Is this every dirt-bikers dream ? Well almost, as with most things in life, its quality over quantity that provides the most satisfaction.
My three events came during the May Holiday weekend and started with the event at Teifiside, well down in West Wales, moved to the delights of rural Gloucestership and finished next to the E34 motorway near Antwerp. All very different, but you could argue that venue and every meeting has its quirks and differences.
The quirks of Teifiside divide people. It’s a bloody long way from anyway, unless you live in West Wales and lets face it, not many people do. The organisation can be a little, lets say, laisse faire and the track is pretty short. All the negatives out of the way, if you indeed to race there, you know that you’ll be welcome, its never too serious and that it caters for all abilities.
As Saffron was with me and Tamara needed taking to a party in Lydney, I went down on the Sunday morning, so missed on the fun in the pub the night before. Got there around 8.45am after an excellent run down through sun-kissed Welsh fields and started chill out. Saffron bought breakfast and a quick walk of the track. Half the people where going one way, and half the other (seems they’d reversed the track last year at somepoint). Good news that this was sorted out by practice, but thats the fun of being at Teifiside.
Sun was out, nice and warm, a proper days racing, only heightened by the call for Marshalls, which were located (and the usual thanks goes out to those people who do it). Around 60 entries, including modern bikes, so they ran 5 races only, combining the pre74 classes to get around 12-15 on the line. All good. During the previous week, my mind had wandered towards attending the Acorn’s meeting on the same day, but for sure I did the right thing, even though it turned out not to be a Welsh Championship round.
The track was slightly longer than it has been in the past, and though it’s not wide, made for some good racing. After an epic of trying to start the SC500, complete with its new(ish) piston scrounged out of another engine I’d acquired during the week, I’d did practice on it, and then took out the 250.
Racing was all good, though I did make the very stupid mistake of running out of fuel in the second race on the 500. 10 laps of practice and 7 laps of racing used more than I thought. The Teifiside relaxed atmosphere was having an impact.
The dust wasn’t good with not quite enough wind to blow it away, so going over the jumps on the first lap was a bit of lottery.
Lent Rhys Edwards the SC500 for the last race, and though the temptation was to just watch, I also took out the 250. A first turn spill means I nearly ran him over, but Rhys shot by me on the 2nd lap with the 500 flying across the jumps. Maybe a bit more prep before the next outing for a decent rider.
Back to Bwlch for a shower and quick bike fettle before once more heading out with Saffron to the Three Counties meeting over at Tirley in Gloucestershire. Whilst Three Counties used to run the normal Welsh Championship classes, they now run a single pre68 and pre77 class, focusing more on the Twinshocks and Evo’s.
This included a Twevo’s class, for novice riders in both categories. A great idea. With the latter classes all full, it was a bit disappointing to see only 10-12 in each of the pre68 and pre77 classes, but still some good racing. The track was rougher than a badger’s arse and had last been graded when my bikes were new. All good for long travel monoshock suspension, but bottoming out a plenty with 4 inches of travel.
My normal competitors weren’t around, so after the hurley-burley of a couple of laps, I managed to find my own section of track in all three races. Did take out the 500 for the first race, but a gearbox oil covered boot was a bit disconcerting so left it to the 250, which went round better.
Evo classes and the bikes bring a different type of rider, and not just because they people who road them in their day (pre89) are younger, but it provides an affordable, accessible route to race. For less than 40 quid (incl day license), and a bike for around £1000 (I know you can pay a lot more), it’s going to be the cheapest form of motocross. Not saying it’s not competitive as the quick guys were, well, quick. Bit more edge and competitiveness to the paddock (which was packed), and a very different contrast to laid-back Teifiside.
Then the following Saturday, found myself in Belgium, so decided to race at Ranst. The track is flat and right next to E34-E313 near Antwerp (this is where all the Lithuanian car transporters pass with scrap cars from the UK). It’s got a short wooded section and some bulldozed jumps, but it’s really a flat field and typical of a lot of Flemish tracks (more hills further east and south you go).
The classic races were wedged in with blocks of youth races for the Saturday, so with practice at 09h00, first race at 12h00 and second at 16h45 it made for a long day. The paddock was also packed, and the traffic jams in and out where there on Friday night as went to visit on the way back from office to Lier. A few familiar faces and time to walk the track in peace and quiet (and to stay in bed a little longer).
By Saturday, I ended up just jamming the van between some larger motorhomes; it seems more of a way-of-life and with the youth riders, a lot more serious. It’s not a normal classic event and unsurprisingly the classic riders were hauling much loved and developed kit out of the back of vans rather than 50k motorhomes.
The Belgian championship combines all the different classic classes, no separate Evo or Twinshock series really, so you see a lot of good guys racing, and lining up next to you. Language barriers aside, still plenty going on and exotic weaponery around. In both pre77 and pre72 classes, there are bikes like Suzukis and Maicos that you’d never see in the UK.
Anyway practice took place, after scruitineering and signing off hassle; they use transponders for classic racing, so having one avoids the 15 euro rental fee, which is a rip off TBH. You can find the MyLaps transponders on eBay for 50-80 quid and I’ve subsequently acquired one, though need to see if it works in Belgium. Entry to the track was 10 euro and race license for the day was 25; so all up 50 euro (which is about 43 quid, so about the same in the UK with a day license). With 15 meetings in the classic calendar, if you race 8 or 9 of them, a yearly license of 150 euro, plus 4 euro on the day, makes sense.
No problems in practice and then after sitting in the sun, reading a book and mooching around the paddock it was out for the first race. Went okay for the first two laps, though the track was already pretty rutted, however bike was losing power and on the last lap after the 12 minutes it expired.
Whipped the head off the 250 and a pinky-brown colour to the piston crown showed that it had been running too hot and the piston crown was damaged. End of my day. Ah well as they say, all in days racing.
Took about an hour to escape the paddock traffic chaos, as the largest racehome I’ve seen (articulated lorry is a better description) tried to squeeze. I hit the road on the exit just as the police were arriving.
All-in-all a good weeks racing (total 13 races) and apart from trials still the cheapest form of motorsport. And which event did I prefer ? All have their own style and atmosphere, but for laid back friendliness with a bit of racing thrown in, you can’t beat Teifisde.