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So the debate was, to enter the race or not? Last year Tony and I both swore we’d not come back until the enduro loop was either re graded or changed due to it becoming extremely bumpy throughout its entire length. Well time is a good healer so when the time came to enter the first race of 2015 with the South Reading MCC I viewed it as a “right of passage” so to speak. One of things that you sort of have to do in life! Oh and Darren had already entered so that helped.
Giving the bike a bit of a wash the week before I noticed that the front sprocket was well past it’s best so that was on the shopping list for the week leading up to the race. By Wednesday I’d still not done anything so I jumped straight in and removed the tired looking FIM rear tyre for the mx tyre I wanted to run in the race. It was then that I gave the chain a once over and found there was a fair amount of play in the centre rollers, not good. Thursday I popped down to CMP Racewear in High Wycombe to see what they had in stock and picked up a 13 tooth front and 52 rfx steel rear sprocket. Unfortunately they did not have any DID x-ring's in stock so on Friday I gave the KTM Centre in Hemel a ring and they had one so I picked that up on the way home from work and finished fitting it all when I got in – the bike was now ready to rock. As the tack is so bumpy I decided (late on Friday night) to rig up a hands free drinks system. I’d bought the connectors a while ago but not got round to setting it all up. the only problem was that once I had it in place I didn’t like how it felt so stripped it all out again!
Sighing on and psyching out time
The 11am start means a relaxed slow start to the day. I had to park up in the furthest or second car park as the first was full but in summer this one does have some shade. Not that that was a problem today as it was surprisingly cold, with a wind that really cooled the ears down. On the way back from signing on I bumped into Darren and we both got out the excuses early, him “no training, just back from holiday – put on weight” and me “not enough training, put on weight and iffy knee”. First round to me then I recon as I’m nursing an niggely injury. Waiting for the briefing Darren, Nicky and I were chatting and ribbing one another when Darren said he didn’t care where he finished , as long as I didn’t beat him! Ok now I had a goal to aim for as Darren had entered the expert class he was starting in front of me.
early morning bun fight to get to the start first
Race Time - Lap One
The start was a little on the disorganised side. You are let out in small groups but instead of doing it from left to right in an organised manner, there is a mass push forward and we all congest into one spot waiting to be let out to play. Your time only starts when you clock out for the first time, so when you start is immaterial, the only advantage you have from getting out early is the fact there are less riders to get stuck behind on the first lap, if you are quicker anyway!
at the main jump, a little steady on the first lap
back on the other side of the mx track
Darren on the triple jumps
I got away just behind rider number 34 and we crossed the fair mile byway straight away and set off down the bumpy track towards the woods. This bit had been worked on a little and a lot of the bumps had been leveled out so I was able to fly past 34 and get into the woods first. The first part on the track (in the woods to the south) was much the same as always, and this meant one thing, it was bumpy as hell and we were in for another rough day. As always you tend to get stuck behind slower riders on the first lap in this section. There were a few changes to the track but not many. By the time we got to the fast open run to the fields I had passed a few riders and had a good run up and over the hills, jumping the steps on the way. Turning back down and around on the other side of the hill we found that the climb up the other side had been smoothed out a little too, so that was a relief. We switched back into the trees again at the top of the hill for a short while then came back on ourselves, for the quick blast back up towards the fair mile again, only this time it was way on the other side of the property.
couple shots of me on the jumps on the first/second lap
timing / balance a little off
We then entered the second set of woods and again the tracks were very similar to previous years, right up until the final exit of the woods. Before that though I made a small mistake. I came up to a guy stopped on two small sticks on the track. They were laying at an angle on the track in amongst a sort of left/right set of trees. I hesitated, too cautious and got the back wheel stuck too. Sitting there with blue smoke coming off the back tyres trying to get going again, I was annoyed to see number 34 sneak past. Getting going again I needed to push hard to catch up but another rider (who I’d just passed) had also got past me on the sticks, so I was caught behind him for awhile. Thankfully he paused for a bit as I was trying to find a way past so I got by and set off in pursuit of 34 again. This year instead of going down the little narrow path we exited out of the trees onto a field, skirted its edge, did a little dog leg and then had a mega fast blast across two fields back to the mx track. We joined the mx part of the track just as you’d normally exit the tree covered part of the track. I attacked the mx track as I know my way here and made some ground up. Just after the big jump we turned off into the trees again and I carried on pushing , rejoined the mx track again and I timed the triple jumps slightly wrong so go a lot a air under the front wheel on the third one. After one scare on the jumps i had another on the last run through the trees on the way back to the start. The front wheel caught a root of stick and caught me off balance, the only way to save it was go in the direction the bike wanted to go - which was straight through the tape. The red and white tape caught me in the throat and stretched for a hell of a long way until breaking. At the time I couldn't understand why it hurt so much. But that didn’t matter as I’d made up my lost time on 34 and came into the timing area right on his tail.
i on the main jump
(i jumped further lol)
Of course I nailed the bike down the long straight and managed to pass 34 again and I think the rest of the lap two was fairly static. The next time round though and in the second set of woods I made a small mistake by missing a breaking point and 34 slipped past again. I was on his back wheel for quite a while but then we were in the second set of trees and he slipped past a slower rider and pulled a gap on me. This happened a couple of times so now he was out of sight. I pushed hard on the remainder of the lap and once again pulled into the clocking area on his tail and yes once again I blasted past on the long straight down to the woods!
eventual winner no 8
On this lap I caught and passed rider 26 but here was one corner that was being cut out a lot, I went the proper way and he cut the track. This annoyed me a bit as now I was stuck behind him again. I was looking for a way past and could see he was riding a bit wild. On the root covered small climb in the woods the rear end of his bike flicked him off and he fell pretty hard. Lucky for him I was to one side so instead of riding over the top of him I squeezed past on the left.
Darren in fine form
Another lap later and just as I thought 34 was gone for good he managed to slip past again. I had to stop for a rider who fell off in a slow right turn in the woods, on a really rough part of the track. This left me stuck with the front wheel in a big dip and the rear in a similar one at the back. I struggled to getting moving again and felt a front wheel on my leg but got going again before he could fight past. But my momentum and rhythm was now all off and I struggled on the next even bumpier turn, clipped a branch and bump at the same time which pulled my right hand off the bars. This was enough for 34 to blast past in a small gap in a rather class overtake. I got my head down again and followed him through the trees as we were both held up for quite a while by two slower riders. Thankfully neither of them got between us and I was able to out drag 34 over the long straights at the back of the track and out braked him into the right turn. pushing hard I think this was the last time we traded places and I made a clean getaway. I had another on track battle with another rider later on but I can’t remember his number now.
Two hours were well gone by now and the fast sections had used a lot of fuel so I was going to need a pitstop. I worked this out on the fly by looking at the amount of petrol in the clear tank. It was fairly low already so I switched the tap to reserve, just in case, as I didn’t want it to die on me half way round the lap. Pulling into the pits I dumped half a tank into the bike (must get a quick fill) and set off again. I carried on pushing and the laps clicked off slowly , then i realised I’d made a big rookie mistake, I’d not started my timer or made a note of my start time - what an idiot!
Thinking what I could do the only idea I had was that I would have to push hard and hope I came round at the clocks early enough to just get another lap in and by that time it would be very evident it was full time. In the final stages I caught 105 and again had a bit of a race on track, putting in my fastest time on my second last lap, trying to get back on time for one last go. I came round again and it was about eight minutes past the hour, so while I wasn’t 100% sure I was out of time I was pretty confident time was up.
the end - Darren looking tired!
Giving up the transponder I pulled up next to Darren, I hadn’t quite caught him but comparing start times and end times it was close. Nicky said I was catching him fast near the end of the race. The provisional results came out late Sunday night after I was in bed, so i woke up to go to work on Monday and found two sms’s from Darren on my phone, I’D BEATEN HIM in the overall results. Yay – second in Clubman A and thirtieth overall.
ps - remember the tape in throat snippet earlier? Well that turn out to be a right mess. The tape slid across my throat and gave me a nasty friction burn that swelled up in a big welt and scabbed over the next day, it looked like i'd been in the gallows!
|©2015 John Muizelaar|