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.

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