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Info DLRA 2019 Speed Week (Lake Gairdner, Australia)

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Racing and Track Days' started by Frankster, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Frankster's great adventure...

    Day 1 (Friday 1st of March 2019)

    DLRA 2019 Speed Week.jpg

    Well, after a 4 year break, I thought it was time I visited the Salt again for Speed Week 2019. My mate who did the trip with me last time, jumped at the chance to go again, so he came down from Sydney and we prepared for another outback adventure. The weather forecast was brutal (hot), so we left Melbourne nice and early. We had an uneventful drive to Willalooka (South Australia) for a night’s rest at the local Tavern. $50 per room and access to the bar and restaurant sealed the deal. It was quiet when we got there probably due to the 42-43 degree day. We missed the $15 Steak Night by one day, but as a consolation we ponied up for the $12 pizza night. The 2-hour “happy hour” got us in the mood and the night went better than expected. The WillaLooka Tavern has a wood fire oven, so pizzas were decent to say the least. Publican’s Son races dirt bikes so plenty of bike talk to keep us occupied.

    Willalooka Tavern.jpg

    Day 2 (Saturday 2nd of March 2019)

    Latish start (7:30) meant we got to ‘The Bend’ motor racing complex about 9ish for breakfast. Great complex and I can’t wait for the Drag Racing to start as I plan to be back soon. The first drag meeting should be epic.

    The Bend.jpg

    The Rydges Hotel (part of the complex) has a great foyer. Here are a few pics to enjoy. We thought about giving the hire karts a squirt, but it was already 38 degrees, so we settled for air-conditioned comfort and started driving towards our next accommodation stop in Peterborough.

    Lambo.jpg Dallara.jpg Peter BROCK.jpg

    When we eventually reached Peterborough, we decided to visit the local Motorcycle museum. Owned by Ian and all the bikes on display are from his collection. Some pics for you to enjoy. I will do a more detailed report separately.

    Peterborough Museum 02.jpg Peterborough Museum 03.jpg
    Peterborough Museum 01.jpg 2fiftycc 1939 Benelli.jpg 2fiftycc 1974 MV RS.jpg

    Dinner at one of the local pubs ended up being a bit of a laugh. We walked in, ordered food ($25 for a 400g Rump steak with all the trimmings) and we were in the process of ordering drinks when the publican asked where we were from and where we were heading. “Lake Gairdner” I replied and then he tells me everyone in the bar is also heading there! Turns out a few teams stop at Peterborough on the way through, so we had plenty to talk about. One competitor races a Hyosung 650 V-twin in MPS650 class. He ran 120mph last year and then the Adelaide Hyosung dealer came up to his bike and told him it was still running as a LAMS bike. They removed the restrictor and he went 10mph faster. He said he felt like a tool, but going faster eased the embarrassment!

    Day 3 (Sunday 3rd of March 2019)

    Early start as the road to Lake Gairdner from Iron Knob is dirt and corrugated to buggery. Stopped at Port Augusta on the way through for petrol (nothing to see here). Got to our accommodation (Mt Ive Sheep Station) and unpacked some stuff and headed straight for the Salt. To say “it was hot” would be an understatement. Normally, when it’s 44-45 degrees, one stays indoors and probably stands right in front of the airconditioner. Standing out on the salt was oppressive. And, what my mate said was sunscreen ended being moisturiser! I had lovely smooth, but badly burnt, arms and legs.

    The bike made it through scrutineering without any issues (phew!). 3 months of work paid off.

    AG250 Scrutineering.jpg

    We stuck around the scrutineering tent and watched several bikes go through including a diesel Royal Enfield and a supercharged Vincent.

    Vincent.jpg

    About 5 o’clock, we proceeded to the driver’s briefing and finally a Rookie induction and track tour to get familiar with the process and surroundings. Having previously been a spectator at the Salt, it’s amazing how much you don’t know is going on. Left the bike on the salt (you’re allowed to) and went back to the sheep station to plan for the next day’s adventure.
     
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  2. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Day 4 (Monday 4th of March 2019)

    Early start today as all Rookies have to make a licensing run (on Track 2) to satisfy officials and get their license to race. I think the DLRA states you must show that you can follow direction (?) and that you’re able to control your vehicle to their satisfaction. We missed the turnoff for the Lake (in the dark) and ended up being late for the rookie runs. I was told there was no need to rotate the Earth on this run, so I just did enough to get to the next stage.

    We lined up and I prepared for my run. Sitting around in the heat in full leathers for 2 hours is a real downer, but at least I had the right undergarment.

    2fiftycc Tshirt.jpg

    When I did get to the front of the line, they closed the track because someone had lost/dropped some bits on their run.

    AG250 05.jpg

    Having never run on the salt it was an experience that surprised me. A lot of people have said “it’s like riding on dirt”, but I must admit I wasn’t prepared for how rough and choppy the surface was. The last 150 metres of the timed mile was nice and flat, but as soon as you crossed the final marker you went back to the rough as guts surface again. Normally, I wouldn’t be too concerned about a bit of roughness, but in preparation for high speed running I had set my front end quite stiff and used 10W instead 5W fork oil. By the time I finished my run and turned off, I realised there was something very wrong with the bike as the handling over the bumps was horrible. I started thinking a stiff frontend was a mistake. So, after a pathetic 78mph timed mile I was expecting the official to tell me to go again, but he passed me?!

    AG250 06.jpg

    With all the bouncing the bike did on it’s maiden salt run, I wasn’t too surprised to find a few things became loose, so a little bit of maintenance and we lined up for a another go for real. This run counted if I wanted to try for a record, but once again I found the front end of the bike bouncing all over the place and over 120kph I had tank slapper after tank slapper. The camera on the fork leg was bouncing and shaking so much I expected it to fly off at one stage. Even worse, when we got back to our camp, the camera wouldn’t talk to the PC I brought along, so I had no information to use and I am not sure if the camera has been broken. It still turns on and seems to record, so hopefully it’s recorded something. I thought it might help if I softened the front end, but not having internet meant trying to remember what the standard settings are for ZXR250A front forks. No mobile coverage meant not being able to call someone for the answer. Furthermore, I didn’t bring the right spanner to adjust the compression part of the fork anyway. Once I picked up my time slip, I realised I had no chance to get to the speed I was after. At this point I made the decision to forego any record attempts and just get used to riding on the salt. I was so disappointed I forgot to remove the battery and kill switch lanyard before leaving the bike on the salt. The battery was an issue because I’m running this engine on battery only and the spare battery I brought was a used unit. Thankfully, the spare charged fine & we went for an early dinner. At dinner, I asked some of the other riders (who weren’t rookies) if the salt is always like that. I was relieved to be told that is was in poor condition compared to previous years. I was running on the short track (track 2: 4 miles) as track 1 is the longer track. By the end of week, I realised I should have run on track 1 if I wanted to chase the record.

    Day 5 (Tuesday 5th of March 2019)

    Another early start as I wanted to run as early as possible hoping the salt was smoother first up. Alas, the weather forecast (30% chance of rain) for once was spot on. Even worse, I had not put a cover on my bike as I was told it can get very windy at night on the lake and a cover could cause some damage. Good thing the trailer has a few holes in it otherwise the salt water would have started rusting the trailer floor.

    WetWetWet2.jpg

    Strong winds had indeed blown up overnight and had helped the water and salt go everywhere, so I spent some time making sure all the electrics were dry and getting salt out of plenty of hard to reach places. I had forgotten to remove the battery and kill switch lanyard the night before, so the amount of water sitting on the battery and other semi-exposed electrical connectors was a bit of a worry. The outside of the trailer had also developed a bad case of insta-rust from the rain and salt sticking to the wet surfaces.

    After a spectacular lightning show, the strong winds blew the storm away and we set about preparing for our first run of the day. 8 and half hours later, we lined up for our first (and only) run of the day.

    AG250 01.jpg

    I had borrowed a very large spanner from another team and took all the stiffness out of the front forks. I wasn’t sure what the right numbers were so I went with a lot less preload and 6 clicks of rebound. I also dropped the front pressure down to 34psi and the rear down to 37psi. My run felt a little better, but still too slow to scare the record. A few spectators commented that the run seemed faster than what was announced on the PA and that the bike sounded strong from where they were watching from. Unfortunately, the run is timed over a mile, so hitting 170kph in the last 150 meters doesn’t make up for slow running on the bumpy stuff and some of the ruts made by the cars. The car in front of me was an ex-NASCAR and basically dug 2 grooves half the length of the timed mile. I went into one and the bike “tram tracked” for what felt like an eternity. It’s the same for everyone, so no point moaning.

    We packed up and left just before 6pm. There were still a lot of entries lined up on the dummy grid ready to do a run, but the officials normally close the tracks at 6pm, so maybe some complaints will be coming the way of the DLRA. I just wish the timed mile on Track 2 was smooth the entire way and not just the last 150 meters. Dinner was subdued and an early night followed. I lay in bed for hours thinking “WTF is wrong with this bike? Is it me?”.

    Day 6 (Wednesday 6th of March 2019)

    Having not gone close to what I wanted to run, I was keen to do a couple of runs today, so another early start and fingers crossed for an early run in good conditions. That was the plan. Unfortunately, as I was putting stuff in the car, I realised that I had forgotten to charge the batteries. So, for the next 30 minutes we sat around waiting for one battery to charge and then we set off.

    Another crap day spent waiting to do a run. At least today we got on the salt by 3:30, but the car in front of me had an issue, so we were shut down and the track was closed for 45 minutes while the safety crew picked up some dropped bits. During the wait in pre-stage, I had made a few more adjustments to the front end of the bike; 1 turn of preload added and 1psi taken out of the front tyre.

    AG250 02.jpg

    The run itself was better than the previous runs, but still only managed to go 3mph faster; still 19mph short of my target. I noticed the rear was bouncing as well, so this kind of confirmed one of my other suspicions that a solid rear end on a light bike might be a no-no for the salt. DLRA Forum members talk about how good a solid rear is, but given my issues, I started to think this may only apply to the heavier bikes. I don’t think I will be coming back to the salt with a solid rear again. It works fine when the salt is perfectly flat, but there are more bumps and ruts in the salt than I was lead to believe.

    In the pre-stage lane, I went up to the guy running the ex-NASCAR and asked him what happened on his run yesterday (he ran in front of me). He said “why?” I said there were some deep fishtailing ruts in the middle of the course. He said he’d run the car with the rear wing and it had dug in. He thought he’d hit something and he backed off when the car started fishtailing. At least today I didn’t see too many ruts and undulations.

    Against my better judgement, we went for a beer to discuss what to do Thursday. I wanted one more go at the salt before packing the bike and everything away. The DLRA run a half day on Friday and I was rostered to work on the start line for the morning shift, so no more chances to run the bike other than Thursday. I decided to run again and to make a few more subtle changes to the tyre pressure and front end. Anyway, going for a “beer” turned into 2 bottles of wine and a bad case of the munchies. None of which was good preparation for the next day.

    What was supposed to be an early night turned into a late and intoxicating evening. I think I ate a whole packet of Tim Tams when I got back to my room!

    Day 7 (Thursday 7th of March 2019)

    Headed off to the track early again and when I finally lined up I had the worst run of the entire week. At the start line I noticed there was a cross wind blowing, but it didn’t seem too bad. By the time I got to the first mile marker I was not only fighting the bike for stability, but direction as well. In the end I got pushed to the edge of the course, had a huge moment and decided to call it. I ran 3 mph slower than my best run, but that’s all I was capable of, so riding back on the return road I had decided to pack the bike away, lick my wounds and focus on something (anything) more positive. As I’m prone to changing my mind, Karma decided to intervene. When I pull into the support vehicle parking area I normally turn the fuel off and let the bike run down the fuel in the bowls. Not this time…the run had shook the fuel level off. Quickly I shut the bike down and tried to get my lanyard off so I could alert the starter that there might be debris on the track.

    Lever.jpg

    It must have looked funny, a fat bloke in full leathers running towards the start line with his visor up screaming “stop”. Unfortunately, the starter let the rider go before I got within earshot (plus the starter had headphones on) and the rider was away. The lever is about 50mm long and covered in red plastic, so if it was on the track and not the return road, the safety crew should find it. They closed the track and off they went to look for my lever.

    As I walked back to the bike I noticed part of the front guard had also broken off, so back I raced to the start line. This was a much larger piece, so I was more concerned about it causing damage. So, with the crosswind and repairs, I decided that was enough.

    They found my guard piece, but not the lever. We packed the bike up and headed to the local camp café for some lunch and a misery session. I had to work at the start line the following day, so no more running for me and my evil-handling bike.

    Could my day get any worse? Yes, I actually turned my camera off on the startline instead of on, so what could have been great YouTube footage is only a bad memory for me. Instead I guess I’ll have about 3 minutes of footage of me staring at the starter revving my engine! (if the camera worked).

    Day 8 (Friday 8th of March 2019)

    A very early start today as I was working the startline as a volunteer. All participants (or a member of their crew) in the DLRA Speed Week have to do 1 shift of Volunteer work, so I chose Friday morning. I wish I had chosen another day, so we could have left earlier. Anyway, it’s amazing how many DLRA volunteers don’t show for their shifts. In the end it was me and the starter and that’s it. At one point I had 30 bikes and 5 cars (including a very expensive USA Streamliner) waiting to run.

    Streamliner.jpg

    As an example of “Amateur hour at the DLRA”, the starter let a rookie driver go with her husband half way in the car through the roof trying to select a gear for her! I was gob smacked! Uneffing believable!

    I am really glad I did the Friday session, as it gave me a chance to talk to riders in the starting area about what might be wrong with my bike. I noticed quite a few were running extended rear ends and solid rears. A couple even had USD forks too. Competitor 1283 runs in the same class as me, but with a smaller engine and he said he runs straight as an arrow. Plus he was running 25mph faster than me. His bike is light, solid rear, stretched and has USD forks, so there’s something very wrong with the setup of my bike.

    Rigid&USD.jpg

    The best moment on Friday, was when I was talking to Kevin Magee and he mentioned at one stage on Thursday he thought he was about to crash…I felt so much better after he explained what was happening to him at the time. It was really good fun doing the start line, so I will put my hand up for this job if I go back to the salt.

    The second last run of the meeting was this 500cc Jawa. He was also running in a similar class to me except not on pump fuel and obviously a larger capacity.

    Jawa 2nd last run.jpg

    Friday night was our last night at the sheep station, so we had a few drinks to celebrate/commiserate the week.

    Day 9 (Saturday 9th of March 2019)

    Early start as we wanted to get out of the dust as quickly as possible. At the sheep station, before leaving, I went to the shared kitchen to make myself a coffee and one of the Harley rider’s pit crew was sitting in there reading a magazine waiting for the kettle to boil. I didn’t recognise him, but he said hello and said he’d seen me on the start line Friday blah blah blah. I asked how their week went and he said it was fantastic. His joy was annoying, but I was polite and congratulated him and his team. Then he tells me in the 6 years they’ve been coming (from Perth), this is the first year they have stayed past Tuesday. Stupidly, I ask why? Well, because every other year they’d blown or had terminal problems by the end of the Monday! At that moment, I felt I may have taken my failure a little too seriously. So, then he asks me how my week went? I calmly tell him it had turned to poop the moment I went down the salt on my rookie run. He asks a few questions and during the chat he says “so you actually ran faster than the record for your class?” I stopped for a second and then realised he was right. I hadn’t set the record, but I had run the fastest A/G 250 speed ever, but I couldn’t back it up. Furthermore, I did it on an evil handling, life threatening piece of you-know-what! This is the first year the DLRA has adopted the American rules for setting records. One run to go faster than the current record; immediate impound of your vehicle with fuel sample; run the next morning to also go faster than the current record and your average speed is the new record. Previously, the fastest run regardless was the new record. So, my fastest run was 1.2 mph faster than the current record; a small, but factual consolation prize. But, I’m still dirty for not running at least 20mph faster than what I did.

    We headed off to our Saturday night accommodation in Risdon Park (near Port Pirie, SA). The road from the salt to Iron Knob had become so bad, I was fearful of damaging my bike. In the end, there is so much dust and salt all over it, I will tear it down when I get back to Melbourne sometime after Monday.

    Dusty.jpg

    Tonight, I will be enjoying a few beers with the local Port Pirie people in one of their pubs.

    Summary: So, what did I learn from my 4 days and 5 runs (1 qualifier & 4 actual runs) on the salt? I learnt that running on the salt is nothing like riding on dirt. I only raced on Track 2, so I can’t comment on the condition of track 1. A couple of riders I spoke to on Friday who had raced on both said Track 1 was less bumpy. Track 2 had a stretch of about 150 meters where the salt was groomed and flat. That was the only time I was able to go after real speed on the salt. Having run straight and up to 100mph at Heathcote Park Raceway (not the flatest track out there) a few weeks before, I was bitterly disappointed not to be able to get close to this speed on the salt.

    Furthermore, the unstable (almost unrideable) nature of my bike made the entire experience dangerous. Being a timed mile means you have to be able to hold whatever speed you’re chasing for the entire mile. I just couldn’t do this and on a number of occasions I stupidly put myself in dangerous situations. Running anywhere from 130 to 170 kph over a timed mile doesn’t make for good time slips. I just couldn’t get good speed before entering the timed mile.

    I entered a class that had an existing record instead of showing up with a bike and setting a record just by riding down the salt twice. The class I was in (A/G250) is an open construction class with no streamlining. It gave me a chance to “build” something to a set of rules and to be creative and/or inventive. I had gone to a lot of trouble to make the bike as light as possible, but I think this might have worked against me (to a degree). I had lowered the bike and extended the swingarm to lengthen the wheel base and made the rear end solid as many other DLRA riders do. Making the rear stiff may not have been a good idea, so I may go back to a shock. At one stage during my 4th run, I could feel the back skipping and bouncing from side to side as I was trying to ride the effing thing. What made this really scary was the front end was floating and shaking its head at the same time! I’m not 100% sure that the frame on this bike is true too, so I shouldn’t have taken it for granted that it is. In fact, I won’t be taking anything for granted ever again if I decide to come back to the salt. The bike ran dead straight and stable on the drag strip, but salt is not a drag strip. If I had more tools and equipment I would have pulled the forks down the triple clamp to increase the rake. In the back of my mind I kept thinking hitting pumps with a “fast” front end was causing a lot of my handling issues. I will find a way to check if my bike is 100% straight and that the front end is setup as it was from the factory. My steering damper saved my butt on all of my runs, but particularly on my last run.

    Will I go back to the salt? If I ever get that last run out of my head, probably!

    Before I forget, I need to publicly thank MEC (Murdo) for making the custom tank and solid rear for me; Motorecycle for help with parts and bits (Do you still have that ZXR frame with the TYGA stickers on the side?) and Kangan TAFE for the extended swingarm (which will be making it onto a drag bike very soon). Also, thanks to the Chief and the 2fiftycc forum for knowledge, laughs and feedback.

    I will do another more DLRA focused write up with pics and more non-Frankster stuff when I’m back home. Here's a twin-engined Royal Enfield as a sample of what's to come...

    RoyalEnfieldx2.jpg
     
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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  3. Andych

    Andych Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    What a great writeup @Frankster All things considered you went really well... you didn't crash, you didn't blow the engine and you gained valuable experience..
    I tip my hat to you... you pulled it all together in a relatively short time and did an amazing job.
    Kudos to @Murdo and @kiffsta for their assistance as well.... I am looking forward to more pics and info about the rest of the stuff that happened :)
     
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  4. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Thanks Andy. Appreciate the feedback and comments.
     
  5. Murdo

    Murdo The Good Doctor Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew Contributing Member

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    Well done Frankster. Steep learning curve, but think how much knowledge you've gained for the next trip. So nothing broken/bent and your ok, so all good. :thumb_ups:
     
  6. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Thanks Bud. I'll be chatting to you soon. Cheers.
     
  7. risky

    risky risky

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    seems like you had a good time and gained the most important thing-KNOWLEDGE
     
  8. kiffsta

    kiffsta Administrator Staff Member Dirty Wheel Club Contributing Member

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    Yes I have that frame , massive effort , we are super proud of you

    One other forum member was there on a smaller bike , I will tag him so he can comment on his week

    @Don Short
     
  9. Don Short

    Don Short Active Member

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    5a5dd75a2d30f75c710f0f73043779e0.jpg

    I had a great speed week. a few challenges along the way. the weather made it had for us. lost a day early in the week. first run 81. 718 .backup run 83.414 for a average speed of 82.566 MPH. this gives me the Australian record for my class.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  10. kz1000a

    kz1000a Member Premium Member

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    I definitely enjoyed reading “Frankster’s great adventure....”

    Thanks for sharing your experience. As said, a great write up. (pics and all !)


    FYI The first image that always comes to my mind whenever I hear “salt” racing is that of Rollie Free on the Vincent lying prone in his speedos and sneakers @ 150 MPH

    Scary stuff
     
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  11. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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  12. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Thanks Chris. That's why I needed those stickers. I'll be in touch about getting that frame. Cheers.
     
  13. Andych

    Andych Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Just pondering on the rigid rear end last night @Frankster. Would you perhaps have been better to have braced the swing arm from out near the rear wheel back up to the rear subframe, just to eliminate any potential flexing in the extended swingarm given that the Salt is not super smooth like a Dragstrip? That way you could also make them adjustable to allow you to change the height giving you a bit of adjustment.
     
  14. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Yes, there are many things to review once I get home. I think I have set the front end up all wrong, so I'll start there and see where I end up. I've got a little over 11 months to sort it out.
     
  15. Murdo

    Murdo The Good Doctor Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew Contributing Member

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    Maico 250, Royal Enfield 250, CF 250 V5 and 650TK, XL250, CBR250, ZZR250 plus a few others.
    Good point, something to ponder on although the sub frame would be too flimsy for any bracing. Would need top go back to the main frame near the shock top mount to gain any strength.
     
  16. Frankster

    Frankster See the World before you leave it Staff Member Premium Member Ride and Events Crew

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    Agreed.
     
  17. GreyImport

    GreyImport Administrator Staff Member The Big Cheese Contributing Member

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    Awesome stuff there Frank .... a great time and plenty of knowledge gained ... onward and upward :crazypilot:

    :D :thumb_ups:
     
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  18. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Well-Known Member Premium Member Dirty Wheel Club

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    Nice work Frank... what a great experience! :thumb_ups:
     
  19. my67xr

    my67xr Bike Enthusiast Staff Member Premium Member Contributing Member

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    Again top effort Frank!
    And thank's for stopping by on your way home, it was good to finally meet you, and to put a face to your name :thumb_ups:
    Send me the bill for dry cleaning your short's too, bloody dog's, lol
     
  20. maelstrom

    maelstrom LiteTek Staff Member Premium Member 250cc Vendor Contributing Member

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    Great trip and great story Frank. You have got to go back and put things right. It is one of those things that you just have to do and it will be a lot more fun next time.
    Cheers
    Blair
     

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