Border Classic 7th May 2017 : Welsh Championship Round 2

Hooray it wasn’t raining, so following the last trip to Cilfronydd two years before it wasn’t going to be a mud bath. On the contrary, with the dry spell continuing the track was being watered as Paul and I arrived on the Sunday morning. After a racing incident on Llantwit Major beach collecting fossils the previous day, my right ankle was twice it’s normal size and racing was therefore unlikely. I did give it a go, but failing to start the XT soon determined that no racing for me. Good news is that I got to watch most of the racing during a nice sunny day !

Hot and dusty was the order of the day and some competitive racing on a track that had seen some improvement recently, with a change of management, with some nice jumps and seemed well graded. A good entry of around 90 solos and 14 sidecars.

Eric Miles’ photos : https://flic.kr/s/aHskZcqjsw

Bethany Ford’s photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/114861915@N07/albums/72157681447324951

Youtube video: https://youtu.be/aamNUgjJFAQ

Some great racing with Pete Hollinshead (BSA A10), Guto Llewellyn (Matchless) and Dai Walker (BSA 440) taking the first 3 spots in all 3 races, but with Guto taking 1st place in the last race. Dai showed good form but only really challenged for 2nd in the first race, but at least he made the start line and didn’t fall off. Good see Barry Townend back in the field after his Maico flirtation at Teifiside. He made some good starts but ended up behind both John Pickering and Andy Carter. Andy missed the start of the second race and was a bit off the pace on the day. Peter Lockwood’s form on the DOT continued and very much on the pace in all 3 races.

It was a busy pre78 and Twinshock line, and Rhys Walker set the pace in Race 1 and 3, very much like he’d done at Teifiside. Indications are he’s going to make a season of it and good to have him winning races again. However a poor start, let visitor Dean Warren take the win on his Kawasaki. He had to battle past Sam Weaver’s on lap 2 (by battle, it was a passing move caught on video, rather than the Maico breaking down). Class stalwart Anthony Guest was in the mix in all 3 races, along with Paul Evans. Sam and Anthony ended up joint 3rd for the meeting, behind Rhys and Dean.  Kevin Pettit and Lee Johnson were both out on the XT / TT600’s, Kevin’s purchased in Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago, whilst Lee’s was shed built in a Husqvarna (best) frame during the winter. Both riders styled it up, but Kevin came out on top, though John Tilson continues to lead the way when it comes it 4-stroke twinshock power.

With Malcolm’s injury and no James Edge, Paul Prosser eased the Cagiva round for maximum pre78 points, in a style normally associated with Karl ‘pipe-and-slippers’ Stevens but stayed ahead of David Godddard, Phil Lander and Finn Kirkwood. Finn is enjoying two wheels more this season that he did three wheels a couple of years ago when he had a nasty accident in the chair with Jon Bodfish.  Hopefully more pre78’s on the line at Abbeycwmhir.

For the sidecars the good news is there was no BBC newsworthy accidents this time around and in some exciting racing, with Bootes/Stones coming out top in the Original and Walker/Pratt in the Modified sidecar racing.

The Pre74 upto 250cc / pre68 up to 350cc races were dominated by Ben Weaver and Mitch Harris respectively, though with Ben winning all 3 races on the Elsinore. After cracking a frame at the British Championship round at Bath, he’d switched to a spare frame during the week and though the bike didn’t seem so sharp, without Kris Winder racing, he was well ahead of the Mitch.  Also Elsinore mounted, Chris and Simon Carter clamimed 2nd and 3rd overall in the pre74’s, putting an end to the BSA flirtation that really hadn’t got going. William Guest was back on the CZ but problems in race 1 kept him to 5th. Andrew Owens on the pre65 eligible Bolt-Up Husky got a tremendous set of starts (something he’d shown at the Classic MXdN the previous September) with holeshotting race 2 by a clear margin, though Vince Hale got passed to take 2nd overall on the day. Kevin Petit’s flying CanAm lost an exhaust during the 1st race, meaning the welder will be lighting up the back lanes of Tredegar during the week. Really good to see Steve Patrick on the Bultaco up in the thick of it as well, a notable performance and hopefully see him at some more rounds in the future.

For the over 250cc Pre74 and over 350cc Pre68’s, John Cash really pushed on showing some impressive pace in all the three races. Chris Chell’s return continues and he’s getting back his fitness and mojo on the bike, with plenty of style.   All relatively new to the Championship, Alan Harris, Keith Roden and Rob Wall all rode well, the former two ahead of Rob’s BSA on CZ’s. Ian Fenwick’s luck was better than at Teifiside and he had some good racing with Graham Trump (both also CZ mounted). Not so much luck for Ian Hall, who got taken out in race 2 by a Honda rider who was in the wrong race. Ian was briefly knocked out and the damage to his helmet shows why you should use a good one (his was a full-face JT). After a brief check over from the medics, he wisely called it a day.

The track should have been watered during the interval, wasn’t and then after the 3rd Pre78/Twinshock race, where the dust was indeed thick, but overall the meeting ran really well and smoothly. My own frustration aside there was some good racing and like marmite the track provoked strong positive and negative reactions. It’s not Domen Hill and maybe it’s time to return to what is a good track but where access is a bit difficult at times. 

 

A day out with the big boys

It had been a long week for a whole load of reasons and the antibiotics I was taking was only going to help part of the pain (for my teeth). Leaving an ill daughter in bed didn’t help, though she was being picked up at 09h00, so slightly less on the guilt trip there. The plan was to go over to Yatton Keynal and the British Championship round and based on some recent rides (well, the previous week at Teifiside where I thought I’d ridden well)  I’d blagged the okay to ride from Dave Gittins. Hmm, some misplaced optimism there, and given my previous ride at the venue 2 years ago, it’s not an auspicious place for me as I’d snapped the lay-shaft on a recent acquired bolt-up Husky during practice.

First up, across to Ponsticill to pick up Dai and the BSA and so for so good. All ready to go and the weather looked promising. Still had a sense I should be somewhere else and for sure my brain was when I drove under a bridge on the A470 with a police camera van on doing about 80mph. Speeding fine in the post (and potentially a new, higher level of fine) just to add to my joyous mood on the day.  The first rapid overtaking move of the day came from Phil Anslow on the M4, so managed to speed by twice, as I was now sticking to the speed limit. Yes, the odds of two speeding tickets on the same morning are slight, but it is something I have achieved two-up on a Yamaha Super Tenere on the way to the Le Touquet beach race a few years back. I managed 6 points before getting to Bristol that time and a recent speed awareness course means that points again are on their way.

 

 

Speed in the van didn’t really translate to speed on the track as the day panned out. A really good entry at Yatton Keynal and a quick search found a parking spot and then off to get the bikes checked. Being a British round, it was transponder time so picked that after the ‘safety check’ the AMCA are insisting clubs run again this year.  You also need to purchase a transponder cage (£10 or £7 for a used one) but managed to get some for a fiver from Matt Fry. Find the safety check funny sometimes, given no form of sanity check is run on the riders. That said not many people would get to the line so it might be a bit self-defeating.  Walked a bit of the track with Dai, which was hard (no rain), bumpy (it always is) and some big bits of yellow limestone which the Cotswolds is of course famous.  Getting some of these sizeable lumps spun out of the back of a Triumph Metisse would be worse than a tantrum from the other piece of the Cotswold geology, Jeremy Clarkson.

For the Eric Miles Flickr photos click here (excellent as always).  They are a lot better and more interesting that my photos from the day.

Race 1 was the British Championship pre65 and pre74 classes combined and they managed to squeeze 34 people on the line, just. Practice had highlighted the issues with the project 360 Bolt-up and it’s complete lack of viable suspension. The oil-filled Fox Shocks (period items which I’d serviced last year) were struggling and it’s tracks like Yatton Keynal that make you see the value of suspension. This is crystalised when your 5″ of rear travel is rendered virtual useless as you bump your way into one of the hairpin corners, to find yourself struggling round the outside. Gave my front row slot to Andy Stanton and settled in behind and still managed an okay start.

I finished race 1, though the flying Kris Winder came past me twice, and I think he lapped all the way to 6 place in both races. Liston Bell kept him honest, but a lot of people were blown away. Combination of mental well being and crap bike (I’m not taking into account my own limited abilities) meant I was a completely different force to be reckoned with than the previous week at Teifiside.  Mid table obscurity is a cause for celebration and braking out a fine Trappist on a Sunday evening.  At the end of the race, my mouth went dry from the hot winds of reality of riding out with the big boys and the thought than even an out-of-date can of Carling  might be over celebrating my performance this weekend. It might have been the amount of dirt I’d swallowed also but my mood was darkened further.   I wasn’t last, with quite a few retirees, including Chris Lewis who’d got twisted up on some big ruts coming into

Went out in the pre68 up to 350 race (see the youtube video) as it was before the lunch break and I’ll get some recovery time before the 2nd Championship race. Was going okay, until the exhaust tail pipe came off, despite the new bracket I’d made during the winter and then modified after Teifside. The 250 handled a lot better (suspension helps) so decided to use that for the 2nd race, once I’d trudged off down the hill, got some abuse from Jock on his new quad and trudged back up past the ice cream van. Got the bolt and re-attached the tail pipe and was ready for part 2. Speaking of Jock, managed to avoid the tow-of-shame, though a guy opposite us managed 3 tows from 3 races on his Metisse and as such became Jock’s new best friend and #1 customer of the day.  The Bolt-Up I’d sold for future residency was running around the track quite nicely, which was good to see. Some longing glances at a bike I shouldn’t have sold (but you can say that about any bike you’ve owned).

We’d had to push the 250 Husky to start it and managed to just to get to the line for the second Championship race after lots of kicking and a plug change. Got off the line well, and was far enough up the field to see Ben Weaver come a cropper on the first tight corner in a bit a tussle with Dai. In Classic MX Top Trumps, chose weight on the BSA when you think you are up against an Elsinore.  Managed 5 or 6 good laps, but once wound in by Winder, aimed at race survival and another finished, which was achieved. Good practice but my heart and head weren’t really in it, somewhere further up the M4 towards Belgium.

Failed to start the 250 for the next pre68 race, despite running the bike down the hill onto the footpath (which meant we had to push it back up) so that was the end of that for the day. Dai suggested ice creams and he duly obliged and much appreciated. Packed the bikes and left around 15h30, will still a block of race to go.  Got a message from daughter Saffron, who’d I’d left ill in bed at 06h30, that she was now in A&E with suspected appendicitus (or something else), so charged back over the bridge, dropped Dai off and headed down to Neville Hall where she’d just gone up to the ward.  Shame I didn’t drop off Dai’s coat and phone with him. Crossing the car park got a phone call to see if I was still at the track and was I planning to return the Transponder. Er whoops and spending a day with Dai was rubbing off.  An evening in the hospital with slightly improving Saffron and Helen (ex-wife) finished off my day and when I got back to Bwlch wasn’t sure if laughing or crying was in order. Didn’t even fancy a beer.

Monday wasn’t so bad, with Saffron leaving hospital and getting better. The transponders went in the post to Devon and managed to service the carb on the 250 Husky and change the rear shocks on the 360. Sorting out the front forks is on the list, but so are lots of other things, one of which has a much greater priority. ‘Having fun with the lads at motocross rather than being with the family’ in the divorce petition was a bit of a badge of honour but maybe I’m growing up a bit. Everything in balance and when you have too much of something it’s not so good all the time, and I’ve never understood the guy who has Christmas Day everyday.   I also understand that you really miss something when you’ve lost it.

No racing on the Bank Holiday weekend (and there’s only a pre65 meeting) and I’m on a work trip to the US, but will be back for Border on the 7th May. Rumours of jumps and tabletops.

Teifiside 16th April : 2017 Welsh Championship Round 1

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<p>Early start at 6.30am from Bwlch to head down to Cardigan for the usual season opener. Picked up Paul and the Cagiva (resplendent with new replacement Suzuki tank) and headed west. Unsurprisingly this was into thickening skies and a cold wind. A pretty packed paddock at what must have been a record entry for Teifiside, with around 100 solos and 16 sidecars entered into what is the most westerly of scrambles. It’s 1h45 minutes for me and a lot longer for others, including Karl Stevens who’d picked himself up off his death bed to make the trip from Bedford.  For a change Kevin hadn’t managed to park right next to the burger van, and his new ‘camping trailer’ was looking good against some of the 40k camper vans.  Tredegar engineering at it’s finest, standing up to the rain and brisk wind coming in for the west.</p>

<p>Starting another season is a chance to show off your winter time work in the garage and then thrash it round the field. Quite a few people changing classes and trying something different for the 2017 season, which made sorting the results out a bit more challenging than normal. Some new faces and some returners all making the relatively long trek down to Penparc. What’s nice is good to see the camaraderie in the paddock with genuine interest in machines, kit and predictions for the season. All bollocks of course, but great fun mixed in the energetic kicking over of bikes. </p>

 

<p>Some widening on the track and a less convoluted layout for sidecars actually resulted in a great course for solos and the rain during practice and for some of the initial races in the first block actually made the conditions perfect for the rest of the day. The more you race at the small Penparc circuit, the more you like it. The off-cambers and relatively rough nature of the track make it challenging but also great for racing of which there was plenty of day. One of the features of Teifiside is the commentary, really nicely put and usually 1 or 2 races ahead or behind of the racing actually taking place, but excellent. Kyle Noble and fellow youg Teifiside member made an absolutely great job of the start, which ran well all day. </p>

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Cake stall saw as much action as the track did

<p>Of the racing itself, Rhys Edwards (Twinshock), Kris Winder (pre74 under 250cc), Vince Hale (pre68 under 350cc) and Chris Chell (pre68 over 350) managed to win all 3 races and score 75 points towards the championship (based on the new scoring system for 2017). Kris Winder on the Chris Lewis prep’d Honda Elsinore was untouchable, and in turn 2nd placed rider Ben Weaver was well ahead of the next rider.  Chris Lewis rode well on his own Elsinore and got 3rd in the points table. With his CZ last seen being energetically being pushed around the paddock, William Guest was out on the very nice 1973 250cc Husqvarna and after some slowish starts got on the gas and got 4th overall on the day. One bike that surprisingly did start was Guto Llewelyn’s  1974 Yamaha MX250, complete with pipe lagging and finished 5th overall, despite not running in race 1. MX250’s aren’t the lightest bikes and the money spent on it was a lot less than you would on an Elsinore, so an excellent ride from him. </p>

<p>Even more impressive was Guto’s ride out on Peter Lockwood’s Matchless in the pre60 / pre65 races, winning two of them ahead of Pete Hollinshead. The DNF with a magneto failure in race 2 held him back on the overall results, with Pete coming out on top, ahead of pre60 class stalwart. In the pre65 class, a welcome visit from Alan Arnott saw lead the class in two races, ahead of Andrew Davis on the twinport CZ. Peter Lockwood has found power and performance from the DOT and made an excellent start to the season. After missing the start of race 1, and falling off in race 2, Dai Walker on the BSA didn’t get the best results but with only 4 pre65 entries on the day, it was a slow start for one of the more popular classes.  The pre68 up to 350cc class was well supported, and being in the same race as the pre74 250’s made it one of the more competitive on the day. Vince Hale on the BSA dominated, with Andrew Owen on the 250cc bolt-up Husqvarna taking two 2nd places. Geoff Taylor on the CZ got 2nd in the first race but failed to get off the line for race 2. Malcolm Herbert got 3rd overall, and after a good race 1, lots places in the other two moto’s after challenging Andrew Owen in race 2. </p>

<p>The over 350cc pre68 and over 250cc pre74 combined race had the smallest entry of the day, and whilst the first two moto’s were led by ‘out of class’ Kris Winder and Ben Weaver, it was Chris Chell who was the star, making a welcome return from his serious accident and proving he still has the pace. Good to see him back. With John Cash missing Teifiside and Jon Randall not riding this season (he might yet change his mind, he was visiting whilst spending the weekend nearby), two newish riders made an impact. Alan Harris and Keith Roden, both CZ mounted score good points, as did Glyn Drake on an Yamaha MX360, who got a well place 2nd in class in the third race. </p>

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<p>The sidecars were well supported with 16 on the line and provided some great racing for the spectators, however the crash on the start straight in race 2 meant injuries for 4 riders, a busy time for the paramedics and the arrival of the air ambulance. A longer than planned lunch break, but an excellent job by everyone involved with due care and attention which was great to see and nobody was concerned about the delay to the schedule. It gave everyone a chance to sample the delights of the cake stall, supplied and run by Connie Walker to support the Welsh Classic MX des Nations team for 2017. </p>

<p>The Pre78/Twinshock race was well supported and Rhys Edwards won all 3 races,  hotly pursued by what looks like a competitive pack of riders. Weavers’ Sam and David were both Maico mounted weren’t too consistent, but Anthony Guest, in 2nd place for the last 3 seasons, got off to a consistent start and lies in 2nd place, ahead of Dylan Davies and John Tilson who both had consistent rides. In the pre78 class, bike failure in race 2 meant that James Edge got two class wins, with Steve James winning the first race (before heading home for a night out ?). Paul Prosser had 3 consistent rides to lead the class table after round 1. </p>

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<p>In the aftermath of the sidecar incident, it’s been interesting to see some of the press coverage in Wales. Easter Sunday isn’t the busiest day for news, so following on from the disappearance of a 90 year old sailor in Cardigan, the air ambulance call-out Penparc was item #2 on both evening and night time Wales Today news.  Subsequent follow up calls from the local newspapers mentioned people in the crowed being injured, but of course they’ve assumed that the women casualties wouldn’t have been riding. The good news is Samantha Harris, Chris Huntley, Katrina and Steven Jones were not as badly injured as first thought. For sure, it was a racing incident but something that is difficult to explain to people not familiar with the sport itself. </p>

<p>For myself, the rear end of the 360 Bolt-Up gave up during practice and it seems that the part Dai found on his field after my practice session there was important (rear swingarm spacer) and the rear end vibration was significant. So, the XT500 got a run out after a new engine got put in on the Friday. It ran well for all 3 races, though it takes some getting used to with the best result in the last race with a great battle with Paul Prosser after a relatively rapid start. Needs a newer rear tyre as getting the power down was difficult at times, especially in 2nd gear away from the line. In the pre68 up to 350cc race, ran really well in with the pre74 250’s on the Hallman framed Husky. Surprisingly good result in race 1 after a relatively slow start and finished 8th from 17 based on the tactic of doing the whole course in 2nd.  You rev the nuts of it in places, and maybe I still too much in tune with riding the Automatic Husky.

 

 

 

 

Yamaha XT500 Motocross 1977

After racing the TT500 at Widworthy at the end of last season, got a good feeling about riding the 4-stroke Yamaha and when at XT500 with some motocross considerations came up on eBay, I ended up buying it. A reasonable price and some good parts on it.  It has an RM Suzuki front end and a KX swingarm but comes with the standard frame. It has the YZ125 tank that you see on a lot of the HT500 replicas, so looks pretty good also. The seat isn’t really right but is plush and relatively comfy. Big bore exhaust and a end can which is a bit lively but lets the bike do the business.  The engine was a stand XT500 motor (IU6 early model) and though running nicely, smokes a bit on overrun.

Good mate Roger had built an engine for the TT,  which has an 11:1 compression ration Wiseco piston and is bored out to 540cc. This has been in the TT500 for the 2016 season and though I’d not really used it, did go nicely.  The TT500 had been picked cheaply from Huggy’s Speedshop in Atherstone and has a light restoration so I could use it in some hare and hounds and the like.

<img src =”https://goo.gl/photos/tbL8pWMJP7YK5xbR8″>

 

 

 

 

Classic Off Road Show and Autojumble : Kempton Park 3/Dec

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Getting ready for the morning at the jumble.

With the work Christmas party in Bracknell the night before, decided to head up to Kempton Park for the Classic Off Road Show and Autojumble. My Dad and some of his friends go up regularly so met them up there too. Nice cold and clear weather and after a long wait in the nearby breakfast establishment (other people heading to the show) a short queue and we were in.  The usual overly optimistic  pricing was present

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Sitting in the stand looking over part of what is a relatively big jumble.

 

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A good buy for someone, well it was Kevin in the end, to add to the CanAm collection in Tredegar. Nice bike.

 

 

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Some great magazines for sale. The pipe look is set for a comeback I’m sure though hopefully in the paddock rather than whilst riding.

 

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Possibly the bargain of the show ? It ran nicely and a 441 Victor for £2295. It hadn’t sold when we left the show around 2pm.

 

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Don’t know much about Devoid of Troubles but that is an interesting engine. Twin with side exhaust ports makes it very interesting.

 

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A reasonably priced Chott ? There’s been a few for sale recently and though it could be argued the Husqvarna engined ones are more competitive but these are nice.

http://www.iloc.co.uk/home/motolaverda/laverda-in-the-70s

 

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No rare Cagiva tanks, but did uncover a whole set of NOS Cagiva Akront rims in their wrappers.

 

The Late Late Entry

With the workshop repair schedule already underway, a bit of surprise to go for a ride out at Devon Classic, a late season event at Widworthy. Also, with a busy recent schedule I’d not entered and a late phone call on the Friday secured a late entry. With 25th anniversary reunion for my Poly of Wales course on the Saturday, wasn’t sure I’d even be in a fit state to race anyway.  In the end found myself waking up on a sofa in Cardiff (thanks Gray) at 06h30 with the rain hammering against the window.

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Pre race training in Cardiff on the Saturday night. 

Nice and dark and damp as I walked round to the van and headed out of Cardiff and towards the M4 to the journey to Devon. Getting to the Devon tracks isn’t too bad (though getting back with the M5 traffic on Sunday evening can be more challenging) and after a quick stop for a much needed coffee I was at the track at 08h45. Paul, Dai and John turned up about 30 minutes later as the weather was brightening and though there was a cold breeze it was looking like it wasn’t going to rain.

 

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Early morning Devon roads in October

With more than one Husqvarna showing the signs of end of season attrition it was the choice between the only two bikes still running, the 1967 Hallman, which had done well in Ireland and at Llanthony and with a replaced front brake cable was back ready for the track, or the TT540 Yamaha which Roger had taken for a tentative lap at Llanthony.

A sort out in the garage on Friday had changed the front brake lever to one of the numerous Magura’s that I’d seemed to have acquired and generally gone through the bike, before loading it up prior to a relatively social day on Saturday in Pontypridd and Cardiff. No decompressor but was getting the hang of starting it; you just need a wall, van or something upright to lean against.

Feeling the after affects of a Caroline Street kebab (no ill effects from the beer surprisingly) I found myself in a field in Devon at 08h45 on a Sunday morning all ready to go. Ended up in the Twinshock D class, which given the handling of the TT wasn’t a bad place. Dai, John and Paul arrived and managed to get the Sprinter into the field, something that wasn’t too easy to achieve at the meeting back in April.

Practice was pretty well organised, and those that might have been put off by the rain the previous night, or the official tone of the entry form, would have been pleasantly surprised. Nice and sunny all day, though a bit chilly in the wind. The stubble field was pretty rutted and the TT was all over the place as I tried to work out whether I needed to get forward or back to counter the long rake at the front end. The downhill into the grass field was pretty hairy with some wobbles all the way down (and I never got confident on that all day). The up hill sections and loops were superb on the TT however, with the Roger Nunn built engine pulling well and only stuttering on full gas, hinting that the Mikuni might need a bigger main to cope with the bigger bore and the higher compression ratio (up from 8.5:1 to 11:1). Engine sounded great and managed to push the flames out of the rear. Starting sequence had been perfected even without the decompressor and the higher compression. Great stuff and the bike ran well all day.

Race 1, saw the TT getting 3rd into the first corner and holding that position until the last lap, so ended up 4th, from a field of 15 or so in Twinshock D. Though the theory of the class categories for Twinshock in the south west clubs is great, it does need policing, especially during the meeting. The Twinshock D winner was miles ahead and his time would have won Twinshock C also; the second place guy was 15 seconds a lap quicker than the 3rd place guy. At the same time, a couple of C riders should have been in D. Difficult to get right, but nice to race with your peers.

Always good to see a mix of bikes in Devon, though both the pre65 and the pre74 classes had to be combined to get a good line on the start, which points to the strength of Twinshocks in the region. Maybe they should think about a pre78 class also ? They also had an Evo class that was relatively well supported with some good riders.

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The TT Yamaha, at 540cc and the same crap front end it always had.

Race 2 was much like Race 1, with 3rd into the first corner, with a 2nd gear start and a smart shift in 3rd all that was needed to get the mighty 540 powered away. Loving this. Just the handling and the brakes that were a bit of an issue, but it was really the first time in two years I’d ridden the bike in a MX race, having only done the Gentle One hare and hounds with the old engine. Might want to look at the jetting, the rear wheel bearings and the steering head bearings as a priority. Ended up 5th, losing out to a guy on a Maico on the last lap. Loving the bike up the hills and as the ruts were becoming more pronounced so I could get the bike round the corners a bit easier. Concious also I could do more to hang the back out on the bike more and get hold of the beast by the horns. Very different from the 250cc two-stroke Husky.

Race 3 saw a better start and manage to get in 2nd behind the guy in the wrong race. And whilst managed to keep behind me down the hill on lap 1, it wasn’t the case on the other 3, and it’s where I lost places. Ended up 6th, and got 4th overall on the day, but to be fair it was Twinshock D. However great fun riding the TT, and it makes you think about what you could do to the bike. 4-strokes are fun, but not all the way to HL or JBR Honda fun. The engine is great and it was nice to have a bike you could start relatively easy (with some careful positioning).

 

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Not the quickest bike, but great fun to ride and sorting out the front end handling will help significantly

The Devon club had obtained the services of Emma Partington on the PA (as at Llanthony) and this was extended to cover commentary. The announcements were good and you knew when to be in the pit box, but commentary (in my opinion) requires a few things:

knowing when to not talk (as well as talk); you are at the track not listening on the radio. Ritchie Benaud was the master here.

Have direct knowledge of experience on what you are talking about; yes you can do the Murray Walker bit and say what bike they are riding and where they are from, but talking about lines, racing styles etc needs experience.

Know your audience; there were very few people who’d never watched a scramble before, and it was very much teaching granny to suck eggs at times.

Emma did a good job, but it was a bit too much. In the first pre65 race, she managed to talk non-stop all the way through. Also the PA was in the paddock so 3 hours of listening to Emma, without watching the racing is a little painful. I’ve had the same experience at Abbeycwmhir, but thats got better over the last couple of years and there is a balance to be found. If between fixing bikes I’m watching the racing, its great to listening to the bikes and work it out yourself. The commentator at Ballyblack in Northern Ireland was absolutely superb and a model for anyone wanting to give it a go. Knowledgeable and a relaxed style is probably what made it.

Overall an excellent days racing, where the only fix was to a perished fuel pipe (need to find the right tap for the tank at some juncture) and apart from the tools stayed in the box. That always makes it pleasant. I also resisted the urge to do the final Twinshock C race and packed up in one piece. It might have been why I took it carefully in Race 3, but not sure.

Dai rode well, though had a lose bolt on the oil field at the start of race 2. He managed a good 3rd in the fourth race. We left before 4pm and given it was October, managed to not get too much traffic on the way back the M5. Washed the bike off and in for some dinner by 18h30 and this really is the end of the season.

 

 

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The track ended up being great, getting better as the day went on.

 

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 Back across the bridge and the season is now ended (again)

 

Llanthony Classic 25th September 2016

Once again the Llanthony meeting finished off the Welsh season, and though it was a week after a memorable MXdN meeting in Northern Ireland, it lived up to previous years. An improved track (longer than before, with some great left hand corners) and good weather, with only shower making things a bit slick during the middle of the day. It was both a British and Welsh Championship round so there was a good entry of top quality riders. The Llanthony Club had spent Saturday setting out the track which saw the return of the long hill after the start and a new section across the top of the field under the trees.

Llanthony September 2016 - Setting the Scene/1

Not many better locations for racing in the UK

The pre60 and 65/Metisse classes were combined and formed a healthy line up, not including the aforementioned Andy Carter, who having already sewn up the championship was focusing on the sidecars. Pete Hollinshead took maximum points on his A10 BSA, with Jon Brittan, Mick Maskelyne and Peter Lockwood all riding well and scoring good points to finish off the championship. For the pre65 / Metisse, Derek Brice had wrapped up the title before the previous Teifiside meeting but was challenged by Dai Walker on his BSA, who after an off when past Phil Edwards in race 1, had two good races and take the overall win on the day. Malcolm Herbert had secured 2nd at Teifiside, not a bad thing since the bolt-up Husqvarna had become non-functional at Hanbury.  There were race wins for Martin Coleman, Lee Kelly (who’d stormed the field at Chester) and for Pete Hollinshead.

Llanthony September 2016 -  More Easy-Does-It

Dai Walker and Barrie Townend, good to see Barrie out on the bike

 

For the pre68 350cc class, which this had been won for the season by Phil Anslow, the other podium places were up from grabs, with Geoff Taylor, Malcolm Herbert and Mitchell Harris all racing.  After the disappointment of having to ride Malcolm’s Husqvarna the previous week in Northern Ireland, Geoff’s CZ packed up in practice. Mitchell managed to get the 350 BSA round the track to take  a maximum of 45 points on the day (something he failed to do in the Unlimited class) and thereby take 2nd place overall, with Malcolm not getting enough points, especially after the Husqvarna flooded prior to the start of race 3.  It being a British Championship day, the races were dominated by non-Welsh championship riders, with Greg Speed, Chris Collins and Steve Dent all riding strongly.

Llanthony September 2016 -  Last Race of the Day

Nathan Jones, 2016 Pre68 Unlimited Champion

In the pre68 unlimited races, again there was a strong field initially, which dwindled down to 4 riders only in the last race. British championship regulars Tim Dallaway and Liston Bell dominated the first race, with Mitchell Harris taking the top Welsh points ahead of Nathan Jones. He wasn’t worried however as he had already got the title sorted beforehand. Mitchell then struggled with the tight, rutted right-hand corner on the next two races (which he’d done it the 350 race)  giving 30 points to Nathan. Andrew Davies on the now repaired twinport CZ rode well in races 1 and 2 and also good to Andy Watkin out there competing.

 

Llanthony September 2016 -  Another Prang

Chris Storey on Rob Hawkes’ Ossa after flying off rather impressively over the ‘whoops’ section. Was a bit confused after practice, when an Ossa flew by me and then a couple of minutes later spying a non-kitted up Rob wandering around the paddock.

Hobbling round the paddock and spectator area was nothing but pure joy for Andy Storey as he watched Honda Elsinores dominate the pre74 up to 250cc class.  His role as evil genius behind the performance of these bikes is part of what keeps the shutters up at the Pre65 and Mortimer Clubs, and with others like Chris Lewis, they’ve seen younger riders inject some excitement and great racing into the classic scene. Whilst the bikes are good, it’s also down to the riders and with the change of ECMO rules for 2017 (allowing non-reed valve pre74 bikes for 30+ and 50+ age categories) it would be good to see them against the swarm of CZ’s on the bumpy continental tracks.

Kris Winder was flying and won British and Welsh races, but even without him there, Welsh Champion Ben Weaver wasn’t having it his own way. Rhys Walker took to his uncle Dai’s Elsinore very well and finished with a win and two seconds (to Kris Winder, who was 45 seconds clear of the field). Without much competition in 2016 for Ben, it might be very different for 2017.  William Guest has ridden well on the CZ all season and battled well to get points that secured his 2nd position in the championship among the swarms of Hondas. And with a good battle between Chris Lewis and Gary Wolstenholme, it was Gary who came out best to get 3rd place in the championship. Needless to say both were riding Honda’s.

Llanthony September 2016 - Not Bouncing Down The Bank

A defining moment for John Cash’s season he managed to restart the bike and get past the finish line.

For the over 250cc pre74’s as last season it was all between CZ mounted Jonathan Randall and John Cash on the BSA. John took the race 1 win ahead of Andy Stanton and Jonathan to extend his points lead, but after they came together in race 2, the CZ was quickly was restarted, but the BSA got bogged down and stuck on the sticky corner that had seen the demise of Mitchell Harris. Jonathan got maximum points, but John crossed the line to get 7 points and keep ahead in the championship.  For the final race, John took the lead on lap 2, only for Jonathan to charge past on the last two corners to claim the win, but it wasn’t quite enough to claim the championship, with John Cash winning by 3 points, 230 to 227. Exciting stuff for those watching the second two races and the closest finish to a championship class for a number of seasons.

The pre78 class was in its second season and whilst there had been an increase in riders, the demise of Alan Wood’s knee and Paul Prosser’s Cagiva and then James Edge’s Suzuki in practice meant than David Weaver had an easy finish to a championship he’d already won.  Not to say he wouldn’t have won it with the other competitors being fit as he’d showed strong form all season. James kept the second position he’d had last season with Narberth rider David Goddard taking 3rd.  With much debate online prior to the event, at which David couldn’t make, Lee Johnson failed to score enough points on his Kawasaki as failed after the second race. He went out in the 3rd combined Twinshock / Pre78 race, and score points based on the results from Track Times, but let me know straight away that he rode the ineligible 1980’s Can-Am. It meant he ended up 4th and trophy-less but its this type of honesty and approach that makes classic MX what it is.

Llanthony September 2016 -  Groovy Baby

Twinshocks on the sticky corner, Anthony Guest being chased by Matt Fry.

A strong entry of Twinshocks was very much in contrast to the previous year even tough the Twinshock Nationals at Pontrilas were just up the road (they got rained off overnight on the power harrowed track, grass is best !) . The unknown winning rider is Ricky Pedder I think, who took wins over Adam Briggs after Adam had won the first race. A field of 34 bikes for the first race made for excellent racing (and even I managed my best twinshock result of 15th on the automatic Husqvarna, which then sank in race 2).

Early season form on the 250cc Maico had seen Teifiside club’s Kyle Noble take a lead over perennial 2nd place man Anthony Guest, who’d swapped the Honda 480 for an RM Suzuki this season. However, DNFs and mechanical issues had meant the poor-start to Sam Weaver’s season might not be so bad after all. All 3 were strong placed for the podium, though a resurgent Nigel Davies was riding strongly. However, despite only scoring 10 points at Llanthony, Kyle took the title from Anthony, who also managed 10 points from the one race. Sam Weaver also blew up his Maico in practice but managed to borrow a bike in pursuit of second place, but ended up 2 points short.  Kyle’s younger brother Keelan has been riding well, but the bikes haven’t been holding up and he ended up behind Nigel Davies.

Some notes to come on the sidecars.

Llanthony September 2016 -  Pre-74 over 250cc Getaway

Eric’s best ever picture ?

Personally a mixed day, with the Automatic sounding a bit rough, but great to see Karl Stevens finish off his first season of his TM250 Suzuki and for a good friend and engine builder for the Yamaha TT540 give it a try out on the track. He’ll be back but for someone who rides on road and track he found it a very different experience out on a muddy track.  Also, daughter Saffron and Karl’s son Benjy both marshalled all day and enjoyed the event. Plenty of friends watching shame there was not enough time to catch up with everyone.

For the results see: http://www.classicmxwales.co.uk/standings

After taking the track down and a quick pint, headed back to Bwlch, with Tom Robinson on 6 Music playing a series of September / Autumnal tracks. He finished with the Sandy Denny / Fairport Convention track ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes ?”, so apt for an end of season.  I was nearly in bloody tears.

 

 

 

Underneath the evening sky, all the riders are leaving. 

Of course they know it’s time for them to go?

Ahead the winter workshop, in which I will be dreaming

I have no thought of time (or money)

(with thanks to Sandy Denny, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”)

 

 

Classic MX des Nations Retrospective

 On the Sunday journey back to Wales, sitting in the van with Paul, Graham and Kevin, plenty of time to reflect on the event, the team and individual performances. Some good discussion, especially with the increasing awareness that it is really a team event. With people lending bikes, (the Stanton CZ to me, the Husqvarna to Geoff Taylor for example), helping with mechanical issues and generally ensure that everyone made their race, there was a great team atmosphere, which is as much as the experience of riding the race is. It was a great track and similar to what British teams would expect and it probably not something that would be found at continental events.
The Welsh team, its organisers and riders are still very much on the learning curve, so the 2nd place for the 30+ and 3rd place for the 70+ team were very much a bonus. Fast, consistent riding from the Wales A team counted where the competition (in Northern Ireland and England-2) didn’t quite match the performance. On paper, England-2 should have got 2nd place but DNFs put them out of the picture.  Rider fitness is also important as a 20 or 15 minute race isn’t easy on any track.
But it’s the right spirit for a Welsh team, picking people who want to be part of the team and not just ride for themselves and giving people to ride at event like no other in the calendar, so even without the trophies that is what has been achieved. Like both Northern Ireland and Scotland, Wales doesn’t have a large pool of riders to select from, but the aim will be have people participate and should see it as an opportunity to represent their country.
The move to pre74 bikes opens up the number of available riders, though the commitment of travelling to Denmark for 2017 and then the Czech Republic for 2018 is significant, both in terms of cost and time. However, for me and others, riding for or watching a Welsh national team is well worth the effort and it is something that is great to be a part of.

Classic MX des Nations : Race Day. Ballyblack 17th Sept 2016

Classic MX des Nations Album : https://flic.kr/s/aHskJHfXyK

 

Classic MXdN 2016

John Cash in Race 1

 

All race photos from Cmacimages https://www.facebook.com/colinmcilhagger

Classic MXdN 2016

30+ Race 1 start, looking good for Wales, before the 2nd corner collision between Guto and Andy Stanton

Early start for the team at the cottage, with first practice due at 8h15 for the 30+ team. The sun was out and the wind had dropped and a fine day beckoned as we headed over to the track at 07h15. The race day programme is pretty full and long, with the final race not scheduled for 17h30. Each class getting 2 sessions of practice before the team presentations at 12h00 and racing from 13h30.

The scoring for the classes is based on race position, with the lowest total winning. With 4 riders per team and 2 races, the score is taken from the best 6 of 8, where a DNF is scored as 50.  Obviously its important to avoid them and getting the best result can take a little bit of team tactics and planning.  The track at Ballyblack was a long 1.8km / 1.1 mile lap, and would be familiar type to the UK riders. Generally fast with some jumps, which not large gave plenty of air time. Whilst there were some soft patches overall the base of the track was firm and held up pretty well all day. The start was wide and would allow for 40 riders directly on to the gate, so a double line would only be needed for the 50+ race.

For the specific rules, teams and riders the ECMO site, http://www.classicmotorsport.org has all the details.  Race position and timings are available on the Mylaps Speedhive page.  For the race report and results, I’ve split it by class.

30+ (rider age), pre72 machines.

With both a Wales-1 and Wales-2 team running in the event some planning was needed, especially as Andy Stanton in the Wales 2 team would be quick. Some discussion prior to racing on how to handle any conflicts over what might be valuable points.

Classic MXdN 2016

Andrew Owen on the 250cc Bolt Up Husqvarna

Practice for the 30+ teams went to plan, well almost. Kevin had some fueling problems with the 450 Husky as a result from some crap in the tank. My exhaust cracked and lost a tail pipe in 2nd practice. Thanks for Cecil Pearson’s welder and Pete Hollinshead’s welding skills, it was repaired in 30 minutes so plenty of time before racing.
Race 1 went well for the first 15 seconds, until Guto’s lack of a front brake took out himself and Andy Stanton in the first corner.  A quick restart from Andy saw him get back in to the field quickly. Guto was a bit more off the pace and came off again as he battled to get up the field. After an excellent start, Andrew Owen on the 250cc Husky rode well to keep 16th position. Rob Jones battled hard to take 3rd overall.  The team was in joint 3rd with the England-2 team, behind England-1 and Northern Ireland-1.
For the Wales-2 team is was mixed. Andy Stanton’s 7th was outstanding, but my Husky seized solid on the back straight on lap 6 and Kevin was struggling after an off on the first lap where he’d injured his leg. Jon Britton rode consistently to finish, but the team ended up with two DNF’s.  Based on the estimated scores the team was therefore in 7th and last place.
For Race 2, the track had held up well and the start didn’t involve a massive pile up of riders. Another brilliant ride got Rob Jones into 6th, with John Cash not far behind. Guto was down on power on the fast circuit on the Peter Lockwood Matchless but got a valuable 13th place. Andrew Owen had an off on the last lap, but still made 18th.   For Wales-2, Andy Stanton got into 6th, 20 seconds ahead of John Cash, though luckily the loss of a point for Wales-1 didn’t make a difference and they got 2nd place behind England-1 and ahead of Northern Ireland-1. With Malcolm Herbert in 20th, Jon Britton in 21st and Kevin Pettit (with leg injury) in 25th, it was all 4 finishing and therefore the two DNF’s from race 1 could be dropped, and they ended up 5th, ahead of Scotland and Northern Ireland-2.
A great result for Wales-1, especially as the England-2 team looked as strong as their first team on paper. The first ever trophy for Wales at the Classic MXdN, but there was more to come.
50+ / Pre70 Machines.
The Welsh team was made up of Pete Hollinshead, Andy Carter, Dai Walker and Derek Brice. Pete was mounted on his unfashionable A10 and was looking to continue the form he showed in Mortimer the previous year and hold off the massed ranks of CZ machinery. Andy Carter had swapped his normal TriBSA mount for a 380 CZ, and loaned a 250 CZ to Derek Brice. As with the 30+ class, a 250cc bike is needed by each team and this provides a real challenge for the teams. Recent form from Dai Walker on his now 440cc BSA justified his selection, but the whole team had a tough ask in what was the premier event, with 11 teams from 10 nations taking part.

Pete managed 3rd into the first corner in race 1, but the heavy BSA was a challenge round the track which had some big jumps and relatively tight turns. He ended

up 8th, with Dai Walker coming in 21st in a race that was dominated by the 3 man Northern Ireland team that finished 1st, 4th and 6th (after losing the 250cc rider with an injury during practice), with Laurance Spence taking the win ahead of Keith Best. England were in 2nd with the Czech Republic (with their only team present at this this year Classic MXdN lying ahead of Scotland.
In race 2 Pete took the holeshot and battled hard to stay in contention eventually finishing in 11th on what was a rougher track on the second 20 minute + 1 lap moto. The rest of the team performed better than in race 1, with Brian in 21, Andy Carter in 23rd and Derek Brice in 30th.  The final position of 7th overall was a little unfortunate as had they each gained 3 places over both moto’s they would have ended up 4th, ahead of Scotland.  It was a tough ask against some strong teams, but Northern Ireland’s win was a highlight of the day and the Laurence Spence v Keith Best battle in race 2 excellent to watch.
In the 60+ / Pre65 bikes  it was going to be a tough ask, and with Geoff Taylor, Dave Bevan from the 2015 event, joined by Welsh championship and Moseley club riders Alistair Fowlie and Bob Twigg, it wasn’t made easier by mechanical issues before and during the meeting. Geoff’s Twinport CZ snapped a gearshaft the week before the event and with spares not being highly available he’d travelled to Ballyblack not sure what bike he’d be riding. He ended up on Malcolm Herbert’s Husqvarna, with the gear change on the wrong side and probably not the bike preparation he was used to.  Bob Twigg’s BSA split it’s fuel tank during the first race, but as well as finishing he managed 9th in the 2nd race a strong finish given the competiton, especially from the French who has a 1,2,3 in the first race and whose score of 15 was the lowest (and best) in any class.
The 66+ class had 6 teams entered, with Sweden and Denmark competing alongside the home nations. Mick Maskelyne competed in 2015 and Peter Lockwood moved up from the 60+, whilst long-time championship support David Simpson rode for Wales this year, along with Bonanza regular Peter Yates. England, with both Phil Edwards and Doug Sherbourne looked well placed and so it proved with a 1,3,5 finish in race 1. With Denmark picking up 50 points for a DNF, Wales were lying a theorectical 3rd with Peter Yates finishing 12th and Mick in 13th.   Race 2 saw a victory for the Swedish rider Jorgen Ahlstrom after a poor start from Doug Sherbourne, but David Simpson started well and got home in 13th place, 1 ahead from Peter who had another consistent ride.  Mick misjudged the fuel needed for the race and stopped on the last lap. Though some there was conjecture at trackside that this may have cost Wales 3rd place, this was not the case as the top 3 of England, Denmark and Sweden were well ahead of Wales with a margin of 48 points.  Wales did come ahead of Scotlad and Northern Ireland.
Wales didn’t have a 70+ team for 2015, but Team Manager Paul Prosser had hunted across the Principality to get a team together. With the late withdrawl of the German team (who competing against was used an incentive) Wales was guarenteed a poduim finish. Brian Walker decided not to ride on the preceeding day, so it was down to John Dunscombe (who had ridden as part of the 66+ team the previous year), Gerald Llewelyn and Corwyn Jones were left to make up the team. With 6 finishes needed the priority was avoiding a DNF. With the Llewelyn Ariel / JAP shedding a magneto in practice, it looked like a familiar pattern seen at Narberth or Teifiside. However paddock miracles were worked and both Gerald and bike finished both races, as did the steady Corwyn Jones on Dai Walkers bike, who primarily concern was preserving it for the 50+ race. However ride of the day went to John Dunscome, who after coming 2nd to Cecil Peason (the JAP Metisse guy) in race 1, went on to win race 2, and thereby becoming the first Welsh rider to win an Classic MXdN race. Superb stuff.

Classic MX des Nations Day 2 : prep day 16th Sept 2016

Overall the entries for the Classic MX des Nations were down on previous years, probably due to the location in Northern Ireland, would meant high travel costs and a long journey for the continental teams. There was no team from Belgium and only 1 team from the Czech Republic.  The only number of teams for the 30+ meant that both England and Wales were allowed to enter second teams, something usually only the host country can do for Wales it allowed some of the people already committed to travel as reserves and helpers to get a ride at one of the premier motocross events.

participants

Having two teams in one race can mean some thought needs to go into planning, as you don’t want the ‘B’ team as such taking points away from the A team. With Andy Stanton coming in as a last minute replacement for Paul Prosser, who rightly decided that being Team Captain was going to take a lot of his time on the day, we had a quick rider who was going to mix it with the A team, but plenty of discussion beforehand meant that there was a plan for ensuring the A team got the focus for the event. On paper the England second team was as quick as its first team so would need team orders potentially to ensure the best results.

The 50+ class was the premier event, with 11 teams on the start and this would be the choice event on race day. As a Welsh team, Paul Prosser had done a great job in getting a team in each class, with the 70+ team now guaranteed a trophy, as the German team had pulled out at the last minute. The sure thing in other classes was with the very impressive, BSA-mounted French team in the 60+ class who’d looked really good in Mortimer last year. However you’d suspect the England would do badly not to finish on the podium in each race.

 

Classic MX des Nations Day 2

Walking the track; it was a long way round

 

The day before race day can be a long and somewhat fraught one with plenty of organisational issues along the lines of “cat herding”.  After a relatively quiet night, got to the track for 08h30 and after putting up the pop-up in the sunny, but slightly chilly morning it was time to walk the track. Some feedback from other people in the Welsh team that this really was a long track (2 miles), I set my running/cycling GPS watch and we set off.  You could have been in Devon, with wide corners and grass on the circuit, something the continental riders rarely see. Alberto from ECMO mentioned a few times how good it was to see a track like this, and though there had been some complaints it was something very different for many riders.

Classic MX des Nations Day 2

The boggy section which was cut out for race day. 

The back straight was of Hanbury proportions, but with two jumps en route, the second of which would provide some significant air time for the quicker riders. The main discussion point was on a 150m boggy section at the back of the track, which because of the surrounding reed beds made it feel very much like Abbeycwmhir. The discussion with teams, organiser John Colling and the Clerk of the Course would mean the most of this would be taken out before practice.  The GPS showed the track at just under 2km in length, slightly less once the boggy section was removed.

Back in the paddock, Paul got down to finding riders, sorting race shirts and numbers and checking that everyone was aware of with what needed to be done.  With the ECMO meeting and the preparation for racing tomorrow not really starting to 14h30, along with Kevin and Graham headed off to do some shopping and find some lunch.

The ECMO meeting was relatively short and had some interesting notes, in particular on the European CEC rounds for 2017 and that the Classic des Nations will be in the Czech Republic in 2018. Also, the draw was made for starting positions (as there is no timed practice for the Des Nations) and where it mattered, Paul drew some good slots for the teams, especially with slot 2 for the 50+ class. Wales avoided being the on the jury this year, after being selected at Mortimer the previous year.

Classic MX des Nations Day 2

Start slots as drawn by the country managers

 

After the entry fee was paid it was time for scruitineering. Safety checks for bikes were done by the club, with the 4 countries of the jury keeping an eye out for eligibilty. Whilst the ECMO rules are clear and relatively tight watching the time of bikes come through it was clear that some pushing of boundaries had taken place in many sheds and workshops across Europe. No real checks on suspension travel were made (and it was clear that some had more than the maximum front and rear) and that some bikes were out of age range. Whilst as a Welsh team we had two bikes we were aware of that were open to interpretation, having a 1974 Maico for the pre70 class was pushing it a bit. Some of the Husky’s were pushing it a bit, with mid-80’s twin leading shoe front brakes in one case. Potentially something for ECMO to think about in future, especially with the change to pre74 for the 30+ and 50+ for next season.

The riders then signed on and it was time for food and a trip to the excellent beer tent / main marquee as the evening settled in and thoughts turned to race day.

Classic MX des Nations Day 2

Friday night beer tent with Welsh team strategy being actively discussed. Scots and Irish also present with the England team under instruction for an early night. Winning is everything.