The mini heat wave was not enough to dry out Woodberry Lane for PMCRC first meeting of the year. Talking to both Shane Babey and Paul Easterbrook, they said the same things about the track, tight, technical and plenty of logs strewn around the place. Simon and I walked the first part of the course near the pits; the ground was tacky mud in places with about five log crossing in 200 meters, having ridden at Woodbury for many years this was a break from the normal flowing track layout, time to find out what it was like to ride.
My usual bad start left me near the back of the smaller than usual Clubman A group, picked one of round the first corners and a few more who attempted the uphill log and got stuck, the only obstacle that I utilised the “chicken route “every lap to save energy. The rest of the track was tight, lock to lock in places and like already mentioned logs of various sizes, copious amount of clutch and throttle work just to get round which made it very tiring, repeated stalling of the engine did not help matters. Route marking on the first lap was a bit iffy in places, which we were warned about at the riders meeting, but I am certain I rode 100% of the marked course and probably a bit more.
By the end of the third lap, the eventual top four of the ClubA’s Darren Lee (1st), Nick Baker (2nd) and Jamie Moller (4th) come past me all in one go when I stalled yet again. I had been following Nick for much of the lap until he let me pass, at that time I was struggling to keep up with him on the very tight stuff so very gentlemanly of him. Jamie and I swapped places a few times near the end; he seemed to be suffering with the same stalling ailment. After the check, I pulled over to turn up the idle and chase down Jamie who went past again, I must say I am impressed with the way Jamie has come on riding wise, very smooth and covers the ground quickly keeping up good momentum.
I was just starting to enjoy our little cat and mouse game through the lap riders when the clutch started to slip, gradually getting worse to the point I just about managed to finish the lap crawling in slowly. Pulled into the new “gasoline alley” and demonstrated to Malcolm Beken, Damon Lock and Dave ‘Kav’ by letting the bike tick over in second gear with the clutch out. I asked Damon to find me a pair of grips while I rode into the rest/working pits (new layout which I like) only to find five marshals using the gazebo to get out of the sun including their bikes. One marshal was sitting in the chair I specifically bought for Malcolm who is recovering from a foot operation lol. As Damon was already familiar with the workings of a Magura aftermarket hydraulic clutch having fitted one to his old CRF, it did not take us long working in tandem to strip all the shims to get some slack back. I was not sure this was going to be good enough to get any further life out of it but worth a shot.
Turns out it was, completing a further five exhausting laps with the clutch only slipping if I was abusing it or giving it to much gas. There was one muddy deep rutty section near the end, which was touch and go to get through causing it to heat up and slip badly, apart from that bit it cannot have been that bad as my fastest lap was number six, with a time that was still competitive for my group, nearly 19 minutes just to ride 4 miles. By lap 9, it was getting terminal and I limped back into gasoline alley and was going to wait for the clock to turn over just to get a finish, stopping next to Peter Moller and asking how much time was left? It had finished…YEEHAA!!
Thanks to PMCRC and everyone else involved, Paul, Lou & "jethro" for the pictures. From the rider feedback PMCRC received I think the next event will be a little more flowing, I will concur with that, because I have never seen so many riders laid up next to a course taking a break ...see you at the next checkpoint.
Results: 7th in class, 25th Overall (117 starters)
Next ride Normandy MCC at Bagshot, round 1 of the SEEC H & H Championship, April 17th.