Nicest venue in Wales ?
The last scramble of the year for me, (probably), with impending house move and work probably meaning I’ll miss the Chester and Devon events.
It’s got to be the best setting of the year and the track is great, with some excellent natural terrain. It’s got some great slopes and a brilliant straight up the hill from the start. Abbeycwmhir is probably a longer track and matches it for location, but maybe I’m biased.
Went down on Saturday for a couple of hours with the girls to help set up, with a mixed weather forecast for the weekend, with rain the main part of the menu.
And on the journey down on Sunday morning, rain it did. The small patch of blue sky above Llanthony itself provided a glimmer of hope, as we made our way up the lane from Llanvihangel Crucorney. The three bikes were on the trailer, with kids and kit in the van. The YZ was onboard as a back up bike for Mark, and the SC500 was back running after the PVL ignition had turned up in the post on the Friday (notes on performance and fitting in a separate article).
Mark and Alan had made it into the slick paddock, which was festooned with a range of plush campers, vans, Argos gazebos and unbounded enthusiasm for the days racing. After setting down the trailer, Sophie and I managed to cajoule the kids to get the gazebo up [Best purchase of the year from the [gazeboshop.co.uk ]] before the rain came again.
Got the 500 out for first practice and the omens were good. Pulled away from 2nd after the bottom jump and flew up the straight, pulling 3rd all the way. Still need to sort the clutch, which was dragging and the front brake was also a bit of a pull. Four laps of practice was great though and already impressed with ignition.
The 250 was less impressive as I managed 3 laps of practice. Handling wise it was great, but no power or pull. With the climbs and the long straight it was going to be a long afternoon on the lower capacity race.
Good to see Lester Hammond and his CZ back on the line and he managed to get away from me in the first race. The 250 performance was less than exceptional with no grunt up the back straight, needing a drop back into 2nd to get to the top corner. The last meeting of the season didn’t really come soon enough, as the MX is heading for rebuild and a possible rethink. Echoing some of the comments made by Gez Kane on his Classic Bike MX250 project, the gearbox was a bit all-over-the-place and the race was dominated by a lot of false neutrals.
I was still kicking the MX250 when the third race ended abruptly on the first lap, with a bike pile-up caused by Luke Hickie loosing his chain and other riders piling in. Red flag and subsequent St John’s treatment were followed up by the air ambulance to take Andy Davies to hospital for a broken collarbone. There were no road ambulances available it seems and even the police seemed to like the idea of a gentile ride up to Llanthony as a Sunday lunchtime diversion.
All this meant that there was an hour delay, so in good cricketing fashion, an early lunch was taken before resuming for race 4. Race 6 saw the SC500 down to the line, though the start was a mess-up with me stalling the bike after misjudging the tempremental clutch. However, managed to get past 4 bikes going up the hill and settled down to a good ride, finishing (I think) 5th behind Tony Hegarty, who’d I’d met in Oreye, Belgium.
The showers were still passing through and the tracked looked at it’s slickest during the twinshock race, and probably with the thought of the air ambulance foremost, people seemed to be taking it steady. With a slippery track, the lower-to-the-ground British and pre74 bikes seem to be quicker than the Twinshocks. Also noticeable was that the good riders were enjoying the conditions and as the day went on I also managed to adapt pretty well to some slippery corners.
After a much better start, I did take a slide in the second over 250cc race, letting Tony by for another 5th placed finish. I repeated this feat in the last race but this time missing a gear over the increasing rough section mid-way round the track.
The MX250 didn’t come out for the last race, as the lack of power and annoying gearbox had got the better of me. The 500 by contrast was great. It needs some work to make it easier to race and I do need to sort out the clutch. The PVL ignition kit doesn’t use the original external rotor, but uses a smaller internal rotor (without the woodruff key). It does feel considerably heavier than the 250 but this maybe down to suspension set up and the aim will be to combine 500 power into 250 handling during the closed season.
Postscript. This article was written whilst on a flight from Bristol to Malaga. All typos and grammatical errors can be attributed to the maturing Vicky Pollands’ whose endless, pointless chatting could have been used by Stelios to save 20% of the fuel costs for the flight. Their kids names seem to be Ella (a proper little women), Kelly, Tyler, Becca, Dan and indeed Vicky. Yeah, but no, but yeah…..