Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Qwa Qwa

If my brother Igor isn't racing enduro, he's out in South Africa's beauty cutting about on bikes with his mates... on any Sunday...

"...some pics from this weekends little forrage into the northern berg region. Awsome riding !"

"This pic is of the Nahamadi Pass, a goat trail up to the Lesotho border.
Only 14 people in the world have made it up to the summit, this pic is of us about 2 thirds the way up, tough going but a good challenge. It has to be noted that all four of the people in the forground of the pic are our 'guides'....shit !,who is watching that the rest of the group dont wonder amiously around the hills in states of fatigue induced deliriousnes???"

Back on the Clay with the Duke

On Saturday afternoon the shiny KTM Duke II was wheeled out of the van into the workshop. She was in for a shock. No more pootling down to the corner store for some milk for this baby... she was going to be flat-tracked!

With no time to take a pic for the before/after... the wheels were off...

Half-way through the transformation...

Mike getting the dirttrack tyres fitted.

Forks are about 5 inches longer than they should be for a flattracker... so we just dropped them through a mile and hoped for the best...

Jack on what he called the 'Mad Max bike'

While working on the Duke we got to see the potential... and the challenges. The biggest challenge being the ride height. She's a tall gal for a flattracker!

The objective of the first phase of this project is to get her to the start line of a race. By Saturday night, the only thing we needed for that is a shark-fin chain-guard (Geoff the welding god is currently whipping one up for the first race in 2 weeks!) and a couple of rear number-boards. But she was good to go for practice.

The Duke was introduced to the world of dirt-tracking at King's Lynn on 29 March 2010 at 13:29...

... where she got to meet some pukka flattrackers!

I was a bit nervous for the first session and just felt my way around. It's been almost a year since being on the clay and smashing myself up. Also the fist time I'd ridden the Duke. Everyone was bombing past me as if I was standing still... they were probably thinking "What the fuck is this muppet doing here?"

'Boastie' going like a rocket!

I started to get into it and have fun. My technique is crap, but at least this time around I have a steel shoe... it makes a huge difference.

A few sessions in, I was tipping her into turn 3, trying to get her sidey-ways. Ghhhhhhhssssssssshhhhhhh.... Pete Boast, the 2009 UK Shorttrack, UK Thunderbike and European Shorttrack champ comes flying up my inside... foot out, steel shoe making a scraping-clinking sound, inside bar nearly on the deck, front wheel pointing in the complete opposite direction to where he's going. Fuck me! It's like he's in slo-mo in National Geographic film... in HD! And I get to see this all from 3 feet away! Now THAT was cool! Worth the 3 hour trip up there just for that moment. The image burned in my brain and he leaves me in the dust. I wanna ride like that!

Sideburn Gary with his beautiful Woods Rotax, all shiny and new from a winter refresh...

... and then he turned on the style!

As the afternoon went on, I got quicker and quicker... until at last I wasn't the slowest one out there. There was a blue line and that suited my novice experience... more grip, less slidey. I'm dog-slow going into the turns... virtually no slidey-action there. But once I apex, I'm okay and can keep up with most... until 100 yards down the track we turn again...

Anthony Brown of Co-Built showing us how it's done!

It was a great day on the clay that hard on this virus-riddled body but was fantastic practice. Much needed practice! I got a long way to go to learn to ride flattrack... so every minute on the clay is valuable.

The Duke was great. Waaay too tall, but that motor is a peach! Just hook it into third and she keeps on pulling! She's about 30kg lighter than the old bone-smashing-monster, so that was the most noticeable difference.

Steve of Red Max with his cool-as Harley XR. there ain't nothin' like the sound of a big VeeTwin with megaphones!

I can't enter into the Thunderbike class as intended because she still looks like a MX/DTX bike... so I'm going to be chopped liver in the Shorttrack class... also get less track time. No worries... we've got a lot of work in front of us to get her to look and handle like a framer... but it looks promising. :-)

Monday, 29 March 2010

Pulse Jet Powered Bike

Robert Maddox's pulse jet powered bike - awesome!

Thanks Sideburn for the link.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Flattrack On!

Got my flattracker yesterday afternoon... or rather... got my new roadbike yesterday afternoon. Mike helped me spend a few hours on it taking things off. I now got a big box full of bits and a flattracker. Well, kind of. I have a bike that will go around a loop of clay and hopefully not do me any damage. Heck! It may even go sidey-ways!

All packed up and heading ooop north to King's Lynn for the ShourttrackUK practice. Kinda nervous. The last time I went for a play on the clay I got hurt. Just gonna go out and have a pootle around, see the FT guys, and have a few laughs.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The 'Ain't got no van blues'

The Chevy's been busted for nearly 2 weeks now. Getting tired of public transport and bumming lifts to get around. Struggling to get anyone to have a look at it. It's not an easy plug-n-play diagnostic or a replace-bits-until-the-problem-goes-away job... it requires a little skill and knowledge. Two things that most 'engineers' on this island don't possess.

I won the basis of my Flattracker on the weekend... an unseen eBay auction win. Got it for a good price... just hope there are no surprises. I'm one step closer to the chalk start line! Just lacking the means by which to transport it. Shit! I may land up riding it the 200 miles home.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Ben Spies Method

This is how Ben Spies wins races at world level on tracks he's never seen before...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Kalahari 400

More great pics from brother Igor back in Africa:

"...some pics from yesterdays National Off- road race in the Kalahari. 'Flat out' is the only way to deal with thick sand..."

"There was however one puddle in the desert, other than the one caused by the
overflowing septic tank back at race control, and you bet.. the organisers made us ride thru both. This pic is of the septic tank spill crossing, the natural puddle was much smaller....ha ha"

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Flattracker Dreams

I'm in the midst of liberating myself from a few hardly used bikes... to be replaced with one kick-ass, always ridden street and flat-tracker. It's going to be used to hooligan down to the shops for some milk and race in the ShorttrackUK Thunderbike class. Dreams.

Tool for all jobs? The Wee Monster taught me probably not. The idea is to build a cool-ass, kick-ass flattrack racer and keep it as a race-registered street-tracker. Possible? Dunno... but I'm gonna try!

Still hunting for the donor bike. First race in 3 weeks. Heck! I'll be just glad to get to the start line! If I do, it'll be on a road bike. Over season it'll be transformed to something like this:

Any guesses on the donor bike?
30 minutes in photoshop left a lot of clues....

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


I was supposed to do a 3hr Harescramble in Bordon yesterday. But, the ol' Chevy Dawg has let me down with some electrical gremlins and wasn't moving from my driveway. Gave me opportunity to service the KTM and finish off the Wee Monster (just some new rubber and she's good to go win more Desmo Due races!).  Been down with some weird virus lately so I probably needed the rest.

Still no progress on the flattracker - struggling to find a donor bike!

Meanwhile across Africa, my brother Igor has been on a little trip to Swaziland (The Kingdom of... I shit you not.). Here are some of his snaps and commentry:

 "Bike out of hole, its all go go go !"

 "Giving our guides bike some mouth-to-mouth after he drowned it in 20cm of water."

"Pushing sucks... what can i tell u."

Far more newsworthy than a weekend marooned at home!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Old Skool Candy

More great shots from Carlos Nunez

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Flattrack Project

It's 5 hours past my bedtime and I can't get no sleep. Perfect opportunity to tell about my Flattrack project Steve from RedMaxSpeedshop (and avid Harley Flatracker) alluded to in a past comment.

This year I want to race Flattrack. Getting smashed up last year hasn't put me off... in fact, it's given me a warped determination. So warped that despite planning it for the last 6 months, first practice was on Sunday (past) and I still don't have a bike to ride.

I scrapped the Ducati Monster idea of last year after persuasion from my mates and applying a bit of common sense. Yes, yes... it would be 'cool', but would just land up spending a wad of cash to get smashed up again. Monster = too fat, too heavy

There were dreams of a Co-Built frame and I was a night away from a road-trip to Frankfurt to buy a ex Jacopo Monti (?) Woods Rotax framer - too slow boy!

So... we've run out of time and money... looks like they took my friends. Next practice is in 3 weeks and first race in 5. This is going to be a fly by night adventure. I can tell you this... it'll be a Thunderbike, people will shake their heads and tut-tut... but it'll be better than the old Monster and be a scalable solution (work-speak taking over...).

This means it'll be a kind-of road-bike that I'll develop with the help of friends (that I hope will return) over the year and in the end have a kick-ass, mutts-nutts framer. Dreams.

Time will tell...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Brands Hatch - 1964

Here's a great movie of Stirling Moss driving Brands Hatch (GP Circuit) in 1964. The 'fast Lap' is cool.

Great to see that not much has changed in nearly 40 years :-) but I guess that's why there are no major events there anymore. :-(

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Crossin' Down the Field

After all the shitty weather we've been having for the past few months, the last week has mostly been dry with blue skies. Still a bit cold with frost and frozen puddles but that didn't stop us getting down the field today...

While I hacked around the field with Jay on the four-fiddy, Ant, Mike and Andy got into the woods for a bit of trials

Ant landed up having a lie-down in a ditch with the Montessa on top of him. Not much sympathy from Mike and Andy who just canned themselves with laugher as Ant took this shot on his phone...

Meanwhile down the field... after a slippy start, the track cut in beautifully in the sunshine. Spring is on it's way!

The good 'ol four-fiddy... I love the beast!

Fourteen year-old Jay rides a 85cc KTM in Enduros... he was getting to grips and ripping it up with Ant's more than three times bigger CRF 250. He did brilliantly... only biting the dirt once... far less than me!

I managed 2 x 45 minute sessions non-stop. Making rythm and going fast. I was cream-crackered by the time the others finished trials and the 'Superpole' competition began...

 Mr. Rossi going through the pre-Superpole rituals...

 ... and then ripping it up on the sticky track!

Mike sporting his new lid (ACU approved too!). When he put it on he exclaimed "Jeez! I can hardly feel it!". Ant's reply "Welcome to the 21st century."

Heather and Saff came down to provide some much needed glamour to the event...

Max came down on his bike too.

"I was nibbling into your lead and then you went wide on turn 5...

 ... I almost t-boned you!"

Ant styling it up - eye of the tiger!

It was a brilliant day in the clay! I'm getting fitter, but I'm gonna feel this for the next few days. If I can do this every weekend till Erzberg (only 12 to go!), I'll be fit. But if we get weather like this every weekend, I must be the Pope!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Gus Scott - Part 4

"24 hours before his death, Gus Scott wrote this heartfelt account of a 115mph lap at his first TT. We couldn't think of a finer tribute to our friend than to publish it."

Continued from Gus Scott - Part 3...

I came out of Quarry Bends and thought I was on Sulby Straight and could relax, but I wasn't. I was heading straight towards a wall. I was trying to turn the bike at 180mph with the throttle pinned. It was a nightmare. the bike's screaming it's head off down Sulby Straight, but I take the chance to give my fingers a bit of a waggle around. In the 600 race the bike in front hit a bird and it was like a pillow exploding. Then you apex off the houses, before going down into second to wheelie over Sulby Bridge.

Just there my mate, Kenny Munro, was killed a few years ago. I say hello to Kenny every time I go past.

Then all hell breaks loose. I've never ridden a road as bumpy as the one between Ginger Hall and Ramsey. The bike's lock-to-lock through Milntown. Down a hill, through the bumpiest corner, then you start building up to a horrible jump where Rob Frost crashed. Pull on the bars to wheelie. then keep it pinned until I see a little fence. I call it Fast Fence, to remind myself not to roll off through the blind kink. The sunlight coming through the trees distracts you.

I'm not getting used to animals on the track. In the 600 race I came through Milntown to see a massive black cockerel in the middle of the road. It looked at me and I  looked at it. I thought 'I'm going to hit this', before it casually walked to the side of the road.

It's really bumpy, but the faster you go, the smoother it gets. Bumpy right, back another gear. there's a tree with a big 'K' carved into it. Aim for that and you miss the kerb.

Ramsey's a nightmare to get round so you may as well just pootle. Up towards the Waterworks there's a lot of nice short circuit scratching stuff. Waterworks is a tight right with loads of people shouting into your ear. It's great. Do a tiny wheelie before the climb up the Mountain.

Three corners taken as one into Guthries, a nasty little bastard that can easily have you off. fast left, keep climbing, over a tiny bridge where you nearly hit your shoulder on a bale, then you start the Mountain Mile. It's not a straight and easy to get wrong.

Everything's a blur, but it's a nice feeling. The bike's labouring, but I feel great in the fresh air and sunlight.

Up the top I get a pitboard as I go over the tramlines telling me if I have to come in for fuel or not. On to Brandywell and Windy Corner, past where Simon Beck died, two apex left-hander that can catch you out and a lovely right...

I'm missing out chunks because it's all constantly left-right up here. You can't compare this place to anywhere else and that's exactly what I wanted. I wanted a completely new challenge. It doesn't even compare to other road circuits because it's such a length. In one race I'm only going through a corner four times. On a short circuit I'm going through 20 times. Even the longest race you're only going through six times. And the conditions could've changed, someone could've fallen off.

Accelerate through Kate's, through the damp patches. I always think I'm going to lose the front here. down to Creg-ny-Baa. Down three, gentle kneedown for the punters, close to their feet to give them a proper buzz. through Brandish in top, right up close to the spectators. I love it.

Into Signpost. My team-mate Nigel 'Cap' Davis crashed here the other night and broke his femur in half. I think the bike landed on him. It's blind in second, then into another nice corner that's off-camber, aim for the gatepost, then turn away, accelerate towards the horrible Nook, then a whiff of throttle to Governor's then bam-bam...

Governor's is awful. It kicks your arse-end all over the place. Through gently, I nearly topple off I'm going so slow. Short-shift into second, there's a nasty little rise so I stand up and accelerate like fuck, skim the kerb and that's it, on to the start/finish for another lap or five.