Thursday, 30 June 2011


Having found myself without work for quite a while recently... I've been getting all those things done that seem to forever be on the list... like paintin my garage...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Amman Valley - Hero Pics

Some hero pics from Sunday's racing at Amman Valley...

New graphics on the leathers to celebrate Ben Spies' first MotoGP win - many more to come!
(Thanks Steve Baldock for the pic)

Guy Southerland (No.87) battling it out with Boastie (No.54) aboard the pukka 70's Yamaha beast
(Thanks Tim Coles for the pic)

Flying Wayne Drake on a borrowed bike
(Thanks Tim Coles for the pic)

Me and John Lee getting the power down out of turn 4
(Thanks Steve Baldock for the pic)

Great 'postcard' shot of John Lee styling it up
(Thanks Tim Coles for the pic)
Moments after I bit the dust the first time, taking Neil Martin out. Neil was ok... just having a recouperative lie-down.
(Thanks Steve Baldock for the pic)
Stevie Coles showing how to get the power down on the back straight
(Thanks Tim Coles for the pic)
Moments before Ben Park (No.67) went down... captured brilliantly on vid from behind by  'Full Lock or Death' Jamie. Ben remounted and finished the race... Jamie goes down a lap or so later... check the vid below
(Thanks Tim Coles for the pic)

Get well soon Jamie!

Erzberg XVII

The annual carnage on the slopes of the Iron Giant took place this last weekend. I didn't do Erzberg this year for a few few reasons... the main one being it clashed with flattracking at Amman Valley.

Looks like it was another tough race with only 9 competitors finishing (with 4 Brits!)... Taddy Blazusiak taking his fifth win on the trot. Who can stop him? Douggie Lampkin was close this year... only 6 minutes off in second place. Perhaps David Knight should make a return?

Well done to Ian Matthews and Chris Bursell (my paddock buddies at Erzberg XVI) who both made the Hare-scramble and finished 420 and 421. Who's up for it in 2012?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Flattrackin - GNC at Amman Valley

We woke on Sunday to sunny skies for the next round of the flattrack GNC at Amman Valley. Amman Valley is on a horse trotting track (trac trotian in welsh) and one of the biggest tracks we race on. Fast as fook!

The Speedtherapy garage

The sunshine, heat and flattracker shreddin' soon dried the track... it was so dusty it had to be watered a few times...

Got out for my 6 laps of practice and all was good. Bike was working well, gearing spot on (it's geared way too tall for our normal short tracks... need to fix that...) and I was having fun holding it wide open till the valves bounced.
Always good to see new bikes - This is 'Yankee' John's 500 two-smoke flattracker built by himself from the eBay parts bin
First Shortrack class heat and I start middle row of the grid. I think I got home 6th. This is brilliant, because I'm normally pulverised by the shorttrack bikes and finish at the tail-end. The KTM has mambo and it has less  disadvantage against the DTX shortrack bikes on this long circuit.

Another new bike - novice Stuart Lovell took another win on this beauty 

First Thunderbike heat and I start on the back row... I finish 4th. Yeah! Places in the heats earn you points. In Thunderbikes, the top twelve scoring riders go through to the finals. My goal is to reach the finals and then see what happens. The Shorttrack class works on ellimination and the top 24 go through to the 2 semi-finals... because I'm not competitive in this class with my big heavy Thunderbike, I use it as practice. I've never made a Shorttrack semi-final.

It's so wet in Wales... that seaweed grows on the ground with the grass... I shit you not

Next Shorttrack heat and I finish 4th! The top-two go through to the semis - I'm gettin' closer! The bike hum-dings down those straights and is getting a nice slide on coming out of the turns... I can also get off the gas late and bury it deep into the turn before sliding the back around and getting on the gas early. I'm still losing traction mid-turn... but the drive I get on the exit makes up for it.

Wilky getting some rest in the 30 degree heat

Second Thunderbike heat and I start in the middle row. I get another good start and by lap 2 I'm up to 2nd and close the gap to 1st quickly. I'm on his six as we steam down the straight to turn 3. I look up his inside and make a move... he comes in quickly, off his normal line to shut the door... I'm comitted and am sliding quicker than him... but there's nowhere for me to go. I slide under him and collect him as we hit the apex. We go down.
It was sunscreen weather!

Bollocks! He's unhurt, I apologise and haul the bike up. Footpeg doesn't look good... neither does the gear-lever. The race is red-flagged and I dig the mashed in dirt out from around the footpeg and lever. The footpeg is ok... lever is at a funny angle. The other guy is up and his bike is ok... the grid is waiting for me to join the restart. My gear lever is mullered and I can't change gear at all... I manage to get it into first and ride back to the paddock for repairs as they restart the heat. Bollocks!

'Sideburn' Ben getting a sprinkling of Co-Built 'holy-water'

The gear lever got stripped in the spline. Footpeg just needed de-dirting and handlebars straightening. With my spare lever on I'm all ready for the next Shorttrack heat. This is the last heat and the top 6 go through to the semi-finals.

Newbie Drogo get's his first taste of flattrackin on 'Redmax' Steve's Vertimati...

I make an okay start, but quickly start getting through the pack. I work my way up to 3rd place... then I cock it up again... too much gas mid corner on the now polished turn 2 and the rear comes around on me and I land up under the bike facing the pack bearing down on me. They all see me in time and dodge the muppet. The marshal is right there and helps the bike off me... as he lifts it I hear a tinkle sound and my new gear lever-end falls on the track. Bollocks! Bollocks! Double Bollocks!

Good to be in the shade!

I was comfortably in third with a gap to fourth. I would have easily got into the semi. I feel like such a twit. I get the bike back to the pits for more emergency repairs. But there is just no time and I don't carry 2 spare levers (I will in future!).

Whooo-hooo... this is fun!

Out for the final Thunderbike heat. Because of my DNF, I have to get at least in the top 5 to make the final. I'm on the front row so as long as I can get her off the line and into 3rd (normally start in 2nd and then hook 3rd before turn 1 for the rest of the race) this won't be a problem...

Between the heats fettling

So... do I start in 2nd and then try get her to third with the stump of a gear lever? Or do I try start in 3rd. As we filter out to the track I try the gear-change with the stump. In 3 attempts I only get it once. Not good. I roll up to my start place in 3rd.

More battle scars...

I rev the nuts off her and ride the clutch on the start... but she just bogs down in the smell of burned clutch and the packs dust. Shit! I hammer the stump down into 2nd... but somehow I get neutral and she just revvswith disdain as the rest fight it out through turn 1 and 2. By the time I get 2nd and pull away, the next guy on track is a full half lap ahead of me. Bollocks! Bollocks! Bollocks!

Gear lever end just sheared right off

I manage to catch and pass 2 riders by the time the chequered flag is out. :-( I didn't get enough points to make the final. Mission failed!

Start of the Thunderbike final... shouldda, couldda, wouldda...

Disappointed with myself. I was faster than the guy in front out of the turns and on the straights and when he moved to close the door I should have backed off and and made the pass safely down the straight. I didn't even need to pass him to make the final... just hold station. Silly. The second off... I was comfortably in 3rd and would have made the semi no sweat. I was pushing when I didn't need to. What a dumb-ass!

Thunderbike winner Guto Llewelyn (No 79) makes a pass on John Lee (No 76) for the lead. 'Co-Built' Anthony (No 47) pipped John on the final turn for second

Besides my self-inflicted disappointment the bike got away with a few more scrapes and broken levers... I didn't even get a bruise... and my new number and graphics on my leathers were completely untouched! (the theory is being proven!). The semis and finals made great racing in those rarely hot and sunny Welsh hills. A mixed day on the clay.

Shorttrack Final - A good surface meant many lines around the turns and some great racing

ShorttrackUK Club Championship - Amman Valley

The trip down

Up at 5a.m. for a 4 hour drive...

I cocked up my alarm setting and woke an hour later than intended on Saturday morning. Rush, rush, rush... in the van and on my way to Amman Valley in Wales for the next round of the SHorttrackUK Club Chapionship.

Stevie left for Wales on Friday... the forecast was sunny and hot... so he brought his beachwear...

It was raining when I woke and raining all the way there. It was supposed to clear mid-morning... but it didn't. At 14h00 it was still drizzling - racing on the track would have just chewed it up. A decision was made to cancel the meeting. :-(


Factory Team Suzuki
But, we were lucky... and the World Cup Speedway Grand Prix was on at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff... just an hour's drive away. Guy, Karina, myself and a few other competitors headed to Cardiff for some speedway action.

It was all wetsuits on Saturday...

Action at SpeedwayGP - Millenium Stadium, Cardiff

The atmosphere in the stadium was awesome and the racing a spectacle. 41 year-old Greg Hancock (USA) showed the young one's how to do it by winning the Grand Final in convincing style. A great end to a washed-out day.

Here are the highlights (thanks Tom Neave for the link...):

Friday, 24 June 2011

New Leathers

...well... not quite. Thought I'd get a proper number on my back instead of the duct-tape one I've been wearing and patching-up for the past few years. Name is also there in case I leave them in the changeroom - they can call my Mom and return them.

The amount of time and money one spends tarting up race things is inversely proportional to the amount of time it will take for them to get trashed. So this was a quick and cheapish job. I even scrimped on the Spies-inspired logo and painted it on... some may say this is MotoGP style!

Tomorrow we head out real early to Amman Valley in Wales for a double header of flattrack racin' - Shorttrack UK Club round on Saturday and next round of the GNC on Sunday. It's gonna be rrrrripin!

Desmo Due at Snetterton

Last Saturday I was at Snetterton for my final Manx GP qualification races. I dusted off the Wee Monster for a little bit of double-D action...

The aerodynamics of a .44 wadcutter - punches a clean hole...
(Thanks to regular flattrack photographer Steve Baldock for the pic)

Practice was delayed due to a water-logged track but it dried up quite quickly in the brisk Norfolk winds. Qualifying was dry... but as I passed the chequered flag it came down in buckets. I was soaked by the time I had done the half cool-down lap and 50 yards to the paddock.

Again, it dried quickly but sporadic downpours kept everyone guessing. I go well in the wet and we're all on the same road tyres so wasn't bothered. I qualified fourth... front row!

Wee Monster and Chev-dawg
Come the race and the track is wet and it's raining lightly. No problemo. Lights go out and we're off in a melee of Desmodronic thuds and spray. Being on the front row has it's advantages in these conditions... but I get boxed in and two riders get past me... by the end of the lap I'm back to 4th and on the six of 3rd.

Lap 2 and I'm into 3rd... by then 1st and 2nd have cleared off. I just need a signature for the Manx... so ride on the side of caution as the light rain turn to a biblical deluge. Lap 5 and the race is red-flagged.

Factory race-team awning for the Wee Monster

A 15 minute wait on the grid and the deluge stops but there is a flood of standing water on the track. Restart... 4 lap dash to the finish line. First lap I lose out again in turn 1, but by the end of the lap I'm up to 3rd and keepin' it steady. A bike on a mission gets past me and I let him go... a podium would be great... but a finish better.

Flat ooot - "I'm giving it all she's got cap'n!"
(Thanks to regular flattrack photographer Steve Baldock for the pic)
Chequered flag and the final signature in the bag :-) Yeah!
I give the Wee Monster a caress, a kiss and load her in the van. On the way out I stop by race office to pickup that all important race result. Almost at the gate of the circuit, I spot that the bike on a mission was a class B bike. That means... I got 3rd in class A!

Frikkin' A!!!!

Wee Monster wins another trophy - Yahoooooo!

It took me 4 years of racing to get my first podium. And I did it 3 times in one day... on the Wee Monster. And it's taken me 3 years since then to do it again... on the Wee Monster! I just robbed the bike off a race mate, removed the crap bodywork, fitted a quick-action throttle some new tyres and went racing. I've never even changed the oil.

I think she deserves and oil change.

More importantly: qualified for the Manx, medical done and TT Mountain Course Licence in the post :-)

Scotland Tour - Day 4

Using my phone, I didn't get any good pics on the last day in Scotland... so these are some more from earlier in the trip...
Odd couple at 'Rest and be Thankful'

On the fourth day it was sunny and we carved our way south, through the Trossachs, back to Callender and on to Stirling.

I think this was somewhere on Skye
Having Scots blood from clan Kinghorn and clan McIntosh, I needed to visit the town of Kinghorn on the shores of the Firth of Forth... just to see what was there.

Two Amigos on Skye
It was just a sleepy little holiday town with sandy beaches. We had lunch there... the crappiest of sandwiches made by a geezer in a stained string vest in a dive called 'The Wee Shoppe'.

Single track over the mountains
Then back over the Forth Bridge to Edinburgh where we'd left the van. Bikes loaded and we were on our way back south in the afternoon.

Quaint Kinghorn
It's been a few years since I've done a bit of moto-sickle touring... I should do it more often. It's awesome. Besides the iffy weather, Scotland is spectacular and the roads brilliant for high-speed touring. Over the 4 days, I only saw one copper... outside a town's Police station. Steve was pulled by one... to tell him that he liked Steve's bike. My kinda country!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Scotland Tour - Day 3

Woke on day 3 to the normal Skye weather... low cloud, mist and rain.

We zipped up (no waterproofs) and did the western loop... cutting back to Portree across the mountains along another single-track pass.

A cup o tea to warm up and back to the mainland over the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsch.

Past Eilean Donan Castle on the way to Invergary on Loch Oich. Road closed so a detour to Loch Ness and through Fort Augustus... by now it had stopped raining and the roads had dried so we didn't mind at all. More  awesome roads...

My camera battery died at this point so there aren't too many pics from here on... mostly crappy iPhone pics. From Invergary to Fort Willian it chucked it down... would have been stunning scenery and a fantastic road to ride. By now our leathers were soaked so we had to stop often to try warm up... next stop Glencoe...

A mecca for walkers and climbers, my camera lens isn't wide enough to capture the huge mountains and rugged beauty at Glencoe. It was 18h00 and the sun came out to warm our cold, wet bones...

From Glencoe we started to look for accommodation... at 20h00 we eventually found some basic lodgings at Tyndrum (home of The Green Welly Stop!). Dry and warm... we had a great meal and a few pints at the lively Paddy's Bar and Grill

We found a home for Steve's 25 year old Vermar lid... George Lucas inspiration