ONE MANS PERSONAL LAND SPEED RECORD


Ever wondered what its like to wring every last Kmh out of a big aircooled 1100cc unfaired sportsbikebike?

Wonder no more.

One Mans Personal Land Speed Record - A True Story.

Here it is, finally. The corner I had been searching for all morning appeared out of the distance among the gum trees on the other side of the looming, dilapidated timber bridge. I was hard on the brakes now, trying to wash off the extra 100 klicks I was carrying before I had to negotiate the loose rickety timbers of the old bridge.

My bike had been on song all morning and was responding brilliantly to my latest round of modifications. She started life as an '82 GSX1100 Katana and was by now painted in a gorgeous vibrant blue and heavily modified. My weight pitched forward as I grabbed the front brake lever with even more pressure, forcing the twin discs to work hard and I found myself caressing the bars to correct a little shimmy. The rear tyre danced and bounced all over the old country road as it was almost weightless under the brutal deceleration.

Kicking the gear lever back to second I lined up a long weaving plank on the bridge and opened the taps on the heavy throttle. Four butterfly valves snapped open in four carburetors and fed a bucket load of fuel and air to a very healthy motor. The big katana violently wrenched me forward in a relentless, overwhelming surge of raw unadulterated power as the tacho needle ripped around the dial way past the stock 9000 rpm redline to bury its nose in 11000 rpm territory. My teeth clenched, my body tense, I am reveling in the sheer intoxicating power and trying to hold her in a straight line as the rear tyre claws for traction all the way from 40 to 100 Kmh.

The bridge is gone in an instant and I ram home third gear. Again the rear end snakes around under wheelspin but it is easier to control this time as my road speed is sufficiently high to offer a modicum of stability in a straight line. My chest is right over the tank now and I'm hunched low, waiting ...

A mere two seconds pass and with the tacho needle buried in the red again I lock home fourth at 150 and peel off into the fast sweeping right hander that is sign posted at 100. I become gentle with the throttle now, rolling it to wide open in a controlled movement as my right boot grinds the tar in a graceful dance. Heeled right over I hold a perfect line through the long corner and the front end gets really light as I stand her back up under full power at 180.

Directly in front of me is my goal. A four kilometer long, slightly undulating country straight with a pretty mountain backdrop. I had spent the last four weeks waiting for this moment.


The bike feels good...Check.
No other vehicles ...Check.
No obstructions on the road...Check.

The big Katana is screaming under me as I wring every last hundred revolutions out of her in fourth and lay almost prone across the tank. A trickle of sweat rolls down my spine under the leathers even though I don't feel hot.

Fifth rams home at 205. Things start to get a little weird now. Tunnel vision creeps in and the edges of the road cease to exist. I can't blink. I dare not risk a look at the instruments as I will cover too much ground when I take my eyes off the road. With my heart in my mouth I look anyway...230.

An eternity passes and I chew up another mile before I risk another glance ...240Kmh and the speedo needle jammed hard against the stopper pin.

The wind noise is deafening. It assaults my ears like demented demons screaming in pain right next to me. It is so loud in fact that it is drowning out the big 1100 mill that is wailing away right under me at 9000+ rpm.

Time has meaning now. I can see the end of the straight around 2000 meters away coming at me fast. Every muscle, every fibre of my body a piece of hardened steel, I wait... The vibration is amazing now and has reached a level that makes focusing quite difficult.

1500 meters.

All the hair on the back of my neck is standing up.

1000 meters.

Foolishly I glance at the instruments and it takes an eternity to focus on the dials. The speedo needle is wildly thrashing itself against the stopper pin and the tach reads off at just under 10,000 rpm.

400 meters...OH FUCK.

Instantly I button off the throttle and I am pitched forward into the big mushy pillow of air.

300 meters.

Hard on the brakes now, so hard in fact that I dare not squeeze any harder.

200 meters.

Fuck, I'm not going to stop in time. I sit bolt upright at 200 and not protected by the tiny bikini fairing I turn into a human parachute with such violence that it almost tears my hands from the bars.

100 meters.

Down to 150kmh now and still hard on the brakes. This is going to be close, the tight left hander is only posted at 55.

20 meters.

The rear end is chattering like a maniac and wandering around like a drunk as I desperately wash off speed. My wrists have a horrible ache. 110kmh.
I tip her in from way out wide and sweep right down as far I as dare to lean the big girl over. The tyres are on the limit now. I pass the apex and feed in some throttle in third to keep her steady on the way out.

MADE IT !


Pull over.
Light cigarette.
It's 20 minutes until I stop shaking.

Checking over my bike I discover the speedo needle sheared, right where it was smashing into the stopper pin. I chuckle to myself and declare to the world that from this day forth my speedo shall be called "Stumpy."

I did this back in '93



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