There was a knock at my door at 6 am on the Sunday; it was Elliot with a car load of his mates outside a little earlier than I anticipated. With Simon taking four bikes in his van we were going to be travelling heavy, already inside was Elliot Beken (the comeback kid) riding dads KTM 450 EXC and Si Beken KTM 250 EXC, perched on the bike rack was my Honda MTX 125 which was on loan to first timer Jesh Palmer (maybe Jesh should have worn my lucky Wally Palmer race shirt?...nah) and on the trailer we spent a few hours servicing on Saturday…you know like making a mudguard from a Peugeot door skin, was my Yamaha WRF 250.
45 minutes later we were ready to leave minus a passenger, Gary McCarthy with his legendary sense of direction or lack of it, was going to meet with us on the A3 services, driving his immaculate MK1 Golf, including Crew Chief Malcom Beken who always meets us there made it nine altogether.
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On arrival we started walking a bit of the course which was near enough the Ironman’s event run backwards, most of the time was spent telling Jesh on how to tackle certain obstacles and more importantly what not to do, which I don’t think helped much as he was looking more worried by the minute. With the formalities over and the bikes parked at the start line it was time to chill out and catch up with people.
At the start I got squeezed out into the second row when pushing the bike forward, not that it matters the WRF never fires first time anyway lately, I was still having a conversation with PMCRC supremo Shane when the flag dropped, managed to get away in about 10th place as the WRF fired up first kick. Interesting opening lap to say the least, in certain parts of the course the dust totally obscured the vision, I know my way round Woodberry haven ridden there enough times that the most sensible option is to hang back a little. Best moment was watching Elliot going over the bars finding a hidden ditch just off line, thankfully at low speed.
Got say I little thanks to Simon because the WRF suspension felt great, my Ohlins rear shock needed a service and with only a week to go I bought a second hand YZF unit from Ebay. On Saturday we set the front and back up by Si just sitting and bouncing the bike static. Cornering and straight line tracking over stutter bumps had greatly improved giving me the confidence to push hard and still be precise, also the power was getting down better over the bumps.
Most of the race was spent having an epic battle with Clare Taylor, not for the first time this year. After overtaking Clare on the fourth lap I tried to get as many riders between us by being uncharacteristic aggressive. I thought this tactic would just break her and she would just settle down to a rhythm, not so. The last bit of the course involved some tiring switch backs, it was rare occasion when I glanced back and did not see Clare a few corners behind or felt a bump when she was right on me.
Not looked at the clock once just kept pushing hard all race long not my usual settle down, get tired, second wind affair, I was a little surprised to see in the results my quickest lap was 11th out of 12, most of the 130 rider entry must have been in the pits or got vaporised because by that time I was begging for it to end, both arms and legs past the point of no return. On the last lap I managed to get badly hooked up on the logs neading some help from a spectator, that was me pretty much done after that, just about managing to bring it home.
Result: 7th Overall, 2nd in Clubman A.
Thanks to Team Snapper
Paul Eastbrook and "Jethro
for all the photographs.