Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Flattrackin' - Rye House

Been really slack on the blog lately. Suffering post-Manx depression, over-blogging and generally unable to get my shit together... but here it a post that should have been posted a week ago...

Spent all of Saturday working on the flattracker. My Dad sorted the rear undertray (it snagged the rear tyre and had a hole worn in it...) and the bent levers while I got to work on the front-end. Discovered I had got the wrong forks... but Anthony (Co-Built) came to the rescue and loaned me a set that would fit. After a bit of driving around, and a few hours in the garage, we got a whole new front-end on the bike!

Replacing the front end and my Dad sorting the back-end

Sunday's racing was at Rye House... this is where I first tasted dirt-tracking on a CCM Dirt Track Experience in May 2007 - that was huuuuge fun and bloody hot!

My Dad and I got there early and found a spot in the back of the tiny paddock where we were soon parked in. All chilled out and relaxed for the practice at 11h00. Start up the bike and it revvs it's tits off . Bollocks! Fiddle, fiddle... then she doesn't want to start. Bollocks! Practice gets underway and we're arsing about with the bike trying to get her to start. Then the starter goes dead. Fantastic! Seat off check, check, check. Battery is cooking. Not good. Work on the bike through practice... and after practice. Co-Built Anthony, Redmax Steve and Pete Wilky lend a hand. We eventually get her started on Pete's roll-starter (cool piece of kit!). But the battery is poked.

Dad's pretty pleased to be doin' a bit of fabrication...

A chap called Mark comes to the rescue. Mark had built a Suzuki framed Thunderbike around an LC4 engine and raced it for a few seasons before getting injured. He had finally decided that flattrackin' wasn't worth the domestic trouble so was selling his bike. He had it at Rye house and whipped out the battery for me to use. What a generous guy... and a nice piece of flattrackin' kit too! (if you want a good Thunderbike... it's a steal!)

All sorted by 20:30 and ready to rock 'n roll - Dad's pleased it's dinner time!

My bike was draining the battery so still had to start it on Pete's magical roll-starter every time but managed to get out for most of the heats.

First heat: Shorttrack and I'm drawn on the front row. No practice on a bike with a completely new front-end and on a tyre I've never ridden on before. I stare over the start line to the first turn. Bollocks! The tape shoots up and "Baaaaaaaarp!" - race on!

In the thick of it - Thanks Steve Baldock for the great pics!

Of course I'm stone last by the time we get onto lap 3. I finish last, about a third of a lap behind the next placed rider. I'm almost lapped in the short 6 lap race! I'm first row in the first Thunderbike heat too, but don't do any better. Last again. Next Shorttrack heat I miss because we couldn't get the bike started. Great!

The always impressive Skooter farm garage

Then things started looking up for the second Thunderbike heat. I finish second last. Yeah! Third Shorttrack heat and I'm last again... but only by about a yard. Yeah!

By the time my third Thunderbike heat comes around, I have done a little practice and have warmed up a bit. I actually race a few other riders this time and finish fourth! Yeeeeeeeha! But that's it. Last heat of the day... over. Doh!

Chewin the fat... John Lee's fantastic #76 Thunderbike... mostly self-made from a Honda 700 twin... ingenuity at it's best!

I don't make the Thunderbike final and have just one consolation race left in the day - the Thunderbike 'B' race. I'm on the front row with Sideburn Gary, Redmax Steve and. This is it! C'mon!

We get to choose gates so I slot into 2nd spot on Steve's left with Gary on my inside. Starter moves away and I stare at the white tape just a few inches in front of my front wheel, vibrating from the revving bikes. Revvs rise, the tape shoots up and we're off! Gary slews across from spot 1 and collides with me... I in turn hit Steve on my right. In the thick of it into turn 1... and manage to get out the other side with two wheels on the dirt and in fourth place.

I ricochet off Gary (#13) into Steve (#59)... sorry mate... didn't mean it. Mike Ryan (#22) gets a flyer - now that's the way to do it... none of this bumpin' and bashin' around!

We cross the line for lap 1 and I slide into turn 1 of lap 2. Then the bloody bike stalls! The second time it happens that day. I pick the bike up and run wide, I try clutch her to bump-start her. But she just skids. I'm running wide trying to get her started when I hear a "Sssshhhhhhhh" on my outside. A rider is on my outside and heading for the barrier. He low-sides a few yards before the barrier and collides with it as I manage to get the bastard bike roll-started.

Flattrack On!

He's lying in the dirt, his foot trapped under the rear of the bike. He's squirming around and beating the ground with his arm like WWF Wrestler in a head-lock. I think "Shit! He's mangled his ankle.". I stop and kill my engine and look to put the bike up to help my fallen competitor, feeling a little guilty that my running wide helped him on his way to the barrier.

The marshals are there within seconds and drag his bike off his foot. He's still squirming around like beached sardine. The paramedic is there pretty soon... and starts checking the patient. Within a minute he's standing on his 'shattered' ankle. His performance was worthy of a Premier League footballer... a good ploy to get the race stopped and be able to restart after binning it. Grrrrrr...

Thanks to Craig, Heather, Kyle and Ross for the visit and valued support!

I'm a bit annoyed. Then try kick-start my bike with a 640cc engine, a left-hand kick start and a steel shoe on my left boot. Pretty soon I'm panting, sweat streaming inside my helmet and pretty pissed off. The grid is waiting for me... including the academy award winner. Two marshals help out and I manage to bump-start the bike. Thanks for your help guys! I'm on the start line again... revs rise... tape shoots up...

It's a carbon-copy of the first start... but there's more space in turn 1 and exit in third place. I spend the rest of the race hounding Gary's back wheel. But he makes no mistakes on the blue groove and I get third on the line. I think that gives me an extra point to add to my championship tally. :-)

Jacopo Monti's mechanic with the flying #5 - Jacopo took another Thunderbike win

Bike troubles really get me down and detract from my enjoyment of biking. I'm not a guy that likes fettling or fixing bikes much... I prefer to just ride them (Wee Suzuki style... just put gas and ride the thing). But still enjoyed the day in the end... glad my Dad was there to be part of it all. And many, many thanks to Mark, Steve, Anthony, Pete my Dad and all who helped... it's much appreciated!

Slotting onto Gary's 6 in the 'B' final - Wilky took the win.

Now... to sort that bee-atch of a bike out for the next and final meeting of the year...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Senior Race

Sorry about the delay... just been knackered and pretty busy trying to get back to normal life... here goes...

With the Ultra Lightweight race done... I had only 1 hour to recover physically and focus on the Senior race. I was feeling a bit tired and not very hungry... but forced down some pasta because my body needed fuel. I swallowed a couple of ibuprofen with isotonic drink to keep the muscles in my back, neck and shoulders loose and sat in the sun relaxing my bones as much as possible... and focusing on blasting down Bray Hill again. My Dad and Ian were great and already had the warmers on Candy during the Ultra Lightweight race and organised the fuel for the pit-stop.

The Team and Candy in Parc Ferme before the races

I suited up again and was at Parc Ferme fifteen minutes before wheeling the beast up to Glencrutchery Road for the last time in 2010. Start number for Senior race: 94 - stone fuckin' last. Nice! No worries... gave me more time to rest and get my mind into gear. Wheeling my way to the Start line, some fuel had overflowed into the belly-pan from the steep ramp up to the road. I think every scrootineer on the road came and had a look. "It's only a bit of fuel that's overflowed... don't stop me now... please don't stop me now...". They deliberated and ummed and aaahed... those last few minutes up to the start line crawled along. I get near the front and the scrootineers disappear... I focus.

The Starter taps my shoulder and by the time I've hooked up second with a little wheelie I'm fully into race mode - doing a race before sure helps. I get the hammer down immediately and catch the first rider before Braddan Bridge. Candy is pulling well and I'm smoother than I've been on her before... and faster.

Into Governor's Dip - thanks tmgreed

I catch and pass about a dozen riders on the first lap... not as many as in the Ultra Lightweight... but that was expected. I knock out a 107.6mph lap from the standing start :-)

I press on. The sun was shining by now and mist on the mountain burned off. Down Cronk-y-voddy I look around... it's just so damn pretty out there. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to race on the most awesome track in the world. It's beautiful.

Getting Candy turned into the Gooseneck - thanks Dave Kneen

Second lap rolls around and I'm in a good rhythm... 108.6mph. A few more passes and before I know it I'm pulling into the pits. My Dad and Ian do another great job but some fuel overflows down the front of the tank and soaks into the kevlar material in the crotch of my leathers. No worries, and soon I'm hammering Candy down Glencrutchery Road again with a full load of fuel and clean screen and visor. Then the bollocks start to burn. When this happened last year, and the first year we did the Manx, it only burned for a minute or so. This was a good soaking. I opened my legs to get the wind in there and try get the fuel to evaporate quicker... but it got more and more painful. It burned like hell all the way to Kirk Michael!

Wobbling around Governor's Dip - thanks tmgreed

Candy is much harder work than Suzy V around the Isle. I think the springs front and back and oil level in my forks are wrong. I'd figured this out during practice but was scuppered for time, knowledge and ability to be able to do anything about it. I couldn't find the Maxton guys in the paddock (disadvantage of not living in the paddock for 2 weeks!) so just made do with what I had. My pre-load was to the max and I was still bottoming the forks out... to prevent this, my compression was wound in. Giving a harsh ride... too harsh for the Isle.

Over Ballaugh Bridge - Wheeeeee... (sorry - don't know where I got this one...)

The back end wasn't as bad, but the compression was completely out... so no room to maneuver there. She was great on the smooth bits, but a handful on the bumpy stuff... which is about half the bloody lap! She was also shaking her head at most bumps and I had to hold on tight. On the first two laps I got a bit of a tank-slapper on the go on landing from the jump at Ballacrye. Not much fun and losing a lot of time as I roll off to get her settled again. Also, with the change in geometry she was stable but I had to really shove her around to get her to turn.

I go deep and square off the Gooseneck, don't know if it's the fastest line, but feels the safest because the exit runs off-camber... high-side city! (sorry - don't know where I got this one either)

With twice as much effort going into keeping her between the hedges, at every opportunity I concentrated on relaxing my back, neck and shoulders. I had to manage my body.

Shortly after coming out of the pits for the third lap, I caught an R6. I passed him through the twisties no problemo. Coming out of Kate's Cottage, I miss a gear and he passes me immediately... he must have been on my six since I passed him. "No problem." I think... "We'll be on Cronk-y-voddy soon and this big old 1000cc Vee Twin will chomp that screaming 600cc rice burner." I hold onto his coat tails through the left, right, left sequence... through the farmyard section and over the brow with a wheelie onto Cronk-y-voddy Straight. I couldnt believe it... he starts gapping me! By the time we reach the end of the straight he's pulled 30 yards on me! On a wee 600!

Laying down as much power as I dare coming out of the Gooseneck - thanks Dave Kneen

Every straight, he gaps me... I catch him through the twisties, but fortunately he doesn't hold me up. detemined not to have a repeat of 2006, I dispatch him on the brakes into Parliament Square... he goes wide and there is no way he'll catch me over the smooth curves of the Mountain. By the time I have Candy across the Mountain and cranked over through the Creg-ny-baa, he's nowhere to be seen.

End of the third lap and the throttle is pinned past the grandstand. Is it my imagination or does she sound a little louder? Probably losing some exhaust packing... that short-stroke engine has so much back-pressure that exhaust cans only last 2 or 3 race weekends before they need repacking. Up through through Snugborough and Union Mills and she definitely sounds lauder between the walls. The power used to chime in at 6000 rpm... now she's choking at 7000. Shit.

Looking a bit lost, wandering around Governor's Dip  - thanks tmgreed

She doesn't feel a crisp and certainly isn't pulling like she did before. Through the left before the Crosby and I know she's lost the end of the exhaust with the ear-splitting crack of the exhaust note resonating from the wall that's 2 feet away at 130 plus. "Not now... c'mon... just one lap to go baby!" I coax her... but I'm a bit pissed with her and screw that throttle harder.

Through Ballacraine it's obvious that I don't have an exhaust and a Travelling Marshal * steps into the track and scrutinises the bike closely as I tip her through the 90 degree right-hander. "Oh fuck! They're onto me now.". I wind that throttle as hard as I dare... somehow hoping I can outrun the officials. I'm a man on the run. I scarper through Glen Helen quicker than I ever have, despite having to hold her in a gear lower than normal. Under 8000 rpm and she is limp as overcooked Pizza-Hut spaghetti. I punish her for it.

The left-hander just before the Gooseneck - thanks Dave Kneen

Through the 13th Milestone and I see the marshals unraveling a black flag. If a rider is shown a black flag, they have to stop immediately (when safe to do so...) otherwise they will be disqualified. This is done if there is an infringement, or the marshals can see something on your bike that would make it unsuitable to race (like smoke pouring out of an exhaust or a fairing hanging loose...). I just know the black flag is for me... yep, man on the run. I've beaten the first black flag... and go faster somehow thinking I can beat the next one...

No such luck... on the brow of the short straight leading into Kirk Michael, I see a black flag with an orange dot in the centre... and a blackboard with the number '94' on it. "Fuck!" "They've got me."

I slow and pull into the next marshal post on the outside of the right-hander going into Kirk Michael. A Travelling Marshal flags me down and I stop next to him. He walks around the bike and I glance over my shoulder at the cracking exhaust. The end cap is gone and she's making an almighty racket. I switch off. The TM is on a radio.

Split down both sides, end cap blown off - I think running with a dB killer in practice week induced a bit too much heat fatigue to the battle-worn Ti zorst...

One of the rule changes this year is that if a rider is black-flagged, even if in error or for something minor like some duct tape flapping loose, their bike has to be scrootineered by a qualified scrootineer before being allowed to continue. This was forced by the ACU. I'm thinking: "Fuck - that's my race over."

The TM is more interested in something on the left, rear of Candy than the poked exhaust. He bends down and breaks off the remains of the carbon-fibre toe-guard. I had no idea it was adrift. He goes around to the exhaust... takes a look, checks it's secure and is back on the radio. I'm thinking my race is done.

He's on the radio for a good half-minute or so. The R6 I passed on the last lap screams by. Next thing, the TM gestures for me to start up. I guess he wants me to park it up in a safer place. Then he waits for the next rider to pass before gesturing for me to rejoin the course. It's then that I remember the Chief Scrootineer telling us in the Technical Briefing that they would try get all the TMs qualified as scrootineers before the start of race week. They did it! I could have kissed the TM! "Yeah!" My Angel on the Course.

After the races at the beer-tent with the Pit Crew... no major incidents... a successful day!

With no exhaust and a big power loss I ride Candy hard. Harder than I've ever ridden anything around the Mountain Course before. I'm angry at her for falling to pieces on the last lap after all the time, effort and expense I've put into her for the Manx... but I'm also chasing a replica **. With my mediocre lap times in practice and the fast boys really setting a blistering pace, I always knew it would be a push to get a replica. I had to push hard despite her being down on power.

The babes after a hard day's work - thanks Ian for the cool shot

Ballaugh, Ginger Hall, Ramsey... The Mountain. I crossed the line relieved to make it home. Relieved to finish... but she had let me down on that last lap. But mabe that's what I needed... a kick in the pants to get me really riding her properly. That last lap I really upped my game. With no exhaust, she lost loads of power... my speed through the traps on that last lap was only 137mph - 13mph slower than in practice and slower than Suzy V who is only a 650cc. But I rode Candy's wheels off and still managed a lap of 108.3 mph! That's what a bit of encouragement can do!

I missed a replica by 45 seconds, only 11 seconds a lap... but too much to make up over the last lap. We get a finishers medal for our efforts- I'll take it!

Just love this shot from practice week - with that teeny-weeny red bikini and a dash of yellow it can only be Candy - thanks TGFphotos.com

* Travelling Marshals (TMs) are the Angels of the TT Course. These guys are all ex-TT racers that can lap the course far faster than I dare. There are about 8 of them that ride souped-up road-bikes (their own bikes at the Manx) wearing a day-glo yellow jacket with a big 'M' on the back. I believe they are all trained paramedics and are normally the first person with medical training to an incident. They have tail packs strapped to their bikes that are packed with survival medical stuff... the first few minutes after an incident are critical for survival. They are your Angels around the course.

** 'Replicas' are a replica of the winners trophy... but only about 6 inches high. This is what most of us come to the Isle for. To get one you need to finish within 10% of the winners time - or something like that. To get a finishers medal is great... but we're all going for a replica...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Ultra Lightweight Race

Got a few hours shut-eye and up early to get the bikes to scrootineering by 08h00 an a cloudy but warm day. Both bikes sailed through... all shiny and clean for the races. Then spent an hour or two waiting around for mist to clear on the mountain and finally wheeled Suzy V up onto Glencrutchery Road for the start of the Ultra Lightweight race. I probably seemed a bit cranky, but was keeping focussed on the task ahead.

Suzy V and Candy were the first bikes through scrootineering - we were keen!

Joined the long line of machines right at the back... more than 8 minutes later I was staring down Glencrutchery Road, starter's hand on my shoulder. He taps my shoulder and I ease the clutch out to make a clean getaway. After having ridden Candy the afternoon before, she seems to move in slow-motion... revving her right up to her 10 grand max and knicking one gear after the next. Within seconds we were in top gear with the hedge on the approach to St Ninians crossroads whipping past at over 100mph, just a foot away from my right shoulder.

The Team - Ian, me and my Dad with 'Suzy V'

Dad not looking too happy in the Trolley Park

With warm tyres I keep her pinned all the way down but roll going though the dip so that she doesn't bottom out too much with a full fuel load. Ago's Leap, Quarterbridge, Braddan Bridge and charging flat-out on through Snugborough. Starting almost last there was going to be traffic coming my way - I caught the first bike through Union Mills. I had the hammer down. I dispatched another three in one go just after the super-fast flat-out left hander just before the Crosby pub. You got to keep it flat-out through there, the revs rising as you lean the bike over through the turn and the tyre circumference decreases... they all rolled.

I haven't found many race pics, so this is from practice - landing from the Ballaugh Bridge jump (I am finally getting this right) - thanks tmgreed for the pic

I was getting a wriggle on... smooth and fast. It was faster than I'd ever been. I had caught and passed a dozen riders by the time I was hurtling through the 120mph plus Alpine Cottage. I'm sure every one of us out there gave a "Rest In Peace" to Jamie Adams and Chris Bradshaw who tragically lost their lives on that turn in Wednesday's Junior race. The blur of the yellow paint markers showing how the incident unfolded was a grim reminder to be safe and steady... but I only saw them on the first lap... Jamie and Chris got a R.I.P. on every lap.

Another from practice in Parliament Square - thanks tmgreed for the pic

The traffic thinned as I gave Suzy V all she had as I cam e through for the second lap. This time I didn't roll at the bottom of Bray Hill. "Whump!" she bottoms-out at well over 120mph and my chest hits the top of the tank, helmet clouting the tank and steering damper... but it's all expected and the foam pads on the tank and damper do their job and absorb the impact. I crack on for another steady, fast lap. there was mist over the mountain, but visibility was still about 100 yards so it didn't slow things up too much.

Alistair Haworth and Peter Minns waiting in the scrootineering line- Pete is planning on following in brother Mike's footsteps and doing the Manx... he's just started racing this season and should be out there in 2012

Through Keppel Gate I brake a little too hard, too early... I lose my corner-speed, and in an attempt to regain some time I get on the gas before I hit the apex. Despite only having 75 horsepower, and being on shell-grip, with the tyre at max lean  it breaks free and I get a big slide on the go. Go fast, turn left... flattracking style! I have never slid on shell-grip before... I just took 300 miles of life out of that tyre. It doesn't phase me much... but enough to not want to try that again on the next lap!

End of lap 2 and into the pits for a refuel. Ian on the refueling, my Dad hand's me a carb gel, drink, cleaning rag and sprays my bug-shot visor, then gets to work on the smeared screen. Fuel for bike and rider, clean visor and screen and I head out for the second-half of the race.

Practice, Quarterbridge - thanks again tmgreed for the pic

A little easier through the bottom of Bray hill and Quarterbridge and then nail it all the way to Ballacraine. There is a stationary yellow flag on the approach to Glan Vine crossroads. I'm catching a 400 all the way up the hill  and roll off the throttle early. Then I see a lack of adhesion flag (yellow and red stripes). The guy on the 400 saw it a second or two before me and threw out the anchors. It's like he's in high-speed reverse... "Fuck!" I hit the brakes as hard as I dare and fight with the bars to try get Suzy to steer around this palloka. Foot comes off the peg alla Rossi style as the negative G-force pulls my body forward and I try balance the bike at the limit of adhesion.

I squeeze past his right side... in excess of 100mph. Jeeeeesus! It wasn't that close... it just gave me a fright... didn't expect him to come to almost a standstill at such a fast part of the circuit at the sight of a yellow and red flag. Someone's engine had let go through there and there was a long oil trail that had already been cement dusted through the centre of the turn. Note to self: "Keep it tight through there for the rest of the day"... "and watch out for nervous riders in reverse."

Practice, Ballacraine - thanks Dave Kneen (think I've posted it before... but I like it...)

I lose a lot of time through there but crack on. I don't see another rider until the end of the last lap. I love it like that... just you, the course and the snarling of a Vee Twin. It seems so open, empty... it eggs you to go faster... faster... faster. You pass the spectators so quickly and at such close quarters at most parts of the lap that they seem frozen. Just images to people pasted to boards behind hedges, walls and on embankments... all watching you.

On the final run through Kirk Michael, I ran her through the first turn just a little quicker then before... I over-compensated and messed up the line... hitting a big bump as I approached the apex. The back tyre kicks, the front loads and slides... "Chiiirrrrp!". I leave a front wheel darkie for what seems an eternity before the tyre grips again. No worries... all in control... now get that frikkin' throttle open!

The only race pic I've been able to find - thanks Dave Kneen 

I passed a lot of riders during those 4 laps. I'd see the white on green race numbers of some of them out the corner of my eye. The first few were in the hundreds... then we got into the nineties... eighties, seventies, sixties and when I caught John Batty #58 at the conquered flag I knew it was a good result. Catch and pass, catch and pass. I had gone quicker than ever on Suzy V... holding her flat-out through turns where I'd roll... even just a smidgen during practice. So rewarding when you get that right.

I'm really happy with my performance and so proud of little Suzy V... I rung her neck non-stop for 150.8 miles on the toughest circuit in the world and she never missed a beat. She took all the abuse in her stride. On that last lap I was feeling for her and just talking her home... "Common baby... you can do it... nearly there now... just one more trip over the mountain..."

Ian Hutchinson's TT winning Honda Fireblade. Hutchy was around and did a parade lap with wheelies and burn-outs. Not much on this bike looked like standard Fireblade bits

Only after the next race did I find out the result. I started 4th last on the road... and brought little Suzy V home in 17th place out of 79 starters (I think). There were 59 finishers. My race average was 102.1mph with a fastest lap of 103.9mph - good enough to earn my second ManxGP Replica. Whooooohooooo!


Thursday, 2 September 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Start Numbers

I was expecting a phone call from Race Office for a change of number. When your entry is accepted, you are seeded. This is your start number. It's an attempt to make it safer so that when out there you are not doing too much overtaking. It's bloody difficult to overtake here... it slows you down and can be dangerous because of the speeds. If you show during practice that you're faster (by some margin) than your original number, when all the practice is finished, they move some of the riders up in the start order.

Ultra Lightweight #106 - 'Suzy V'

So... when my entry was accepted, I got #106 in the Ultra Lightweight. This is out of 110 entrants. They have seeded every single newcomer ahead of me... they obviously think I'm rubbish. I have finished all practices 35th fastest in the Ultra Lightweight class... significantly better than 106th! My Senior # is 94... out of 94. so they reckon I'm the slowest rider out there. I was 56th fastest after all practices... not as big a difference as in the Ultra Lightweight... but still significant. No phonecall... either they have forgotten to call and I have new start number... or what happened last year has had a bearing on things.

Senior #94 - 'Candy'
(The BAMF used to be called 'Candy'... I thought a 106mph lap deserved giving her name back... but she did a 108mph lap four years ago with less bling bits and less horsepower... so she still has to prove herself... )

I'm little annoyed about it... but need to channel that energy into the race and going fast... there is going to be a lot of catching and passing happening tomorrow... it'll be like a video game! Looking forward to it!

'Suzy V' and 'Candy' all prepped and ready to rock in races tomorrow


ManxGP 2010 - Final Practice

The rescheduled Senior Classic race was run today in great conditions... a bit misty, but sunny and warm. Mark Herbertson was running in 3rd when he retired at Kirk Michael on the first lap :-(

Mark Herbertson (#10) getting off the line in the senior Classic

The 500 AJS he was on was in bits just days before after a terminal engine failure during practice week. Alan and Mark put in many hours to get the bike to the start line, but misfire and then dead engine put Mark out of the race.

After that we got out for one lap of practice on the BAMF. I made a few suspension tweaks and raised my seat level by about 10mm to try get the air flowing better over me. I also wanted to work on being smoother and try carry more corner speed.

My Dad enjoying the glorious sound of a rare 3 cylinder 500cc MV Augusta race bike (raced and made famous by Giacomo Agostini) - Alan Oversby was the first starter in the Senior Classic and led the race until the last 7 miles when he broke down.

We set out at about 14h20. I bogged her down off the line and my start partner got in front of me before St Ninians... then held me up all the way down Bray Hill - I eventually got past him into Quarterbridge. Not a great start... but then started catching a passing. A bit smoother but I got her into the wrong gear many times... coming out of a turn with her at 5 grand, she just bogs down. The extra horsepower has cost me some low-down grunt.

Titanium heat discoloration and popped rivets... the effects of killing dBs

It was a good, steady lap... nice 'n easy. 105.8 from a standing start - ok... but we need to up the ante for race day... be a bit braver... hold onto the throttle that little bit longer... not use the brakes so much.

Spent the rest of the afternoon prepping her for tomorrow. The dB killer has worked, but been getting an excessive build-up of heat in the end-can. Also a bit too much pressure - found 4 out of the 7 rivets holding the end-cap on have been blown off. Not good. The dB killer has served and has been removed for the race. Hoping that extra bhp will help my lap times tomorrow... besides... she'll sound great!

Gotta enjoy the Manx sunshine while you can

ManxGP 2010 - Final Practice Abandoned

Was due to get out for a final 1 lap practice yesterday after the Junior and Senior Classic races. Had the BAMF all scrootered and ready to go when a major incident at Alpine Cottage caused the Junior race to be red flagged and the rest of the day's racing to be abandoned. The Junior race leader had passed the half-way mark so it was called a result. The Senior Classic has been rescheduled for today at 12:15 and hopefully we will get a lap practice after that.

'Suzy V' through Parliament Square (Ramsey) - thanks Ale for sending me the pic

Almost finished Suzy V's race prep: repairing fairings, patching holes, adjusting chain, and of course... checking EVERYTHING (found a lose engine bolt last night!). Just got to fit the transponder and she's good for 4 laps of this punishing course.

A bit of carpentry for a heel-guard... over the last week I've lost half the heel of my boot from touching the chain... I'm hoping this woodwork will prevent me losing the rest of the heel!

Meanwhile... my surprise visitor, mega physician and gorgeous Ale has returned to the UK for work - she has been working on my knotted back and shoulders with her healing hands. Feeling much better :-) She is missed. :-(

Pit Crew for a day and amazing healer Ale on the grandstand

My Dad arrived from South Africa and the rest of my pit crew, Ian arrived yesterday. the weather is incredibly still sunny and warm... hope it holds out till tomorrow afternoon!

My Dad helping out with Suzy V's prep

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

ManxGP 2010 - Eighth Practice - Scrubbing In

Monday rolled around pretty quickly. The first race day of ManxGP 2010 - another busy day. Down to the paddock with the bikes before the roads closed at 09:30. We watched the start of the Newcomers and Post Classic race at 10h15 and then went down to the scrootineering bay to get both bikes through. No problems there so we went back to the house to watch the rest of the race and fix some lunch.

Mark Herbertson in the Junior Classic race coming through Creg-ny-baa

Watched the start of the Classic Junior from the house and half the race. Roy Richardson decimated the field on an Aermacchi 350cc single... setting a fastest lap of 102 mph... as fast as I go on a 40 year younger and nearly twice the horsepower bike! He sure knows his way around here. the MV Augusta triple that Alan Oversby took to 3rd sounded absolutely glorious!

My friend mark Herbertson got his best finish ever and brought Alan Hermiston's immaculately prepared AJS home in fifth. Well done Mark!

Great shot of Mark at the Creg - thanks Dave Kneen for the pic

Back up to the paddock and prep the bikes for one lap of practice each. That's when I spotted one of the Irish mechanics checking tyre pressures. Fuck! I had completely forgotten to check the pressures after the new tyres were fitted. the pressures would sky-high and Suzy had tyres warmers toasting her boots already. Shit! schoolboy error.

I hastily borrow the tyre pressure gauge from the muttering Irishman... bikes all around are being warmed up. I let out about 20psi from each tyre. With already warmed tyres on Suzy, it was just a guess. After all this frantic running about I get up onto Glencrutchery Road last. The starter taps my shoulder and I give Suzy beans down toward Bray Hill. On warm tyres and half a tank of gas, I push a lot more than I have before. It feels quick and I start pushing on. It felt fast, but scrappy. I kept on getting the wrong gear and not nailing the lines. I guess the last minute rush about had me a little flustered... note to self: "Preparation, preparation, preparation...".

Lining up on Glencrutchery Road for a blast around the Mountain Course in perfect conditions

I come in after one lap... warm up the BAMF and head out for a lap on the Beast. With cold, new tyres, I take it easy until Union Mills... then get the hammer down. It feels quicker than I've gone before, but as with the last lap on Suzy just a bit scrappy. Lines not 100%, wrong gears and just not smooth enough. It certainly feels quicker, but all the little errors give that time back.

Suzy V just tipping into Ballacraine - thanks Dave Kneen for the pic

When I get back, Glencrutchery Road is still open... so another lap could have been done but I had decided beforehand just one lap on each and had fuelled accordingly. Despite the scrappy ride, I get 101.2mph on Suzy - from a standing start... my fastest lap yet. On the BAMF 104.9mph from a standing start on cold tyres. Not bad... I'm content, but know if I can smooth it out and make less small errors there are a couple more mph in both... especially the BAMF.

Tyres all scrubbed in and just one more practice session: after the races at 15h15 on Wednesday.