Erm, this isn’t really my blog…

You know when you are a kid and you bang nails into bits of wood joining them up? If your parents or friends saw them they’d say something like “wow – what’s that furniture?” and you’d say “it’s not furniture, I was just banging nails in for fun”

They’d look at you, and you knew they didn’t believe you. They just thought you were crap at making furniture….

Well, this isn’t really my blog. It was a place to practice banging posts in.

This is my blog.

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Having spent most of the day trying to g

Having spent most of the day trying to get my head around how to make a different landing page on Facebook, I’m still none the wiser!

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visorvision.wordpress.com: Drowning or F

visorvision.wordpress.com: Drowning or Flying amongst Social Media opportunities? http://wp.me/p1gLMJ-1B

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drowning or flying in Social Media opportunities?

Today I’ve used several Social Media tools to link together Visorvision’s disparate SM elements; youtube, twitter, the Visorvision blog (one of 2 now, because the self-hosted one doesn’t link – if you can see a sunset above this post, you’re on the “experimental” blog!) and of course Facebook. Fact is, I’m going through waves of emotion broadly broken into 4 powerful feelings; Enlightenment, Empowerment, Confusion, Drowning!

Fact is, if this pops up on Facebook (the Visorvision fan page, not my personal page), and Twitter, and automatically loads onto the blog using the Twitter feed – I’m halfway to where I’d like to be.

Then all I need is to generate some more meaningful content and drive some traffic into the linked up SM portals (not forgetting “value offers” and “call to action” messages)

At which point I can forget ever advertising conventionally again, and just feed the internet with stuff, track the activity that comes back, and have more time to walk the dog.

Plan B is next – just in case this doesn’t work…!

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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It's called "Endurance" for a reason…Zolder No Budget Cup 2010

Racing Rivals

So after 11 years of not racing, comes this call from an old mate and ex-racing rival, now turned z-list journo celebrity; MCN road tester Michael Neeves. “alright mate, I’ve got an offer to go to Zolder to race an FZR600 in the No Budget Cup, I think I need a team mate – if I need someone, are you interested?”

“erm, let me think about that YES!”

See the thing is, Neevesy and I used to race FZR600’s against each other back in 1993 (see pic, yup, pink one is mine), so this little excursion made a lot of sense, journalistically as well as on a matey basis.

Neevesy, Toosmooth at Snetterton's Bombhole 1993

Now getting this ride wasn’t a done deal at this point, but I did mention to him that it might be worth telling them that it was me; reason being I was just at the cusp of a decision on whether or not Visorvision was going to sponsor them for their 2010 UK round! Good timing as it turned out. The deal was done inside 10 minutes the news broken to me by a text saying – “ok team mate, we’re in!”

Zolder – throwback to the 70’s!

Zolder – I’d heard talk of the track from Calvin Hogan a while back, Calvin raced World Endurance, and all I knew was it was in Belgium and used by endurance promoters.

Wikipedia – don’t you love it? Said this:

“Built in 1963, Zolder hosted the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix on 10 separate occasions in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the 1980 Belgian motorcycle Grand Prix. The F1 circus moved to Zolder after Spa-Francorchamps was deemed too fast and too dangerous. It switched between Nivelles-Baulers for 4 years until Nivelles was considered boring by the F1 community. From 1975 to 1982, Zolder was the location of the Belgian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Zolder is probably best remembered as the place Gilles Villeneuve lost his life during qualifying at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, an event that signified the beginning of the end for the Flemish circuit as a Formula One venue”

Sounded promising. I like throwbacks to a different age, Zolder didn’t disappoint.

The circuit itself is a reasonable but not trifling 175 miles from Calais, and you have to endure chunks of Belgian Motorway overbanding and Brussels ring road traffic to get there, that said we left enough time and knocked the miles off comfortably.

When we got to the track we bumped into Jane and Renaud at the back of the huge pit building. First Impressions of the pits; old, high, really felt more like standing outside of a football stadium at the back of the garages. A walk through the garages revealed that they were low, moody, unrenovated and very dark. They opened out onto a broad pit lane with a glazed wall equipped with viewing slots to the track. The opposite side of pit straight was occupied by many layers of rising steps of Football style concrete terracing. Even higher than that stood a Hotel, and rising above that stood a full treeline.This gave the straight this wonderful feeling of being the totally enclosed and overlooked floor of a Colosseum…! Atmospheric? – you bet. Excellent!

The front of the pit buildings matched the character of the place by being painted a bright red, with CocaCola and other sponsorship adorned heavily around the place – it reeked of racing from another age, and in that, it was marvellous.

Zolder – the track

A decent highside short of 2.5 miles, the consensus seems to be that Zolder is a bit like the back of Brands Hatch GP circuit. What it does have a lot more than the Kent track though is braking zones, and most of the 5 braking zones are frankly, pretty heavy (more on that later….)

There’s a couple of elevation changes over blind corners, one quite severe which on a 1000 would have you thinking about managing it with a feathered throttle or an early gearshift, but on a 600 (of mid 90’s vintage at least) could be attacked wide open.

We didn’t get much practice before qualifying, but as with all NBC events, there is a trackday dovetailed with the racing for anyone to enjoy. You can’t buy extra practice in these sessions on your racebike (designed to keep costs down) so I took my R1 out, complete with Oxford Products tailpack base still bungeed in place! This was as much to remind me that I had to ride this bike home in 8 hours time, and maybe just a tad to flirt with other track users psyche that I’d ridden here, I’m riding home, and I’ve just ridden past you! (puerile, childish nonsense. As usual!)

2 sessions on a slippery but drying track completed, R1 still in one piece and a best time of a 1’55.4 was signalled from our 2 non riding crew members, Paul and Keith. This was favourable, being only a fairly gentle ride that was about 5 seconds off of a good time for a 600 under race conditions. Neevesy had borrowed a new XJ600 Yamaha for these sessions, which he made zing nicely around the corners as usual.

The Bike – Renaud’s 1994 FZR600

Renaud's gorgeous FZR600R - our ride for the No Budget Cup

This FZR was the later <anorak mode> 4JH or “foxeye” model, mimicing very much the size and shape of it’s contemporary brother the YZF750 (they do in fact share tanks, they are that similar) </anorak mode> Renaud had built this for the NBC some years before, and as such it was standard engined, with a BIG R1 Silencer, but it wore an almost new Stock shock, and R6 wheels and brakes from a 2005 model. It’s looks and comfort benefitted from an R7 tailpiece which was jacked up to increase the bum to peg distance, and the whole thing wore  a very very snazzy Orange speedblock paintjob.

Qualifying  – a time for self doubt; have I still got it? the mojo? the vibe? the balls?…!

Come qualifying Neevesy went out on the FZR first.  Qualifying lasts an hour, and we had new tyres fitted which Neevesy had the job of scrubbing in. These tyres also had the entire 3 hour race ahead of them (qualifying and race – 1 set of tyres, NBC rules) We were in the under 600 class, and because of full grids they split the 1000/600 races in Belgium, so we only had other 600’s (and certain class compatible others) out on track with us. After a few gentle laps Neevesy pulled the pin and we flew up the timing screens to top spot! This settled down to 2nd, before I took over. He had posted laps somewhere in the 1’51’s

I hopped onto the 600 in the pitlane in a ‘hotswap’ with Neevesy. After riding my R1 half an hour before the 600 made me chuckle as soon as I pulled away – light, high perch, wide bars and really racy – as I went through the long pit exit lane corner to get out on track I was already mumbling to myself “oooh yes, you are beautiful”  sounds corny, but it turned and railed just so easily and perfectly….!

Well, I clicked with it – it made almost no noise thanks to a silencer that was about half it’s whole weight (which is needed at Zolder as it’s a 95dB drive by at 2 constantly monitored points on the track) and it made almost no power, probably thanks to the same silencer! So it became clear it was going to be about handling and brakes, because sure as hell it didn’t really go that fast!

Second lap I got the signal I had done a 1’52.7 – I was mega-pleased with this, instantly shaven nearly 3 seconds off my R1 time in the first flying lap. 11 years off a racebike, no problem! cool!

I cracked on and ended up not going that much faster before handing back to Neevesy, for what should have been a 15 min session and then me getting another swap for another 15 – didn’t really work out like that, as a little timing, swap allowance miscalculation meant we’d eaten nearly all the time for my last session. Bummer, I had been thinking about the things I needed to do, stuck quietly at the back of the garage in the chair sipping water, but I only got the briefest time to have a crack.

Qualifying result = 8th out of 46 – not too shabby!

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Jane Omorogbe – V2 Sponge User

Naturally I like anyone that uses Visorvision products, it’s how I pay my mortgage and feed the dog. I made a gentle enquiry about doing the No Budget Cup earlier in the year, and all roads led to Jane Omorogbe, now a resident of Belgium and enjoying life with her other half Renaud, who happens to be the organiser of the No Budget cup series.

You may remember Jane was the leading candidate to replace Suzi Perry at the BBC to lead their MotoGP coverage, and is also an Ex Gladiator (Rio) from the earlier incarnation of the show. A bit more than a keen biker for many years now, she’s a racer, a journalist and damn good fun. I’d say she also wears the biggest smile in motorcycling!

Jane O gets tough with SV650 in the No Budget Cup!

Jane O gets tough with SV650 in the No Budget Cup!

Anyway, with my Visorvision e-mail address clearly aligning me with Visorvision, and thus the V2 Sponge, the conversation about the No Budget Cup became a 2 way thing, and it turned out Jane O had been a user and a fan of the V2 Sponge for ages!

I asked Jane to stick a few answers to some questions about the product and her riding in general, and being a darling, she obliged – Jane’s Q&A  answers herewith:

1) How long have you been using the V2 Sponge?
I’ve been using the V2 sponge ever since I can remember. I don’t recall who introduced me to it, but I do know we always took a pack or two on our trips to France for those evening rides to restaurants with pesky mosquitoes !
2) What’s the best thing about it?
The best thing about it is its size, it fits in pockets and bum bags. And of course, the fact that the sponge stays wet in the bag. Ideal when you’ve forgotten to run it under the tap again.
3) What’s the strangest place you’ve used it?
Strangest place I’ve used it? The African Desert . . .  it was my best ally in removing humongous bugs from my visor under the gaze of the Atlas Mountains.
4) What was the last thing you learnt about riding motorcycles?
Last thing I learnt about riding bikes . . I ride a lot, but my adventure from Lisbon to Marrakesh on a Super Tenere reminded me that no matter how many miles I cover, I will never, ever get tired of being a biker. That, and highsides hurt!
5) MotoGP or WSB?
This year, WSB most definitely.
6) Ok then Haslam or Biaggi?
Haslam!
7) And finally, if you could get all the world’s bikers together in one place, and say just one thing to them, what would it be?
Ride it more!

It remains just to say thanks to Jane for being a darling, and of course if you want to do the No Budget Cup, which comes highly recommended by yours truly, then take a look at their 2 websites depending on your preference.

for the UK series in 2011 – www.nobudgetcup.co.uk

for the Belgian series – www.nobudgetcup.be

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Lucky crunch – 3 wheel bearings

Let’s set the scene – it’s the night before a 300 mile trip to Zolder to go Endurance Racing. My R1 has been away having new chain and sprocket kit fitted as the other one was making the ride a little unsmooth and seemed to be making a nasty grinding noise when the bike was on a stand with the engine running and in gear (can you guess what wasn’t actually causing that noise…)

So I take the old girl out for a very quick spin after dropping her out of the van. Chain and sprockets lovely, grinding noise still very much there….

Onto paddock stand, I check the wheel bearings – grab the back wheel and clunk, clunk, clunk; play, lot’s of it. Shit!

It’s 16:06 on a Saturday night, I’m leaving in the morning. I phone the excellent Flitwick Motorcycles (who hadn’t fitted the C&S, I reckon they’d have seen it) and get the run down on the 4XV rear wheel bearing stock situation. “there are 3 in your rear wheel – we only have one of those in stock – take your wheel off and see what you need”

By 16:30 I had removed the back wheel. One bearing shagged. The one they had in stock!

By 17:15 I had bought said bearing, including 10% discount because I told them I was going racing! (thanks gentlemen)

By 17:45 I was at Steve Adams house, Steve has been a bit of a media darling this year as he has made the best looking Katana in the UK and it’s been doing the rounds of the mags and papers MCN, Classic Motorcycle Mechanics and Performance Bikes that I am aware of.

Steve’s mechanical prowess means a crumbled wheel bearing (which would have stretched both my tools, patience and mechanical ability to the limit) was a minor challenge. 30 mins later, the old bearing was removed (in bits!) and the new one pressed home.

At 20:05 the rear wheel was fitted, so was the luggage, and the trip from being very unlikely, was back on!

Thanks to Flitwick MC and Steve Adams of Lucky7 for making this a happy ending!

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The Channel tunnel for bikes

If you haven’t used this as a way to get to the continent, it’s well worth a look. If you want a no-fuss, flexible and fast service, this beats everything else hands down. Used this to get to Zolder in August, and it reconfirmed what I’d always thought, it’s a really bike friendly service.

Pro’s :

  • they seem very flexible in accommodating bikes – there is a formal 2 hour window from booked time to work with, and circumstantial evidence suggests they may be even more flexible than that for bikes – truth is we get sent on last and we take almost no space so we’re not a big headache for them I guess.
  • there ARE toilets – depending on carriage type, they’ll either be right near you, or at the front if you’re on one of the freight liners.
  • It’s good value – I paid £55 for a return crossing in high season (August) by booking an early start and a late back.
  • the trains run regularly 24 hrs a day – I think there are 20 minute intervals between crossings.
  • Access is good from the M20 – no urban traffic to pick through to get dockside.
  • No strapping down required
  • you get to stay with your bike for the duration of the trip – peace of mind if your luggaged up to the max!

Con’s

  • If you’ve travelled a long way before your crossing, you might enjoy the possibility of a bite to eat and a kip on a ferry!

www.eurotunnel.co.uk

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The Visorvision Gixxer

Visorvision's GSXR1000

A restful moment after the rain came at RAF Wittering's track event

I can’t help it. I love Racing Motorcycles. I’ve had the bug since 1984 when I fell in love with machines designed, or modified, for Racing.

I have a history of Racing myself going back to 1990, and on and off I raced through 7 years of the 1990’s, last racing in 1999 on what was Shane Byrne’s Thundercat from the previous years British Supersport Championship (that’s how long ago it was – a Thundercat racing in Supersport!).

So after not racing for 11 years and becoming disillusioned with the lack of Return on Magazine advertising, I took a slice of our marketing budget and decided to buy a racing bike to carry the Visorvision message out to the wider public through the medium of not only racing, but shows and other events.

Personally I wanted a 1000 as I had really had a bellyful of 600’s last time I raced back in 1999. 600’s are great fun, but there was this unresolved challenge of muscling a big bike around a track. Everyone that had a 1000 would somehow instill in me the perception that they had slightly larger balls than me, and as I rode a 600, that to them I was like an annoying adolescent kid that wasn’t really in their league.

Naturally I would poke a middle finger up in their direction via the medium of the mixed grid Powerbike races, where at some point or the other during the year, there wasn’t a single 1000 at my club I hadn’t beaten! But still, when all was said and done, I still felt slightly less of a hero than the 1000 jockeys…

So, I started looking at 1000’s and mainly R1’s to be honest, as I’m a bit of a Yamaphile. My budget just flirted with the line where the ’04 R1 model was available, although they were quite rare and for my budget they weren’t coming good with spare wet shod wheels or much other essential racebike bling.

Then I saw something surprisingly good just a tickle off my radar. It was Black. All Black, and if there is something I’m soft on, it’s black racebikes (especially with black frames – think that bit is based in a 1990 YZR500 fetish) – All I had to get my head around is that it wasn’t a Yamaha, it was actually a Suzuki.

So this same good looking Gixxer popped up not once, twice, but 3 times on different forums and sales portals and the pics looked exquisite. Fresh, Black, blingy, clean. Old. Old, that was the only thing – it’s a K1/2 model so knocking on 9 years old.  But, I liked the spec. Much bling, and ALL bling based on sweetening the handling, it has a totally standard engine with just a pipe – not even a PCIII.

Now, I’d rather ride a good handling slow bike than an evil handling fast one, so not being put off, I made contact. We quickly got the price to an agreeable figure for us both and I collected it from Rockingham late March.

My first little tickle out on it at Silverstone National Circuit came in April, and I wasn’t really expecting how different it would feel to my road going R1.

I have never had a bike try and wheelie on a flat stretch of road at over 130mph, but this thing did! it’s an animal. I now understand why Gixxers come with steering dampers as standard too! I always had this down as covering a major design flaw, but for sure, I appreciated that this thing needed one just to calm it down in the lairy bits, with the rest of it’s manners actually very good.

Anyway, turns out, after 11 years of waiting I can confirm my balls are just about big enough to cope with riding a 1000 on track! The bike quickly picked up the nickname the “Old Crow”. This is simply based on a combination of it’s age matched with a Crow’s tenacity and a willingness to take on anything and everything it comes across!

So, with the Old Crow now happily in the stable, Visorvision will be seen at a few race meetings and track events throughout 2010 and 2011, all being well.

Keep an eye out, and do come and say hello if you spy us in your paddock! We’ve usually got Visorvision freebees with us, and if you mention the blog, we’ll happily share some of whatever we have about! (subject to availability – free stuff goes quicker than the bike!)

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