold drink from the clear
waters. Time to calm down and review either the morning or day’s going over a smoke and drink in
some of the Majesty of the Highlands. A quick check of the steed for broken spokes, chain tension
and anything else that was a known potential problem.

As cooked and distressed riders flailed by time to consult the route card while finishing the nicotine
inject…… and then off again suitably refreshed before the sweat laden clothes started to get cold.
Those 1/2 way rests were invaluable as you overtook many who were now at the end of their personal
tethers and were making bad mistakes losing control on simple tracks or driving straight into
bottomless bogs without the energy or endurance to recover their lost steed.

After hours of riding …….. a track !

Scotland unlike any other trial can make the “Superstar” look like a complete novice when one rolling
rock doesn’t cooperate and as you are all riding together and as there is sure to be “one SS” in your
group this can often be the confidence booster you as the clubman need to keep going when things
are at their worst.

1970 and Mick takes a “5” on his way to his first win

My first Scottish was a bit like that when I was riding with Bill Wilkinson who had won the year before.
I was riding quite well on day 1, apart from the nerves, and as we went through the last group before
lunch at Altnafeadh I lost a couple of 3’s and a dab. There were NO 2’s back then and both my 3’s had
been double prodders and then on the one I dabbed Bill got stuck with the Greeves for a clanging 5 !!
Of course I was pretty cock a’hoop coming into the lunch check……. it didn’t last !

1969 winner Bill Wilkinson

Another year, 1972,  I’m with Rastus on Coalasnacoan and he takes a 3 prodder and I sail through for
one of those “Whats the problem ?” cleans. These sort of rare events are what keep you going and do
much to repair battered egos …….. so whether this year is your first or your many …… never give up!

Coalasnacoan in 1972 and Rastus has just had a “3” and I ride through
like a main road………did that feel good or what ?

This year being the 100th I’m sad I’m not there to relive all those experiences and swap a tale or two
with other riders of my era who I’m sure will be on hand to make it a truly memorable event. Perhaps
this year will be the year to break a record or two?

Unlikely that the famous “One Dab” score from Gordon Jackson will either be equalled or ever broken,
and perhaps it shouldn’t ?

The “one dab” week

However, the many current records could all have been broken and many will say that two of the all
time greats in Scottish history, Sammy and Mick,  were both unlucky not to have claimed their sixth win
and as neither are currently competing in the modern event their tied performances are perhaps a
fitting tribute to their Scottish excellence.

Past masters Sammy and Mick with 5 wins a piece

So while we have the new generation of brilliant trials riders, being the 100th, I would still like this one
to be won by the Lampkin family. With nearly all the Lampkins names engraved on that trophy I would
dearly love to see Dougie taking the win and his Sixth, especially after last years bad luck.

My pick for the 100th

I will of course be glued to the results service as it comes in, and wherever you are and whatever your personal aspirations are for the event I wish ALL the competitors the best of luck and as always enjoy your “Sporting Holiday in the Highlands.”  I certainly enjoyed ALL 8 of mine.

TONY DOWN

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  • 4/16/2011 3:39 PM Dave Rhodes wrote:
    Hi Tony – This is a really good article and one I linked to one of our lads who is riding it for the first time next month. – Trying to get his head into the right place – his name is John Dearie and he is a Scotsman now living in Vancouver – he will start #5 – riding with his friend and sponsor Ian Shedden, another rider also from Vancouver is #6 – Guy Smeeth has ridden the event twice before. John starts with a handicap riding a borrowed Scorpa supplied by Ian ( he rides a Beta in Canada) But we will all be cheering for them anyway – Jonathan English from Ontario is the other Canadian rider.
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THERE’S ANOTHER ONE ALONG IN 5 MINUTES TIME

THERE’S ANOTHER ONE ALONG IN 5 MINUTES TIME

THERE’S ANOTHER ONE ALONG IN 5 MINUTES TIME

The title was Father’s phrase to describe women and buses! ….. however, keeping things on an even
keel the subject is buses.

“Never run after women or buses, there’s another one along in 5 minutes
time”

With three months of intensive training and driving I have certainly had an enormous amount of variety.
I doubt that I have driven two buses that are the same and that keeps me on my toes trying to find all
the switches and buttons. I’m reliably assured that the Cortez/Dolores school district is the only one
left in Colorado that operates manual versions of the said school bus. The autos are definitely in the
minority but no doubt as the newer ones replace the vintage manuals then the next batch must surely
be automatics.

Once round the Equator, new engine, and of course manual!

Recently a “demo” model was parked outside the Cortez bus barn and shortly thereafter there was an annoucement that Cortez was acquiring 3 NEW buses. So far two have arrived from Thomas and one
has been put into service already. They tell me the problem with being allocated a new bus is that as
soon as the activity trips begin the new one is whisked away and you end up with a beaten up spare! I
have noted that there are two “tour” buses numbers 49, and 50 which never seem to go anywhere
which I find a bit strange. Perhaps they are for the “chosen few”…….. “one day Glasshopper!”

The TWO new buses arrive

Over at the Dolores barn I was prepping the No 3 spare, the faithful “Turtle”  which nobody likes, when
a gentleman started asking me questions about same. The “Turtle” which is a Genesis flat fronter
with a forward engine and 78 seats is not very popular with the drivers as it doesn’t have  the retarder
system and is a bit down on power. They tell me it fishtails but so far it seems OK to me. It turns out
the said gentleman is the School Superintendent and he is about to buy another bus to replace the
D11 that I often get tasked to drive. I suggested he look at the Bluebird Vision that I frequently drive at
Mancos when senior driver Sharon is away on the long distance activity runs.

The Genesis, yes it’s long, very long !

Sharon’s Bluebird Vision 71 seater….. a joy to drive

Mancos is in the throws of getting 2 new drivers, one of whom will replace Sara who left around the
end of Feb but to date neither of them has passed the CDL driving test. Good for me as even when
they do get their qualifications I doubt they will be doing many of the activity runs which of course are
normally taken by the senior drivers.  Very much a “pecking order” when it comes to the perks.

Just a few of the 27 routes left to drive and then have a check out in the “new buses” as they have a
few switchery quirks and newbie doesn’t want to be sitting there with lights, bells and whistles all
going off and having no idea how to cancel same!

All the bells and whistles

Mirror, mirror on the wall………

It seems the flatfronter tour buses need an extra course, difficult to know why as they seem to be the
same as the Mancos tour bus I’m already driving. Maybe I’ll get a bye on this one or perhaps I’ll have
to twiddle my thumbs and wait in line to be selected.

The Mancos flat front rear engined pusher tour bus

Cortez 49 & 50…… look the same to me !

The Director tells me there are several routes coming up this year which might be good for
continuity although I think I much prefer the variety and driving all the routes in 3 different districts.
I’m sure I’ll be guided in my decision in the near future.

TONY DOWN

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SPRING BREAK

SPRING BREAK

SPRING BREAK

Never had one of these before so I guess I’ll make the most of it . A full week off for all the schools so
a chance to catch up on some badly needed sleep. Getting up at 0400 on a winter’s morning
eventually catches up with you and as I’ve had the most god awful cough for most of 2011 I’m looking
to really get back to 100%.

Brenda has a whole load of spring plans for this week but there is a nasty cold wind which I don’t
much care for so I’m not sure how much will get done. Seems to me we are a month early! However,
some clean up will gird the loins and perhaps persuade me to get a bike out and start thinking trials
again even if this year doesn’t look like many events will be ridden.

Ready and STILL waiting !

Just a delight to ride

They tell me we are now coming into the “busy season” for school bus driving with a lot of activity runs
and away days but in the meantime I’ll just keep working my way through the 27 different routes that I
need to learn to go with the Mancos four that I’m already familiar with. I still have 6 full runs to complete
and a further 5 afternoon runs as having taken notes on the morning run I’m often dragged away to
drive an afternoon run for someone else while they are off on the activity drive.

A few minor tasks completed and last year’s new bed given it’s once over. That now means the others
out front need to be done along with the shade garden which is a mass of leaves and broken
branches from the self pruning trees. The branches will be broken up and saved for the many evening
fires to come and I envisage about a 20 bagger load of leaves to clear the aea.

What a mess

Serious clean-up required

With a pleasant day forecast another bed was attacked and cleared including all the nasty cooch
grass that was throttling the new tulips and daffs that are all coming through. Thereafter I nodded off
in the sunshine so precious little else got done other than to write a couple of April fool’s stories.

Saturday once more and a forecast of temps cresting the 70 mark before another strange storm
blows through Sunday/Monday. Don’t see too many leaves getting bagged up with 30mph winds
howling but I’ll have to make the effort as I’ve started on that Shade garden. Today’s main project is
to qualify for the Dolores Pool Championship which this year I’ve been in the doldrums for as Brenda normally works Saturdays.  Strangely SHE qualified while I was driving a bus on the Saturday she did
get off !!

Brenda qualifies at the Hollywood

Over at the other local town of Mancos it has been a very different story where they play on a Sunday afternoon. As its her day off I become the designated driver and she gets to play and drink.  So far I
opened up the season with a 3rd and then we had a good family afternoon with her taking 3rd and
me finishing 2nd. Another 2nd a couple of weeks later for me and on our last 2 visits I’ve been in the
winner’s circle with 2 first places. Not so at Dolores where 2 weeks ago when we were both off I lost
both my first two games to get the booby prize (first out) against two less than talented players…..
oh well, thats pool!

Pool is getting to be a bit like trials, you need a lot of practice, you need to think, cue ball control is like
throttle control on a trials bike and then there are some of those risky shots……. do I risk the “scratch”
or take a safety a bit like a planned dab. Today I’ll try the thinking man’s approach.

Time for some “Trials” pool

Tonight a local party with some Brits, and then tomorrow its the Slope Closing up at Telluride and
this year we haven’t even stepped on the slopes either for financial reasons or the fact that the
weather has not played ball when we did fancy going. Last year was fun with all the fancy dress but
this year it seems Security has decided to put a wet blanket on everything… the mind boggles…… not
sure I could deal with overweight heavily armed kill joys on a ski slope……. and for what???……. well
maybe the forecast storm will ruin it anyway.

Not this year!

Back to driving on Monday and my Training Officer, Lena, wants the day off so I’m on the D11 run
again with the old faithful spare of the Genesis Turtle. Another 0500 get up but the bus barn is only 2
miles away. Lena’s normal bus has been sick for over 2 months with a computer problem that locks
the transmission (auto) in 3rd gear when it downshifts coming to a stop. Only way  to reset it is by
turning off the ignition and starting up again. It was in the shop for many weeks but its now outside in
the too difficult area. The replacement bus arrived having been round the globe with 280,000 miles
on it, no chains, no retarder, a new engine, but the suspension seems about shot to me despite new shocks. This one lasted about a month and then it started jumping out of 4th and we haven’t seen it
since. So everyone’s favorite the Genesis is out there like the energizer bunny and it just keeps on
keeping on!

The Reserve keeps playing on the main team

TONY DOWN

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TIMES THEY ARE A’ CHANGING

TIMES THEY ARE A’ CHANGING

TIMES THEY ARE A’ CHANGING

Having recently purchased a NEW watch as my Rolex had decided it needed to rest when I went to
bed I was surprized to find that my new all singing and dancing Seiko comes equipped with the new
timing system that comes into effect next year when the Mayan calendar runs out.

All it will need is a face plate change and a reset

The new system will go fully DECIMAL on 12/12/12 and there will be 10 hours in a decimal day, 100
minutes in a decimal hour and of course 100 seconds in the decimal minute. The final plan when it
comes in will be to have only 10 decimal months in the year and February and June have been
chosen to be deleted from the calendar.

Manufacturers are busy producing the new watches and clocks and of course replacement faces
will soon be available to be fitted at your local dealership or jeweler to reflect the 10 hour presentation
on the analogue face. Those on purely digital watches will be able to buy the new battery chip which
will automatically adjust to the changes.

Just a chip change on this one, no PM of course

Lets have a quick look at what the new decimal watch and clocks will look like. Personally for us
(old timers) I think the digital presentation will be easier to understand and less confusing but the
younger generation that can use a phone for everything except calling home will most likely just
take it all in their stride.

A simple Military version, new minutes on the outside and new hours on
the inner dial. The time is 1.83

An elegant titanium dress watch

These I like with a clever new presentation. Big dots show the hour,
horizontal squares in banks of ten show minutes and the little dots are seconds

The general purpose Gov/office/school/railway station wall clock

January 1st 2012 will be the start of the trial period when timings will be given in either old hours and
new minutes or new hours and old minutes. Correction tables should be available everywhere
including gas stations so the populace should have plenty of (time!) to adjust to the new system. Then
phase II of the transition will begin with all times duplicated in the two systems so that latecomers can
adjust and understand the interaction between the old and new. This will ensure that travellers can
stay “on time” as both times will be constantly on display at airports and train and bus terminals……
should be like Canadian military bases where everything is duplicated in English and French.

They say it won’t be necessary to change household appliances as they can continue to use the old
system until they are eventually phased out. From 2013 all car speedos will show the new and old calibrations similar to those now showing KPH/MPH and also the rev counters or tachometers will
show both scales in RPM old and new.

One of the interesting aspects is there will be No Summer Time, so “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back”
will be a thing of the past. Fortunately for me Greenwich stays as the datum for all this nonsense so
“Zulu” and “GMT” times remain unchanged. It will be interesting to see what they do with the face of
“Big Ben” and all the church clocks all over the world but no doubt the “Gnomes” of Zurich or wherever
else this lunacy started have it all figured out.

A “test piece” chronograph  from Greenwich with the 10 hour system combined with the current am/pm 24

I wonder how much they will make out of this especially as most watch movements are Swiss ?

TONY DOWN

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Comments
  • 4/1/2011 2:18 AM Marc wrote:
    Ah the joys of April 1, two mails as well!Take care.
    Marc
    Reply to this
  • 4/1/2011 6:47 AM Jim Crain wrote:
    Very cute! Should be easier for lots of things.By the way, do you know of a good source for alloy tanks? How about a low cost shipment method from the UK to the US? Thanks for the blog. Jim
    Reply to this

    1. 4/4/2011 7:13 AM John Holbrook wrote:
      Jim, if you find a source for alloy tanks let me know I need one as well.
      Reply to this
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BRAKING

BRAKING

BRAKING


Very clever, but not the best way to stop

As the last article on Cornering seemed to be well recieved by the readership time now to cover
Braking and see what happens as we move from regular slowing and stopping to blind panic chaos
when the unexpected occurs.

I think I can safely assume that ALL of us who enjoy 2 wheels either for sport or pleasure have at
some time had a “braking incident” and as we go through the paragraphs I may well throw a few of
my braking anecdotes in for amusement value.

Starting with something that is all power and NO brakes we have the Speedway motorcycle that was
highly popular in the UK both pre and post war even rivaling football as the No1 spectator sport during
its big hey days.

No gears or left footrest, no suspension …. and NO Brakes !!

A quick look at a speedway bike shows No brakes, no gears, and only a single right side footrest.
These single geared machines can hit 60-80 on the straights and their only form of stopping is
engine braking, or compression, and finally either lay it down or both feet !

Like NASCAR we only go LEFT

What we would now consider vintage iron or the Brit bikes of the 50’s and 60’s all had drum brakes
and the rear brake pedal on the LEFT. These brakes, for the sake of better name, were not good and especially on my Bonneville would fade with alarming consequences.

Happy memories of the Bonneville in my colors…… not so happy mems
of the “fading” brakes !!!

With the flooding of the market with Jap bikes in the 60’s and 70’s and the decline of the British
motorcycle industry we now found our oriental friends had moved the rear brake pedal on to the right
side. I can remember taking a Yam on a test ride and having to perform a quick stop when a
pedestrian stepped in front of me…….. the standard reaction of applying front and rear was intuitive
but the screaming from the engine and sideways wheel hopping as the transmission was plunged
from 4th almost directly into 1st was quite alarming to yours truly!

From about 1975 even our Spanish Trials bikes finally changed over to right hand rear brakes and
since then brakes have been universally accepted that its all on the RIGHT…….. funny that our nearest species, the bicycle, has them in the other hands ?

Evolving from the drum to the disc we also see the introduction of the hydraulic reservoir on the
handlebars and the arrival of the multi position lever.

As nearly all the weight of a bike and its load are behind the front wheel the machine is designed to
have about 70% of its stopping power delivered from the front brake and the last 30% coming from
the rear as its behind all that weight and a bit like the bolting horse and the closing of the stable door.
A quick look at my Rothmans 929RR shows the differences of the amount of braking available.

The 70/30 disc ratio. When braking one of these quickly from high speed
keep your arms straight and avoid the rear wheel lifting, so ease off on
the front when you can

Now consider this……… think of our braking ritual as a wheelbarrow!…… all of our load is behind the
one and only wheel and if the tire is anything other than at the correct pressure it will be difficult to
push as the softer, or flat tire creates a bigger contact patch, more traction or friction. To get an idea
of how this is for a rear wheel turn round and now drag the same load and you will find it a lot easier.

“A Barrow load of Monkeys”….with a soft tire its hard to push like our
front wheel with full braking…. turn round and pull it and you will get the
idea of what the rear wheel is providing

That hopefully explains the differences of forces and why we have the 70/30 set up to stop a
motorcycle. You may have other fancy do-dads such as Intregrated, Linked, or ABS systems fitted to
your machine but as a general rule you should ride and stop the bike using the same technique
irrespective of what is fitted.

I once had a “moment” at a set of level crossing railroad tracks on my way to school riding my Tiger
Cub. I was following a low loader which had 8 tires on the last axle and was powered by air brakes.
The noise of the air plus I could see rods actuating things fascinated me and as we crawled nearer
and nearer to the tracks at 5 mph I failed to register the last HISSSSS and now found my front wheel hopelessly jammed in amongst these giant tires. Struggle as I might I couldn’t get my wheel to budge
and when the gates opened and everybody set off I was forced to watch my bike ascend into the
heavens until the sump shield hit the tires and my front wheel came free with the bike in the near
vertical. The dumbness of youth!!

During the MSF Basic Rider Course the students are told to brake using all four fingers of the right
hand and only later if they come back for further courses do we go into 3 and 2 finger braking.
Valentino is a 3 finger man!

4 finger braking as taught on the MSF Basic Rider Course

We also try to get away from the “truck driver boot” operating the rear brake but sometimes this isn’t
easy if the student comes armed with some hideous deep sea diver’s boot he has just picked up from
his Hardley Ableson dealer!

The students don’t usually have too much of a problem with the early braking exercises simulating a
set of traffic lights and a mandatory stop. The exercise and procedure is always the same, 15-20 mph
in second gear. As you pass the first set of cones, clutch, downshift, and BOTH brakes coming to a
stop at the second set of cones.

A demo for the students on the Braking Chute

Now we move onto Stopping Quickly, rather than call it emergency braking, and nothing really
changes in terms of the technique other than to explain the shortest stop is achieved using maximum braking from both wheels without locking up either. Should you lock a rear wheel then ride it out. If you
are unlucky to lock the front wheel release immediately. Nice idea, but experience would say
otherwise as people who grab at the front brake tend to continue with this vise like grip all the way into
the low side crash. Perhaps the best way to explain the “how to” is to remember the person who
shook your hand and then went on to squeeze your fingers until they hurt.  Yes, its purely progressive
and can be increased as you feel the bike begining to slow down. Another way to practice this is to
take an orange and progressively squeeze it until it bursts!

The errors witnessed in this exercise are worth passing on as many are a direct result of not having
the bike set up for YOU. Your controls of brake and clutch should be an extension of your forearms
and your handlebars should be set in a position where your shoulder blades are still in their sockets.
Levers should be appropriate for the span of your hand and on many machines are simply adjusted
to put them comfortably within reach, or you can buy aftermarket styles of doglegs to bring them closer
to the bars. Looking at many members of “that” fraternity I can only assume they never changed
anything on their badly assembled ergonomic slums as they all have trouble reaching the bars and
those absurb forward controls…… but I guess they are happy as they are now BIKERS!!

Sorry, but the posture is ALL wrong! Your back is arched, the controls
are too far forward and all the body weight is going through the tail bone
on the less than comfortable seat

“We don’t go fast enough to need a helmet” What I want to know is how
do you do a slow speed turn if your arms are already at max extension ?

Better built from Japan, but still an ergonomic slum !

While on the subject of Milwaukee Madness another of my pet hates are highway pegs which I
honestly believe should be outlawed, banned and even subject to a citation and large fine for anyone
found using them. Imagine what would happen if you had your car on cruise control and both feet out
of the windows? Sounds ridiculous but its no different than riding a bike with your legs straight and
set out 3 feet apart…… and nowhere near two of your primary controls namely, the rear brake and the shifter!!!!…….. and please don’t tell me that in an emergency you can get your feet back on the correct
pegs and controls in time to avoid the upcoming accident. Sorry boys but these things are BLOODY Dangerous!

NO, NO, a thousand times NO !!!!

Back to some of those common errors the first one is as the student attempts to squeeze the front
brake he opens the throttle. This can be caused by several things but before we cover them while you
are reading this try the following…… stretch out your right arm and imagine you are holding the
twistgrip and now squeeze the imaginary front brake with all four fingers and note what happens. As
the tendons in the back of your hand contract your hand rotates up and back and your thumb moves involuntarily to the right. The same will be true if the lever is positioned too low and the student has
to reach down for it and also someone with a small span may find they too open the throttle when
they get to their best leverage. The first correction is relocating the position of the lever and phase two
for the smaller hand will be a different style of lever.

You can imagine this type of incident  can often result in dire consequences especially if the
student panics and releases the clutch ! More often than not the sweat soaked glove can be
repostioned on the grip, the lever can be repositioned, and the reach and squeeze portion can be
slowed down and the student rebriefed that distance is NOT the objective but merely the technique.

Of course despite all the briefings we DO see the GRAB with its resultant low side crash, plenty of
locked rear wheels and many forgetting the downshift completely. We DO stress that just like getting
to Carnegie Hall the only way to get this discipline down to instinctive is, after graduating the course,
spend several hours practicing this aspect in empty parking lots on a Sunday morning.

Following on from all this I advise the 2 finger braking for the following reasons;

1. With 2 finger braking the remaining fingers and thumb can hold the throttle steady thereby
preventing the palm and tendons opening the throttle.

2. The use of 2 fingers rather than 4 allows more finesse and in the event of locking the front you
are more likely to be able to release the pressure.

2 fingers to brake, 2 fingers and thumb to maintain throttle control

On the Advanced Rider and Experienced Rider courses we do see these problems manifest
themselves again as more often than not Experienced riders don’t get into situations where hard
braking is required and are therefore not used to operating the controls for maximum braking and
often have to be “reschooled” in the art or introduced to 2 finger braking if they have never used it in
the past.

Finally we cover braking quickly in a turn and here the golden rule for the novice is quite clear DON’T !
The first thing to do is stop the turn, easily done from our premise of “the bike goes where you look”
so stop looking through the turn, look at something ahead with vertical extent and with the bike
upright and handlebars square complete the drill in a straight line.

Should you be forced to swerve then do NOT touch the brakes under any circumstances during the
swerve or you will have a meeting of the asphalt kind ! The reason for this is as you change directions
the forks will extend as the weight lightens but….. if there is any braking pressure applied while the
forks are extended on the recompression as the second direction is required the wheel will lock and
slide away into another low side crash.

…..and now for TONY’S TIP……….

If you find yourself constantly having to “reset” going around a bend on your bike  or you are driving
in a car with someone who is forever turning the steering wheel like a 1940’s movie here is a way to
correct both. Find a road with some suitable sweeping bends and first drive through them with your
hands in the 10 to 2 position with your thumbs extended. Look about 20 feet ahead of the hood and
see what happens…. Your eyes will take in the road center line and edge markings and because our
brain (the computer) has no other information it will continually be feeding input commands to your
hands to position the car equidistantly between the two lines…. this will make for a very rough drive
for you and your passenger.  Now drive the same bends at the same speed only this time trying to
keep your eyes on the horizon …….. note what your thumbs are doing in your peripheral vision and
you will see they hardly move and everything is much smoother.

For the Trials riding fraternity most of our braking is under the watchful eye of the checker or observer
and two different techniques are used between modern and vintage trials. All modern day trials
machines have hydraulic brakes and clutches and are designed to be ridden using a single digit on
each control. Modern day rules permit a “Stop” in balance without loss of marks so in sections where
a turn is so tight it cannot be ridden in a single flowing manoeuvre the advanced skill of a “nose
wheelie” followed by flicking the rear end onto the new line is now an essential skill.

1 finger brake and clutch operation into a nose stoppie and this Expert
rider can now flick the rear round onto his desired line 

With a Vintage machine of the 60’s which has drum brakes and may well be 100 lbs heavier this is
not normally an option as our rules are “no stop”. We are looking for finessed braking on treacherous
terrain using engine braking through our huge flywheels, sometimes a decompressor to stop the
rear wheel locking and stalling the motor, and 2 finger braking on the front to ensure forward
movement, albeit at ultra slow speeds.

Steep and treacherous, 3 finger braking releasing to 2 for the slippery
pine needles…… and no clutch

Engine braking finessed with 2 finger front only on this steep but grippy
downhill

………and what went wrong here? was there any way to prevent this? ……. offer your opinions and I’ll
give you my views.

TONY DOWN

Motorcycling spoken here

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CORNERING FOR BEGINNERS

 

CORNERING FOR BEGINNERS

CORNERING FOR BEGINNERS

Last night with the benefits of a few pints of stout I spent an hour or so trying to explain to a Harley Wannabee how to ride corners on our superb Colorado bendy roads and what techniques I use and
a few extra arrows in “my” quiver to get out of some of the common everyday unexpected situations.

Back to some very basics my student didn’t really have much understanding of terms, let alone
techniques, so it was right back to the beginning to explain the differences between a car and a bike.
Things like “the racing line”, “out wide, in close, out wide”, “traction”, braking with lean angle”, and then
onto “counter weight” and “counter steer” never seemed to trigger any lights on the Christmas tree, so
clearly as my student had zero understanding the conversation was terminated and I signed him up
as an “Organ Donor!”

As an MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) Instructor and Motorcycle MVD Examiner perhaps this little
talk was enough ammo for me to write an article on the subject. Personally I enjoy all forms of
motorcycling with trials riding being my No 1, and apart from the satisfaction of a “good” ride through
a section little else comes close to the joys or riding bends at speed on the right line with good
technique.

Taking our beginner on the Basic Rider Course (BRC) we work on a series of building blocks moving
on from “starting and stopping” while exploring the mysteries of the clutch and the “friction zone” into a
few 90 degree slow speed turns and then through changing gears up and down and coming to a stop.
By the time we get to Exercise 7  we now talk big time about cornering as the student has already
subconsiously been doing many of the basics we haven’t yet discussed including an introduction to
“counterweight” while doing the handlebar type turns at slow speed.

At exercise 7 we now introduce 2 x 180 degree turns around an oval. The basic cornering premise
of SLOW, LOOK, PRESS, and ROLL is repeated over and over again and I normally walk them around
the turn stating where I’m looking and how it will be coming to the “apex” where we can start applying
the power and start to feel the joys of the bike accelerating while still leaned over and cornering.

Fellow Instructor and good friend, Dean Heath, coaches Ex 7

Most common mistakes are slowing up too much thereby not allowing the bike to lean, not looking
and turning the head to see the exit or end of the turn and a fascination with the white curved line,
which results in a head down posture looking 10 feet or so ahead of the machine. I usually refer to this as “having a love affair with the front tire”…….. of course if you do this, as many do, then you can’t see
the exit of the turn, nor will you know where the apex is……. so you can never start the acceleration.
How can I get the student to correct all these errors?

Looks like I have the power coming on at the apex

Perhaps the easiest way I have found is to relate the whole experience to a computer and a keyboard.
Our Eyes are the Keyboard and our Brain is the Computer. So putting that all back in our student’s
concept the corner becomes more of an automatic function rather than having to think of “things to do”.
From Exercise 1 we have stressed the fact that  “The Bike goes where You Look” so now cornering
becomes easier as all we need to do is SLOW in a straight line, LOOK at the exit point, or cone
marking the end of the 180…….AND LOOK AT NOTHING ELSE!……… and now wait for the apex and
bring on the power. Using your eyes as the keyboard you are looking at the exit point and your brain (computer) will translate the keyboard (eyes) information into physical action such as body weight
and lean angle to get to the desired point that you are looking at.

Our training course continues with other variations on a theme and we cover other turns that are not
all perfect 90’s and 180’s but of course this is a RANGE situation and not the open road with cambers,
piles of grit and debris and other hazards. We talk about braking in a turn, late apexing and setting the suspension as we enter the curve. We can of course pick up any dangerous habits and one that
usually gets to me is the way some people ride with “toe down” and instep on the rest!  If you would
really LIKE a broken ankle then this is perhaps the easiest way to get one!!!

Ouch !

When braking and shifting is complete move your feet back to the ball of
the foot in contact with the peg


A bit extreme here but you get the idea

One of our female Instructors shows how

Looking at some blind 90 style turns it must be immediately obvious that a right hander is the MORE dangerous in many respects as it will take longer for the full corner to reveal itself and show the apex
and any hidden problems, plus any serious misjudgement and early throttle application will result in
running wide into oncoming traffic!

Let’s think of our left hander first, strangely everything we do competition wise in the Northern
hemisphere goes left handed ! All athletic running tracks are left handers, all dog racing, all horse
racing is conducted on left hand tracks and all forms of motor sport such as speedway/longtrack,
velodrome cycle racing and the dreaded Nascar all go around anti clockwise. Now its not because
animals and ourselves have shorter left legs it just feels more natural either because of coriolous or
the Earth’s rotation. Of course our two premier motorsport competitions of Formula 1 and Moto-GP
are both run on right hand circuits.

Any hoooo, so other than British readers, our standard left hander allows us to see further into the
bend and allows us to see the apex earlier, and that perhaps is where it usually goes “pear shaped”
for the novice road rider. Using our standard “out wide, in close, out wide” line all goes well until
either our novice rider gets cocky and overconfident and either finds himself going in too fast or
accelerating too early prior to the apex and running wide.

The standard Out Wide, In Close, Out Wide line through a corner

Common mistakes of only a minor nature can often result in a very unpleasant crash caused by my
previous statements leading up to PANIC!!!  Our rider in the picture may well ride the corner safely but inexperience and another 5-10 mph may cause PANIC and invariably results in the following………

It looks good but will he panic ?

………. the rider sees the guard rail coming and thinks he won’t make it………. first reaction, he closes
the throttle,……… what WAS a balanced equation of forces now changes with the power reduction and
weight comes forward onto the front wheel……… as the power has gone he cannot hold the lean angle
so the bike begins to stand up……….and its radius of turn is MUCH wider than before…….. he looks
directly ahead…….. and yes, the bike goes where you look……… so all that happens now is that he hits
the guard rail 20 feet earlier than he first predicted !!!!

Now lets see what happens with the right hander. In the diagram we have 3 choices of line, Green
the standard OW, IC, OW, then the Blue, early turn in, curb hugger slower line, and finally the delayed
turn in Pale Blue which allows a faster initial entry braking in a straight line to a later turn in point which
gives a delayed apex and allows the bike to be turning less, and therefore more upright with better
traction as we apply the power.

Clearly our rider has either misjudged the turn or elected to ride the curb hugger Blue. This will be the
slower of the three but means from this position you will be the last to see any upcoming road hazards
which in mountain riding could easily be a fall of rock or an Elk spectator!

Not the best line through the corner

If you ride this inside line then you had better be sure that your speed allows for the turn as errors
here invariably result in “low side” crashes caused by panic front braking. The following pictures
illustrate that point !

Too fast up that “curb hugger” line and a big handful of front brake while
attempting to lean further……… result…. loss of front wheel traction and an
impending low side crash

Be interesting to know how the sleeveless shirt gave protection from the
gravel rash ?

With some of the Don’ts evident as the rider gets more experienced then I would suggest the delayed
apex as being overall the way to go but DO have the other lines up your sleeve as nearly every corner
is different and may need to be approached in a slightly different way.

Now lets take our knowledge out into some real world situations and what better to illustrate this
section than some helmet cam pictures (courtesy Brenda) from last years bendy ride north of
Calistoga in CA.

From the “TD” textbook another blind right hander, stay out close to the center line, brake in a straight
line, start the turn in later and then just crack the throttle to stabilise the suspension…….. as the corner unfolds “power on the diesel John” as we hit the apex……… here is how the real thing looks on a
similar bend.

Nicely Out Wide near the center line and now turning in for my delayed
apex somewhere about center photo

….. and now a classic left hander from the textbook followed by the real thing.

Just about at the delayed apex and I can see all the bend as the power
comes on

A couple of other turns where I will discuss what I’m doing and why

Easing right for my turn in point up by the single clump of dead grass

A right, left sequence with a delayed apex behind the forked tree which
should hold me Out Wide for the left hander turn in point

On day 2 of the BRC our students see the full use of “Counterweight” as they negotiate some tight
turns inside a box on the range. We of course as trials riders seldom think of counterweight as it is
part of just about every section and a skill prerequisite of the sport. Simple enough task, best
described as having the weight to the outside of the turn with a straight inside arm. If you are doing
this sitting on the bike as most road riders will be then use the “Shift your Bum” maxim and like a
horse rider rise to the trot and position your bum to the outside of the turn and this will in turn force
your inside arm straight. If this arm is not straight and your upper body is not to the outside then when
you come to turn the bars your elbow will hit you in the chest!

Classic “counterweight” with straightish inside arm

Continuing with posture, and I’ve already discussed foot position, road riding has moved on a little as
we have seen many different styles from our road racing heros. In an ideal world the rider’s body
should be nearly perpendicular to the machine and road racing greats of the past maintained this style without the need for leaping about all over the bike with knees out and elbows wide spread,
Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini were always very neatly tucked inside the fairing
wheras today’s experts are elbows everywhere,  Ben Spies, and the Doctor Valentino who has started
trailing a leg in the breeze prior to his turn in point a bit like a praying mantis.

Following on from the Counterweight exercise we now move into Countersteer which can go straight
over many student’s heads and fall into the too difficult box. So what is this magic countersteer you
speak of ? Well taking our students over to a stationary bike I explain that I want them to press Left and
the bike will go Left !……… they of course accept it without thinking so……… with them mounted up, dead engine I now ask
“If you press on the left handgrip which way does the wheel go ?” ……..”Right, they all say”   ………
“OK but I’ve just told you press left go left…… how is that going to work?”…….. NO answer!

The best explanation is that at about 20 mph or so the wheel, due to its spinning speed, becomes a gyroscope and if you start applying forces to a gyro it doesn’t like it and will oppose the forces in an
opposite sense. So with our spinning front wheel we apply an athwartship force by pressing on the
bars which of course is directly connected to the axle……. so pressing left will force the wheel to start
a turn to the right but being a gyro it doesn’t like it and it topples causing the wheel to flop left initiating
the turn. Now as I tell them, “You can trust me, I’m a Doctor”…… if you don’t believe me cast your mind
back to when you were a kid and for some reason you took a wheel out of your bicycle and for some inexplicable reason you held the wheel by the spindle while one of your friends spun the wheel. At
some stage you probably tried to move your hands and felt the wild animal in your fingers trying to
break free. Don’t believe me? ….. go and try it!

Well the doubting Thomas’s are now brought to the end of the range as the other Instructor rides
directly towards them for the demo…… they are told to observe the base of the front wheel ….. this is
what they will see.

Some riders use this technique all the time to initiate turns, personally I don’t, as I prefer to use body
weight as the primary method to initiate the turn and I then keep the countersteer up my sleeve to
correct any errors of judgement that I may have made with putting power on too early or finding myself running wide on the corner exit. Also very useful if you are riding a bike that won’t steer, has a long wheelbase, was made in Milwaukee, and has precious little suspension. Use the countersteer and
the bike will increase lean angle and to keep the equation of forces balanced you will most likely need
a little more power or throttle.

……..and now, finally, for those who didn’t do the course, ignored all my comments, thought I was
talking through the proverbial, here is a way of learning the hard way using the MASTERCARD
commercial

Evil handling machine reminiscent of the 50’s with poor steering and low ground clearance, $25,000

Collection of badly fitting riding gear from the same manufacturer       $1000+

The chance to meet NEW friends on the mountain bends………………..….……..

.………. PRICELESS !!

TONY DOWN

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Comments
  • 4/19/2011 11:46 AM Jose wrote:
    Just wanted to add: For turns and cornering, see under 250. The less weight, the better the cornering; this goes double when it comes to wheelbase.. shorter wheelbase, quicker to flick. Thanks for all the Trials Tips.
    Reply to this
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