SEEC Round 4
Simon Beken picked me up nice and early so we could get a decent parking spot, you don’t want to arrive late and have to push the bike and pit gear miles. As the weather looked good down our neck of the woods I didn’t even bother to take a coat.
When we arrived Ray Kennard asked Si to park on the next fire road down and that he could turn round at the end, I jumped out and waited for Simon to come back. After about 15 minutes I started to wonder where he gone to and walked towards the crest, noticed how slippery the fire road was, didn’t take much guesswork to figure out what had happened. Graham Maulder come to the rescue and towed the van back up the hill in his 4x4.
The customary walk aroud the special test revealed a nice flowing test if a bit slippery, one to leave late as possible. We just about finished signing on when the heavens opened and the rain persisted until near the start time. Talking to marshals coming back from the course “very slippery” “gnarly” was the main consensus.
Pushing my bike out of the van I noticed that my front tyre was flat, even after borrowing a foot pump of Graham it refused to inflate, I’ll just have to ride it as is, if I had taken my own van there would be a spare wheel to swap, never mind!. By this time I was getting well and truly soaked and cold, headed off to the signing on tent to get the schedule and a bit of shelter, felt like they positioned the tent in a wind tunnel offering no cover at all, poor Hazel (Secretary of the Meeting) was having a nightmare with soaked bits of paper flying around and bodies crammed in trying to avoid the elements. The time schedule was made in the dry on Saturday having my class down for 6 laps of the ten mile course with two special tests thrown in, summed up to a hard days riding with the present conditions being like they were.
First check 1 lap in 50 minutes:
Set off on my minute without any drama unlike the previous round, which the check marshals just had to reminding me of, joking about giving me a 2 minute penalty to make up for it…you guys are too funny! Following Phil Boreham we headed off at a steady pace feeling our way through the conditions which were quite treacherous, coming to a stop every now and again with numerous bottlenecks on the hills, it’s about time SEEC started the Over 40 group before the Clubman!
There was a couple of little problems with the WRF, I was sure that the rear tyre was spinning on the rim as Phil was getting better traction coming out of grippy corners and every now and again I would hit the rev limiter without any increase in forward motion, or was it just the conditions? I was also having trouble selecting anything above 2nd gear, but I knew what that problem was having replaced the cracked OE gear changer with an aftermarket one meant for the YZ model, which did not allow the extra width from the WRF’s generator, I did bent it out on Saturday but must have moved back and was now fouling the cases.
With those couple of problems I decided to skip the test and carry on when Phil pulled in, this had the extra benefit of giving me some breathing room so I could ride at my own pace without being hampered and enjoy the track. You could split the track into 3 sections, the hills, mini Whales (very similar going) and the lower part which was deep very slippery mulch.
Come into the pits with plenty of time left to sort out my problems, I bent the gear changer back out, but I could do nothing about the rear tyre as my suspicion were accurate with one side of the tyre bead now residing on top of the rim lock, flat front and slipping rear… great!!
Second Check 1 lap in 45 minutes:
With the track feeling not as slippery as the first lap I was starting to enjoy it more, I was riding well and had a good rhythm going. Time to stop for my first test, plenty of little mistakes, overall not a bad time considering I had to take it easy on the throttle to avoid stressing the slipping rear tyre, did hit the limiter a couple of times though. Rest of the lap went without a hitch, bits of the course had been cut out and the technical stump filled climb was left in and remained until the end of the day, every lap when I approached it couldn’t help thinking “bugger it’s still here!”.
Third Check 1 lap in 40 minutes:
Having to do a lap in 40 and squeeze in a special test was going to be tight, if I had experienced a queue like my previous test it would have been touch and go. Lucky for me there were only a few riders in the queue, test went better than my first but only managed to cut a second off when most people cut chunks of theirs. Track was starting to dry out a little and I had no problem to get back to the check with a few minutes to spare.
Fourth Check 1 lap in 27 minutes (tight check):
I was informed at the time check that the last lap had been scrapped, at the time I was not to enthusiastic about it because I was feeling good about my riding. Following Mr TnT himself Mike Grounds (eventual class winner) tried to stay with him or at least keep him in sight, Phil Boreham had already dropped from my minute having suffered a puncture early on. We come across Lawrence Catt still riding the Yamaha IT 250 this time in the Expert class, we had our usual little dice, this time I come out on top as the terrain was not suiting the IT’s peaky power delivery. Course was getting rougher and I cannot remember if it started raining but grip levels seemed to be down. Arrived at mini Wales and started to make a few mistakes, losing Mike from my sight. I arrived at the check with a 7 minute loss and a slower lap time than my previous lap.
Fifth Check 1 lap in 40 minutes:
By this time it was raining hard again the track was slippery as hell, it was a hard enough job trying to keep the bike going in the right direction. I still had a good rhythm going until I got to mini Wales, dropped the bike a few times and picking the mud laden Yam from the ground just ate up my energy reserves, even managed to highside on a straight bit of fire road, Lawrence overtook me on “stump hill hell” never to be seen again. I managed to scrape in with a minute to spare and thank God the last lap was cut, it would have been a real struggle to get myself round one more time.
What can I say, brilliant event on arguably South East best bit of Enduro going, the rain making it in my opinion even better? Croydon MCC made a few good key decisions, cutting the last lap out and some sections of the course, you cannot fault them. With plenty of marshals to help the smooth running of the event, I hope most of them stayed on to take in the course because it was cold wet and miserable.
With Phil Boreham having a puncture and Joe Beard not riding because it was his home round, my result should elevate me to the lead of the SEEC Over 40 Championship. I’m now looking forward to the next round, Carshalton MCC June 7th at Tilgate.
Over 40 Championship Table after SEEC Round 4:
Manuel Bernardez: 49 points
Phil Boreham: 46 points
Joe Beard: 36 points