Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Cadwell Sunday 26th..... Oil, Rain, Cold!

You can see how wet it was from the spray and the wash ahead of the front tyre!

All very close with Tony Rudd!

Sunday dawned wet and bloody cold!  My neck and back were really stiff now after yesterday's off.....  But in the rain, I should feel confident!  So ...... wet tyres on and ready to get out for practice......  as I rode down I could hear a clonking noise.....  clutch ?  Gearbox?  something was definitely amiss!

Doh!   Unwelcome Gearbox Noises

So.... practice missed yet again.........  Fortunately chief Mechanic Johnny Gilbert arrived in his waterproofs having ridden up from Grantham in the rain.... no time to waste he was set straight on dismantling things!  

Transmission apart!

Immediately we found a gear tooth floating around and a very obvious gap on the first gear where it had come from!  So Jonny set about cleaning everything whilst I ran around begging and borrowing!  Fellow Lincolnshire rider Tony Rudd came to the rescue with an Li150 box to borrow.

So with everything replaced it was time for our first race.  We sat forming up in the holding area for an age , only to find a marshall walking amongst us with a sign saying oil!  It was raining....... heavy......  and in the previous race a bike had managed to dump pretty much a whole tank of fuel ALL around the circuit and it was all over the racing line... with fallers going straight off on it.

The rain continued to fall as the circuit staff and marshalls applied cleaning agents and swept, washed, brushed the whole circuit.  It became apparent pretty quickly that the whole circuit was affected.  At one point we felt the meeting could actually be cancelled.  It was very grim..... very cold..... very wet.

After 3 1/2 hours waiting we had the call that a few test dummies would be offered a few test laps around to approve as safe.  So representatives from each class went out on circuit and broadly passed it as safe - (ish!)

So..... we lined up as the rain continued to fall......   the sighting lap gave us the chance to at least see where the problems were - there was a lot of chalk down at various parts of the circuit.

From the start I immediately passed a few people including Rob Sumner..... game on.......   as we lapped in the rain i was loving it!  Bizarre I know.... but these conditions are when I ride best!  

The grip from the Sava Monsum tyres is just awesome in these conditions and you can ride with such confidence.  I soon caught and passed Doug Turner and Dan Lewis so this was new territory for me...... along with Tony Rudd too .

On lap 3 the rain came down heavier and I was sideways through Mansfield with the rear sliding out, but just rolled off and got it straight then whacked the throttle open again .... no doubt grinning like a Cheshire cat!

On the 4th lap i went a little wide allowing Tony Rudd to get back past me.  I reeled him back in but ran out of time really to get back past him. My visor was steamed up, hands were wet and leather soaking but i was absolutely loving these conditions!

Yes - Its Wet!

My best race of the year by far!.

As we came into the paddock Dave Crampton and I were just grinning ear to ear.  A few people came over telling us how awesome it had looked with 35 or so scooters in those conditions.  They also said we were F%*&ing crazy too - but hey - tell us something new!

So it was time to get everything packed away and head nack to base with just teh one race today after the delays.

But spirits were high in the van driving back!

Dave and I had both finished and really enjoyed the wet race!

It was a brilliant day for us!  And yes - I think we must be a bit crazy!

Cadwell Park - September 25th / 26th - Where Did That Tyrewall Come From?

Everything forward over the Mountain!

Well....... hasn't  2010 flown!  It really doesn't seem like a year since we were here on the brilliant full Cadwell circuit.

I was still feeling under the weather in the runup to Cadwell with a lot going on and very busy work wise.

The good news was that Dave Crampton was to be back on track on the super tidy Group 6 bike.  He'd managed to somewhat comprehensively destroy the engine on the Cadwell club circuit earlier in the year, which had looked like it would be ending his year !  But good old Chalky White at Replay Scooters stepped in to rescue things and build Dave a brilliant new RB250 motor to borrow for the weekend.  There was a bit of last minute rushing around for him, but the motor sounded crisp and sweet.......   and it was great to see such a beautiful bike back on track - albeit much modified now from the winter when I painted it!

Dave Crampton readies the Gp 6 on Sunday

Saturday dawned cold!  So with the two scooters loaded it was off on the familiar roads to Cadwell, where things were misty and like something from the arctic!

Being Cadwell everyone had to be noise tested again - which is a bit tedious!  I was a bit concerned as I'd only just scraped through in previous tests earlier in the year.  John Howe had sent me an emergency special muffler just in case of difficulties ;-)

With a bit of choke applied ( sssshhhh one of the secrets to quietening the things down!) I was 104 decibels ! 1 under the limit......  Good to go!

Now the fun starts!  Heading down to practice whilst sitting in the holding area the throttle cable snapped whilst sat stationary!  Damn and blast.......  as i started the long and hard push back up the hill - the scooters went out on track!  

After just about needing an iron lung by the time I'd pushed back up to the paddock, it was handlebars apart, and new inner cable to fit and adjust up.  Trouble is - I didn't have too long to do it as i needed to get out to do a practice with the bikes now that i had missed the scooter session.

It felt strange lining up to practice with 40 vintage bikes but once on track the fun started as I started passing a few of them!  then coming down into Mansfield under braking the engine faultered and stopped so I coasted to a halt behind the cones by the temporary chicane.  Looking down I could see the problem - in the rush to get the new cable in, the outer can't have been home properly so it had popped out of its housing.  I was able to push it back in, and then bumpstarted the engine again and managed to get another lap in!  Brilliant - job done.....  now I can race.

So...... onto the first race and it was a really full grid - 39 bike I think, including Stoffi and co from Austria with  a trio of Vespas..  Theres a resurgence of Vespa small frames at the moment and unbeliably we had of them out with the 3 from Austria.

So as we lined up after the sighting lap - we waited..... and waited ..... and waited.... until the signal came from the startline officials to cut the engines!  A medical emergency had taken the doctor off to the paddock.

So we stood around on the start line waiting anxiously - these are exactly the sort of things that get the nerves jangling!

Eric popped up and we managed to get the riders all posing on the start line for a very rare chance for a group picture - the Class of 2010!

The class of 2010!

After quite a lengthy delay - another sighting lap and we were away......  I got a good start - getting past a few bikes off the line and up the left hander.  The pack howled down the Park Straight and round to the Gooseneck where a huge accident happened with 4 riders going down.  It has been a chain reaction really but was pretty nasty.  Ed Hocking came off worst suffering a broken collarbone and wrist .  Subsequent hospitalisation and operations mean sadly he is likely to be out for most of 2011 - Get well soon Ed and come back fighting!

So after a lengthy delay whilst Ed received treatment we had yet another sighting lap.... this time I didn't get such a good start, and wherever I went I seemed to be blocked.  As the race went on I drifted back a bit -0 it was only to be a 3 lap race after all the delays!  On the last lap Adam on one of those pesky Vespa's came by after I drifted a bit wide and up through the woodlands I was determined to make up the gap and repass him.  I managed to make all the distance back again and going around Barn I opted to go round the outside and go for it in a last bend of the last lap all or nothing move!.

Well...... it came to Nothing!

Adam went into Barn a little hot and had to stand the scooter up a little, which pushed me wide and onto the damp part of the circuit under the trees where I speared straight off track!

As soon as I hit the wet grass it was like ice and I was immediately down and sliding to the tyrewall.  I kept hold of the bike as long as possible until it dug into the soft ground and spun me around so I was now heading backwards towards the wall .  These things happen in slow motion and I remember thinking the wall looked soft..... big mistake...... the rubber tracking was pretty damn solid as I crumpled into it followed by the scooter hitting me - which was kind of handy as I managed to use myself as a cushion to prevent damage.

I came to a rest on my side in the mud, dazed and winded.  The marshalls picked me up and moved the scooter off the racing line and surrounded it with bales of straw.  I was to be there for the best part of an hour before being recovered back to the pits where I could set about bending the legshields back into shape and straightening things out!

I felt shaky and started to feel stiffness in my neck and back pretty much straight away, although after a trip to teh medical centre was signed off as fit to race ! ( More like fit to drop really!) 

So I was to make it out for Race 2 later on!

Race 2 was altogether less eventful!  I just concentrated on riding round in 1 piece and getting the points.  I had worked out that missing Pembrey race  meeting and now a DNF in race 1 had lost me enough points that I would drop to 8th in the championship, and unless Replay team mate Rob Sumner had a non finish realistically I wouldn't score enough points to over take him.
Chasing Roland Davis through the Woodlands!

So...... onto Sunday.........   rain forecast!