26/27 September Weavers Down
Been looking forward to the Natterjack for months especially as Si Beken was only starting a minute behind me, the plan was to ride together and not take it very seriously much like we did last year on Day 2, just riding round having a laugh, now I was carrying a injury my enthusiasm had wavered somewhat.
Left the bike preparation to my customary last minute taking Thursday off to make sure the bike was fettled to within an inch of its life. Replacing the head race bearings took hours and had to resort to grinding the lower ones out. The middle inlet valve needed another re-shim, can’t remember when I last did it but it must have been only a few months back, worrying to say the least. Had a bit of drama when the camshaft bearing holder fell into the engine, borrowing an extendable magnet from Si saved the day, otherwise it was going to be a engine out and upside down job.
Unlike last year I was actually ready for Simon to pick me up at the pre arranged time, the mild cold symptoms I had been suffering for the last few days had developed into full on snot rag clogging affair. We walked both test, the cross country had a nice 3ft wall right at the start with a chicken run bypassing it, not wanting to leave half of my bike embedded on the wall that was my chosen route, at the end of the test was another chicken route which avoided the bog that I got stuck in last year, another thing to avoid.
Michelle Cutler was calling out the rider’s numbers at the start while Barry Taylor was doing the MC’ing, even giving me a plug on the start line. I already decided in the morning not wear the helmet cam for the first lap so set off over Barry’s trailer to do the first loop. I was taking it relatively easy to allow Simon to catch-up not that he needs much help in that department while my group where going mad like it was the first lap in a Hare & Hounds. With a few miles under my belt I already started to suffer from lower backache, getting a nice sharp pain every time I had to yank the bars, which at Weavers you do often to keep the front light over the whoops, by the time I got to the motocross test it was having difficulty standing up, it was getting that bad.
Motocross test was fun as usual, the rider just ahead fell off around the woods quite near the test start, just catching him when he managed to get going again. No matter what I did just could not get past him, tried nice and wide lines only to bury the bike in the deep sand leaving him to gap me again. Near the end of the test Simon caught us both up, he was left with the same predicament but worse, trying to overtake someone that was trying to pass someone else. I gave it one last shot around a heavily banked corner going high when I though the chap was about to fall off, I was well chuffed that I didn’t drop it because it was bloody deep, instead did a half decent berm turn, still never did manage to ovetake him or Simon find a way past me, it was follow the leader until the light beams.
The next check was in my opinion the worst, this took you back to the pits via the Cross Country test, can’t remember much about it apart I did not enjoy it one little bit, the going just felt so rough and punishing. The Cross Country test was not timed on the first lap and you only had to ride it thank God because I took a few wrong turns from tape being down.
Now for the long loop over the road, most people say this is the worst part of the course but last year I did enjoy it, I was already a minute down because I was fluffing around the pits not paying much attention to the clock. Didn't take long before I started sitting down riding the edges to get a bit of releif from the relentless whoops, when the inevitable happened hitting a hidden stump going up a hill which sent me straight into a side cutting. I don’t know how I managed to hit my right leg so hard as the off was innocuous, it was feeling so dead that I could not even get up from the ground, yeah you probably would be laughing too!. When a rider showed up I had no option to get up as the WRF was blocking the track, boy was it painful getting my leg over the bike, hitting the starter nothing happened both wires had been stripped by the handguard rotating, I waited for over 5 minutes until there was more feeling and less pain before using the kick-starter. Rode the few miles back to the pits and sat down in a chair.... that was me done for the day. Had a look at the now very swollen leg which got whacked exactly where my femur exit scar is, a tangle of scar tissue and knotted muscle.
Simon put the bike in the Parc Ferme for me just in case a miracle happened so at least I could start Day 2, even with ice treatment and long soak in the bath did nothing to make my leg feel better. Limped around slowly on the Sunday watching the tests…might be back next year to give it another go because it's such a fantastic setup and deserves supporting.
There's a very good video made by Zade and the boys over at LFB Enduro Team, click the picture to head over there and buy it...Click Here to watch a preview in lightbox.