Abbeycwmnogear

A few problems with getting from 3rd back to 2nd sort of dominated the day, but what a good day. An Indian Summer indeed with 0 degrees welcoming me after a very pleasant hours drive up from Herefordshire. The track was laid up with some quick bits and an adverse camber corner that I didn’t master all day. Abbeycwmhir isn’t Mark’s favourite track, Alan was focusing on hare-and-hounds and Kevin still recovering from his Narberth injury (though went clean at a Bath Classic trail last weekend).

Practice was ‘interesting’ with a healthy covering of grass covering all of the track, which was 50% more than the sun was covering. Slippery with a couple of mud patches, I managed 8 laps in two sessions and was thinking this can only get better (which luckily it did).

With 4 British Championship races (15 minutes + a lap) it made a change to watch a longer race rather than the 4 lap ‘sprints’. And some good racing too, with some all action starts.

1973 YZ125A, with grass

My first race ended up with me over cooking it on an innocent looking corner and going over the bars (all caught on the helmet cam, which survived). I managed to get going and overtake a couple of people, which was good.

Better starts in races 2 and 3, but missed a few gears, especially changing down from 3rd and this mean I lost ground. As per the end of the third race was beginning to string it together, and was thinking about moving on the bike a bit better (well thinking anyway).

Apart from munching gear changes, the bike seemed to be performing well again (just like Llanthony the previous weekend ) and pulling like a train from the starts. Again just the rider to sort out, and maybe need to revisit my right wrist which was still suffering from the effects of an Mazda RX8.

End of the scramble season for me and I’ll do a review in another article

End of the season

No cars means not dangerous

I’d been over on the Saturday to help set up the track and its main feature is the big straight running up the far side; its the only place I’d got the bike into fourth gear all season and it made for an entertaining days racing. That other parts of the track were both lumpy and tight, each lap was varied and tiring.

For the first time all season, I could safely say that it was the rider not the bike, who was the problem. After around 8 laps of practice I was absolutely knackered and my right wrist, still hurting after my off on the road , was pretty painful. Keeping the bike in gear up the main straight was problematic as it was jumping out and also out of the powerband. The really rough section up the second climb didn’t really improve much all day and all the power came off the bike if you hit it wrong. All a bit of a lottery, though a line through the centre appeared later on.

On the track

My first race was good and overall was one of my better ones all season, fighting it out mid table early on, before losing gears (and places) later on. The late Saturday night field tests on the MX paid off, as the power delivery and top end running were the best they had been all season, as I finally put in an old main jet (with no markings) as things came together. The rugged parts of the track were the most challenging (for me anyway) and trying to keep the bike in the powerband, something I didn’t always manage to achieve.

Mark’s first twinshock race saw him get a great start and keep all but 3 of the field behind him for the first lap. He lost a few more places but managed 8th out of a field of 15.

Relaxing during lunch

Race two for me was a bit of disaster, with a poor start and then off the pace after that, struggling each lap with the rough section up the second hill. That said, the performance improvement in race 1 had set some higher expectations for me, so therefore race 3 was a welcome return to some sort of form, but again a poor start, but managed to be pretty competitive. Sam Gittoes took a dive on the rough sections and I managed to avoid him as I cam over the hill from the bottom corner. Couple of other fallers and finished the race fairly strongly, just managing to hold off a guy behind me on the line.

End of season ?

Mark’s showing in race 2 was also not so good as race 1, however due to the prompt and efficient organisation, he missed the start of race 3, for which he was gutted. He did however make it for the start of the twinshock grand slam and had a good end

With the end-of-the-season nearly here, this was probably my last race (though there is Abbeycwmhir next weekend), and potentially time to fire up the trials bike for the winter and set to work on improving the MX250 in time for next season. I’ll add some more video later this week and also think about a season write-up. Also, look out for the DVD of the season, which will be available in a couple of weeks. Not sure why you’d want images of us, with some very drool commentary.

26 Sept. Added a video to youtube, showing some of the race action including the sidecars….

Replacing the best bike I’ve owned

The 990 came up for sale in nearby Leominster and whilst I’d been one of the group of Adventure owners who never were going to give up on carbs, I’d been recently softened.

First day of ownership

I’d kept my 2004 Adventure for 40k miles, primarily because the performance and power delivery were excellent and its lifespan continued with few problems. At the last service over at AMS , I’d borrowed their demo 2010 Adventure and having thought the 2007-08 models gawd-awful, this was nice to handle and seem to run a lot better at low revs.

Offroad on day 1

So, decision made, whats the difference between an 04 carb and 09 fuel injection model.
– price, but not that much. I really think that if you want an 06->08 fuel injection model you won’t have to pay much more for a good, low mileage 04–05 carb model. Some research (for the insurance value of my 04 bike) revealed some really high residuals.
– smooth running; the injected model still isn’t as good as a sort carb bike; more lumpy especially as low revs, however over 4000rpm, all seems fine and the takeoff into the main powerband from 5.5k rpm is excellent
– carb icing; using the bike all year, this was the biggest problem with the carb bike and plenty of mods, adjustments could not get rid of the fueling problems when it was 4-8 C and damp.
– height; at 1.75m, I can now get both feet on the ground, something I didn’t manage on the 04 model.
– lockable locker between the tanks; never understood why this wasn’t the case from the outset in 2003

The bike comes with the SW Motech luggage, which was a big attraction after the locks and mounting on my Hepco & Becker were falling apart and basically self destructing. I like the finish on the white/black bike and will see how long it says nice.

More comments and observations as I put some miles on the bike.

Not too muddy yet

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Gone in 10 seconds

Well, apart from a minor off on the Rotterdam ring road in 2009, it was my first road bike accident. A guy in a Mazda RX8 (never liked them) came out of the sliproad from the M5 to the A417 east of Gloucester, crossed two lanes and didn’t see me.

Bike on the hard shoulder

He hit the bike side on, putting me down the road and the bike into the central reservation (at least it wasn’t the other way round). You can remember the feeling of ‘dread’ (in the Kierkegaardian sense) and then in my case the hard shoulder with a couple of people picking up the bike. The bit in between is a little vague.

Extent of injuries

That I managed to get up and then walk across the road seems to indicate that it was my lucky day. Apart from a cut thumb, I’d got no obvious injuries at the time. My Alpinestars waterproof top was in shreds, but the one-piece leathers seem to have taken most of the impact and done a very good job. The Bell Moto7 helmet, though a lightweight model also stood up well, with the peak being smashed, the integrity of the helmet was good.

The bike lost its front wheel, I think when it hit the central reservation, as the bottom of the forks broke away. The main impact was at the front and bike went down the road on its left hand side. The pannier on this side broke off, and the fuel tank, fairing was badly scraped, but no fuel leaks.

The driver stopped and was a bit shocked, but at least he admitted to me (and another witness) that it was entirely his fault (not sure it could have been anything else). I must have been a bit in shock, as it took me 3 or 4 attempts to get through to the Carole Nash breakdown recovery people and he stayed around. Also grateful for another motorcyclist stopping, as well as to the witnesses who left details.

The KTM at AMS motorcycles

Lessons learnt:
– that despite Jamie Theakston’s attempt to persuade everyone who watches police documentaries that all bikers are twats, that it is car drivers who make biking dangerous for the sane majority of us
– that the KTM is a well built bike, including when its going down the road sideways. There is something to be said for having pannier on a bike also
– spending £500 quid of a set of leathers is worth every penny. My single-piece Alpinestar Monza leathers did the job they were intended for. I’ll be wincing everytime I see someone riding in jeans. Without wish to be morbid, or wishing for a repeat, I wonder whether my textile jacket and trousers would have had the same resistance to impact and abrasion. The latter I think not.

And now for the acknowledgements;
– to Andy Janes on his brand-new GS1200 who stopped and hung around until SOS recovery turned up
– to SOS recovery for a really quick arrival time (about 20 minutes)
– to AMS Motorcycles for taking the bike and doing the repair estimate
– to Carole Nash who seem (so far) to be really on the ball and I phoned through my quote whilst on the way to AMS
– to Helen, for picking me up from Tewkesbury

Another day in the sun

I was planning to spend a couple of weeks camping in West Wales following the scramble, so had the kids along, which meant they could cook breakfast on the bbq and also take pictures. The Tredegar contingent was also complete, with Mark, Alan and Kevin. The CZ ailment from Teifiside the previous week was confirmed as knackered crank and damaged crankcase, reason unknown but requiring work. Therefore the Beta made the trip.

Walked the track (in the reverse direction), with Saffron jumping in the mud and Tamara playing back ‘I’m bored’ which she’d recorded into her phone. Teenagers know how to hit all the right buttons, but in the end I think the girls enjoyed themselves (sort of).

Slight delay hunting a marshal to make up the full compliment. Out for practice and after one lap, I decided to pull in to adjust the carb as it wasn’t running clean. I’d adjusted it at Teifiside the week before and decided to lean it back out, by dropping the needle one notch. Bit of queue to get back out, but no problems and the bike ran a lot better.

However, Kevin’s day came to a premature end during his first lap of practice. With the track reversed from our previous trip, the drop back down through the woods was trickey and a bit rutted. Kevin’s approach meant a significant off, which involved a red flag and a trip back round in the ambulance. A broken collar bone and some heavily bruised ribs meant a bit of pain. He managed to drive home (don’t ask how), to get the injuries confirmed in Neville Hall hospital that afternoon. Funnily enough, a lot of people were then taking it steady round that part of the track.

Kevin's and broken collar bone

Race 1 was the best race of the day in some ways (this is a recurring theme) though after a poor start and a few missed gears on the first lap, I didn’t manage to get past Pete Barnett on his Bultaco Pursang, which was a shame.

Race 2 saw an even worse start and a bit of the pace, not helped by the bike not running well towards the end of the race. I managed to over take the rider on a CZ I was battling with on the last lap. Inspection after the race by myself and Mark found the float needle in the bottom of the bowl. The mounting for the pin holding the float in place had simply disintegrated, this being the carb that had come with the engine I’d swapped in from the other MX250 I had acquired. After three attempts managed to secure the pin and float on top of the post with lockwire [[ Lockwire pliers and lockwire best tool in the paddock tool box. ]] and the bike was ready for race 3

The still wet track (after the lunchtime watering) was probably at its best in the third race, though my riding wasn’t. Still the bike finished and another good battle with the guy on the CZ, though didn’t manage to pass him. Some great racing though and I do like the Narberth track.

Alan had his complete KTM enduro project and gave it a run out during practice and the first race. He was quicker however on his XL350 and seemed to get a good start in each race. However, Mark still go ahead in each of the races and seemed to be more on the pace that the previous week at Teifiside, again probably due to track preference.

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Given the hassle with the bike, decided not hang around for the Grand Slam, and headed back to the coast to take the girls snorkeling at St Brides (good way to cool off and clean up 🙂

Tamara (daughter #1) took quite a few pictures and some video and will look to post these at the some point in the near future.