Touring England on Royal Enfield Motorcycles, Part Three

British Superbikes at Brands Hatch

British superbikes at Brands Hatch
British Superbikes are nothing more than a blur down the front straight at Brands Hatch.©Motorcyclist
Brands Hatch
Some of the best seats in the house aren’t seats at all.©Motorcyclist

Notorious is how I'd describe it. The elevation changes, the corners, each named after someone I never knew but had heard of. Brands Hatch brings back memories of John Frankenheimer's film, Grand Prix. A film that might have changed my life. So when a distant friend saw that we were in England and offered a pair of press passes to the British Superbike race that was about to take place, how could we say no? We had ridden our Royal Enfields to Stonehenge from Portsmouth the day prior (click here to see Part Two and the Stonehenge ride), and had decided to stay somewhere near the race track that night so as to have an early start for Saturday's festivities. The country roads in England beg for a bit more. The 500cc single-cylinder situated in my Continental GT sang the song of cold air and combustion, a throaty noise that echoed across the countryside and through the SENA headset that kept Kyra and I in contact. From Portsmouth, you have two choices when it comes to how you get to Brands Hatch. The larger, faster 'M' motorways or the two-lane and all-too-often slow 'A' roads crisscrossing the country. We opted for the latter.

British flags
Pretty sure these guys are big fans of Britain.©Motorcyclist
British Superbike SBK
This big sweeper was the sight of many seconds lost during the qualifying round for BSBK.©Motorcyclist

I’ll tell you a bit more about my experience with the bike in a later update, but let’s just say that I was a little apprehensive about riding 1,500-plus miles around England on a café racer. Honestly, the first day was difficult. The familiar buzz that a thumper emits permeated every part of me. 75 mph on the M26 and your eyes begin to blur, your fingers go full numb and your feet tingle at the toes. But like all good things in life, if you do it enough, well, you know.

BSBK pits access
Access to the pits and media center gave us a firsthand look at the BSBK beasts.©Motorcyclist
British rase fans
Stoked is how I would describe these dudes.©Motorcyclist

Arriving at the race track, we were greeted by friendly gate keepers, parking lot attendants and patrons alike. We parked our bikes in the Press lot, wandered about ‘til we found an entrance, made our way to the Media Room and acquired ourselves a pair of Press badges, allowing us access to just about everything, save for the photo spots (an unfortunate circumstance given our intention to document the go fast parts of this experience).

BSBK spectators
For plenty of people a standing-room-only spot along the Start/Finish straight is a perfect place to watch.©Motorcyclist
Royal Enfield Continental GT
My version of a British superbike, the Royal Enfield Continental GT.©Motorcyclist

Unlike the two-race weekend calendar for World Superbike, which we recently attended at Laguna Seca, the British Superbike series runs practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday. So our Saturday arrival left us absent of any racing aside from the smaller British Supersport and a variety of Junior Cup classes. But that didn’t stop us from taking it all in. The pits were alive. Bikes blasted past us, logging lap times during Free Practice and then, eventually, pulling out all the stops for the official qualifying session for Sunday’s main race, the seventh round of this BSBK season.

Royal Enfield with tank bag
It’s no touring bike, but with a Wolfman Luggage tank bag attached, it can go farther than you might imagine.©Motorcyclist
Pit stops
Tinkle breaks were a common occurrence. What a wonderful place for a pee-pee, though!©Motorcyclist
Royal Enfield Continental GT seating position
The leaned-forward riding position on the Continental GT took a little getting used to.©Motorcyclist

Bikes moving this fast are hard to see, as anyone who has attended a WSBK or MotoGP event might attest. Usually you’re better off watching a race on television, assuming you want to see the whole thing. But there’s something about a 1,000cc sport bike blowing past you at well over 150 MPH. To watch the riders disappear into the distance, only to reappear on the horizon, leg leaned over the edge of the bike, knee nearly to the ground, entering a corner you can barely see, and then again, they’re gone. It’s an amazing experience. The speed, the sound, the energy – combined it creates a cacophony of noise and emotion unlike anything else. And this circuit, Brands Hatch, with its nine turns and innumerous amount of history, is itself a spectacle. We’ve seen plenty of sport bikes at speed. Racers tipping into turns and disappearing down the front straight. But Brands Hatch is a beast all its own! Something you have to see for yourself. Seriously.

British wheat fields
Fields of wheat as far as the eye can see lined either side of this lesser known ‘A’ road.©Motorcyclist
Royal Enfield Bullet 500
The Bullet 500 served as our pack mule for this adventure, carrying nearly everything we own.©Motorcyclist
More Wolfman Luggage
Wolfman Luggage offers a set of Skyline saddlebags and matching dry duffle made from sail cloth.©Motorcyclist