I’m, generally baffled by most things and happily chalk it up to old age.
But at the recent VIP/Test Day at Calabogie Motorsports Park (conveniently located just outside Ottawa, Canada), I did the unthinkable and baffled my F1. I've always subscribed to a hard line position that if I if a track had a sound level policy that would exclude my open megga’d machine, why then it just wasn’t worth riding.
The Calabogie circuit changed all that with the promise of an Alan Wilson designed, 3.05 mile, undulating and twisting, polymer compound-paved playground in my own backyard. Given that the track owners have suffered at the hands of a noise-obsessed local government for almost three years, I figured the least I could do was take some of the edge off the F1. And am I glad I did…
Vice-President & Director John Hamilton’s invitation to the VIP/Test day came at the last minute and caught me with a partially prepared bike and a still-healing body, but an 11th-hour thrash in the shop had at least the equipment side of the equation in better than new form. The invitation-only event gathered an eclectic, diverse and interesting crowd both from the car and bike scenes. I was delighted to see Ducati Toronto GM and ex-Canadian Thunder star Robert Trottier on hand as well as the Brothers McDermott, VRRA VP Michel Roby with his TT2, Thunder racer Dr. Steve Walker, the crew from Pro-Motion, Sandy Noce from Pro-6 Cycle, motojournalists and VRRA racers Steve Bond & Larry Tate, local BMW guy Tim Klein and a host of others representing an assortment of track day organizers. This equated to a mature (well sort of) and talented group who were a joy to ride with on this insanely technical circuit.
Although were expected to run at a “parade” pace, our group leader Dan Henri moved us up to a pretty brisk pace within about four laps that frankly, with my still gimpy left arm – was about all I could handle on a new track that didn’t really offer much in the way of resting spots. Calabogie has similarities to our other Wilson-designed facility about two hours away in Mt. Tremblant, Quebec. Like Le Circuit, the track offers complex combinations that require planning and strategy rather than brute force. Many corners have multiple apexes punctuated by a final decreasing just to add to the challenge. Elevation changes are dramatically combined with these combination sections to truly mess with the rider’s mind and (I’m not kidding here) enhance the visual impact. I spent a lot of time telling myself things like “this section is going to be a riot if I ever figure it out” and honestly, it’s going to be outrageous fun to ride once I wrap my head around where I’m going. But for the moment, with 23 named corners in the 5.05 kilometer main course I rarely knew what was coming next and had my hands full trying to ride the F1 with (effectively) one arm. Like Le Circuit, I hated it at first ‘cause I’m a real pussy and far happier on a track that I can learn quickly – but I’ll keep going back until I love it. Jason shot some on-board footage that you can view here: Download calabogie.wmv
On the down side, it’s not bike-friendly in its current configuration; with far too many areas that have inadequate run-off and lots of Armco lurking right off-track. The encouraging news on this though is that Steve Walker has been working with track management on safety improvements and rider input was actively encouraged and recorded throughout the day. We were loaded onto a trailer just after lunch and pulled around the track (like some sort of demented hay-ride experience) so that we could get another look at the circuit and make more notes about the areas that caused us concern. It certainly seems that by moving some of the barriers back, building up a few drop-offs and making use of gravel traps (I’m understating the work, here) , the track can be as safe as Le Circuit. My sense is that the management will be aggressive in pursuing our recommendations and this means I’ll probably be on the circuit a good half-dozen times next season. The layout also means I’ll be able to add at least two teeth to the rear sprocket which will add another dimension (wheelies) to the F1.
So, was it worth the heresy? Absolutely – and I plan to ask Doug Cook to build a new megga for me that will keep me just under the 92db (at 50ft) sound limit.
Not-too-loudbike. Guess I’ll have to get some new decals made up.
Content: 1987 Ducati 750 F1, 2005 Ducati Multistrada MTS1000S, 1983 Ducati TT1 750, Calabogie Motorsports Park, loudbike, Steve Munro