Headed down to Narberth on Friday evening, with Tamara, Saffron and her friend Ellie all in tow. Weather was hot and forecast to get hotter. I’d persuaded the girls to come along with the promise of a trip to Oakwood theme park on the Saturday.
Friday night saw various people trying to kill each other at the other end of the field, but after erecting the double gazebo, it was time for a chat and beer. The gazebo proved it’s worth over the weekend as the heavy material meant there was some cool shade, much needed on a weekend that saw temperatures over 28 C on both days.
Tamara and I went for a walk in the woods on Friday evening, in a (failed) attempt to find the route to Oakwood, around 1 mile this way, or a 6 mile drive round the roads. All good fun, though finding the tree with a face in it and a haunted derelict house hastened our retreat to the paddock and tents.
Early start Saturday and time for another walk through Canaston Woods (which are excellent by the way, and another good distraction for the non-racing attendees) before returning for breakfast and getting the girls ready for the trip to Oakwood. A bit of shopping and back to the track for what was going to be a warm afternoon’s racing.
The MX250 went out for practice first, but after a rapid piston change during the week, was not running well at all and stopped after a lap. Hmm, this a little familiar. The SC500 went well, despite having a completely swapped bottom end after the trip to Scotland the previous week . That changed during the first race however, with no power off the line and me cruising round for a lap. Not looking too good, but seemed a lot of other people were having trouble with the heat, and not the best day for pushing the bike back to the paddock.
The other block of racing on the Saturday afternoon also passed me by as I attempted to fix either bike. Kevin also broke his XL500, with a timing chain failure on the start line in the second race. Therefore, whilst I went to pick up the girls, Kevin was going to fix the 250 to ride on Sunday, with a few people perusing the SC500, commenting of my lack of maintenance skills.
That evening saw the 250 running, with the replacement of the spark plug; I’d erroneously left the knackered plug in from the racing blow up at Ranst , so a plug change got the bike running without problems.
The 500 has blown a crank seal, which was in the wrong way round. It was one of the original castellated Yamaha seals, so had been in for a while. Not really surprised, given I’d just taken the bottom end off the shelf during the week, and not really checked it over. A field bodge to remove the rotor and with plenty of comments on my garage prowess (or lack of it). Retimed the rotor, with the mark on the stator I’d put on during the week. And lo, the bike runneth. And runneth well enough to leave a burn mark on my leg as I took it round the field for a test.
Mark’s latest (and probably greatest) acquisition was a Hozelock Portable Shower, which for a weekend such as this was an excellent device. Though a very cold shower would have been okay with temperatures getting close to 30 C, leaving the container on the roof of Kevin’s van made it quite pleasant. Good to see everyone left their pants on whilst showering.
If the large camper or converted lorry, weekend paddock stays can still be comfortable with a significantly reduced cost; whilst the area around the vans can look like the wreckage following a coach crash it’s all manageable. Whilst you can pine for camper van luxury, they present a significant budget hit, so the £30 Decathalon pop-up tent comes with a lot of recommendations (it’s a lot better than the Asda and Tesco alternates)
It was rather impressive set of equipment that had been discharged from the van. A solar powered fridge would have kept the beers warm, so something for next time. Along with more beer.
The evening saw a free pig roast, a bar and and a band (JJ Cale was the artist that came to mind) in the large marquee that they’d spent the day on Friday erecting. The Narberth Club had done an excellent job and they also put a lot of water on the track during the night.
After sitting around the fire discussing various bike deals (and stitch-ups) people had done I retired to bed. During the waking moments the burble of mutterings about bike parts, modifications etc continued all night. I awoke at 7h00 to hear this conversation continuing. Amazing stamina. However I’d subconciously got all the information I ever wanted to know about 1974 CZ swing arm lengths.
Sunday saw a few more riders around, so each of the races in the block had 10-15 riders on the line, which was good, but should have been so many more. With nothing else on for this weekend, perhaps people saw Narberth as too far away from anywhere. Great track, great beaches nearby (for the missus and kids) as well as other attractions, it did seem a little odd. I guess Narberth is a long way from anywhere and a 4 hour drive from the M25. Maybe some better marketing and promotion, so will be interesting to see how Combe Martin is in August, as there is a fair bit of promotion going on there.
With the 500 now running, practice went to plan and looked forward to some good racing. Steve on his Triumph Metisse was riding well, once he’d blagged some parts for his front brake cable and scored in the Welsh Grand Prix, after Mitchell Harris, with a really great ride. Mark’s Cappra was misfiring and not running well and after a good first race which saw him mid pack, decided to give the other two races a miss.
First race for me saw a fourth (I think) which was rather good, but it went a bit downhill from there. Getting to the line in the second race after lunch saw my googles break, so letting everyone go to avoid stones and dust seemed a good idea. I managed to get past a couple of people with my eyes shut, but ound the back of the course, a rutted righthander combined with my new confidence on a perky SC500 saw this come to end. A rather impressive high-side was only witnessed by the one marshall, who immediately got on the radio for the St Johns. Thirty seconds saw my crawl my way back out of the push and onto the track. Started the undamaged bike and managed to finish the race, avoiding getting lapped by Trevor Hammond.
Nothing broken, but I’m still limping slightly from some rather interesting bruising to my right leg and left buttock. Anyway got back out for the last race, and not the quickest start still saw me finish, scoring some points for the Welsh Championship
Good days racing and the weather had cooled off slightly on the Sunday (only slightly). We saw the awards being presented, including Steve’s fine trophy for second in the Welsh Grand Prix. The amount of effort put in by the Narberth club was impressive, especially the track watering. The track was quick but good for racing and one I always enjoy going round.