Thursday, 23 August 2012

ManxGP 2012 - Day 5 - The Struggle

Every single ManxGP I have done lands up being a struggle. Yesterday the struggle started. I couldn't get to sleep last night. Woke up feeling crap. Got going on the bikes. Tyres changed Betty and a full prep - the forecast was good... gotta make the most of it. Two quick laps and I'll be qualified. I think I did enough on Suzy on Tuesday night to get her qualified.

I'm no mechanic. So a half-hour job takes me an hour... but becasue I wasn't really with it, the job would take me one and a half-hours. Making mistakes, having to redo stuff and doin dumb-ass things like spilling a litre of petrol on the garage floor. Things weren't going well from the start.
I had a quick look at the Suzuki misfire. It's not a low battery and it's not the usual water in the front plug. I'm going to have to get her nekkid and into bits to find the problem. What a pain in the fuckin' arse.

With everything taking me so long, I was later to skrootineering than I wanted to be. And for the third night in a row I unwittingly join the slowest queue. The skrootineer farts about doing other stuff and takes 20 minutes to go over my bike. Result is I start from the back of the first session. If things go well we'll get two smokin' laps in... if things don't go so well, it's normally the punters at the back of the queue who lose out.
#85 is James Cowton - Newly crowned GNC Thunderbike champ Neil Martin is spannering for him

Nothing I can do about that so I focus on getting out the gates and up to speed quickly. With just one bike to skrootineer, I treated myself and put on some tyre warmers so that I can set off like a scalded cat. I normally don;t bother with so much to do.

I go back to the van to get my kit on - find out I've forgotten my leathers. No problem... I have been carrying my flattrack leathers in the van for just such an opportunity! I get leathered up and go up to pit lane with my old helmet becasue I find that my new one's pin-lock is knackered. I thougt I got a bit of misting last night...

I get back up to the bike to find my tyre warmers have been unplugged somewhere down the chain of 7 extensions (becasue I'm so far back in the queue) and my tyres are stone cold. No problem, tyre warmers are a luxury - they're for pussies. Just have to take it steady to Union Mills.

Practice session starts and I wait an age to edge to the front of the queue - my eyes and throat are burning from all the monoxide exaust fumes. Lovely! Great for staying awake and focussed. I give the big Aprilia beans off the line and straight away feel the quickshifer cutting the engine at the wrong time when I change up. The bike lurches on every change. Fuck. I keep going. The circuit is beautiful and dry in the evening sunshine... the bike is pulling well and I'm starting to get the feel for that big beast. It's awesome.

"Hi team." "Yeah we've been red flagged 10 yards from the open track... after the incident."

Around Glen Helen and there are waved yellow flags warning of an incident. Frantic arms from the marshals join the waved flags and I round Sarah's Cottage to a rider being attended to in the middle of the track and scrape marks from the apex off into the trees on the left. I pick my way through, careful not to go over any debris. The next marshal post has green flags so I start getting Betty wound up for the Cronk y Voddy straight. As I hit the crest at the start of the straight I see the marshal up ahead taking out a red flag. He's got it out by the time I reach him and I'm pulled in at the end of the straight.

We wait 20 or so minutes while the rider is heli-vac'd out. That is the only place on the entire circuit that they have to red flag for a heli-vac. Apparently it' becasue as of last year one of the two pilots refused to land in the field near Glen Helen becasue the trees are close. The marshal post we're stopped at is the last one before the live track. How shitty is that? If I was just 10 seconds ahead I would have got through. If my skrootineer hadn't pissed about, if I have got one place further up the queue, if my tyres warmers had been left plugged in. If. Hey... if I was a bit further up the road I might have got caught in the incident.

We get the go-ahead to carry on. I pull out behind 3 or 4 other riders. I get the tyres up to temp and then the riders get in my way. I pass the last one down Sulby straight. While parked up I adjusted the quickshifter. It's better but still engaging over the bumps and lurching a bit. It's got to go.

I start getting into the flow of the big bike and use her power. She is fast. When I come around to complete the lap, we are pulled in. I only get two halves of a lap... most others get two clear laps. I am the first loser by quite a way. That sucks! Although... doesn't suck as much as coming off or a bike blowing up. Checking my lap times, they haven't credited 9 of us losers with teh time we sat waiting at teh marshal post that was after the incident. I put in a stonking 52mph lap. My slowest ever.

So... the struggle will continue and I will be back in the forcast crap weather this evening to give it another go. I hope I can get the Wee Suzuki fixed too. Not many pics becasue I didn't have much time or will to take any... or find any online. But I plugged my Go-Pro in and got some onboard stuff... just need to edit and upload.

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