Wednesday, 19 September 2012

ShorttrackUK Club and GNC Round 6 - Rye House

I woke on Sunday morning feeling pretty sore and bashed up, not really up for a race. My left shoulder ached, both elbows were bruised, both thumbs were in pain and swollen, I struggled to lift my left leg to get my socks on with a pain in my joint. Nevrmind, we got racin' to do. A bowl of oats, strong cawfee and Ibuprofen for the road down to Rye House. Rye House is where I first put on a hot-shoe and swung my leg over one of these cool-ass, no-brake flattrack bikes a few years ago.

 Race-face on and Ready to rock 'n roll!
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic

After practice the day before, and then a Speedway meeting after that, the track needed a bit of extra care. As a result it was a bit over-watered. The practice session and first heats were a slimy mudfest. But the track improved with every heat, eventually getting a nice blue groove by the time we got to the finals.

Rider's Briefing
I was struggling with poor starts all day. My first few heats were pretty mediocre. But as the track improved, I loosened up and most of the pain from yesterday's shenanigan's receded. I was still gripping the bars like a monkey becasue both my thumbs were sprained. But I was racing smooth and consistent... besided crap starts, I hardly made a mistake all day.

The pits was crammed, so I setup in the paddock...
By the time we got to the last few heats, I was still making crap starts but then moving up through the field and finishing strong. I did enough to qualify 8th in the Thunderbikes and 9th in the first semi-final (the Restricted class was being run with the Pro/Open GNC class). Game on!

Slipin' and a slidin' around
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic

Restricted/Pro Semi-final - I make an okay start from the back row. I have a rare old battle with Mick Trapmore as I struggle to get past him. I try the inside, the outside... everywhere. But he sticks to his line and is consistent. I eventually make the pass coming out of turn 2. I get 6th and just miss getting into the final... still got the 'last chance'.

In the thick of it...
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic

Thunderbike Final - Middle of the grid and I make another crap start. Guy Sutherland goes down into turn 1 in front of me. I steer the bike past his head sliding along the ground and just glimpse mayhem unfolding around him out the corner of my eye. Red-flag. 4 bikes down. It's a pretty big shunt... turn 1 Thunderbike Final at Rye House... just like the carnage I got cought up in last year. Mabe having crap starts all day was a good thing after all.

Restart. I make a better job of it this time. It's good close racing. No-one gives an inch and you have to earn it. Awesome fun! I land up bagging 5th. Whooo-hooo! Good job!

Back from injury, Tim Neave picks up where he left off on the two-smoke Thunderbike... blowing everyone away!
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic

No chance to celebrate - I have 1 race rest and then I'm out in the 'Last Chance' where the first two riders get through to the Grand Final. I have never reached a Grand Final, this is why I still have an 'R' plate. But this 'R' plate allows me to compete in the Restricted class - where I am competitive... so it's not a bad thing. I'm starting on pole for the 'Last Chace'. The thought of purposely coming third in the Last Chance so that I retain my Restricted status comes into my mind...

What. a. load. of. BULLSHIT!
I'm here to do the best I can... and if that means not being able to compete in the Restricted class again (the only class where I have got a podium in flattrackin)... then so be it. I want to win this!

Last Chance - Another awful start from pole and I'm level 5th going into turn 1... but I keep it tight and get on the gas as early as I can and land up 3rd on the exit. Yeah! Trappy is ahead of me. A replay of the semi-final and we battle for 3 or 4 laps. Inside, outside, on the loose stuff... over the marbles. Eventually I make the pass stick coming out of turn 4. By this time Vince Hurst in first place has gapped the rest of us. I finish 2nd and make my first Grand Final! Yeeeeeee-ha!

Battling with Trappy - I try the inside...
...and the outside.
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic
I have time to get my breath back, spash a litre of fuel in the bike and it's time for the Grand Final. Time slows down. It's ceremonious. Aaron Silvester (winner of the days Junior and Youth classes) wheels my bike out for me. Wow! Now THAT feels special. I'm last on the grid, but that doesn't matter. This is the GRAND FINAL and I'm in it with my beat-up Thunderbike :-) I just soak it all up...

Grand Final - starting from the back, on the inside (in the muck), I was never going to get a rocket start. But I get off the line ok and trundle into turn one in 12th place (not last... there are a whole lot of riders that didn't make the final...). It's a 12 lapper... which is great for me, because as with road racing, I lap faster as the race goes on.

Paul Scott (Scotty) got a great second on his home-made mini-framer in the mini-bike class
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic
After a few laps choking on others' dust I make my move... I pass Vince Hurst and then David Homan (who normally beats me in the Restricted class). Guy Sutherland is half a straight length ahead of me. After two or so laps of pushing to make up the gap, I'm steaming into turn 1...

Young guns Tom Wolley and Tim Neave stylin' it up
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic

Flashback two months earlier: I popped into my local bikeshop. "What are the cheapest rear brake pads you have for a '05 KTM Duke 2?".
"We got these for 18 quid."
I have a look at them. Never heard of teh brand. Nicely packaged. Too nice.
"Have you got any cheaper?"
"Hmmmmm." The shop-guy looks at me suspiciously...
"We have these for 9 quid?"
I have a look. Chinese-cheap-n-nasty with Chinglish operating instluchins on the back. Perfect.
"I'll take 'em."
This is the quest for a softer feel on the rear brake - standard pads in the Brembo calliper lock up the rear too easily on the dirt. I tested these Chinese wonders at Buxton and during practice the day before. After about 12 or so laps they would overheat and you'd have no brake at all. I figured all would be well seeing as heats are 6 laps and the Thunderbike/Restricted finals are 8 laps each. What , is that I didn't figure I would do the 8 lap Semi, 8 lap Thunderbike final, 8 lap Last Chance and then a 12 lap Grand Final... all in quick sucession.

Great pic of Co-Built's Geoff Cain from  James Boddy
Fastforward to turn 1... I squeeze the brake pedal. Nothing. I tramp on it hard. The bike scrubs off a tiny bit of speed and then I'm overshooting the turn. As I leave the blue groove and into the marbles and thick muck, I can crank the bike over and get it sliding, losing speed while heading to the barrier... shiiiiiiit! I get her turned in time and fire her out. Next turn I roll off early... try the brake again. This time there is nothing... I two wheel around the turn on the blue groove. Bugger!

Classic stylin' from Dave 'Skooter Farm' Arnold
Thanks to James Boddy for the pic

I do this for 2 or 3 laps. Just two wheeling around, not touching the brake in the hope that it will cool for the last few laps... expecting another bike up my inside on every turn. I stick to the blue-groove, trying desparately to make up the time on the turn exits. Down the back straight I see the last lap flag out for the leaders. "Just 3 braking turns left... brake should be cool enough to finish the race."

Smokin' brakes! The old steed did well against the Pro/Open DTX bikes

I use the brake into turn 3. It works! Whooo-hoo! I'm not going to give up this position. Into turn 1 for the last time... beautiful! Turn 3 for the last time... more brakes! I know I'm going to run very deep, so I hug the inside as much as I can to foil a pass. I run though the turn out into the rough, thick outside where I can get the bike sideways and scrub some speed (and avoid going into the barrier!). I try square the corner off as much as I can, but I'm already through it so just get the bike turned on the power and drive out the turn as hard as I dare through the loose stuff.

Somehow, I hold the position to the line. 2 riders went down in that final... so I land up taking 8th overall. That gives me 2nd in the Restricted class behind Guy Sutherland (also on a Thunderbike!). Ah-yeah! Now THAT's what I'm talkin' about!

Thanks RedMax Steve for the pic

2 crashes the day before, bike and bodily damage, 10 heats and races, crap starts, no brakes, a 5th in Thunderbikes, a 2nd in Restricted and an 8th in my first Grand Final... what a way to end the season! A great day on the clay... and a great antidote to the Manx disappointment. I'm still smiling!



  1. well done m8!.
    its a great feeling to lose that R plate, although i have to say i was cheering for trappy at the time!!!.
    maybe its time to get a dtx bike now....

  2. remember to fit new pads before the start of next year dude! dont do what you did on the wee monster with the clutch......oulton was it? :-)

  3. Cheers Stevie!
    New pads? What for? Brakes just slow you down...