PART 3 – THE TEST SESSIONS
|KLR light adaptation.|
Words by Nick Smirniw
With only two and a half weeks to go before the big race, Team Frozen Lake Dogs is just about to conduct final testing before shipping the beast westwards. All a bit last minute, but then this was one of the first CMG-sponsored events ever. Strange how nothing changes …
Missed part 2? Click here.
TEST #2 – THE NIGHT TIME SESSION
Lighting is a concern. Lighting has to be a concern since only 7 of the 24 hours racing will actually be in daylight, and it’s not like there’s gonna be any street lights (actually, I’m not sure if there’s even electricity out there – just kidding Albertans).
Thus we started to think about our scooter’s lighting system, and how to make it better. Mr. Orange got to work by first removing the twin 25-watt stock headlights as well as the headlight from his KLR650. It just so happens that the KLR light fits almost perfectly in the space vacated by the originals. Clever use of spare aluminum provided some bracketry to mount everything neatly and by the time he was done, the scooter was actually looking very trick.
|Mr. White shows of the latest northern Ontario racing gear.|
Figuring that the garage with the lights turned off was no substitute for a real night test on ice, we then packed the scooter, along with the original lights, camera equipment and a generous amount of alcohol (to cleanse our impending wounds, really…) into the truck and made for my cottage in Huntsville to the north.
The original plan was to persuade one of my neighbours to get his tractor and blower down on the lake to make us an exciting track. Unfortunately, his other blower refused him permission to risk drowning their livelihood so the three of us were forced to make alternate arrangements. This consisted of finding three shovels and spending a couple of hours respecting our farming forefathers while disrespecting our backs.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if the snow wasn’t wet!
After a couple of hours of swearing, 14 unnecessary pee breaks and 7 “I could have sworn I heard the phone ringing”, we had a figure-8 track which was 3 metres wide, 125 metres long and even had a couple of chicanes – just in case you wanted to change the direction you were running in.
|Perfecting cornering technique.|
To start, the headlight is now amazing. The bloody thing is so bright it hurts your eyes. The track was illuminated beautifully, and the only thing yet to be adjusted is the aim. Even with the low beam on, we were lighting up the treetops in the forest. Great for owl hunting but not much else …
After a couple of hours, the track started to get quite slushy, the beer was beckoning and so we called it a night. We got up plenty early the next morning (for us) and got right back out to the now re-frozen track.
Perhaps the best thing about this scooter so far has been its crash-hardiness. It seems that it can withstand almost anything. We must have been upside-down as much as not, but there’s not a scratch to be seen.
|Centre-stand (behind the rider’s right foot) showed a tendency to bite in and spit the rider off!|
After viewing the video footage we took, it turns out that part of the reason for this is the intrusion of the center-stand. You can only get the bike sliding so much before the stand digs into the ice and upsets your traction. Time for a further modifications me thinks …
Of course, the center-stand was only part of the reason we were wiping out, I suspect the fact that we had the cameras and stopwatches out probably had more to do with it. Ah, but who cares. I was quite impressed with the slides that I was able to hold and I think we all learned tons.
Eventually we packed up and went home, exhausted and beat up, but quite satisfied in the knowledge that we’re gonna kick butt (in our class anyway).
Although the scoot’s charging system had coped with the extra draw of the bigger light, we figured that the additional draw of the heated gear might be too much. Cue Mr. Orange who reckoned that he could fabricate a battery holder for the scoot’s floorboards and mount his KLR’s battery. That way we could always change batteries and charge them between rider changeovers.
Hey, there’s now only two and a half weeks to go. Better get to it …
TEST #3 – FINAL TESTING AT SCUGOG
|Rear tire issues? Mr. Blonde takes a gander (note external battery on the floorboards).|
With our shipping deadline looming, we decided that for our final test we should try to get in on an actual race back at Lake Scugog. During the winter months the Oshawa Competition Motorcycle Club (OCMC) hold ice races every Sunday and we thought that this may be a good chance to muscle the scooter into its first real race.
We arrived at about 2 pm to find an amazing amount of activity on the lake. There were 40-50 cars and trucks parked on the ice to watch the OCMC ice racing, countless people wandering about, tons of motorcycles, snowmobiles drag racing, planes landing, dogs barking, etc. The only thing that was missing was a ferris-wheel and the pope-mobile!
All of team FLD’s local members were present and ready to party, but there was plenty to do first, including some serious tire testing as we had fitted a brand new set and had no idea if they would work.
|The Bee Whiz was finding racing tough.|
Turns out that by setting the tires up for lots of side grip, the front was slipping at about half lean. This was compounded by the fact that the tires were very street oriented with no real knobs.
Thankfully, fixing the tires was simple enough. A quarter turn on one row of screws made an incredible difference. The situation will be further improved after our chance meeting with Mark Holiday, of Holiday Racing Screws fame. Mark offered some helpful advice on studding and further, some of his new razor-sharp ice studs!
With tires a gripping, when team FLD was invited to participate in one of the races (80cc junior women), we jumped at the chance. It was time to kick some butt! Actually, I’m pretty sure that may have been what all the other racers in my class were saying as I gridded with them.
Overall though, it was not a bad debut of our tricked out scooter, even though I got lapped … twice.
|Even the CBC came for a ride.|
With the Bee Whiz’s first race a success, it was time to give James Murray of CBC radio a ride on the back. James had fun (despite the near crash), and it seems that someone thinks that our effort is worthy of some national radio coverage (apart from us of course).
So if all goes well, and nothing really important in the world happens this week (i.e. Saddam and Clinton both leave their scuds in their pants), expect to hear us and our lack of intelligence on CBC’s ‘This Morning with Michael Enright’, Sunday February 22.
With the day drawing to a close it was time to get the rest of the Team FLD onto the bike – especially those who had missed the earlier test sessions. Mr. Blue and Editor Cabot were fine on their first outing, but 22 seconds after Mr. Brown first sat on the bike all positive thoughts of the fantastic crashability of the Bee Whiz went to hell and we were short a rear brake.
But when you’re as cool (or slow) as we are, who needs brakes? Then the rear tire went flat. Hmhh, I wonder if that’s going to be a problem? No time to worry about it now – testing’s done, let’s crate it up, ship it out and then get ourselves out there …
GETTING THE STEED TO ALBERTA
|Mr. Blonde does the final crating honours.|
If you’ve never shipped a motorcycle before (us) then it can be a bit daunting. First off you must drain off all of the combustible fluids, disconnect the battery, and secure the vehicle in a crate.
Charges are based upon both the weight and dimensions of the package. The formula used basically boils down to density, and what you pay is determined by whichever measurement – weight or volume – is greater (i.e. cost for a large box of feathers would be determined by the size of the box, whereas the cost for the same sized box of anvils would be based upon the weight of the box).
In our case, none of these details mattered, because either way, we couldn’t afford it. With our lackluster fund-raising efforts, we’d already asked each member of the team to throw in a hundred bucks and pay for their way out there and back. Now it looked like we had to go back to everyone and see what we could get for shipping.
That’s when Cathy (Miss Pink) came to the rescue. In truly heroic fashion she set up a deal with Canadian Freightways to move the scooter cross-country at a reasonable price! However, we were restricted to a volume of 30 cubic feet, and weight of 300 pounds.
|Ready to go!|
After some impressive calculusy calculations, Mr. Orange set to work chopping up skids and building a crate, while Mr. Blonde and myself worked to figure out how to stuff all the scooter bits in.
Boring bits aside, we stripped the bike down to its elements, annoyed the neighbours all night with power tools, swore lots, and got the job done. Somehow we shoved in everything, including our HJC snowmobile suits and Gerbing’s Heated Clothing, and sealed it up.
Everything was perfect, except that we didn’t account for the weight of the studs in the tires … and the extra batteries we packed, incurring a slight surcharge. The important thing was that the scooter was now on its way there.
Now all we had to do was get there to race it.
Mr. White (Nick Smirniw)