Saturday, 27 March 2010

Motorcycle Real Road Racing, Straw Bales, and the Little Pigs

Motorcycle Real Road Racing Blog by Barbiegirl Northern Ireland


Allegedly, once upon a time, there were these three little pigs, one of which decided to construct his new self build house out of straw because it was allegedly, by far the cheapest, easiest to use available product of that time.

Sadly though, leastways for the pig, one cold dark night, this big bad wolf turned up on his doorstep, and this big bad wolf so dearly loved to eat fat little pigs, he blew the house over, and ate the stupid fat pig who'd ignored all the safety warnings about the unsuitability of straw as a stable building material for his new house.

Witnesses were later heard to say the fat pig had allegedly ignored the safety warnings of those nattering away in his ear - well you would do - wouldn't any fat little pig find it easier just to ignore them?

Allegedly - according to an article by Catherine Wanek - it was in the 1890s, that pioneers of the sand hills of Nebraska found themselves building a new life on a treeless prairie, and from necessity began building their homes from bales of straw.

A few years earlier, around 1868, the first motorbike was apparently built, followed by a second, which allegedly prompted the first ever real road race, rumoured to have been staged several hours drive from Nebraska - somewhere in the far North West - 200 miles away - allegedly. The track though, allegedly, it wasn't ever going to be the safest in the World, hence the birth of the unstable straw bale constructed chicane - complete with the obligatory Customer Compounds.

Yes - you're probably right - rider and spectator safety, allegedly wasn't an issue then either, but allegedly - financial profiteering by officials was something of a major issue during that early period in motorcycle real road racing - unlike today of course - allegedly.

As an aside, just thought I'd mention that in the midst of these famous motorcycle real road racing developments, in the year 1881, Kansas allegedly became the first state to outlaw alcohol - around 40 years ahead of the Prohibition era which sparked a huge widespread illicit distillation industry - a tradition allegedly kept alive, even as I write, by the much revered, proud local Poteen distillers of Northern Ireland.

Back at the very start of this new millennium, MAG Sport published a most relevant article by Trevor Baird of Write To Ride - Right To Ride - now republished here for those who may have missed it first time around:

"I have a mate and no he's not the only one I have. He build's houses out of straw bales, not just the thatched roof but the walls as well and claims the first little piggy was right and eco friendly. The houses also apparently pass fire regulations although apparently not a big bad wolf blowing them down.

With tests proving that a straw bale stops absorbing energy after 27 mph. they should certainly not be used for adorning lamppost's and fast corners on race or road race circuits and in my opinion that goes for tyre walls as well.

What's the alternative, well Gregan Boyd of Trackcare International Safety in Northern Ireland have come up with an alternative "bale" which they have developed over the last few years. In 1998 his newly designed safety barrier pasted the strenuous F.I.M. test procedures, are you ready here comes the scientific bit, it gives the lowest rebound velocity which relates to the potential for the rider to rebounded back onto the circuit following an impact of 0.9m/s compared to straw bales 2.8 and tyre walls 4.9. The new bales absorb 98.6% energy (this being absorbed uniformly) compared to straw bales 86% and tyre walls 59.3%. imagine like running into the side wall of a custard bouncy castle while naked, well maybe not?

The bales are waterproof and fire retardant (to spec. French M2 fire tested) unlike a straw house I'm sure, they are flexible and highly tear resistant (uv light protected) and by being able to advertise on the outer cover it allows companies to advertise and save lives.

Mallory Park are installing a section on their circuit this year sponsored by a major motorcycle clothing company and negotiations are ongoing with the new circuit at Rockingham. The Monaghan Club in Southern Ireland were one of the first road circuits to use the system in 1998 with other circuits following suit, the Dundrod circuit in Northern Ireland one of the Ulster section road races and the Isle of Man TT in 1999.

With a new air barrier being tested at TRL (MAG members remember Dr Chin) in March and the development of kerb and telegraph pole protectors, MAG Sport congratulates Gregan and Trackcare for striving to advance the safety at racetracks for riders, Marshall's and spectators alike." © Trevor Baird

Straw - it's been around since who knows when - before the dinosaurs - it was straw then, and it's straw now - allegedly 100% free of technological advances - and if we're to believe the historians, people have been using it to make hats, baskets, and all sorts of weird and wonderful products, their beds included, since approximately 10,000 BC - give or take a few months that is. Most importantly to our primitive ancestors though, probably the dinosaurs as well, as is still the case - there was a humongous abundance of the stuff - and it was a dirt cheap easily used product that any eejit could find a use for - especially so since the invention of the legendary straw bale - and real road racing.

The humble motorcycles of 1868 - probably, they could have managed a good 20mph whillst plummeting down a mountainside with a following storm force 12 tail wind - technological advances though, have since turned motorcycles into the most fearsome of 200mph plus projectiles, with the acceleration of a jet aeroplane, but not to worry - a few strategically placed straw bale barricades will soon put a stop to that nonsense.

Problem is though, as pointed out by Trevor Baird in his year 2000 article - straw bales stop absorbing energy after 27 mph - suffice for the motorcycles raced in 1868 perhaps - but for 2010! Get Real!

Somebody needs to tell the dinosaurs, and especially our Government, that the motorcycles currently being raced around our ancient, narrow, winding, bumpy - tree, house, telegraph pole, hedge, wall, and spectator lined ludicrously dangerous unsuitable public roads - are now travelling at speeds in excess of 200 mph - and he who would dare proclaim it is acceptably safe to do so in the 21st Century - I for one, would question their sanity!

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