A day out with the big boys

It had been a long week for a whole load of reasons and the antibiotics I was taking was only going to help part of the pain (for my teeth). Leaving an ill daughter in bed didn’t help, though she was being picked up at 09h00, so slightly less on the guilt trip there. The plan was to go over to Yatton Keynal and the British Championship round and based on some recent rides (well, the previous week at Teifiside where I thought I’d ridden well)  I’d blagged the okay to ride from Dave Gittins. Hmm, some misplaced optimism there, and given my previous ride at the venue 2 years ago, it’s not an auspicious place for me as I’d snapped the lay-shaft on a recent acquired bolt-up Husky during practice.

First up, across to Ponsticill to pick up Dai and the BSA and so for so good. All ready to go and the weather looked promising. Still had a sense I should be somewhere else and for sure my brain was when I drove under a bridge on the A470 with a police camera van on doing about 80mph. Speeding fine in the post (and potentially a new, higher level of fine) just to add to my joyous mood on the day.  The first rapid overtaking move of the day came from Phil Anslow on the M4, so managed to speed by twice, as I was now sticking to the speed limit. Yes, the odds of two speeding tickets on the same morning are slight, but it is something I have achieved two-up on a Yamaha Super Tenere on the way to the Le Touquet beach race a few years back. I managed 6 points before getting to Bristol that time and a recent speed awareness course means that points again are on their way.



Speed in the van didn’t really translate to speed on the track as the day panned out. A really good entry at Yatton Keynal and a quick search found a parking spot and then off to get the bikes checked. Being a British round, it was transponder time so picked that after the ‘safety check’ the AMCA are insisting clubs run again this year.  You also need to purchase a transponder cage (£10 or £7 for a used one) but managed to get some for a fiver from Matt Fry. Find the safety check funny sometimes, given no form of sanity check is run on the riders. That said not many people would get to the line so it might be a bit self-defeating.  Walked a bit of the track with Dai, which was hard (no rain), bumpy (it always is) and some big bits of yellow limestone which the Cotswolds is of course famous.  Getting some of these sizeable lumps spun out of the back of a Triumph Metisse would be worse than a tantrum from the other piece of the Cotswold geology, Jeremy Clarkson.

For the Eric Miles Flickr photos click here (excellent as always).  They are a lot better and more interesting that my photos from the day.

Race 1 was the British Championship pre65 and pre74 classes combined and they managed to squeeze 34 people on the line, just. Practice had highlighted the issues with the project 360 Bolt-up and it’s complete lack of viable suspension. The oil-filled Fox Shocks (period items which I’d serviced last year) were struggling and it’s tracks like Yatton Keynal that make you see the value of suspension. This is crystalised when your 5″ of rear travel is rendered virtual useless as you bump your way into one of the hairpin corners, to find yourself struggling round the outside. Gave my front row slot to Andy Stanton and settled in behind and still managed an okay start.

I finished race 1, though the flying Kris Winder came past me twice, and I think he lapped all the way to 6 place in both races. Liston Bell kept him honest, but a lot of people were blown away. Combination of mental well being and crap bike (I’m not taking into account my own limited abilities) meant I was a completely different force to be reckoned with than the previous week at Teifiside.  Mid table obscurity is a cause for celebration and braking out a fine Trappist on a Sunday evening.  At the end of the race, my mouth went dry from the hot winds of reality of riding out with the big boys and the thought than even an out-of-date can of Carling  might be over celebrating my performance this weekend. It might have been the amount of dirt I’d swallowed also but my mood was darkened further.   I wasn’t last, with quite a few retirees, including Chris Lewis who’d got twisted up on some big ruts coming into

Went out in the pre68 up to 350 race (see the youtube video) as it was before the lunch break and I’ll get some recovery time before the 2nd Championship race. Was going okay, until the exhaust tail pipe came off, despite the new bracket I’d made during the winter and then modified after Teifside. The 250 handled a lot better (suspension helps) so decided to use that for the 2nd race, once I’d trudged off down the hill, got some abuse from Jock on his new quad and trudged back up past the ice cream van. Got the bolt and re-attached the tail pipe and was ready for part 2. Speaking of Jock, managed to avoid the tow-of-shame, though a guy opposite us managed 3 tows from 3 races on his Metisse and as such became Jock’s new best friend and #1 customer of the day.  The Bolt-Up I’d sold for future residency was running around the track quite nicely, which was good to see. Some longing glances at a bike I shouldn’t have sold (but you can say that about any bike you’ve owned).

We’d had to push the 250 Husky to start it and managed to just to get to the line for the second Championship race after lots of kicking and a plug change. Got off the line well, and was far enough up the field to see Ben Weaver come a cropper on the first tight corner in a bit a tussle with Dai. In Classic MX Top Trumps, chose weight on the BSA when you think you are up against an Elsinore.  Managed 5 or 6 good laps, but once wound in by Winder, aimed at race survival and another finished, which was achieved. Good practice but my heart and head weren’t really in it, somewhere further up the M4 towards Belgium.

Failed to start the 250 for the next pre68 race, despite running the bike down the hill onto the footpath (which meant we had to push it back up) so that was the end of that for the day. Dai suggested ice creams and he duly obliged and much appreciated. Packed the bikes and left around 15h30, will still a block of race to go.  Got a message from daughter Saffron, who’d I’d left ill in bed at 06h30, that she was now in A&E with suspected appendicitus (or something else), so charged back over the bridge, dropped Dai off and headed down to Neville Hall where she’d just gone up to the ward.  Shame I didn’t drop off Dai’s coat and phone with him. Crossing the car park got a phone call to see if I was still at the track and was I planning to return the Transponder. Er whoops and spending a day with Dai was rubbing off.  An evening in the hospital with slightly improving Saffron and Helen (ex-wife) finished off my day and when I got back to Bwlch wasn’t sure if laughing or crying was in order. Didn’t even fancy a beer.

Monday wasn’t so bad, with Saffron leaving hospital and getting better. The transponders went in the post to Devon and managed to service the carb on the 250 Husky and change the rear shocks on the 360. Sorting out the front forks is on the list, but so are lots of other things, one of which has a much greater priority. ‘Having fun with the lads at motocross rather than being with the family’ in the divorce petition was a bit of a badge of honour but maybe I’m growing up a bit. Everything in balance and when you have too much of something it’s not so good all the time, and I’ve never understood the guy who has Christmas Day everyday.   I also understand that you really miss something when you’ve lost it.

No racing on the Bank Holiday weekend (and there’s only a pre65 meeting) and I’m on a work trip to the US, but will be back for Border on the 7th May. Rumours of jumps and tabletops.

Teifiside 16th April : 2017 Welsh Championship Round 1


<p>Early start at 6.30am from Bwlch to head down to Cardigan for the usual season opener. Picked up Paul and the Cagiva (resplendent with new replacement Suzuki tank) and headed west. Unsurprisingly this was into thickening skies and a cold wind. A pretty packed paddock at what must have been a record entry for Teifiside, with around 100 solos and 16 sidecars entered into what is the most westerly of scrambles. It’s 1h45 minutes for me and a lot longer for others, including Karl Stevens who’d picked himself up off his death bed to make the trip from Bedford.  For a change Kevin hadn’t managed to park right next to the burger van, and his new ‘camping trailer’ was looking good against some of the 40k camper vans.  Tredegar engineering at it’s finest, standing up to the rain and brisk wind coming in for the west.</p>

<p>Starting another season is a chance to show off your winter time work in the garage and then thrash it round the field. Quite a few people changing classes and trying something different for the 2017 season, which made sorting the results out a bit more challenging than normal. Some new faces and some returners all making the relatively long trek down to Penparc. What’s nice is good to see the camaraderie in the paddock with genuine interest in machines, kit and predictions for the season. All bollocks of course, but great fun mixed in the energetic kicking over of bikes. </p>


<p>Some widening on the track and a less convoluted layout for sidecars actually resulted in a great course for solos and the rain during practice and for some of the initial races in the first block actually made the conditions perfect for the rest of the day. The more you race at the small Penparc circuit, the more you like it. The off-cambers and relatively rough nature of the track make it challenging but also great for racing of which there was plenty of day. One of the features of Teifiside is the commentary, really nicely put and usually 1 or 2 races ahead or behind of the racing actually taking place, but excellent. Kyle Noble and fellow youg Teifiside member made an absolutely great job of the start, which ran well all day. </p>


Cake stall saw as much action as the track did

<p>Of the racing itself, Rhys Edwards (Twinshock), Kris Winder (pre74 under 250cc), Vince Hale (pre68 under 350cc) and Chris Chell (pre68 over 350) managed to win all 3 races and score 75 points towards the championship (based on the new scoring system for 2017). Kris Winder on the Chris Lewis prep’d Honda Elsinore was untouchable, and in turn 2nd placed rider Ben Weaver was well ahead of the next rider.  Chris Lewis rode well on his own Elsinore and got 3rd in the points table. With his CZ last seen being energetically being pushed around the paddock, William Guest was out on the very nice 1973 250cc Husqvarna and after some slowish starts got on the gas and got 4th overall on the day. One bike that surprisingly did start was Guto Llewelyn’s  1974 Yamaha MX250, complete with pipe lagging and finished 5th overall, despite not running in race 1. MX250’s aren’t the lightest bikes and the money spent on it was a lot less than you would on an Elsinore, so an excellent ride from him. </p>

<p>Even more impressive was Guto’s ride out on Peter Lockwood’s Matchless in the pre60 / pre65 races, winning two of them ahead of Pete Hollinshead. The DNF with a magneto failure in race 2 held him back on the overall results, with Pete coming out on top, ahead of pre60 class stalwart. In the pre65 class, a welcome visit from Alan Arnott saw lead the class in two races, ahead of Andrew Davis on the twinport CZ. Peter Lockwood has found power and performance from the DOT and made an excellent start to the season. After missing the start of race 1, and falling off in race 2, Dai Walker on the BSA didn’t get the best results but with only 4 pre65 entries on the day, it was a slow start for one of the more popular classes.  The pre68 up to 350cc class was well supported, and being in the same race as the pre74 250’s made it one of the more competitive on the day. Vince Hale on the BSA dominated, with Andrew Owen on the 250cc bolt-up Husqvarna taking two 2nd places. Geoff Taylor on the CZ got 2nd in the first race but failed to get off the line for race 2. Malcolm Herbert got 3rd overall, and after a good race 1, lots places in the other two moto’s after challenging Andrew Owen in race 2. </p>

<p>The over 350cc pre68 and over 250cc pre74 combined race had the smallest entry of the day, and whilst the first two moto’s were led by ‘out of class’ Kris Winder and Ben Weaver, it was Chris Chell who was the star, making a welcome return from his serious accident and proving he still has the pace. Good to see him back. With John Cash missing Teifiside and Jon Randall not riding this season (he might yet change his mind, he was visiting whilst spending the weekend nearby), two newish riders made an impact. Alan Harris and Keith Roden, both CZ mounted score good points, as did Glyn Drake on an Yamaha MX360, who got a well place 2nd in class in the third race. </p>


<p>The sidecars were well supported with 16 on the line and provided some great racing for the spectators, however the crash on the start straight in race 2 meant injuries for 4 riders, a busy time for the paramedics and the arrival of the air ambulance. A longer than planned lunch break, but an excellent job by everyone involved with due care and attention which was great to see and nobody was concerned about the delay to the schedule. It gave everyone a chance to sample the delights of the cake stall, supplied and run by Connie Walker to support the Welsh Classic MX des Nations team for 2017. </p>

<p>The Pre78/Twinshock race was well supported and Rhys Edwards won all 3 races,  hotly pursued by what looks like a competitive pack of riders. Weavers’ Sam and David were both Maico mounted weren’t too consistent, but Anthony Guest, in 2nd place for the last 3 seasons, got off to a consistent start and lies in 2nd place, ahead of Dylan Davies and John Tilson who both had consistent rides. In the pre78 class, bike failure in race 2 meant that James Edge got two class wins, with Steve James winning the first race (before heading home for a night out ?). Paul Prosser had 3 consistent rides to lead the class table after round 1. </p>


<p>In the aftermath of the sidecar incident, it’s been interesting to see some of the press coverage in Wales. Easter Sunday isn’t the busiest day for news, so following on from the disappearance of a 90 year old sailor in Cardigan, the air ambulance call-out Penparc was item #2 on both evening and night time Wales Today news.  Subsequent follow up calls from the local newspapers mentioned people in the crowed being injured, but of course they’ve assumed that the women casualties wouldn’t have been riding. The good news is Samantha Harris, Chris Huntley, Katrina and Steven Jones were not as badly injured as first thought. For sure, it was a racing incident but something that is difficult to explain to people not familiar with the sport itself. </p>

<p>For myself, the rear end of the 360 Bolt-Up gave up during practice and it seems that the part Dai found on his field after my practice session there was important (rear swingarm spacer) and the rear end vibration was significant. So, the XT500 got a run out after a new engine got put in on the Friday. It ran well for all 3 races, though it takes some getting used to with the best result in the last race with a great battle with Paul Prosser after a relatively rapid start. Needs a newer rear tyre as getting the power down was difficult at times, especially in 2nd gear away from the line. In the pre68 up to 350cc race, ran really well in with the pre74 250’s on the Hallman framed Husky. Surprisingly good result in race 1 after a relatively slow start and finished 8th from 17 based on the tactic of doing the whole course in 2nd.  You rev the nuts of it in places, and maybe I still too much in tune with riding the Automatic Husky.





Yamaha XT500 Motocross 1977

After racing the TT500 at Widworthy at the end of last season, got a good feeling about riding the 4-stroke Yamaha and when at XT500 with some motocross considerations came up on eBay, I ended up buying it. A reasonable price and some good parts on it.  It has an RM Suzuki front end and a KX swingarm but comes with the standard frame. It has the YZ125 tank that you see on a lot of the HT500 replicas, so looks pretty good also. The seat isn’t really right but is plush and relatively comfy. Big bore exhaust and a end can which is a bit lively but lets the bike do the business.  The engine was a stand XT500 motor (IU6 early model) and though running nicely, smokes a bit on overrun.

Good mate Roger had built an engine for the TT,  which has an 11:1 compression ration Wiseco piston and is bored out to 540cc. This has been in the TT500 for the 2016 season and though I’d not really used it, did go nicely.  The TT500 had been picked cheaply from Huggy’s Speedshop in Atherstone and has a light restoration so I could use it in some hare and hounds and the like.

<img src =”https://goo.gl/photos/tbL8pWMJP7YK5xbR8″>