22 May 2007


I’ve now tried out a true GP Bike! A Honda RS125 two-stroke, 1996 (not so old is it?). All arranged by Dave Hughes. Its not one of Dave’s own, a friends loaner just to see how it and I get along--a blind date you could say. We were able to use John Dempsey’s on track facilities and I drove up from Toronto same day as did Dave (4am wake up for me).

Due to delays in registration I missed two morning sessions yet was able to get out there just before lunch in my masters/vintage/GP class for all of--13 minutes (as was each session that day). First time I'd ever been on Shannonville track, admittedly my track "frame of mind" was rusty—hadn’t been on the circuit since Mosport last August 2006. On top of that was the added endeavour of trying out a two stroke—captivatingly different and as I later discovered, oh so addictive.

After a few laps I started to understand Shannonville’s pro track lines as I aimed to keep the wee 125 in its ultimate power band. I had to watch its temperature gauge as if it went above 60 degrees I had to come into the pits. I struggled at trying to get a feel for the gear range/its power-band and the bikes braking, without using the engine (as in my former Husqvarna 250 two stroke off road bike) and its equipped one front disc brake. The bike was beautifully light--that took little to get use to! And yes, the RS had to be pushed to start and if you didn’t keep it idling yourself, it stalled (also out on the track when in the wrong power).With all this in my rusty basket, goes without saying-I was slow. When I came in I wasn’t displaying much "fun" factor—too many things settling around in my mind. Plus I had "sit" challenges which kept me sliding around on the bike—mostly forward. When my derriere was against the back of the seat all fitted and manoeuvred well. To fix this we folded up John’s rain suit and using race tape, attached it to the tank acting as a big cushion preventing me from sliding forward (the beer belly affect). I observed already that the classic, vintage and truly experienced motorsporters/riders think much differently than "modern machinery" riders—a mindset that’s always about adapting the motorcycle to the individual--something I've come to understand during my first racing year.

Out I went again, this time better. My fake "beer belly" kept me in the seat and I started to get a feel for managing the two stroke methods—learning, learning yes, that’s what it’s all about. I think I had a total of 5 sessions--I stole some laps in the novice sessions taking advantage of all the time I could get on the bike. I felt the novice class riders would have more patience for my starter lap times than the others (all were practicing for the regional competition this weekend). Most the bikes around me were new model 600’s.

The defining moment occurred while entering one particular corner and my speed was as high if not higher than the particular 600’s in the corner with me--BUT I WAS ON A 125cc! A great feeling. I've always understood the higher corner speed abilities of the lighter bikes, in fact on a 125cc and a 250cc you learn high speed cornering. To actually experience it, impressive! With more experience on the bike, I could very easily give the "big bikes" a run. Especially on Shannonville as from what I can see, it’s not a real fast track it’s about cornering speed, entrance and exit skills.

Another habit requiring adjusting was getting on the full throttle before the exit of a corner. No wheel spin as there's just not enough hp--the bike had maybe 60hp. I hadn't even taken this into account as I’ve been so conditioned with supersport 600 racing tactics. What a confident feeling when you realize this.

Last session progression was evolving and I was more relaxed; the smiles were big! Still slow, compared to others, I blame my lack of practise over the past 24 months, yet there was one big bike rider I was able to overtake--good for the ole' esteem.

Most certainly I'm loving the sensation of the GP HondaRS125 two stroke--what a kick, so very different from all I've experienced or know.
So Dave--may I have some more?
PS--thanks Michelle [Duff] you are the one who set this all in play.

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