- Quaife list a 5 speed cluster but refer you to P&M Motorcycles in Brentford, who know nothing about it and state they made one batch 30 years ago and haven’t done anything since. P&M mentioned talking to Nova.
- Burton Bike Bits
- Nova : 6 speed close ratio box, but at £2350.00 is probably beyond the budget for a 3 grand bike
- Edit Edit Edit
Hooray it wasn’t raining, so following the last trip to Cilfronydd two years before it wasn’t going to be a mud bath. On the contrary, with the dry spell continuing the track was being watered as Paul and I arrived on the Sunday morning. After a racing incident on Llantwit Major beach collecting fossils the previous day, my right ankle was twice it’s normal size and racing was therefore unlikely. I did give it a go, but failing to start the XT soon determined that no racing for me. Good news is that I got to watch most of the racing during a nice sunny day !
Hot and dusty was the order of the day and some competitive racing on a track that had seen some improvement recently, with a change of management, with some nice jumps and seemed well graded. A good entry of around 90 solos and 14 sidecars.
Eric Miles’ photos : https://flic.kr/s/aHskZcqjsw
Bethany Ford’s photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/114861915@N07/albums/72157681447324951
Youtube video: https://youtu.be/aamNUgjJFAQ
Some great racing with Pete Hollinshead (BSA A10), Guto Llewellyn (Matchless) and Dai Walker (BSA 440) taking the first 3 spots in all 3 races, but with Guto taking 1st place in the last race. Dai showed good form but only really challenged for 2nd in the first race, but at least he made the start line and didn’t fall off. Good see Barry Townend back in the field after his Maico flirtation at Teifiside. He made some good starts but ended up behind both John Pickering and Andy Carter. Andy missed the start of the second race and was a bit off the pace on the day. Peter Lockwood’s form on the DOT continued and very much on the pace in all 3 races.
It was a busy pre78 and Twinshock line, and Rhys Walker set the pace in Race 1 and 3, very much like he’d done at Teifiside. Indications are he’s going to make a season of it and good to have him winning races again. However a poor start, let visitor Dean Warren take the win on his Kawasaki. He had to battle past Sam Weaver’s on lap 2 (by battle, it was a passing move caught on video, rather than the Maico breaking down). Class stalwart Anthony Guest was in the mix in all 3 races, along with Paul Evans. Sam and Anthony ended up joint 3rd for the meeting, behind Rhys and Dean. Kevin Pettit and Lee Johnson were both out on the XT / TT600’s, Kevin’s purchased in Northern Ireland a couple of weeks ago, whilst Lee’s was shed built in a Husqvarna (best) frame during the winter. Both riders styled it up, but Kevin came out on top, though John Tilson continues to lead the way when it comes it 4-stroke twinshock power.
With Malcolm’s injury and no James Edge, Paul Prosser eased the Cagiva round for maximum pre78 points, in a style normally associated with Karl ‘pipe-and-slippers’ Stevens but stayed ahead of David Godddard, Phil Lander and Finn Kirkwood. Finn is enjoying two wheels more this season that he did three wheels a couple of years ago when he had a nasty accident in the chair with Jon Bodfish. Hopefully more pre78’s on the line at Abbeycwmhir.
For the sidecars the good news is there was no BBC newsworthy accidents this time around and in some exciting racing, with Bootes/Stones coming out top in the Original and Walker/Pratt in the Modified sidecar racing.
The Pre74 upto 250cc / pre68 up to 350cc races were dominated by Ben Weaver and Mitch Harris respectively, though with Ben winning all 3 races on the Elsinore. After cracking a frame at the British Championship round at Bath, he’d switched to a spare frame during the week and though the bike didn’t seem so sharp, without Kris Winder racing, he was well ahead of the Mitch. Also Elsinore mounted, Chris and Simon Carter clamimed 2nd and 3rd overall in the pre74’s, putting an end to the BSA flirtation that really hadn’t got going. William Guest was back on the CZ but problems in race 1 kept him to 5th. Andrew Owens on the pre65 eligible Bolt-Up Husky got a tremendous set of starts (something he’d shown at the Classic MXdN the previous September) with holeshotting race 2 by a clear margin, though Vince Hale got passed to take 2nd overall on the day. Kevin Petit’s flying CanAm lost an exhaust during the 1st race, meaning the welder will be lighting up the back lanes of Tredegar during the week. Really good to see Steve Patrick on the Bultaco up in the thick of it as well, a notable performance and hopefully see him at some more rounds in the future.
For the over 250cc Pre74 and over 350cc Pre68’s, John Cash really pushed on showing some impressive pace in all the three races. Chris Chell’s return continues and he’s getting back his fitness and mojo on the bike, with plenty of style. All relatively new to the Championship, Alan Harris, Keith Roden and Rob Wall all rode well, the former two ahead of Rob’s BSA on CZ’s. Ian Fenwick’s luck was better than at Teifiside and he had some good racing with Graham Trump (both also CZ mounted). Not so much luck for Ian Hall, who got taken out in race 2 by a Honda rider who was in the wrong race. Ian was briefly knocked out and the damage to his helmet shows why you should use a good one (his was a full-face JT). After a brief check over from the medics, he wisely called it a day.
The track should have been watered during the interval, wasn’t and then after the 3rd Pre78/Twinshock race, where the dust was indeed thick, but overall the meeting ran really well and smoothly. My own frustration aside there was some good racing and like marmite the track provoked strong positive and negative reactions. It’s not Domen Hill and maybe it’s time to return to what is a good track but where access is a bit difficult at times.
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″>
Getting ready for the morning at the jumble.
With the work Christmas party in Bracknell the night before, decided to head up to Kempton Park for the Classic Off Road Show and Autojumble. My Dad and some of his friends go up regularly so met them up there too. Nice cold and clear weather and after a long wait in the nearby breakfast establishment (other people heading to the show) a short queue and we were in. The usual overly optimistic pricing was present
Sitting in the stand looking over part of what is a relatively big jumble.
A good buy for someone, well it was Kevin in the end, to add to the CanAm collection in Tredegar. Nice bike.
Some great magazines for sale. The pipe look is set for a comeback I’m sure though hopefully in the paddock rather than whilst riding.
Possibly the bargain of the show ? It ran nicely and a 441 Victor for £2295. It hadn’t sold when we left the show around 2pm.
Don’t know much about Devoid of Troubles but that is an interesting engine. Twin with side exhaust ports makes it very interesting.
A reasonably priced Chott ? There’s been a few for sale recently and though it could be argued the Husqvarna engined ones are more competitive but these are nice.
No rare Cagiva tanks, but did uncover a whole set of NOS Cagiva Akront rims in their wrappers.
With the workshop repair schedule already underway, a bit of surprise to go for a ride out at Devon Classic, a late season event at Widworthy. Also, with a busy recent schedule I’d not entered and a late phone call on the Friday secured a late entry. With 25th anniversary reunion for my Poly of Wales course on the Saturday, wasn’t sure I’d even be in a fit state to race anyway. In the end found myself waking up on a sofa in Cardiff (thanks Gray) at 06h30 with the rain hammering against the window.
Pre race training in Cardiff on the Saturday night.
Nice and dark and damp as I walked round to the van and headed out of Cardiff and towards the M4 to the journey to Devon. Getting to the Devon tracks isn’t too bad (though getting back with the M5 traffic on Sunday evening can be more challenging) and after a quick stop for a much needed coffee I was at the track at 08h45. Paul, Dai and John turned up about 30 minutes later as the weather was brightening and though there was a cold breeze it was looking like it wasn’t going to rain.
Early morning Devon roads in October
With more than one Husqvarna showing the signs of end of season attrition it was the choice between the only two bikes still running, the 1967 Hallman, which had done well in Ireland and at Llanthony and with a replaced front brake cable was back ready for the track, or the TT540 Yamaha which Roger had taken for a tentative lap at Llanthony.
A sort out in the garage on Friday had changed the front brake lever to one of the numerous Magura’s that I’d seemed to have acquired and generally gone through the bike, before loading it up prior to a relatively social day on Saturday in Pontypridd and Cardiff. No decompressor but was getting the hang of starting it; you just need a wall, van or something upright to lean against.
Feeling the after affects of a Caroline Street kebab (no ill effects from the beer surprisingly) I found myself in a field in Devon at 08h45 on a Sunday morning all ready to go. Ended up in the Twinshock D class, which given the handling of the TT wasn’t a bad place. Dai, John and Paul arrived and managed to get the Sprinter into the field, something that wasn’t too easy to achieve at the meeting back in April.
Practice was pretty well organised, and those that might have been put off by the rain the previous night, or the official tone of the entry form, would have been pleasantly surprised. Nice and sunny all day, though a bit chilly in the wind. The stubble field was pretty rutted and the TT was all over the place as I tried to work out whether I needed to get forward or back to counter the long rake at the front end. The downhill into the grass field was pretty hairy with some wobbles all the way down (and I never got confident on that all day). The up hill sections and loops were superb on the TT however, with the Roger Nunn built engine pulling well and only stuttering on full gas, hinting that the Mikuni might need a bigger main to cope with the bigger bore and the higher compression ratio (up from 8.5:1 to 11:1). Engine sounded great and managed to push the flames out of the rear. Starting sequence had been perfected even without the decompressor and the higher compression. Great stuff and the bike ran well all day.
Race 1, saw the TT getting 3rd into the first corner and holding that position until the last lap, so ended up 4th, from a field of 15 or so in Twinshock D. Though the theory of the class categories for Twinshock in the south west clubs is great, it does need policing, especially during the meeting. The Twinshock D winner was miles ahead and his time would have won Twinshock C also; the second place guy was 15 seconds a lap quicker than the 3rd place guy. At the same time, a couple of C riders should have been in D. Difficult to get right, but nice to race with your peers.
Always good to see a mix of bikes in Devon, though both the pre65 and the pre74 classes had to be combined to get a good line on the start, which points to the strength of Twinshocks in the region. Maybe they should think about a pre78 class also ? They also had an Evo class that was relatively well supported with some good riders.
The TT Yamaha, at 540cc and the same crap front end it always had.
Race 2 was much like Race 1, with 3rd into the first corner, with a 2nd gear start and a smart shift in 3rd all that was needed to get the mighty 540 powered away. Loving this. Just the handling and the brakes that were a bit of an issue, but it was really the first time in two years I’d ridden the bike in a MX race, having only done the Gentle One hare and hounds with the old engine. Might want to look at the jetting, the rear wheel bearings and the steering head bearings as a priority. Ended up 5th, losing out to a guy on a Maico on the last lap. Loving the bike up the hills and as the ruts were becoming more pronounced so I could get the bike round the corners a bit easier. Concious also I could do more to hang the back out on the bike more and get hold of the beast by the horns. Very different from the 250cc two-stroke Husky.
Race 3 saw a better start and manage to get in 2nd behind the guy in the wrong race. And whilst managed to keep behind me down the hill on lap 1, it wasn’t the case on the other 3, and it’s where I lost places. Ended up 6th, and got 4th overall on the day, but to be fair it was Twinshock D. However great fun riding the TT, and it makes you think about what you could do to the bike. 4-strokes are fun, but not all the way to HL or JBR Honda fun. The engine is great and it was nice to have a bike you could start relatively easy (with some careful positioning).
Not the quickest bike, but great fun to ride and sorting out the front end handling will help significantly
The Devon club had obtained the services of Emma Partington on the PA (as at Llanthony) and this was extended to cover commentary. The announcements were good and you knew when to be in the pit box, but commentary (in my opinion) requires a few things:
knowing when to not talk (as well as talk); you are at the track not listening on the radio. Ritchie Benaud was the master here.
Have direct knowledge of experience on what you are talking about; yes you can do the Murray Walker bit and say what bike they are riding and where they are from, but talking about lines, racing styles etc needs experience.
Know your audience; there were very few people who’d never watched a scramble before, and it was very much teaching granny to suck eggs at times.
Emma did a good job, but it was a bit too much. In the first pre65 race, she managed to talk non-stop all the way through. Also the PA was in the paddock so 3 hours of listening to Emma, without watching the racing is a little painful. I’ve had the same experience at Abbeycwmhir, but thats got better over the last couple of years and there is a balance to be found. If between fixing bikes I’m watching the racing, its great to listening to the bikes and work it out yourself. The commentator at Ballyblack in Northern Ireland was absolutely superb and a model for anyone wanting to give it a go. Knowledgeable and a relaxed style is probably what made it.
Overall an excellent days racing, where the only fix was to a perished fuel pipe (need to find the right tap for the tank at some juncture) and apart from the tools stayed in the box. That always makes it pleasant. I also resisted the urge to do the final Twinshock C race and packed up in one piece. It might have been why I took it carefully in Race 3, but not sure.
Dai rode well, though had a lose bolt on the oil field at the start of race 2. He managed a good 3rd in the fourth race. We left before 4pm and given it was October, managed to not get too much traffic on the way back the M5. Washed the bike off and in for some dinner by 18h30 and this really is the end of the season.
The track ended up being great, getting better as the day went on.
Back across the bridge and the season is now ended (again)
Once again the Llanthony meeting finished off the Welsh season, and though it was a week after a memorable MXdN meeting in Northern Ireland, it lived up to previous years. An improved track (longer than before, with some great left hand corners) and good weather, with only shower making things a bit slick during the middle of the day. It was both a British and Welsh Championship round so there was a good entry of top quality riders. The Llanthony Club had spent Saturday setting out the track which saw the return of the long hill after the start and a new section across the top of the field under the trees.
Not many better locations for racing in the UK
The pre60 and 65/Metisse classes were combined and formed a healthy line up, not including the aforementioned Andy Carter, who having already sewn up the championship was focusing on the sidecars. Pete Hollinshead took maximum points on his A10 BSA, with Jon Brittan, Mick Maskelyne and Peter Lockwood all riding well and scoring good points to finish off the championship. For the pre65 / Metisse, Derek Brice had wrapped up the title before the previous Teifiside meeting but was challenged by Dai Walker on his BSA, who after an off when past Phil Edwards in race 1, had two good races and take the overall win on the day. Malcolm Herbert had secured 2nd at Teifiside, not a bad thing since the bolt-up Husqvarna had become non-functional at Hanbury. There were race wins for Martin Coleman, Lee Kelly (who’d stormed the field at Chester) and for Pete Hollinshead.
Dai Walker and Barrie Townend, good to see Barrie out on the bike
For the pre68 350cc class, which this had been won for the season by Phil Anslow, the other podium places were up from grabs, with Geoff Taylor, Malcolm Herbert and Mitchell Harris all racing. After the disappointment of having to ride Malcolm’s Husqvarna the previous week in Northern Ireland, Geoff’s CZ packed up in practice. Mitchell managed to get the 350 BSA round the track to take a maximum of 45 points on the day (something he failed to do in the Unlimited class) and thereby take 2nd place overall, with Malcolm not getting enough points, especially after the Husqvarna flooded prior to the start of race 3. It being a British Championship day, the races were dominated by non-Welsh championship riders, with Greg Speed, Chris Collins and Steve Dent all riding strongly.
Nathan Jones, 2016 Pre68 Unlimited Champion
In the pre68 unlimited races, again there was a strong field initially, which dwindled down to 4 riders only in the last race. British championship regulars Tim Dallaway and Liston Bell dominated the first race, with Mitchell Harris taking the top Welsh points ahead of Nathan Jones. He wasn’t worried however as he had already got the title sorted beforehand. Mitchell then struggled with the tight, rutted right-hand corner on the next two races (which he’d done it the 350 race) giving 30 points to Nathan. Andrew Davies on the now repaired twinport CZ rode well in races 1 and 2 and also good to Andy Watkin out there competing.
Chris Storey on Rob Hawkes’ Ossa after flying off rather impressively over the ‘whoops’ section. Was a bit confused after practice, when an Ossa flew by me and then a couple of minutes later spying a non-kitted up Rob wandering around the paddock.
Hobbling round the paddock and spectator area was nothing but pure joy for Andy Storey as he watched Honda Elsinores dominate the pre74 up to 250cc class. His role as evil genius behind the performance of these bikes is part of what keeps the shutters up at the Pre65 and Mortimer Clubs, and with others like Chris Lewis, they’ve seen younger riders inject some excitement and great racing into the classic scene. Whilst the bikes are good, it’s also down to the riders and with the change of ECMO rules for 2017 (allowing non-reed valve pre74 bikes for 30+ and 50+ age categories) it would be good to see them against the swarm of CZ’s on the bumpy continental tracks.
Kris Winder was flying and won British and Welsh races, but even without him there, Welsh Champion Ben Weaver wasn’t having it his own way. Rhys Walker took to his uncle Dai’s Elsinore very well and finished with a win and two seconds (to Kris Winder, who was 45 seconds clear of the field). Without much competition in 2016 for Ben, it might be very different for 2017. William Guest has ridden well on the CZ all season and battled well to get points that secured his 2nd position in the championship among the swarms of Hondas. And with a good battle between Chris Lewis and Gary Wolstenholme, it was Gary who came out best to get 3rd place in the championship. Needless to say both were riding Honda’s.
A defining moment for John Cash’s season he managed to restart the bike and get past the finish line.
For the over 250cc pre74’s as last season it was all between CZ mounted Jonathan Randall and John Cash on the BSA. John took the race 1 win ahead of Andy Stanton and Jonathan to extend his points lead, but after they came together in race 2, the CZ was quickly was restarted, but the BSA got bogged down and stuck on the sticky corner that had seen the demise of Mitchell Harris. Jonathan got maximum points, but John crossed the line to get 7 points and keep ahead in the championship. For the final race, John took the lead on lap 2, only for Jonathan to charge past on the last two corners to claim the win, but it wasn’t quite enough to claim the championship, with John Cash winning by 3 points, 230 to 227. Exciting stuff for those watching the second two races and the closest finish to a championship class for a number of seasons.
The pre78 class was in its second season and whilst there had been an increase in riders, the demise of Alan Wood’s knee and Paul Prosser’s Cagiva and then James Edge’s Suzuki in practice meant than David Weaver had an easy finish to a championship he’d already won. Not to say he wouldn’t have won it with the other competitors being fit as he’d showed strong form all season. James kept the second position he’d had last season with Narberth rider David Goddard taking 3rd. With much debate online prior to the event, at which David couldn’t make, Lee Johnson failed to score enough points on his Kawasaki as failed after the second race. He went out in the 3rd combined Twinshock / Pre78 race, and score points based on the results from Track Times, but let me know straight away that he rode the ineligible 1980’s Can-Am. It meant he ended up 4th and trophy-less but its this type of honesty and approach that makes classic MX what it is.
Twinshocks on the sticky corner, Anthony Guest being chased by Matt Fry.
A strong entry of Twinshocks was very much in contrast to the previous year even tough the Twinshock Nationals at Pontrilas were just up the road (they got rained off overnight on the power harrowed track, grass is best !) . The unknown winning rider is Ricky Pedder I think, who took wins over Adam Briggs after Adam had won the first race. A field of 34 bikes for the first race made for excellent racing (and even I managed my best twinshock result of 15th on the automatic Husqvarna, which then sank in race 2).
Early season form on the 250cc Maico had seen Teifiside club’s Kyle Noble take a lead over perennial 2nd place man Anthony Guest, who’d swapped the Honda 480 for an RM Suzuki this season. However, DNFs and mechanical issues had meant the poor-start to Sam Weaver’s season might not be so bad after all. All 3 were strong placed for the podium, though a resurgent Nigel Davies was riding strongly. However, despite only scoring 10 points at Llanthony, Kyle took the title from Anthony, who also managed 10 points from the one race. Sam Weaver also blew up his Maico in practice but managed to borrow a bike in pursuit of second place, but ended up 2 points short. Kyle’s younger brother Keelan has been riding well, but the bikes haven’t been holding up and he ended up behind Nigel Davies.
Some notes to come on the sidecars.
Eric’s best ever picture ?
Personally a mixed day, with the Automatic sounding a bit rough, but great to see Karl Stevens finish off his first season of his TM250 Suzuki and for a good friend and engine builder for the Yamaha TT540 give it a try out on the track. He’ll be back but for someone who rides on road and track he found it a very different experience out on a muddy track. Also, daughter Saffron and Karl’s son Benjy both marshalled all day and enjoyed the event. Plenty of friends watching shame there was not enough time to catch up with everyone.
For the results see: http://www.classicmxwales.co.uk/standings
After taking the track down and a quick pint, headed back to Bwlch, with Tom Robinson on 6 Music playing a series of September / Autumnal tracks. He finished with the Sandy Denny / Fairport Convention track ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes ?”, so apt for an end of season. I was nearly in bloody tears.
Underneath the evening sky, all the riders are leaving.
Of course they know it’s time for them to go?
Ahead the winter workshop, in which I will be dreaming
I have no thought of time (or money)
(with thanks to Sandy Denny, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”)
Classic MX des Nations Album : https://flic.kr/s/aHskJHfXyK
John Cash in Race 1
All race photos from Cmacimages https://www.facebook.com/colinmcilhagger
30+ Race 1 start, looking good for Wales, before the 2nd corner collision between Guto and Andy Stanton
Early start for the team at the cottage, with first practice due at 8h15 for the 30+ team. The sun was out and the wind had dropped and a fine day beckoned as we headed over to the track at 07h15. The race day programme is pretty full and long, with the final race not scheduled for 17h30. Each class getting 2 sessions of practice before the team presentations at 12h00 and racing from 13h30.
The scoring for the classes is based on race position, with the lowest total winning. With 4 riders per team and 2 races, the score is taken from the best 6 of 8, where a DNF is scored as 50. Obviously its important to avoid them and getting the best result can take a little bit of team tactics and planning. The track at Ballyblack was a long 1.8km / 1.1 mile lap, and would be familiar type to the UK riders. Generally fast with some jumps, which not large gave plenty of air time. Whilst there were some soft patches overall the base of the track was firm and held up pretty well all day. The start was wide and would allow for 40 riders directly on to the gate, so a double line would only be needed for the 50+ race.
For the specific rules, teams and riders the ECMO site, http://www.classicmotorsport.org has all the details. Race position and timings are available on the Mylaps Speedhive page. For the race report and results, I’ve split it by class.
30+ (rider age), pre72 machines.
With both a Wales-1 and Wales-2 team running in the event some planning was needed, especially as Andy Stanton in the Wales 2 team would be quick. Some discussion prior to racing on how to handle any conflicts over what might be valuable points.
Andrew Owen on the 250cc Bolt Up Husqvarna
Pete managed 3rd into the first corner in race 1, but the heavy BSA was a challenge round the track which had some big jumps and relatively tight turns. He ended
Overall the entries for the Classic MX des Nations were down on previous years, probably due to the location in Northern Ireland, would meant high travel costs and a long journey for the continental teams. There was no team from Belgium and only 1 team from the Czech Republic. The only number of teams for the 30+ meant that both England and Wales were allowed to enter second teams, something usually only the host country can do for Wales it allowed some of the people already committed to travel as reserves and helpers to get a ride at one of the premier motocross events.
Having two teams in one race can mean some thought needs to go into planning, as you don’t want the ‘B’ team as such taking points away from the A team. With Andy Stanton coming in as a last minute replacement for Paul Prosser, who rightly decided that being Team Captain was going to take a lot of his time on the day, we had a quick rider who was going to mix it with the A team, but plenty of discussion beforehand meant that there was a plan for ensuring the A team got the focus for the event. On paper the England second team was as quick as its first team so would need team orders potentially to ensure the best results.
The 50+ class was the premier event, with 11 teams on the start and this would be the choice event on race day. As a Welsh team, Paul Prosser had done a great job in getting a team in each class, with the 70+ team now guaranteed a trophy, as the German team had pulled out at the last minute. The sure thing in other classes was with the very impressive, BSA-mounted French team in the 60+ class who’d looked really good in Mortimer last year. However you’d suspect the England would do badly not to finish on the podium in each race.
Walking the track; it was a long way round
The day before race day can be a long and somewhat fraught one with plenty of organisational issues along the lines of “cat herding”. After a relatively quiet night, got to the track for 08h30 and after putting up the pop-up in the sunny, but slightly chilly morning it was time to walk the track. Some feedback from other people in the Welsh team that this really was a long track (2 miles), I set my running/cycling GPS watch and we set off. You could have been in Devon, with wide corners and grass on the circuit, something the continental riders rarely see. Alberto from ECMO mentioned a few times how good it was to see a track like this, and though there had been some complaints it was something very different for many riders.
The boggy section which was cut out for race day.
The back straight was of Hanbury proportions, but with two jumps en route, the second of which would provide some significant air time for the quicker riders. The main discussion point was on a 150m boggy section at the back of the track, which because of the surrounding reed beds made it feel very much like Abbeycwmhir. The discussion with teams, organiser John Colling and the Clerk of the Course would mean the most of this would be taken out before practice. The GPS showed the track at just under 2km in length, slightly less once the boggy section was removed.
Back in the paddock, Paul got down to finding riders, sorting race shirts and numbers and checking that everyone was aware of with what needed to be done. With the ECMO meeting and the preparation for racing tomorrow not really starting to 14h30, along with Kevin and Graham headed off to do some shopping and find some lunch.
The ECMO meeting was relatively short and had some interesting notes, in particular on the European CEC rounds for 2017 and that the Classic des Nations will be in the Czech Republic in 2018. Also, the draw was made for starting positions (as there is no timed practice for the Des Nations) and where it mattered, Paul drew some good slots for the teams, especially with slot 2 for the 50+ class. Wales avoided being the on the jury this year, after being selected at Mortimer the previous year.
Start slots as drawn by the country managers
After the entry fee was paid it was time for scruitineering. Safety checks for bikes were done by the club, with the 4 countries of the jury keeping an eye out for eligibilty. Whilst the ECMO rules are clear and relatively tight watching the time of bikes come through it was clear that some pushing of boundaries had taken place in many sheds and workshops across Europe. No real checks on suspension travel were made (and it was clear that some had more than the maximum front and rear) and that some bikes were out of age range. Whilst as a Welsh team we had two bikes we were aware of that were open to interpretation, having a 1974 Maico for the pre70 class was pushing it a bit. Some of the Husky’s were pushing it a bit, with mid-80’s twin leading shoe front brakes in one case. Potentially something for ECMO to think about in future, especially with the change to pre74 for the 30+ and 50+ for next season.
The riders then signed on and it was time for food and a trip to the excellent beer tent / main marquee as the evening settled in and thoughts turned to race day.
Friday night beer tent with Welsh team strategy being actively discussed. Scots and Irish also present with the England team under instruction for an early night. Winning is everything.
Relatively early start from Bwlch primarily to allow plenty of time to get to Holyhead with breaks for food and drinks. Team captain Paul Prosser, fellow Wales 30+ B team member Kevin Pettit and Graham Lee Green (holidaymaker) all in the van. The two Husqvarna’s, my 1970 Hallman and Kevin’s 1972 450 were in the trailer, along with lots of spares and tools. Some fuel and the gas were also loaded up. My other bolt up Husqvarna was making the trip with Dai Walker and contingent, who were also travelling up and aiming to be on the same ferry.
As with events of this nature actually getting the van is a relief as it means you move from planning to actually doing. For Paul is particular it had been pretty stressful with lots of phone calls and some last minute changes to sort out. Geoff Taylor’s CZ had snapped a lay shaft and various rider injuries and ailments were cause for concern. Then there is the politics of who’s in the team and more significantly who’s not. The last minute additional of a Welsh B Team was good as it gives a rare opportunity for some riders to take part, but also created some issues with selection.
First stop for breakfast in Mallwyd. Stopped here on my Cambrian Way walk and good place for a fry up and the 4.99 breakfast did the job. The Walker clan were heading up the A470 behind us, somewhere between Rhayader and Newtown so we took our time but still no sign when we left. Quick stop in Dolgellau to collect cash and have a near collision with a taxi. Made it Holyhead with an hour to spare so stopped for pints for the passengers and a coffee for the driver
The route up through Wales to Holyhead isn’t quick, but you cannot say it’s not pleasant. No traffic either.
The port queue for the Stena ferry to Dublin had Wales and England team participants ready to go. Due to some miss waving of hands we managed to get the van the holeshot positon off the ferry which would probably the only time we would do it all weekend.
Leaving Dublin port is a race itself as you battle with trucks to get out and through to the north bound M1 as quickly as posssible during rush our traffic. Excellent fun and spent hours getting out of Dublin in rush hour, the 10 euros toll for the tunnel is money well spent.
Easy and straightforward drive north and two hours later we were sitting with fish and chips in Newtonards. One thing you can say about a MX road trip is that the diet can result in cases of scury. Holidaymaker Graham was later seen dropping a lime into the top of a pint of lager as a precaution.
First stop for drinks in Holyhead (coffee for the driver)
First off the ferry, due to some interesting maneouvering with the van (and having a Premium crossing as being a loyal Stena user)
Plenty of good discussion on the ferry, with the team captain (Paul on the right) formulating tactics
A lot of conversation on the way over had been focused on team tactics, fair and slightly dodgy on how we might be able to advance the Welsh position. Buoyed by the confidence that we would already more successful than last year (3rd place in the 70+ class guaranteed as there were only 3 teams), much mulling over on how to improve in other classes.
All too much for the holidaymaker. Only his second visit to Ireland (after a day trip to Rosslare as the previous) and he slept through it.
The cottages I’d rented were pleasant enough and after quickly settling in went back into Newtonards for an end of day pint. Picking one of the more dodgy bars had an interesting discussion with the landlord on power boat racing and the escalating size of motorhomes at events.
Welcome pint and the end of a long (sometimes stressful) day.