The Mountain at Cadwell Park
One of the artistic works I most admire is the series of woodblock prints Hokusai titled 36 Views of Mt Fuji. Once again trying to take a work of genuine artistic significance and relate it in some modest way to motorcycle racing, I present below 18 Views of The Mountain at Cadwell Park. This is a work of slightly less ambition, much less importance in art history, and achieved with dramatically less talent than Hokusai’s work. Still, I hope you may find it worth a few moments of your time.
First a bit of preamble about the location itself if you’ve not been lucky enough to see it in person. The Mountain is the section of track at Cadwell Park’s Turn 12, a short but steep uphill section that allows the faster bikes to jump into the air as they ascend and accelerate. It’s one of those bits of race track that is immediately identifiable, similar to Lukey Heights at Phillip Island and The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca.
The best at a given activity often make that activity look easy, as does Josh Brookes in the featured image at the top of this page. But for many others, getting through this section of track is challenging in direct proportion to the power available in one’s motorbike, one’s skill on two wheels, one’s confidence in mid air, and most importantly, one’s ability to land gracefully after just having made a sharp right turn and then launched into the air.
While the smaller displacement bikes that race at Cadwell Park manage wheelies over The Mountain, they don’t jump in earnest, lacking the power to do so. But the larger bikes, including those in the Ducati TriOptions Cup and the 600cc Supersport bikes, can get both wheels off the ground.
Often the intention of getting as quickly as possible over The Mountain leads to more of a wheelie than a jump, the rider and his machine going upward more enthusiastically than forward. No disrespect or criticism is meant toward the rider shown here, as I observed many, many riders across all classes doing the same thing from time to time, and all of them got over The Mountain again and again much faster than I would.
I have decided just this moment not to include a couple of photos of riders getting this section wrong, not wanting to embarrass anyone, especially those with the guts to try their best in this challenging section of race track. Instead I’ll say that I observed riders with the rear wheel higher than the front, which leads to what must be a quite thrilling moment when the bike’s weight is so far forward upon landing. If either, or both, of the wheels is not aligned with the bike’s forward progress, bad things can happen.
This past weekend at Cadwell Park saw several crashes on The Mountain, including one from Danny Buchan in the first Superbike race. Given that Buchan was nearly as fast as Josh Brookes and flew nearly as high and far, that Buchan can crash here is reason enough for every other rider to be wary of this tricky section of track.
Each rider has his or her own way of passing over The Mountain. Some show clear motocross experience in their posture, nearly standing up and using knees as shock absorbers. Others keep firmly planted on their seats and look as if they are are riding along but floating in the air. Others appear to be hanging on for dear life, their method on each lap at least slightly different from the previous attempt.
To complicate things, the track surface here is not perfectly smooth. There is a small bump in the tarmac on the left side of the track about half way up, something to be avoided according to Michael Laverty, who, when I asked him about it said the best route is to cut the right hander as tight as possible to avoid passing over that small bump.
Josh Brookes appears to cut the right hander very tight indeed, possibly sacrificing a tenth or two at the bottom of The Mountain, but his line allows him to jump up the right side of the track with the speed and technique to fly forward rather than upward for a net gain of a few tenths. However he does it, Brookes is the subject of more Views than another rider, simply because he most often passes over The Mountain in a way worth admiring.
On next page, Views 1-9: