Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Getting Fit

With the ManxGP only 3 weeks away, I've been trying to get fit through the last month... and lose a few extra kaygees I'm carrying around. I'm working away from home at the moment and the hotel doesn't have a gym, so have tried taking up running (the hotel food isn't helping the casue either!). I havn't run more than a few hundred yards to catch a train in the last 20 years so started from zero.

Dry and dusty... the way I love it!

I'm on a 10 week program from zero to doing a 5k run. Except I started late and only had 7 weeks till the ManxGP, and can only do 2 runs a week instead of the reccomended 3. No worries... a bit of determination and a lot of pain later and I should be able to do a 5k without walking next week (on week 5!). Never thought I'd ever run.

Running sucks
I don't really like the running... far rather be riding a petrol engined machine. Got out on the fourfiddy to my local practice track at Weedon on Sunday morning. I did 2 hours straight with only 1 break. I took the break 1 hour and 22 minutes in when I was feeling really knackered - I crashed through the track-marking ropes into a bed of thistles. My side was still burning on Sunday night and my body is still aching from the punishment. No pain... no gain...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Oxford Movie

A great short movie on the flattrackin' at Oxford last year...

Short Track - UK from Richard Dawson on Vimeo.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Manx is GO!

After a bit of excitement last week when I realised I had missed the deadline by more than a week for submitting my TT Mountain Course Licenece application...

...it arrived today - 4 days later. I am impressed. Many, many thanks to Anita for helping me out! :-)

Also got confimation of my ferry booking. Now... I just got finish building the bikes!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Something to look forward to...

Brilliant little movie... I have a freind like these guys... they ride like they're teengers!

... I want to be like them in 25 years!

Thanks Anthony Brown at D.B.A. for the link.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

ShorttrackUK Club Round 5 - Buxton

Weather forecast was good. Woke and loaded up in the sunshine. 2 and a half hour trip up North and all sorted well before practice.

Love this shot from James Boddy.. Geoff and I giving it sum beans!

I tried a different swing-arm angle for practice. It felt good... Went back to my original settings for heat 1 to get a back-to-back comparison. I has running in the Thunderbike and Restricted classes... 3 heats on each.

Riders briefing

Despite the bike losing some turn-exit drive, I still got two 2nd places on the first two heats. The bike was running well and I was feeling good. For heat 3 I went back to my new swing-arm angle. It hooked up more consistently on the marbly surface - Three 2nds from three heats :-)
The Co-Built 'Garage'
Heat 4 and I get a 1st. Feeling really comfortable with the bike... Not having to ride the wheels off it. I can catch the rider ahead, sit back for a lap and setup a move. I do this lap after lap. I can hang it out on the marbles, or hold it tight on the apex. It feels awesome to have this control!

Neil Martin stylin it up like Speedway
Thanks Tim Coles for the pic
Seems I've sorted the bike's carb and she doesn't bog down or stall on the line. It wasn't all faultless though. In two heats I somehow managed the knock her in neutral on the start line. Standing still as the tapes go up isn't the way to do it. Luckily, on both these occasions, the heat was red flagged on lap 1. Could have been taken out by the crashes. Sometimes you need a bit of luck!

Pete's new pukka 80s Triumph framer shipped in from the States - sweet!

Heat 5 and I get up to 2nd. Reigning Champ Anthony Brown is ahead and get onto his back wheel for the last few laps. We catch a back marker on turn 3 and 4 of the last lap. Anthony gets squeezed in the inside and like a plonker I follow and get squeezed too. Shoulda gone for the outside - 1st was for the pickins. I just knick 2nd... shouldda, coulda, woulda. Heat 6 and I get another 1st. On a bit of a roll here!

A twin with magphones = glorious sound!

Thunderbike Final - I get way cleanly but get pushed onto the crap on the inside of turn 1... I come out in 4th. I soon take 3rd and am lining up 2nd... just more of the same please.  The bike feels really loose... I think it's just the marbles from the grading done before. The bike starts losing grip getting out of the turns and running deep into them. I get a big slide on out of turn 2 and super-consistent Anthony Brown is onto me in a shot. Down to 4th.
Qualifying #1... just had to get a pic!

I hang onto Anthony's back wheel, but the bike is feeling quite a handful to ride. I can't make a move but keep in touch with the front three. Its a close fought battle to the line and I get 4th. Back in the paddock and I notice my tyre is flat. Shit! Explains the sudden change in the bike's handling.

With only 2 races between finals, I get out the foot-pump and get to work. As hard and fast as I pumped I couldn't get more than 10psi in the tyre and within two minutes it would be completely flat again. Nice time for a puncture. Shit! Fuck and Bollocks!
Paddock can be a busy place betwen heats... Pete had a collapsed wheel bearing...
...Sideburn Gary doing a gearing change

With points on the line and the King's Lynn rounds' misfire, I decide to give it a go and scurry out late for first pick. I can feel the flat tyre squirming around just rolling around the track. Let's see what happens here... gonna be interesting!
A great shot from Tim Coles with Neil Martin and Alan Birtwhistle all crossed up
Restricted Final - Tapes go up and I make an okay start... I manage to get 3rd into turn 1 but the bike is all over the place. One lap later and the tyre must have been completely flat - the whole bike is chattering down the straights and slewing from side to side going into the turns. It's bearely rideable but I just think of the points on offer. I push and it feels worse and worse, she's bucking and bouncing all over the place.
I was getting great drive out teh turns all afternoon... until the pucture

I get passed regularly. I'm hanging in, determined to bag a few points. I get pipped to last place by 2 riders on the last turn. All in vain. Should have saved my brand new tyre and watched the race from the fences. After feeling so strong and knowing that for the first time I could challenge for the win... what a downer.
This was a brand-new tyre - an expensive day on the clay

Friday, 20 July 2012

El Mirage 2011

A great vid of some doods on thier cool machines having a blast...

Thanks Cafe Racer Culture for the link...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Sweet Guzzi

Thanks to the guys at Cafe Racer Culture for the link...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Got out to Enduroland on Sunday for my first dirtbike ride in more than a month...

First, the action pic... it all goes downhill and gets pretty boring after this...
(thanks Dave Burton Photography for the pic - but what's with the dreamy border?)

Gave the Fourfiddy some love a few weeks ago...

...some serious love!

Then I threw her in the mud...

...that horrible sticky, claggy, shitty, slick mud...

This rider's handicapped kid has an awesome time riding pillion.
(Does one 'ride' a quad? Doesn't sound right...)

After 2 hours of cleaning that crap off the Fourfiddy, it was back to the man-cave for to give some flattrack love... I think she's running better now. Still bogs down when throttle is cracked open. Any suggestions?

And then discoverin some wounds before bedtime.

It was an okay day. Conditions were muddy and tricky. Frustrating not to get out of third and just spinning up everywhere. I dug in and did 2 hours straight - just for fitness. I'm still hurtin.

Wasn't a huge amount of fun... I went down an ate mud a bit too. Bah! But at least ot wasn't bloody raining again. Gimme the sunshine, sand, rocks and company of California any day!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wear Protection

10 days ago I came off at King's Lynn and got hit in the back by another bike. Here's a good reason to wear proper protection when riding... especially when racing...

At first I thought is was just a smack in the back and some ripped leathers...

... then I got to the back protector. A few inches to the left and I would have been in trouble...
... 10mm alluminium honeycombe... NASA stuff and a hole mashed right through it!

A nice chunky flesh gouge over my lover spine and some bone 'n muscle bruising is all I got.
Getting hit with a pointy bit (rear brake lever) really does some damage. Pukka thick leather, ABS plastic and 10mm ally honeycombe saved me from a nasty injury. It still hurts now but sure am glad I went the extra mile and shelled out the cash for what I believe is some of the best protection out there.

Forget about tarty anodised bolts, bits of carbon, paint and bling that doesn't make you faster or keep you safer. Spend your moolah on practice... and protection.

Oh - and a bit of luck helps too.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

ShorttrackUK Club & GNC Round 4 - King's Lynn

I got my ass down to King's Lynn for the 4th round of the Club and Grand National Championship held at King's Lynn on Saturday. It was a combined meeting so the Thunderbike results counted for both championships. A good day to get some points!

Flattrackin' in the sunshine... AH YEAH!
Thanks James Boddy for the pic

The day didn't start too well. The zipper on my leathers failed so landed up lock-wiring them closed. I had to cut myself out and take time to stitch myself back in... so taking a leak was tricky and I landed up slowly roasting in them on a warm, sunny day. Tremendous!
Heavy showers on the way and before practice... it all dried perfectly!

Thunderbikes were on the oval, Restricted class on the TT track. Happy with two 3rds from the back and middle row in my first two Thunderbikes heats. I was keeping up with some of the quickest out there. Steady progress in the Restricted heats as I got to grips with the tight TT track that I was racing on for the first time. This TT track was about 3 times smaller and tighter than the TT track I had a hoon around on in  Hollister a few weeks ago with my friend Jim. A bit of a handful on the comparitively heavy Thunderbike.

I with the big boys in the Pro class... celebrity riders too - that's TT winner Stave Plater's elbow in my face.

Thunderbike 3rd heat. I'm drawn front row... time to make it count. Tapes go up and I stall on the line. WTF? It takes me a lap before I get the bike started... she'll only start in neutral and is sometimes a bitch to get into neutral... especially during a race! Fumble, tap, push, tap, push, tap-tap, gentle click, push... tap... shit! I finally get going to finish last. Only good enough to start 10th in the final.
Action shot - felt like a good start, looked like a good start... 

Clunk! Stalled on the line - what a muppet!

I make the Pro semi-final in 10th because Restricted is run with the Pro class. Happy with that... but there are 4 or 5 other Restricted class riders in that semi. So those are the guys I needed to get ahead of. I make a good start and get through the first hairpin scuffle unscathed and in about 6th place... ahead of all but 1 Restricted class bike... and I'm quicker than him on the next laps. I plan my move and then... stall in the hairpin despite clutching it. What a plonker! Again... nearly a lap down by the time I'm going again. Last... again. :-(

Last minute preparation... Drogo lockwiring his grips...

...then the rain comes down... time for a cup 'o tea!

Oh well... Thunderbike final to redeem things. I've been getting fantastic drive out of turn 4... sideways on full throttle down the blue-groove. A good start and a few passes is all I need.

Thunderbike final - into the thick of it from the back row.
Thanks James Boddy for the pic.

Revs rise, tapes shoot up and I make a good start from the back row. I'm in amongst the middle row through turn 1 and 2. I'm in 7th, wheel to wheel behind Co-Built Geoff Cain and Dave Chadburn. I hold station for a lap and I see the riders ahead of them starting to pull a gap. I got to make my move on Dave and know I'm strong out of turn 4. I get close going into turn 3, setting up the pass.
Trying to make up places... difficult on a blue-groove track!

Geoff goes a little wide of the blue-groove at teh apex and hits the marbles... he manages to get the bike turned back onto the groove. Chad hesitates and I clip his back wheel. Shit! I try and save it with my grinding steel-shoe but I run onto the loose stuff and my foot slide forward, under the falling front wheel. I'm skidding down the track on my left thigh in a graceful low-side. Fu...

Wilky getting a better look at the racin'

Bam! I'm nailed from behind. I feel the impact on my back, I'm spun off my bike and feel my helmet smacking that concrete-hardpack clay. I land up on my side, just being able to see the oncoming last few riders... they all manage to get past me and my stricken machine. I'm a bit dazed and it takes me what seems minutes to struggle to my feet. Holy Shit! That hurts!
Family business - Richard Mason, Derek Brindley and Oliver Brindley

My lower back hurts like fuck. But all I can think about is getting back into the race. Forget the pain, that can wait... I got racin' to do. I haul the bike up. By then the race-train comes around again. Thankfully they all dodge me standing mid turn with my bike.

Busted zipper - sew me in!

Thinking back... it's probably not the brightest thing to have done. Actually, a pretty stoopid thing to have done. When human bodies get hit by racing bikes it gets ugly. I should have just left the bike there and scrambled to safety... or just lay there. The race would have been red-flagged. I would have had a chance to start the race again. Instead, all I can think about is getting back into the race with no regard for my (or the other riders' safety). What a dumb-ass pillock!

Skidding into the first hairpin on the TT course
Thanks James Boddy for the pic

The pack passes with a few near-misses left and right. I see my kill-switch has ripped off - good job. I clutch the bike and drag it to the inside of the track. I grab the kill-switch cord around my wrist to put it back on, only to find a frayed, dangling cord... and no kill-switch end-jobbie-thing-mah-jig. Fuck!

Everyone has thier own way of remembering teh race and start order...

Stuart Lovell's gorgeous two-smoke framer
My race is over... as the determiation to get back into the race subsides, the pain seeps back into my lower back. Jeeeesus! I move my toes, feet, legs... do a full body function check. Just soaking up the pain as the race whizzes around me. I'm relieved that all the body-parts work and nothing's broken but I'm feeling pretty battered up. I look up to see who's leading, they're already filing back into the paddock. Where the hell did that time disappear to?
Guy Sutherland has his KTM DTX flattracker up for sale

Turns out I got tagged by Paul Sheldon who was behind me. He almost managed to avoid me, but hit me on the lower back, his brake lever mashing hole right through my ally-honeycombe back protector  and gauging some flesh out over my lower spine. Fuck me! That was a lucky escape. I was intitially pissed-off for not getting those double championship points.. but now I'm just thankful I didn't leave the track in an ambulance with a few bigger problems.

'Learner' - Got to start 'em young!

Today I'm a bit beat up, back is bruised up and has a hole in it but will heal quick. The kill-switch end jobbie was lost on the field of battle and the bike suffered a few scrapes and a bent seat pad. Paul's bike fared worse with a screwed brake lever. Sorry Paul - I know how much those bloody KTM things cost... I'll get one in the mail to you.

King's Lynn is one of the best surfaces - hard and fast and doesn't get cut up