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South Reading H&H 23rd May 2015

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So it was the second round of the South Reading MCC H&H series, amazingly Tony had agreed to race, I was really surprised when he said yes. Nicky was also puzzled as we can all clearly remember Tony saying “he’d never be back” ...... well time off the bike changes your perspective on life so I think he was just desperate to get back out there and ride the bike.It was his turn to drive so I mentioned to Nicky that he’d be round on Friday night to pick the trailer up and I got an “oh no – does that mean we are going in the ‘tiny town car then?” yep Tony’s golf is somewhat smaller than the deceptively large Mazda 6 so Nicky ends up engulfed by kit on the back seat.


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thanks to teamsnapper for this pic


The bike was pretty much ready to go after the SEEC Enduro with the Croydon club but the Michelin comp 3 on the rear had succumbed at west harting down due to there being flint on the track. It’s done well though (the comp 3), as I’ve been using it in several enduro's with SEEC. Not bad really but then the local enduro's were all sand based and it’s the flint based tracks that kill tyres. However as it’s been dry and Ashdown Farm dries quickly I reckoned it was good for one more race and the flint on the mx track would hammer it so it would be its last outing.


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off on the first lap - all is good (for now)


We had to take a bit of a detour on route to the track as our shortcut road was shut for roadwork’s but we still got to the track in plenty of time. We parked in the first section of parking to be close to the pits but once parked we found that they were running the race from the other side, so once again we were quite far away from the pits. Oh well it was a nice sunny day so we could enjoy the sun before the race. Unloading the bike Tony said “crap that doesn’t look good” pointing to the wet spot on the trailer under his bike. But then he realised we’d just gone through a load of puddles on the lane up to the track (and left half the golf’s undercarriage behind) so it was water. Once all the signing on and gearing up was done we were chilling out by the car when I noticed there was still a wet spot on the trailer – on my side. A quick wipe and my worst fears were confirmed, it was oil – fork oil! I quick dash over to the pits to see if I had my feeler gauge in my toolkit (I hoped I did as I cured a leak on the LHS recently). Result! It was there. I pulled off the fork guard and dust seal and ran the gauge round the seal to clear the crap out. Oil seeped out and some dirt so after giving it a wipe and another clean it looked like I’d cured the leak. Drama over, for now.....

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i get a good launch of the second of the triple jumps....
(front end maybe a little high)


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whoa - steady now....


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Start of the race. We were lined up in groups but once again it became a bit of a bun fight to get to the transponders first, something that needs sorting by the club. I was riding in clubman A today and set off on my first lap. The beginning of the track was set out to the north of the mx track and the first few corners were taken steady to allow the 2t to clear itself and warm up. I headed down a dip on a track that ran parallel to the mx track and there was a small muddy puddle at the bottom so I gave it a little bit of throttle to clear the puddle with the front wheel in the air. Ouch!!! Disaster struck, or should I say stuck. The little muddy bit was softer than I thought and near enough stopped the bike, so much so that I slammed into the bars – hard (but remained on the bike). Pain shot through me like a knife and I was winded at the same time. I was convinced I’d broken a rib on my left side as I’ve done it twice before and knew what it was like. I carried on going but was gasping for air, and stupidly trying to give a running commentary on film at the same time! I pulled over for a quicker rider as I was now only going half speed, in shock and in a lot of pain.


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tony taking off


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mid air


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thud - you can see why he ended up with a flat front tyre
(pinch flat - running too low pressure)



I carried on going for a little longer but wasn’t enjoying it much. I could only take half breaths and felt very uncomfortable on the bike but was too stubborn to stop so carried on. Eventually in the latter part of the lap I had sped up a bit and was catching other riders so this perked me up a bit and I looked for a place to overtake. Most of the woods are too tight but there are several open sections were you can blast away from them but almost all are very rough so you need to have a good suspension setup to be able to take advantage. Thankfully the work I’d done to my xc in the past has paid off and I can hold the bike flat out on the fields.


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mid part of the mx track


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tony a couple of corners back


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me pushing on


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I made a few nice passes on the back fields including rider 104 Jim Hawkins and got into the woods in the far corner on the way back first so it enabled me to have a nice run through the rough tracks in the trees heading back to the start of the track.


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next lap - this corner always make for good pics


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over on the far side of the track on the fast run back to the woods
thanks to teamsnapper for this pic and the next


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Lap two and I had a nice little race with another rider (no 24 Matthew Isard I think) chasing after him and passing him on the first straight just after the fair mile crossing, but just after the left turn I was pushed wide and ended up on one of the ridges and got really out of shape due to the front wheel being on one side and the rear the other so the rider slipped past again. I waited for the next straight and made a pass again but on the run up to the ‘goat track’ climb I slowed down too early and he got past again! I nailed the bike on the next long straight and made in into the woods first again.



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this pic gives you an idea of the scale / gradient of the hills on the mx track



On the climb up into the woods I came upon three riders in a queue just where the track splits. Thinking quickly I took the slightly longer route to the right but got to the spot where the track becomes one again just as the last two riders got there. I pushed into a small almost non existing gap and sat behind the slower rider. I noticed the third rider (now behind me) was someone I’d battled with at the previous race (no 21 Rob Smith) so wanted to get going fast to pull a gap on him. The rider in front of me was in a load of trouble and struggling, so much so that he came to a halt but I managed to pass on his left so didn’t get held up too much. I had a good run through the rest of the woods and we were already catching and overtaking a lot of the sportsman riders and all of them were great in giving us some room to slip past.


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oh crap i'm in trouble - two riders catching me as i struggle


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104 goes wide and 21 cuts tight


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The next few laps were ok but soon the adrenalin and shock of the first lap’s ‘near crash’ had worn off and I was feeling decidedly second hand. My ribs were so sore I was still unable to take a full breath and my general dejected state meant I wasn’t able to really get into the race. A while later a few guys slipped past and I recognised one of them as the riders who I’d overtaken earlier (104 & 21) so I knew I was slowing down and this did nothing to uplift my spirits.


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I plugged away at the laps but being generally uncomfortable I was feeling each and every ache, as you do when you are off the boil. My knees were on fire now too, mostly due to the extent of standing I was forced to do on the rough going. Knee pain is something I need to look into as it’s becoming a little debilitating this year. After each race my knees are on fire and I have to take pain killers to enable me to drive home. Apparently proper knee braces help so I’m looking into getting a set.


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At some point I must have decided to ‘man up’ and get on with it was soon it was time to pit for fuel. I’d run past the two hour mark already by the time I entered the pits so I only put in half a tank and set off again and this time I set a slightly quicker time than the previous four laps. Taking a jump near the pits I noticed Tony standing there with his regular clothes on, so he was out the race already. Looking at the time as I locked the transponder I realised it was more or less time for the last lap and this really fired me up. I’m not sure whether it was due to my keenness in bringing the pain to an end or the willingness to get a good result, but I really attacked the last lap, setting my quickest lap time yet and I was very pleased to overtake one of the riders who had slipped past me earlier when I had slowed down I bit. This gave me more of a boost to set a quick time. So quick in fact that I came up to the transponders with barely a minute past the 3 hour mark on my stopwatch. I was instantly in a bit of a dilemma, had I started my stopwatch when the clubman guys started pushing forward, or had I started more of less as I clocked out myself. I couldn’t remember! If it was the former it was highly likely that it was already running for a minute and a half before I clocked out so I might be able to go for another lap, if it was the latter I’d be doing another lap for free so to speak. I paused for a few seconds and thought ‘fuck it’ and went for another lap. I was in pain from the ribs and knees but fitness wise I felt fine so set off on another quick lap. It wasn’t long before I more or less knew this was a waste of time but I’d committed to it, so carried on anyway.



the first two laps of the race - check out the rib smasher at 45 seconds in
doesn't look like much but it hurt . the metal bar of the handguard caught me right on the lower left rib



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Back at the pits now and I was really feeling uncomfortable. My bloody knee guards had been rubbing on me for the whole race but that was overshadowed by the ribs and the broken glass that had obviously found their way into my knee joints. On the good side I felt ok fitness wise so the cycling has helped a lot. Nicky and Tony asked how I thought I’d done and up until the last lap I thought I’d be lucky to get into the top ten but having caught one of the guys who’d passed me earlier I thought maybe a top six would be more or less what I could hope for.


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thanks to teamsnapper for this pic and the next


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The results came out and I was very pleased to see that I’d come home in forth spot, better than I thought and I only missed third by a second and a bit!

Tony? – well his race was over in the second lap. He doesn’t run a mousse in the front so a puncture on the second lap brought his race to an end.





©2015 John Muizelaar