Narberth Hare and Hounds

I’d entered, unentered, but found myself loading the TT500 in to the back of Kevin’s van at 07h30 after having only arrived back in Bwlch at 02h00. At least I wasn’t driving, but appreciated the lift down to Narberth.

Advertised as the ‘Easy One’ it was billed at a 3.5 mile lap of West Atherton farm, around the scramble track and out through the forestry. Most of the entry was modern bikes, and also needed day licenses, but with around 60-70 entries it was a healthy line up.

The plan was for 1 hour in one direction, a break for 30 minutes and then another hour in the opposite direction. I’d decided to ride the TT500, after Graham had put it through it’s paces at Teifiside the previous week; hopefully a steady pace and no need for refueling would prove the best tactic on a longer course.

They started the bikes off in order of fastest (supposedly) first, with the modern enduro bikes, followed by the trail bikes and then us (all 6) in the twinshock class, and finally the pre-70’s. There were a few quads and a couple of side cars and 3 pit bikes mixed up in that.

Nice clean bikes, and not raining, before the start

Kevin got the Honda off the line first and led round the scrambles track, before dropping it as the course veered off left though a nadgery wood section. TT500 going well and manage to pass the first of the trail bikes on a slippery section after a wooden bridge. Some rain just before the start had made the course interesting (ie greasy) and the there was an advantage to having a bike that was relatively low, good traction (four stroke!) and not too heavy. The TT500 met 2 of the 3 criteria. Round though the woodland and to the half-way check point and then through the quarry, and through a muddy hole in a wood, which was sucking in it’s first victim of the day.

Mark on the Cappra was right behind me for the whole lap and got past prior to the end-of-lap checkpoint as the track opened up for a really quick section. Decided to keep the pace steady and not plan to drop the bike anywhere. Three laps in and I was knackered, but managed to keep going, thinking must be about 30 minutes in. Fourth lap round and saw Mark in the pits refueling, so decided to press on without checking the TT500, which was I hoping had four-stroke economy as well. Getting the hang of the TT500 by now and unlike the SC500 you could really power the back end round in corners and lean it grass-track style; a good confidence builder.

In the end managed 6 laps, and kept Mark behind me, and only a couple of modern bikes and a real lunatic (ie very rapid) on a quad had come past. Time for a break and my forearms and fingers were feeling it. Kevin’s Honda had died, so he’d managed to get out on the Husky for a few laps.

Maybe not the right choice of bike

The 30 minute break was nearer 60 minutes, and enough time to get some mud of the bike, grab a cup of tea and take a breather. The guy who’d turned up on a KTM 950 Adventure (yes really) had struggled a bit on the way round, but I think had completed a lap, which was very impressive to be honest. Not the right bike really, more XR200 country.

Kevin had a blistering start in race 2 and Mark also got in front. Played the same tactics, keep it on the track and nice and steady. Not to plan I ended up in a hedge along a particularly sticky bit facing the wrong way. On the second lap, down a fast straight noticed a guy in the bushes and the paramedic coming down the track on the back of a Bodfish quad. Race stopped so headed back to the start (where I surprisingly ended up in front of Mark ?). Badly broken leg, so we hung around for 30 minutes or so whilst he was evacuated and then with 45 minutes remaining, started everyone off at 10 second intervals.

TT500 performed well of the day

All good, until we got the muddy hole in the woods, where a sidecar was stuck; I decided to take a dive round through the woods but stalled it on the exit, only to then find myself with Mark standing on the horizontal TT kickstarting the Cappra. Total mayhem with 20 bikes scrabbling for position. Lost out here, and that Mark had refueled during the break meant I didn’t really stand a chance of catching.

Meanwhile Kevin was flying, but he also came upstuck in the bomb-hole only to find his kickstart had gone missing and had to find someone to help him bumpstart the Huskie. Without this, Kevin’s pace would have meant he could have probably managed another lap.

Not knackered ?

In the end, a great event, with I think I managed a total of 6+6 laps, in 1 and 3 place, whilst Mark managed 6+6 with 2 and 2 place and Kevin managed 4+6 and 4 and 1 place. The other twinshock challengers seemed to have disappeared or broken down.

In terms of value for money, an excellent event and great practice for the motocross; 2 hours of riding time and a really good laugh. Think we might be seeing some more of these.

What is it about Teifiside ?

The geography of the UK and that West Wales is basically not too near anywhere else, means that entries for Teifiside are always going to be lower than anywhere else. But its about quality not quantity, right ? (and no, I’m not going to start quoting Robert Pirsig again).

Great track and great surroundings in West Wales

The club had a new track, a couple of miles from the other track next to the pub (scene of a few raucous nights ), which was on the side of a hill overlooking Cardigan and the sea. Good paddock with easy parking and even some nice decking as a view point for the racing (you could have also had a facial and got your nails done if they were open). The club had put in a lot of work to get it all prepared and the track did hold up well during the day. The venue it seemed had been one of the those quad off road centres for the local tourists, that was until all the quads got stolen and the business stopped. They’d laid out some kids swings and things on a large sandpit, but these were moved aside to give a nice rutted taste of a Belgian special on the way round. Some steepish hills, off camber bends and a nicely flowing track was the order of the day. Great for spectators.

Graham ready for the off

I’d put an entry in for Graham, as he was due a break from tiling the kitchen and toilet flour, so the Yamaha TT500 was put in the trailer, after some jetting modifications since the trip to Devon a few weeks ago . Graham’s last race was the Blackpool beach race in 1989, so he had a plan to take it very easy and make sure he was intact for his upcoming holiday to Tunisia. We managed to share out the kit between us, so we have enough to protect all the vital bits.

The hill is meant to have been the site of the last hanging in Wales

Practice went to plan for both, though the grass on top of the track meant I locked up the rear wheel in to the bottom off camber corner and slid gently towards the hedge. Going out on the 250 after it’s latest rebuild was a bit of a mistake and I ended up losing the tail pipe at the far end of the track. It wasn’t running right, with what I think are fueling issues, but further investigation to come.

Twinshock race 1 start

Graham once again found the weakness in my spannering and we managed to tightened the steering head before the 2nd race. The TT500 , as in Devon, started misfiring under load during the race and again changing the plug seemed to sort this out; I’d lowered the main needle, but suspect that it’s when it’s idling that there is a problem and it’s fouling the plug. Despite the bike, he did okay, didn’t crash and wasn’t last, which for me ticks all the boxes of a good day out !

A great location, for riders and spectators

For me, the SC500 ran really well all day and I managed a decent start in the first two races, which meant everyone had to then come round me. I’d changed the gear lever position and also made more of an attempt to go up and down through the box where I could, in particular getting into first on the tight corners and this probably improved my lap speed.

End of the Jap ?

One of the downers on the day, was Guto on his pre-war Jap engined bike snapping the frame beneath the headstock during the grandslam. He’d managed to put it through a hedge during an earlier race, but it was lucky it happen on one of the corner before the jump, rather than actually on them.

Maybe not the right choice of bike

Overall, the track had a few holes develop during the 20 or so races, but nothing serious and thats the nature of scrambles, you could pick the right line and still keep a good pace.

With all the discussion about cancellations, meetings not running etc, there is a lot to be said for events like the one run by Teifiside; the entry wasn’t massive, but there were 6 races per block (only 1 sidecar in the demo race), but it was a good track, good races and most significantly a good atmosphere.

Nice clean bikes, and not raining, before the start

To some, classic motorsport is all about nostalgia. However, having started my own mid-life crisis around motorsport 15 years ago, I didn’t have much personal nostalgia, so started with modern bikes in trials, however I soon understood that classic events, bikes and people are a far greater draw. You develop a love of the bikes, fixing them, the people involved and overall scene itself.

For me, the day of racing at Teifiside had a number of real positives;
– managed to spend a good day out with a friend who’d not raced for nearly 25 years,
– saw a nicely restored 1973 TM250 being raced for the first time; he didn’t win anything, but hope he’ll be back for more racing
– some good conversation, racing and even the hotdogs were good.

Can’t beat it really.