Ixion@Cadwell 2012

Thursday and Friday was Ixion@Cadwell 2012. Cadwell Park is a race track suited to motorcycles in the middle of rural Lincolnshire. The way it makes use of the natural landscape to form one of the UK’s most technical motorcycle circuits is to me, beautiful, I’ve loved it since I first saw it as a spectator. The event consists of a day, an evening and another day of track time in three groups (Tiggers, Piglets, Eeyores) and this was the eighth time I’ve been. As a piglet, I know my way around the circuit but am schizophrenic often showing eeyore tendencies to admire the scenery and only occasionally showing signs of the bouncy fun of the tiggers who tend to like the scenery so much they are known for engaging in close examination of it. This year they colour coordinated the wrist bands so mine was a lovely piglet pink.

The view from the clubhouse showing the track entry, the top of the mountain with the pit straight and the entry to the mountain in the background

I missed the event last year so it has been a while since I’ve been to Cadwell and I’ve not done as much riding of the Daytona as I’d like having given priority to the trail riding. Thursday was red hot sunshine. The first session is the infamous “no-brakes” drill where you ride around the circuit without touching the brakes. I love the fact you can still go over 100mph down the straight, scrub the speed off up the hill into Coppice and not have to touch the brakes, that has to be my favourite corner. I also discovered you can go around Mansfield quicker than I’ve typically done so in the past. It helped being as hot as there was no worry about any moisture affecting traction and the tyres were extremely sticky. Since I’m not commuting on the bike it does have sports compound tyres on it which helps (dual compound commuting tyres on the VFR were never as sticky).

It took some time to remind myself which gear to be in where on the track, I quickly remembered not to use first gear anywhere after I attempted it. Some corners I seemed better on (Hairpin, Mansfield), others I seem to have regressed (Charlies 1, Barn). In the first proper session I was surprised to find the front end going light over the mountain (front wheel in the air) as I hadn’t intended it and try and avoid it. The offroad riding does seem to have helped as I was much less unhappy about it than I would once have been.

The Hairpin

Hall Bends

I had a session with one of the new instructors following and then leading me which was interesting. It highlighted that I was disjointed between Coppice and Charlies which is something I tried to work on without an awful lot of success during the day. Other than that, the usual advice still applied, “just go faster”, my lines were basically ok.

At lunchtime I topped off the fuel tank with 10L from the cans which I was hoping would see me through the day which it did (the fuel light came on for the last two laps of the evening session). The evening session was split into two groups, Pigores and Tiglets of which I opted for the former. It highlighted that whilst I could circulate at a faster pace than some of the Eeyores, I have little experience of overtaking and was very reluctant to do so other than down the straights where I could use the 675’s acceleration and straight line speed to my advantage. Right at the end there wasn’t enough time for two sessions so they announced an open pit lane. I took a short break, then went back out for a final session. The organiser came past me at the end of park straight and I was quite interested in his line and the way he went into Park. The trouble was I was so busy paying attention to that I forgot to brake myself and steamed into the corner at a much increased speed. I did touch the brake slightly on the apex but managed to force myself to leave it alone and hope the bike would go around the corner which it did, being capable of much more than the rider. In total I covered 186 miles on the track on Thursday, which is quite some mileage given the concentration required for that kind of riding. I added a further 10 miles to refuel the bike at the end of the day.

Friday started with another no-brakes drill which I have to say are a useful learning exercise. The day was cloudy and the temperatures were much lower. After the no-brakes drill the front tyre didn’t look well, covered in peeled rubber that had stuck back on (“cold tearing”?). After the first session it was much worse and also I realised rather cold compared to the temperature it should be. I ended up dropping the front tyre pressure quite considerably to get it to match the wear and temperature of the much healthier looking and warmer rear.

Whilst I have no evidence of it, I think I did slowly make improvements to my speed around the circuit through out the day. Towards the end of the day, I was talking to someone about improving and whilst I could do some things they mentioned (e.g. find the throttle stop on the straight and avoid braking for coppice at least some of the time) there were other things I could definitely work on. They also mentioned an interesting tip about going deep into charlies 1 so that you could accelerate for park straight earlier. In the next session I went into that corner knocking off 15% speed to try the different line which did seem much nicer. It was so much nicer I arrived at the end of the straight with much more speed than I’d ever done before and had to brake considerably harder for park which made life interesting. They happened to be circulating in that session and I followed them into coppice as they overtook me at that point, roughly carrying the same speed at entry. What was clear was that I was losing speed at the corner apex at which point they steamed away from me at a point where I do feel I want to go faster but I’ve lost momentum. It showed exactly where I’d need to carry more speed and another rider who overtook there demonstrated the same effect. Something to work on next time. In the last session of the day, the fuel light came on again, beautifully timed.

I covered 285 miles on the track over the two days and 370 miles in the van getting there and back. There were a few crashes although thankfully it was mainly damage to people’s wallets. It was noticeable how many other 675s there were this year, they’re becoming common with about six of them there! They still look best in red to me though and despite being repeatedly told otherwise, there was only one red 675 there (which people were confusing with a red CBR600).