“We were like a couple of kids in a sweet shop,” admits a still-exhilarated Ryan Jenkinson, a full two weeks after his first track day experience.
The Reverend and The Makers drummer was with fellow Triumph fanatic and Arctic Monkeys bass player Nick O’Malley as they ripped up the Silverstone circuit on two Street Triples. “I was sh***ing it,” says Nick: “I didn’t help myself by watching a load of track-day bloopers on YouTube the day before, mind.” For Nick, more used to his classic Street Scrambler, the day was a massive culture shock and one he needed a little advance preparation for around the Peak District near his home.
“Nick had never ridden anything other than a classic and never on a track before, so he called me and asked if we could meet up the day before,” says Ryan. “We met in the Peaks. I’m in full leathers on my Street Triple RX and he rocks up in jeans and a classic leather jacket on his Street Scrambler, so when we swap bikes you can imagine what the pair of us looked like.”
Armed with those few hours’ experience, Nick and Ryan met with two-time Superbike World champion Troy Corser at the famous Northamptonshire venue. And from then on there was no looking back.
“This was nothing like playing gigs in front of tens of thousands of people. It was much more nerve-racking and a completely different kind of buzz. “I was on a Street Triple RS, which has the new 765cc engine and all the trimmings, so it was pretty much sink or swim. Once you get out and hit the Wellington Straight at almost 118mph, it’s hard to put it into words. It’s an almost spiritual experience that you just want more and more of.
“I was on the Street Rider mode, so I couldn’t pull any unplanned wheelies, and I felt it kick in once, which was a bit scary. It was such an incredible feeling I’d recommend it to any rider of any Triumph. I’d like to do it again, but next time I’ll change gear at 14,000rpm instead of the 700 I’m used to. When I got back on my Scrambler without the quick shift gears it felt weird.
“The 765 engine packs some serious punch that I’d have pushed even harder if I’d been used to it. I was quite cautious to start with and didn’t get out of third much but, even if you don’t have a race bike, do it because it takes your riding to its limits. It’s fantastic to do something just for the sheer thrill of it.”
“I was on my own Street Triple RX with the 675cc engine and was nervous. You head out of Luffield, pin the throttle and then tip into Woodcote at about 90+mph. It’s terrifying, exhilarating and like nothing you can experience on the road. It banishes any remnants of nerves immediately. We were both nervous but it’s strange because once you get out there they go. It’s riding at its most raw, with a little bit of mischief thrown in.
“I looked over at Nick halfway round and he was loving the unadulterated exhilaration of the moment. You don’t get a chance or opportunity to test your bike or riding on the road. On the track it’s the stuff of pure adrenaline. Nothing can touch it.
“On the road there’s a whole different bunch of concerns but on the track the only concern is the adrenaline dump when you get back to the pits. When we finished we were like a couple of kids in a sweet shop, and then it hit us.”
What else the guys are up to these days…
Ryan had just returned from gigs in Norway and Canada ahead of the Makers’ new CD release, Death of a King, in September.
Nick found time for the track day before recording began on the eagerly anticipated sixth album, started at a secret location in September. The new album will be out next year because ‘if it isn’t, we’ve got problems’.