Its funny looking back now but back in 2013 I had never rode anything on the road over 125cc and it had been over 20 years since I had been on a bike. In my teens I had looked longingly at RD350LCs, GPZ900Rs, Suzuki Katanas (strangely) and had a soft spot for the GPZ600. But at that moment of picking up the Kawasaki ZX-636 I was greener behind the ears than the bikes paint job. Regardless of the fact that I had been driving on the road for years and the current car was a 3.2 V6 Audi, in my mind it was the day after selling the MBX and it felt like I was that teenager again.
Those first days were a little strange. I’m not sure if it was being on a physically larger bike or that after so long I was just rusty but I remember being very stiff on the bike. Not physically, that would come later and we’ll get to that. I hadn’t appreciated that the bike needed a bit more input from me to wrestle it around. I was giving it more respect than it deserved. A few more miles under the belt sorted me out. I spent the first few weeks pottering around home just enjoying riding the bike, cleaning the bike, looking at the bike and cleaning it again just in case it had got dirty while I was looking at it. It wasn’t long before I had a local group of mates with bikes and we were taking regular longer rides around the Northwest and Wales.
Got a motorcycle, box ticked. Rode the motorcycle, box ticked. The next box that needed ticking was on the track.
With its origins as a race circuit starting in the 1950s my first recollection was going there in the late 70’s with my dad to watch the super bikes and eat beef sandwiches. Apart from the racing I remember the sandwiches had excessive amounts of butter and salt. Nice. I’m lucky that not only is it on my doorstep but, in my opinion, it is one of the best circuits in the world. In its 2.8 miles It has wonderful sweeping curves, changing gradients, and technical bits that are a joy when you nail them just right.
The bike was ready for it. I’d replaced the stock exhaust with a shorter carbon fibre PipeWerx exhaust and with its baffle out I was amazed to get it through its noise test. The mirrors were off and the headlights were taped up. Unfortunately it was a bit damp. Not so much that it would spoil the day but enough that you knew you couldn’t fully commit to the bends. Not that I’m shy of a bit of rain. As a choice we don’t ride in crap weather but thats a choice made of keeping the bikes at a showroom standard rather than any inability to ride in any condition on my part, as I’ll show later on in this tale.