Nick went for a ride with Ana Carrasco in Spain, ever nearer in her quest to become motorcycle racing’s first female track world champion….
WEST DORSET TO THE WAKHAN CORRIDOR. AND BEYOND…….
NICK: June 2017. I walk into my local bike workshop in Bridport, W.Dorset, where a very well used Vespa is undergoing an MOT. Mod cons include a stylish Samarkand tapestry seat cover. A pleasant young woman in her mid 20s collects. As she rides off, Clive (proprietor) tells me: ‘That’s Emma, she went from Wotton Fitzpaine to Ulan Bator. Via the Wakhan Corridor. On the Vespa. On her own. You two should have a chat.’
I took his advice. Emma had just got back: she’d been away for two years. This is her story.
Low budget, high performance? Really?
A couple of winters ago I picked up a very capable hack (Yamaha Thunderace) on the cheap – the idea as always being to ride it until the warm weather kicked in, and then sell on, making enough to cover the cost of the riding done in between. Plus a few bucks. The Ace was excellent, but what really surprised me was the handling. Despite being a relatively heavy machine, with so so suspenders and a Brit winter to play in, the nearly new rear tyre was rapidly bedded in right to the edge. I hadn’t heard of Contimotions before encountering them on the Ace, and they seemed to me to have coped with the demanding context in which they found themselves at least as well as I would have expected from more heralded brands.
We’ve had these tyres for a while – it’s impossible to quantify road tyre performance without getting some serious miles under your belt.
Let’s get the prejudice out of the way first. Even if you have little time for pricey bespoke motorcycles, beards, modern Brit cuisine and jeans which retail the wrong side of £350 – all of which can be found at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club’s generously appointed Shoreditch HQ, the commercial heart of urban hipsterdom – the phenomenon it all represents is worth examining.
The most interesting thing about the climax of the 2015 MotoGP season was that on track events exposed some uncomfortable truths, and in that sense has been very refreshing.