Home / Site Map / My Harley Blog /

On the track at last

By Wom Battle

Today was the day, Oran Park... Advanced Riding Skills Course...me, my son and the Road King! The weather was relatively fine and the forecast was good, so we headed over to Oran Park from the overnight stay at Narellen.  There were a bunch of bikes of all brands and sizes there when we arrived, with 25 participants booked in for the day. There was also a black Maserati being put through it's paces on the track by the aussie Top Gear team.

We started off with a chat and then went out and did a couple of slow, familiarisation laps. Followed up by stopping techniques, continuing on to some tricky low speed cone weaving.  I already knew I needed to move my knees out of the way to get the handlebars around doing the slow stuff so it wasn't that hard, even if it looked a little funny and "airy".  Then we got into the emergency stopping.  It was the first time I've really jumped on the Harley's brakes, it stops quite well given the weight, single calipers (dual disks on the front) but I found it difficult not to lock up the back wheel.  The brake "pedal" isn't ideal for providing "touch" when you have to brake hard on it. The emergency was pretty much the only thing my son didn't pillion on, I didn't really want to have to hold him up to as he slammed into my back :-).

After a break we got into riding around the track and weaving through cones, using counter steering. They started off with a good distance between them and got closer, supposedly forcing you to slow down through the cones.  That was the theory.  I was really surpised how nimble the Harley felt going through that part of the course, I was actually a little worried about getting it through without knocking cones all over the place, particularly considering all the panniers and my boy on board. No problems at all with that.  The more I rode the Harley the more respect I had for it, it was consistent, stable and didn't do anything that felt "wrong".

Lunch after that, and then into the fun part... cornering. We split up into 5 groups of 5 riders each with an instructor.  The groups were broken up from the quick group to the quickest group.  I found a spot in the theoretical second fastest group among a big Hondas, an Aprila, a Suzuki GS and the instructor was on a Buell.  I forgot the mention, I was the only Harley there.

The system was, the instructor would follow you around from the track entry point, through a whole lap and a half with everyone else following hot on their heels.  After your flying lap, sorry, your "best" lap not your fastest, you'd pull in for some private reflection with the instructor and then go to the back.  One by one the instructor would work through the group.  This was the part of the day we were really getting into it, albeit sensibly.  My son was videoing over my shoulder for much of it and in particular my first "hot" lap with the instructor where we heard the distinct sound of metal on the road a number of times.  Accommodating the lack of lean angle by getting off the side of the Harley wasn't very natural, but it was great fun.

My second lap was without my son on board.  It was quite strange, because out of the 2500 ks I've done probably only 150 or so have been without him (or my daughter) so I'm not really familiar riding it without the extra weight.  Never mind, the head went off, the queensland blue pumpkin went on the shoulders and I went for it. 

Now I'm not stupid enough to sit here and type that the Harley flew, it's no scalded rabbit, but I did get around on it's edges and I wasn't at all disappointed with my speed through the track, clearly the top end speed wasn't there in the straight, but I did manage about 140kpm before having to brake into the sweeping left hander at the end that closes in quite scarily as you go through it. There was absolutely no sign that we were inappropriately placed in the secone fastest group despite being two up.

We actually surprised quite a few of the participants with the speed and agility of the 11 year old cruiser. I actually felt a little guilty pushing it as hard as I did but also quite proud that it went so well! I was also very pleased at the very positive feedback received from our group's instructor.  The old Wom still has it!

Distance on the track, 90 - 100k's for the day.

Following the issuance of certificates it was time for the 200k trip home.  The ride was uneventful except for some rain in the northern part of Sydney that required the wet weather gear to be thrown on at a fuel stop (12.38 l @ $16.46). 

However, despite the tiredness after the significant effort of the day, I was much more at ease riding the bike and immediately noticed the difference in my approach to riding and the thought processes getting it through traffic and around corners.  If you don't do one of these courses, you are NUTS!

Total k's travelled for the day: 302 (the most in one day so far).



Disclaimer: This non commercial website and its content is not affiliated with or associated in any way with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Harley-Davidson Australia, the Harley-Davidson Owners Group® or any Harley-Davidson® Dealers in Australia.  The use of the terms Harley-Davidson, and Road King® are unavoidable because that's what I own and ride.  This website,  called "My Harley Davidson" , and any opinions or comments expressed herein are purely about my Harley-Davidson Road King ownership experience, a truly great experience at that. I have no intention whatsoever to infringe on any trademarks or copyright ownership of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company or anyone else.

October 2020