Words by Nick Smirniw
In the first (of five) parts, we relived the lunacy of deciding that riding a scooter for 24 hours on a frozen lake in the annual Numb Bum was actually a good idea. In the second update we had to take one bog-standard Yamaha B-Wizz scooter and make it into a fire-breathing ice racer. Well, something that wouldn’t fall over at every corner at least …
“The end is rapidly approaching.” This is what I heard from some, apparently divinely informed, likely stoned, gentleman (snowboarder?) as he traversed Yonge Street last night. I’m still not sure if he was talking to me about the Numb Bum, or whether he was simply referring to his own fate if he continues to play in traffic, but either way he’s right.
We’re awfully close to the day of the big race and have yet to actually spin a wheel in anger. But things are progressing nicely and over the last few weeks we managed to get most of the prep work done.
|Until the law nipped it in the bud …|
This includes a deal on van rental from Edmonton to Fairview, cheap accommodation in Fairview College’s residence, two sets of HJC snowmobile suits, assorted gear and spare tires (freebies courtesy of Kimpex Action), two sets of heated gloves and a heated vest (courtesy of Gerbing’s Electric Clothing), a super set of Holiday ice racing studs (thanks to Mark Holiday) and a handful of tax receipt books so that each team member could get a chunk of donations. Did I miss anything?
After a long conversation with a very helpful member of Fairview College’s staff we invited that member, Cathy Srayko, to join the Frozen Lake Dogs. Cathy has already made a major impact by helping to solve our scooter transportation woes (following) as well as taking on the task of providing a heated track side tent for the team.
There’s nothing better than hooking up with someone bent on self-destruction (or at very least, scooter-destruction). This will be her fourth Numb Bum ride and we’re looking forward to seeing her bright pink racing suit complementing the conservative colour scheme of our bike. I think we now have a Miss Pink!
We’ve also managed to pull in one more team member in the shape of our CMG west coast correspondent, Doug Bolton. Doug’s not getting a colour but will just be know as Dougie, although I’m not sure why. We’ll be meeting up with Dougie at the event.
And finally, we’ve also been approached by a couple of fellas who want to film the whole thing for a possible documentary. Marc and Malcolm thought that the madness was too good not to follow and asked if they could come along and be flies on the wall. Cool.
WHAT ABOUT THE BIKE?
|Mr. Blonde gets the final horsepower figures.|
Well, we’ve picked it up from Yamaha and then immediately handed it over to Mr. Blonde who‘s task it is to make into a fearsome ice-racer as well as seeing just how many horses lie within that air-cooled 50cc motor! Over to Mr. Blonde …
When Rob indicated to me that this is what we were doing the Numb Bum on, I immediately started thinking about how to improve this little sweet scooter. My intention was to turn it into a fire-breathing scooter from hell, but then I remembered that the event was twenty-four hours straight and reliability would be a major factor.
Quite often, when you start making changes to increase power, reliability suffers and since it was of paramount importance that our scooter be very reliable, we were hesitant to start making changes.
When I finally had the scooter in my hot little hands, first thing I did was put it on the dyno. I had no idea how much power to expect. Boy was I not surprised. Mr. Orange and Mr. White were there helping me and were having laughing fits as the horse power numbers started appearing.
The whopping figures started at about 3.0 hp, then after a few runs skyrocketed to an unbelievable peak of 4.24 hp! That may not sound like much, but the 12-ish ft/lb of torque sure makes this scooter a real wheelie monster! Kind of.
The budget for this project was about the same as all the money I have saved for a house down payment, or in simpler terms, next to nothing. Because of this, we decided to not bother making any changes to the motor (e.g. change carb, bore to a larger size, install nitrous, new pipe, etc.) or the chassis. The only change we did make was to add studded tires – an absolute must for ice racing.
|Making liners … we think.|
Sounds simple, don’t it? Well, somehow it took three guys six hours, three pizzas and countless abrasions to do so.
The process was surprisingly irritating. It involves finding old tires (with the sidewalls cut off) to act as liners, then sourcing studs and spending hours screwing hundreds into each tire. A pain in the ass, but that’s the price to pay for being too cheap to pay someone else.
While we had the beast in the shop I removed all unnecessary parts, including mirrors, signal lights, reflectors and that fashionable exhaust pipe guard. The mighty Whizzer was ready!
Wish I could say the say about the team …
With the B-Whiz prepped and seeing that there was some fresh snow on the ground, the time seemed perfect to practice power sliding this little devil around. Again, an unbearably fun session of hooliganism occurred, the screaming engine and the screaming hooligans attracting an appreciative audience from various industrial units in the area.
However, it wasn’t long before we also attracted a slightly less appreciative audience in the form of the local police (I still think my neighbours may have had something to do with it).
Hmhh, we should get this thing to a lake …
THE TEST SESSIONS (FEBRUARY 5th 1998)
Busy, busy, busy. Damn, there’s a ton of work involved with organizing this kind of effort. This Numb Bum thing is really a full-time job. It’s a good thing my full-time job isn’t…
However, it is nice to actually have something to update for these weekly updates. We’ve managed to get all kinds of things sorted and have begun testing.
Seeing that this is a 24-hour event, it follows that we should therefore need a couple of different testing sessions in different conditions. The first test takes place on Lake Scugog (day), with the next one (a nighttime session to test the lighting) on a small lake near Huntsville, Ont.
A final test will be had, again on Lake Scugog where we’ll have all of Team FLD present to see how it all works together … or not.
Thankfully, initial results of this testing have indicated that we’re not as stupid as we look (or are destined to look…), and that this scooter makes quite an entertaining ice racer. Of course, I never had any doubts as to this, especially seeing that I firmly believe that the amount of fun to be had on a bike is inversely proportional to the size of the bike.
TEST #1 – THE DAYTIME SESSION – LAKE SCUGOG, ONTARIO
|It was more entertaining than you might have thought.|
After some last minute attempts to fit more aggressive tires we finally arrived too late to catch any of the races, but just in time for a blizzard. Present were myself (Mr. White), Mr. Orange and Mr. Blonde.
Since it was Super Bowl Sunday, there wasn’t too much activity on the lake so we only had to share the track with a couple of the big boys, who promptly left once we had thoroughly humiliated them with our Yamaha CW50. Alright, maybe it was we who were humiliated, but they left first!
As usual, illegal amounts of fun were had, and we actually learned a few things. These included:
1) The passenger pegs are absolutely ideal as rearset footpegs – both comfortable and functional.
2) We can expect at least 1-1.5 hours and 50-65 kms out of one tank of gas – sounds like perfect timing for rider changes.
|Slushy corners claimed at least one casualty.|
3) We were all amazed by how well the scooter handled the ice, even with the slightly ill fitting tires. And …
4) Mr. Orange’s extra 90ish pounds gives him one serious traction advantage – at least until he binned it coming into the slushy corner and soaked himself. Loser!
So we came home happy with the results, damp from the weather and the track, sick from the roadhouse chow, and looking forward to the upcoming night time session.
Mr. White (Nick Smirniw)
Check our Part 3 here.