Saturday, 2nd June
Well, I never did make the race at Snett last weekend in the end. By the time I’d measured the front end of the bike it was painfully obvious that it wasn’t going anywhere, as the front wheel was about two inches to the left of where it should have been. In retrospect this may have been a good thing, as I was still feeling pretty beaten up. In fact it’s only now, a week later, that I can sit on the bike without needing someone to help me on and off it.
Anyway, the bendy front end seems to have been largely cured by the purchase of a new set of yokes (top and bottom) from the chaps at Dave Hammond Racing. The bike went back together today, and all appears to be straight. However, all this has happened a day too late, and I’ve had to miss todays MRO round at Thruxton. This enforced gap of two meetings has frustrated me no end.
So, in an effort to brighten my mood, I’ve painted the spare bedroom orange.
Thursday, 21st June
Well, we’re back again after a longer than usual layoff. Regular readers of this drivel will probably have noticed the reason already – I’ve had to migrate this lot to another server, and in the process rewrite the scripts in perl (they were VBScript running on asp for the technically curious). Anyway, as far as the racing thing goes, the meeting for this weekend at Rockingham has now been cancelled, so I’ve still not sat on the bike since Castle Combe.
The spare room however now has a lovely border to match the orange paint now.
Thursday, 28th June
Convoyed up to Oulton in the company of Sol ready for tomorrows practise and Saturdays race. I was earnestly looking forward to this, as Oulton is my favourite track, and I haven’t ridden the bike for over a month now. The weather looked good for the weekend, and everything was looking promising. At least until we hit the traffic on the M6 at any rate… Not to worry though, ‘cos in the ensuing traffic jam I noticed that I was sitting behind Rik, so I called him up, and we arranged to all stop at the next services for tea and lard. mmmmmm…
Oulton was pretty much as I remember it, so we got the van unloaded, opened a few beers, and sat around chatting and wondering what the weekend would bring.
Friday, 29th June
Up early to move everything into our alloted garage for the weekend, and to get everything ready for practise. The weather was looking a bit changeable, but mainly dry, so I plumped for slicks, and got the warmers on while I nipped off for breakfast. Scotty had turned up by this time, so he joined Sol and I for the traditional pre-practise bacon roll.
The first session is a bit of a blur actually, other than being noise tested before I could go out:
“Hold it at 7000, and I’ll take a reading” said the man with the meter
“OK” I shouted above the din, and held it at about 4500.
“Yup, no problem” he shouted back…
I was being very careful at Knickerbrook, as the last time there I managed to lob it away on the fastest corner on the circuit… Still, the bike felt good, I felt good, and all was right with the world.
The most fun was had in session three, where myself, Scotty, Ben and Sol all got out together, and had a right laugh. I was clocked at 1:49 in this session which I was more than happy with, as last years best was 1:51 in the MRO qualifying. OK, so it’s still 5 seconds off of a *really* fast lap, but still a step in the right direction.
Session 4 was abandoned after one lap due to a rainstorm over the back half of the circuit turning it into an ice rink. So we adjourned to the bar, to have a pint or two.
Seven pints later I extracted myself from the haybales at Island after Scotty and I had a competition to see who could crash a mountain bike the most spectacularly.
Saturday, 30th June
The day started well enough due to my being ever so prepared the day before and getting my bike scrooted and everything sorted ready to go out and play on my favourite circuit. The only major challenge was getting rid of the hangover that the previous evenings 7 pints had resulted in. It was all Rogers fault. Or was it Sols? I dunno. My memory is a bit hazy…
Anyway, practise came and went in the way that it normally does, so I queued up for the first race. I was gridded 10th for this one, with Colin and Sol 11th and 12th respectively, and Scotty 14th. A scrap was on the cards… I capitalised on this situation by getting my worst start ever, and going bananas to catch everyone. The first few laps are a bit of a blur, but I remember Colin pulling off at Knickerbrook, and reeling in Scotty. The last 5 laps were probably the most fun I’ve had on a bike for a while now – at times we were passing each other three times on a lap. There was no way any pass was going to stick, as neither of us were going to let it. I knew Scottys weak point though… Braking into Lodge. On the last lap he’d dive up the inside, leaving me the simple option of taking a wide line in, and outdriving him to the line. So, on the last lap, I took the planned wide line in, Scotty duly dived up the inside, and I got on the gas nice and early only to nearly run into the back of a 125 backmarker who decided to take the scenic line and go for a detour half way around the corner. Bum. Scotty got it by .25 of a second at the line, with our fastest lap times being identical.
And so to race two… A better start was in order, but Colin made an absolute flyer from the row behind to pass me. On the way out of Old Hall Gary Baxter missed a gear, so I nipped past him onto Colins tail, then was torpedoed by an errant 125 as I peeled into Cascades. The bike and I left the ground together, and I got tangled up in the bike as we slid toward the kerb. I was actually waiting for something to start hurting lots, and was mildly surprised as I continued to slide with my legs under the bike that so far, this had completely failed to happen. The next thing to happen was The Kerb, and I was forcibly seperated from the bike through the screen, and started to bounce into the gravel. At this point the bike dug in, somersaulted, and for an instant looked vaguely like a low flying aircraft being hit by anti aircraft fire. The engine note rose as the throttle was wrenched open, then the bike hit the ground in an explosion of gravel and fairing.
Check arms, legs. Yup, all present and correct. I didn’t want to look at the bike, as I knew what kind of state it would be in. So I consoled myself by throwing a glove at the tyre wall, and kicking it for good measure.
Damage to rider: bruised botty.
Damage to bike: Almost total. The frame is cracked, and the forks are so out of line it’s comical. I think the engines a scrapper, as the airbox was ripped off leading to half the gravel trap being sucked into the crank. The bodywork is obviously wiped out, as are *all* the fairing mounts. The radiator has been stuffed backwards through the remnants of the lower airbox and will never play the violin again. The tank has a hole in it. One of the ignition coils has gone West, along with the steering damper. The damper mount on the frame has been snapped off completely. The throttle assembly is completely absent, and the footpeg and brake lever are smashed.
So, that’s it for me, at least for this season. I’ve got other priorities now, and if I’m completely honest with myself, my first thought when I came to rest in the gravel was for Ronketti Jr., and nothing to do with crashing out of a good start or ripping the arms off the fuckwit that caused the carnage. (This is pretty uncharitable I know, as it was a racing incident plain and simple, but generally speaking when you’re taken out by someone else through no fault of your own you tend to feel less than warmly disposed to the other rider).
I’ll be back – I just don’t know when right now.