Friday, 1st October
Sunday, 3rd October
Another day in the garage getting things ready for Brands. The usual checks of brakes, head bearings, jets, chain, sprockets, wheel bearings, etc. etc. failed to reveal any damage. However, I did need to swap the pipes over with my spare set from the old road bike, as the baffles had collapsed internally on the r/h pipe.
Saturday, 8th October
Finalised getting things ready for tomorrows efforts at Brands, and convoyed with Simon Morley to stop overnight with fellow TeamIxion member, Sol, in downtown funky Ongar. All in all, a pretty good evening ensued with a few beers drunk and tall stories told. Finally got to sleep at about midnight with one of the cats keeping my feet warm.
Sunday, 9th October
Up unfeasibly early to get to Brands in time for scrooting, at 5:45am. By some strange quirk of fate I seem to have avoided the ravages of the expected hangover. So, we all piled into Simons van, hitched my trailer up, and hit the road. It was still dark at this time, but as the sun rose to reveal clear skies our spirits rose with it. We got to Brands at around 7:15, and found fellow TeamIxies Andy, Jim and Diane in garage 12. Breakfast ensued when Simon got some teas in, and bang on cue, Stoo got out his first peperami of the day.
Scrooting was purgatory of course, due to the push through the tunnel to get to the bay. The bike flew through, so all I had to do now was push the bloody thing back to the garage again. Once this was done, I climbed into my leathers, and walked back again to get my leathers and lid checked over, then walked back again… Once there I bumped into Mike who informed me that scrutineering was now taking place in the last garage. Grrrrrrrrr.
My main sticking point at Brands is still Paddock Hill bend. It’s one of those corners that sucks you in too early, then you rapidly run out of track on the steeply downhill exit. However, after a few laps I was starting to get a bit of a line through there, and was braking far later than ever before, turning harder, and driving down the hill. However, practise was over all too soon, so I barged my way into the next practise session too, and carried on where I’d left off. My wrist was, unsurprisingly, a little bit sore by the end of this, but at least it was holding up to the severe braking into Druids hairpin.
My most disappointing all season. A timid start was followed by some lacklustre riding to net a seasonlong worst of 18th place. I don’t think I passed anyone unless they had fallen off. I got back to the garage, and immediately sank into a corner and started sulking. I was 2s a lap off the pace, and it showed.
Much better. As in race 1 I started from row 8, but this time had a bit of a banzai charge through the field on the first lap. I tucked onto the back of a group containing Nick, Charlie, and the two Pauls, and while I didn’t pass any of them, we all scythed our way past some of the slower TZRs and most of the LCs. Whilst the result was still rather poor (I think I got 16th or something) the racing was good fun
At last, a decent grid position, row 2. Took off like the proverbial scalded cat, and tucked in with Simon Tomlinson in 6th place. The next 6 laps were quite simply the best I’ve ever had at Brands, as I stayed with the leading pack all the way. However, my nemesis reared it’s ugly head once more, and I lost two places at Paddock on the last lap. Dammit. Oh well. Still, I was on such a high when I got back to the garage than I pulled a large stoppie, grabbed a beer, and dumped the bike.
However, the days events were not over… The bikes of the two championship leaders, Paul Hogan and Charlie Blackmore had been protested on technical grounds, and I was summoned to the race office as the BMCRC TZR representative (a rather rapid promotion I feel, but I was happy to assume the role at short notice). Luckily, the protest was overturned, and the result stood. Afterwards we had a long chat with race director Dave Stewart about possible changes to next years TZR regulations in order to stop this sort of thing happening next year.
Thursday, 14th October
Back to the gym tonight for the first time since, ooh, I don’t know. It’s been a couple of months anyway, what with one thing and another. It’s amazing how quickly you lose your fitness. I used to be able to do 10 minutes on the rowing machine, 20 mins cycling, 20 mins weights then 20 mins on the cross trainer. Today I was knackered after the cross training and weights.
Sunday, 24th October
I have a feeling that a canoe would have been more appropriate for this weekends fun and games, but unfortunately I didn’t have one to hand, so had to make do with riding a motorbike instead. I, like Roger, have precious little experience of Silverstone, but sadly had neither the time nor money to get some practise in on Friday/Saturday.
Cost so far:
Fuel: £100 for van and bike
Steering damper: £40
Tuesday, 26th October
Stripped the bike completely ready for it’s winter rebuild. Apart from the engine, there’s not a great deal to do this year. The forks will get new seals, and the swinging arm will be stripped out and the bearings and bushes cleaned and checked, but that’s about it. Oh, and new wheel bearings. The brakes are still fine, but the fluid will be changed just to be on the safe side. In my original plan for the 1999 winter rebuild I wanted to get the frame and swinging arm powder coated black, like Raineys old YZR500. But I think I’d rather spend the money on tyres to be honest.
I guess now would be as good a time as any to sum up my season, and it’s been an odd one. In some places (notably Snetterton and Oulton) I was fighing hard, and recording some very good lap and race times. At other meetings (Brands and Silverstone) I was finishing well down the order for no apparent reason. So, for next season, my goal is to find some consistency.
The bike has been completely reliable, which is nice. I haven’t had a single mechanical DNF all year. The closest I came was when my fairing jettisoned itself at the end of the Revett straight, and to this end over the winter I’ll be fitting a proper race fairing to overcome this problem. It should also be a couple of pounds lighter.
And that’s really about it for another year. All that’s left to do is thank everybody who’s helped me along the way, particularly Faye, Simon, James, Roger, and all the other TeamIxion members.