Always look forward to ride at Blackwood, all the different bits of the puzzle to make a good event had been clicking in all week, the weather was looking good for the day, there had been bit of rain just before the event so the going should be perfect. I did a little fettling to the WRF’s carburation moving the needle a clip down and she was sounding sweet, Si had a noise meter on his mobile phone and recording 94db on tickover and 86db at about 6’000 rpm with my home made quiet insert, might even grind a bit more of it. The icing on the cake was Malcom Beken was going to look after us in the pits, both Simon and I clocked in early at the Surrey Pol costing us places, with Malcom there we could just concentrate on riding…perfect.
On arrival, we went to walk the test and what a test, same place last year but twice as long, real corker. The SEEC clubs this year are really pushing the boat out on who can put on the best event; this friendly rivalry is a great benefit to us the competitors. After all the formalities where done it was time to look at the schedule board, Veteran B were down for 5 laps with times the same as Clubman A until we got to session 4, then 2 minutes where taken of the VetB’s at each subsequent check, still looked like an easy day on paper. Then it was time to catch up with people and have my customary bacon roll before the off.
Session 1, 1 lap 50 minutes.
Because of number allocation, I would be starting with the Clubman A’s on my minute and then as my schedule splintered of starting with different clubman riders on session 4 onwards (Billy no mates). My starting buddies where, Matt Alexander, Witley’s up and coming young gun George Hayes (eventual ClubA winner) and Andrew Wiseman.
Matt got off the blocks first with me following, never seen him ride before from a competitor’s perspective and was impressed with the pace he was setting, fast from the gun. The going was greasy in places so just hanged back a little from the roost watching Matt kicking up leaves that still were masking the track. Have to be honest here, I was having a little trouble actually keeping to the foot wide ‘groove’, the WRF was shaking it’s head over the bumps as I like to run the yokes low to help with tighter cornering in expense of some stability. Matt stalled his bike over a log and I took the lead for a while until I stalled it round a corner, I waited for the rest of the riders to go past before setting off again and spent the rest of the lap being roosted by Andrew. We got back with loads of time to spare and already achieving my tight checks schedule, used this time to soften up the front suspension and down a Red Bull.
Session 2, 1 lap 45 minutes.
Time to do my first special test, which was right after the start, thought it would be wise to let young George go before me and the results bear that out. I was going quite well on the test loving the extra stomp the Yam now has, had to keep forcing myself from not looking down for stumps and look ahead instead several times… then hit one lol, sending me straight off the track towards a couple who were spectating. I then had to ride and turn on loads of crossed sticks, break some tape to get back on track, loosing valuable seconds. Bike stalled going into a bomb hole but managed to bump it while still moving apart from that very enjoyable.
First person I caught up with after the test was Andrew who continued to roost me just like the first session as I was following close trying to find a way to get past, not an easy task at Blackwood because of the speed and the high risk of moving off line, eventually found a spot safe enough. Got back to the check with just over 10 minutes to spare.
Session 3, 1 lap 40 minutes.
Bit of queuing before the test, time that was eating into my schedule. Test felt faster than my first up until stalling again going into the bomb hole, I have no idea why it choose there again to do it. Managed to bump it and then nearly spun out on the short track to the next bomb hole, which left me in a bit of a predicament to try and go over some ruts to straight her up and risk dropping it, or play safe and carry round in a circle..big circle it is.
Rode the rest of the check at a fast pace not knowing how much time I had left and made it in with a few minutes to spare.
Session 4, 1 lap 32 minutes.
Tight check so no hanging about, all I had to do is ride at the same pace I had been doing all day, nice and relaxed. It was all going smoothly until I managed to cross the bike up, the next second I hit the ground on my right side completely winded myself. One of those offs that slam you to the ground, my own arm crushing my unprotected rib cage. I was still trying to get myself of the ground when the next rider that comes along happened to be Simon, he kept saying “Are you alright” but I could not get any words out, struggled to my feet picked the bike up and nodded for Simon to ride on.
The right hand barkbuster was now pointing straight down and the forks had twisted in the yokes. Took me a few minutes to get my concentration back and adjust to the new skew-whiff front end. I let Vic Allen on his DT 125 special go past and watched him going bananas on it, top entertainment, though looked scary from where I was sitting.
Chris Stanger shouted that I had one minute left to the check time as I passed the pit entrance (cheers!) Malcom was at hand by the yellow flags to stop me from going through so I waited the 52 seconds for the clock to turn over.
Session 5, 1 lap 36 minutes.
Feeling rather second hand I just trail rode round getting out of peoples way. I was thankful that there was not another lap to do and it was an easy lap to limp round.
Little disappointed and surprised at the same time with the result, 5 seconds away from 3rd place. Was really enjoying the track until S4 and the power from the 290 kit, lost count the amount of times I tried to hook up another gear to find out I was already in top.
Special thanks to Malcom, Team Snapper for the pictures and Kingston MCC for a classy event.
Next ride should have been REME but I’m still suffering so will see what’s available before PMCRC RD1 on the 10th April.