Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dirttrack National Championship - Round 6 - Rye House

Sunday was the last round of the DTRA National Dirttrack Championships at Rye House, just north of London. With more riders than ever entered, a split event was run with the Pro, Restricted and Thunderbike heats and finals in the afternoon and all the other classes in the morning. This meant I could sleep in :-)

Thunderbike Final start line
Thanks Ian Roxburgh for the pic

Unloaded, signed on, changed and by lunchtime we were out on track. Heat 1 - a good start... 4th from the back row. Then my first Pro heat... front row start... held onto 2nd for half a lap and then went backwards. Next Thunderbike heat and I could only get 5th from a second row start - I was struggling to get into it.

I kept plugging away, thinking about where I could improve, what I was doing wrong. I wasn't really enjoying it and it was pretty hard work with just 3 classes being run back-to-back. Fortunately, I still had a bit of fitness left in my bones from the ManxGP/Classic TT so I was recovering quickly between heats and never felt tired while out on track. My calf was battered and bruised from Saturdays lie in the dirt but only bothered me in the paddock - on track it was the last thing on my mind.

Geoff getting it tight
Thanks James Boddy for the pic

The heats done... I was surprised to see that I'd qualified 5th in the Thunderbike Final with my mediocre riding. I just missed the Grand Final by one place, qualifying 13th. That cheered me up a lot. Okay.. just two races to go... let's give it all we got!

Thunderbike Final - Revvs up. The light flicks on and we're away. The bike hooks up so well on the race line that she pulls into a big wheelie. Well... it felt big... but was probably just 6 inches. I knock the throttle a little to get her back on the ground, hook third gear and run her into the turn 1 melee.

There's a bit of barging and contact around me.. I manage to keep out of trouble and sling the big KTM out of turn 2 behind in 4th place, behind Geoff Cain. Nice!

Thanks James Boddy for the pic

I quickly settle into the race. Dave Chadburn is at the front and pulling away. I'm in the queue behind Guy Sutherland and Geoff. We're all real close... lap after lap. There is kind of a blue groove (it was a groove, but wasn't blue) and it's almost impossible to make a pass without someone making a mistake or having a bit of contact. I find myself running into the back of Geoff mid-turn but his yellow Co-Built is always in my way so I have to back off. He starts cutting the turns tight. Turn 1 and there seems to be some room on his outside... this time I carry my speed and go have a look...

Shhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrr. The bike goes into a two wheel slide. Shit! I'm losing the front... I try keep her up on my steel-shoed left foot. Ghhhhhhrrrrrrrrr... the swish of tyres sliding across dirt fades into a nauseating grinding sound. Shit! I'm loooooosssssssing heeeeeeerrrrrrrrrr. My left side gets ground into the hard-packed dirt. My left foot getting caught between the front wheel and the bottom of the headstock, graunching my leg in a carbon copy of Saturday's off.

Fuck! The expectation of the impact of another bike on my trapped body goes through my mind before I've stopped sliding. Makes no difference if I'm waiting for it.. or trying to get back in the race. So I'm scrambling to get my leg out form under the bike amidst an angry swarm of Thunderbikes. I have to roll on my side and do a prone dance and wiggle free. I'm out, I'm up.

Queueing up!
Thanks James Boddy for the pic

Get bike up. Need to race! I try lift her... wrong angle and she just slides along the gravel. I adjust my position and hoik her up as the pack comes swarming around again. I hold the bike and watch over my shoulder as the other bikes dodge me. At least if I'm watching I have a tiny chance of lessening any impact. I'm missed by inches - these guys are good riders!

Clutch in and I roll the bike to the sanctity of the grass infield where I get her started again. Wait for the bikes to pass for the last time before tagging onto the back and finishing the race on two wheels. Well... I was was doing well there... and then I fucked it up. A bit annoyed with myself... but happy at the same time that I had the pace to be up there after I felt like the slowest rider out there during the heats.

Jetwash time

My leg got mangled in the same place as the day before and hurts like a bastard. 10 minutes later and I'm lining up with Guy and Paul Sheldon for the Pro 'B' final. There are still points on offer for the Championship. Oh yes... this year I have no Championship. Ah - fuck it... it's still a race! Let's go for it!

Guy manages to gap me in my over cautiousness with battered bike and body. I roll the bike home in 14th place for the Pro class - probably my last race of 2014. Would have been nice to carry the high from the Isle of Man through to the last race. Oh well.

It hurt then, it hurt more on Monday, it hurt a little less on Tuesday, it hurt less yesterday and less again today. The body forgets pain... that's why we keep racing.

Post-season sparkly clean, some WD40 and tucked away in the garage for the winter

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