Mixed feelings accompanied the trip to Coombe Martin, as cock-ups by me (and others) had meant that I found myself in my garage on Friday morning with a bike had broken the previous weekend in Scherpenheuvel . Rather than planning to diagnose the fault, decided that rebuilding the top end on the other engine was going to be the best way forward, as the bottom end was pretty sound.
It was a nice warm day in Bwlch and 4 hours saw a running bike, with a matching piston and barrel and a new small-end bearing, gudgeon pin and circlip. Just enough time to mow the lawn, do some house tidying for my guests, before heading over to Tredegar to pick up Kevin and Mark.
I’d seen the Atlantic Club’s event advertised before and it’s been running since 2000, so it was great to heading down there, even though I had a nagging of feeling of needing to be at least in two other places. The traffic on the M5 was as expected, but still made okay time, with three people, 6 bikes and other junk in the van and trailer. Arrived at the track at Sloley Farm at 21h45, to find plenty of luxury campers already in situ for the weekend, so somewhat meekly parked van and pitched tents away by the hedge.
The beer tent was indeed open, and on offer was some local beer and cider. Plumping for the latter, the taste and colour could be described as alcoholic IrnBru (though was infact Thatcher’s Cheddar cider). Lethal stuff which made it’s prescence felt the following morning. Got chatting to Tucker from Essex, who turned out to be our camping neighbour and profferer of late night wine glasses of whisky. Luckily sleep beckoned and managed to crawl into the recently acquired £25 1 person tent picked up in the Decathlon in Calais on Thursday night[[Tent is a little cramped, but waterproof and very much fit for purpose. Decathlon are in the UK, but don’t have anywhere near the number of stores they have in France. To be recommended.]].
A prompt start to Saturday morning, but with plenty of time till the trial at 3pm, decided to walk the track, before heading off into Coombe Martin for lunch and general blending in which the tourists.
The track is a great natural beast, with an awesome hill with an off camber bend at the bottom. With views of the sea, sweeping turns and natural jumps it must rate up there with the best in the UK. At the bottom turn, reached after descending a v.steep hill, there seemed to a lot of dogs barking in the next field. Turns out these are wolves, so overshooting the bend and crashing through the hedge may not be recommended.
It must be admitted that my appetite for the offer Steak and Ale pie diminished the moment I saw it and combined with the smell from the toilets, decided to er on the side of caution. Back to the track and feeling a lot better for not eating, it was time to get ready for the trial. With Mark on the trusty KT250, Kevin on a recently acquired (monoshock) Fantic, and myself on the TY250 (which isn’t a Majesty).
With one less shock than myself and Mark, it was decided that Kevin was the winner before we started and form on the day proved correct, despite his best efforts to collect a few 5’s. I managed to break both clutch and then front brake lever perches, subsequently decided to do the last lap and half without the front brake. As normal, it improved my scores.
Good mix of sections laid out around the track, including the best laid out in the woods at the bottom of the steep hill. A specific tree stump took most of my marks (and parts from my bike) during the afternoon, but other sections on the slope on the way up and at the top were pretty entertaining and for me, more cleanable. Section 10 was nice, with a couple of rock steps and managed a clean each lap.
There was no rush to go and collect the results, with Kevin the probable best of contigent. He was more interested in getting a quick top rattle diagnosis from another Fantic owner. Some discussions about going for a wash in the sea were cutailed by a chill wind blowing in from the Bristol Channel, and also by the lack of suitable swim wear. In the end decamped to the public toilets in Berrynarbour for spruce up prior to the evenings food and live entertainment.
Signing on for the morrow, saw Kevin lined up on the entry list for over 250cc twinshocks next to Graham Noyce, who unfortunately decided not to turn up. Possibily on finding out that Kevin was riding had prompted him to give the meeting a miss, but the clash of the titans wasn’t going to happen at Sloley Park.
A look of relief swept over Mark as the caterers provided a vegeterian option for the evenings curry and after some further discussion around life, the universe and everything around bikes, we then listened to the band for bit. The impromptu, but planned, appearance of Elvis on stage was probably the highlight of the evening, one which was far more downbeat than Friday night’s dash for the cider. Therefore a relatively early night, saw me adjourn to the tent, with some heavy rain now failing on a full and expectant paddock.
The Decathlon tent had done it’s job and I arose to the sound on coughing, stretching and other sounds associated with early mornings in a field. Back to the main tent for an excellent cooked breakfast, followed by collecting the (free-of-charge) transponders. A rare sight in classic motocross, saw quite a few people scrabbling around with cable ties looking for the best place to locate them.
Anyway, practice time arrived and I made it out in the first session. As expected the slippery green hill was indeed pretty impressive, as was the need to rev the nuts off the 250 to get back out the other side. Alas, this was something I didn’t acheive on the 2nd lap, with the bike stopping about 3/4 of the way up. Bollocks. Managed to push it to the top marshal point, generating a lot of sweat and swearing in the process, before Mark and Kevin arrive to assit with the push back to the paddock.
The kickstart had locked, so I suspected a loose clutch nut (happened before) and depositing the bike on it’s side under the gazebo, the pit crew started to remove the clutch cover. 15 minutes later, nothing found, and it was looking more like a top end problem. Bike back upright, exhaust removed and head off. Some slight piston damage (eek!), and removing the barrel found the skirt of the piston completely destroyed. I’d only fitted in Friday, but is was an original MX piston (whilst boost ports, rather than cutaway) and suspected that it also been too loose in the barrel.
As luck with have it, the piston collection was in the van, but no spare barrel. Again, luck was on our side, with no obvious damage to the barrel but it might be a little out of shape. Turned the bike upside down and turned it over, whilst spraying WD40 into the crankcase to remove the piston remants from around the crank. Best fit piston, ring then attached to the conrod and reassembly took place. 2nd kick the bike fired up and run okay, so then headed down to the start line for the 1st race. A 45 minute turn around on the bike wasn’t too bad, especially as we’d lost time looking at the clutch.
Race was okay, but decided today wasn’t the day to push it and took it fairly easy on the first couple of laps, though up the hill, the MX250 was struggling for power. All the other races went to plan, though the bike wasn’t that competitve on what is a ‘large’ track. Three-quarters of the combined pre74 classes were over 250cc and it’s a must for Coombe Martin, as you loose so much time on the hill other wise.
Mark and Kevin had a good tussle in the first >250cc twinshock race, though Mark lost out by coming off somewhere on the last lap. As it was a British Championship round, all the pre68 and pre74 races were quick, and with 80+ twinshock entries in two classes, these races weren’t slow either. 40 bikes on the line actually wasn’t a problem after the first lap and it’s a big wide track.
The rain of the morning held off for the rest of the day, and after 3 great races, we started to pack up around 16h30 for the drive back to South Wales. An excellent venue, location and organisation, makes the Atlantic Club’s meeting one of the one’s you must do each season. All in all, a good weekend’s racing.