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Carshalton MCC Tilgate Forest
Written by Manny Bernardez   
Monday, 13 July 2009

SEEC Round 5 7th June 2009

Play TilgateDriving down towards Tilgate Forest there was no mistaking on what the terrain was going be like, my windscreen wipers struggling to cope with the shear amount of rain that was hitting the glass. Not that I mind riding Tilgate when it gets slippery and technical, I won the event couple of years back in exactly the same conditions on a YZ 125, in theory the Yamaha WRF 250 should be a better bike?

Walking round the short Special test most of the going consisted of grippy loamy soil not the slippery clay that covers most of Tilgate. Thanks to the mountain bikers a couple of areas were out of bounds included a large chunk of Tilgate's infamous hills, pity because that’s what made it that little bit special. No doubt the Carshalton club would make our lives more than interesting with the bits they could use, even the sun came out for them.


First Check 2 laps in 80 minutes:
Got away without a problem, stalled the motor a few times until it got some heat into it and was happy to follow riders slip sliding in front of me. There was not a lot of grip out there and maybe using a well used rear tyre wasn’t the brightest of moves. The track felt well used with ruts and bumps from previous events still evident, some of the woods were very dark with the canopy blocking out most of the sunlight. Had a quick glance at the clock as I went through the time check and estimated that it took me 31 minutes to get round, not only did it feel like a long lap it was one.

Rode past the queue for the Special test as I already decided to do it at the start of the 2nd session and was going to use this lap for a more accurate gauge of what pace I should be on for the tight check. Even though I was putting a little bit more effort into my riding it didn’t feel like I was going any faster and come into the pits having done another 31 minute lap. Things weren’t looking good for the tight check set at 24 minutes.

Second Check 2 laps in 75 minutes:
Straight into the Special test, my first test was frankly rubbish, I got the first series of very tight bends all wrong just being too aggressive and there was a lot more grip than I thought on the slick looking straight, specially the braking area, posted a very average 1:21:730. With lessons learnt the second test went a lot better not perfect by any means but a respectable 1:15:540.

Still on the first lap of the session, going through the Rhododendron bushes I lost the front and hit the remains of an uprooted tree, the sudden stop breaking the clutch perch using my wrist (yes it did hurt). Trying to get back without a clutch was a bit of a nightmare with constant stalling, even though I was being extra careful most of the stalls were during breaking and lucky for me none where difficult to get going again. That lap took me (including test) 39 minutes to complete. Pulling alongside the pits Malcom Beken and Shaun Smith passed me a few zip-ties to lasso the perch back to the bars.

By the time the temporary repair was done I only had 32 minutes left to check in. First problem was the perch would move to the 6 o’clock position every time I hit a bump forcing me to sit down and constantly hold it, second problem was the bite point was very close to the bars, this was killing my arm. Pushed on as hard as I could completed the lap in 31 minutes helped by a drying track, waited a minute and it was off for the tight check.

Third Check 1 lap in 24 minutes:
No way was I’m going to make the time so went as quickly as I could. I managed to beach it on a big rut and it took a lot of effort to lift the bike out, by this time I hated every minute of it only the thought of a few points keeping me going, the lap taking me 29 minutes.

Fourth Check 2 laps in 60:
Only two more laps left to survive and getting slower and slower, out of strength and energy. The track was very rough with deep ruts, roots and holes everywhere, limped home loosing another 12 more minutes but relieved it was all over.

Thanks to Carshalton MCC for putting on a good event, I was probably the only person who did not enjoy it talking to my mates afterwards.

Result = 11th

That lacklustre performance pushes me down to second place in the Over 40’s, not a lot of points separating the top 3.

Philip Boreham 59
Manuel Bernardez 54
Colin Cowley 51


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