Si and I got there early and went to walk the special test, which was some distance from the start; Lawrence Catt was already there and joined us, more talking than taking notice of the track ensued. We had ride the test timed on lap 1 & 2 and then it became part of the going for the rest of the sessions.
For Veteran B there was eight checks altogether of one lap each which dispelled one of my concerns, a multi lap sessions with no punch card to keep record of, nice and simple in theory. Some alterations were being made to lengthen the test by putting some extra corners just before the test finish all in deep sand. The test was looking good with a nice mix of terrain, a 'hard' route over a log some tight going in the woods, which lead to more open flowing tracks and a few tight turns into sandy gullies.
The riders on my minute for the day where going to be Shane Babey, Michael Strudwick and a rider I forgotten his name. Shane & Michael both have good pace on the going and the game plan was try to stick with them and put in some solid special test and hopefully get into the top 5, in particular beat Michael and close down the championship points gap between us.
If you never done a RAF Ardua before they have a different approach in timing the sessions from other SEEC clubs, as usual they start of slack and gradually tighten up making the last one the quick check, pacing yourself was going to be a key element specially on a hot muggy day like this Sunday turned out to be.
Session 1, 37 minutes:
The WRF now renamed Trigger’s Broom starts on the button and I head of first setting a fast pace to get the adrenalin going for the first test. Test went well going over the log feet up, the bike did give me a nice kick in the rear, my fault, as I have still not removed the hard rear spring (finally sorted now). In general, the going was technical, another word would be tight, understandable to maximise the lap length, After just one lap, I already had a little arm pump and was sweating buckets from the heat. I did think to myself seven more laps of this? You know, not even sure, this was going to be that enjoyable. The 21-minute 7th check looked doable, was having doubts if I could clean the eighth 19-minute check at this stage. I forgotten to take some painkillers for my wrist, which was feeling none too clever, lucky Shaun Smith had some in his pit box.
Session 2, 35 minutes:
Let Shane and Michael go first as I wanted to relax a little before the next test, arms not quite recovered from the first lap, heavy-duty clutch springs not helping matters. The first surprise or would that be shock was I struggled to stay with Shane and Michael especially on the tight going, they looked all feet up and tidy from my perspective, while I was sitting down already having to go all motocrossy just to keep them with in roost distance, on the faster stuff we were more evenly matched.
Second special test felt a little faster, made it over the log again this time sitting down and hitting it hard, I just can’t ride feet up over sections if I need to pull in the clutch with more than two fingers, results say I was 5 seconds slower, I have no idea where they went. Chris Stanger was parked up so I stopped to check if he was ok, the Husky suffering from electrical gremlins there was nothing I could do than inform the next travelling marshal, he did eventually get it going again with only minute left to make the check.
Sessions 3 32min, 4 28min, 5 26min, 6 23min:
Was starting to enjoy the track as I knew where it went and got a good rhythm going, my mind was made up to back it off until the 6th check and conserve a bit of energy. I could not keep up with Shane’s pace without using lots of energy and on slack checks there is little point, he did calm it down a little himself later on, it was fun just following him round. Michael I would say was setting the fastest pace of our minute. In-between checks I made sure to have a good drink of water polishing of three litres by the end of the day.
Session 7, 21 minutes:
Let Shane lead again and used him as a tow keeping Michael Strudwick within sight, Shane had a little off and I went pass him but he was soon back on my tail so I let him through, better than crashing due to trying too hard. Last half of the lap was getting busy with tired riders falling off in the most unfortunate places, easily done, as the track was getting rough by this stage, real rough! There were even two riders that went down together in the last few turns before the check blocking the track, made it in on time…just! Straight through after swiping the recorder and onto the last lap.
Session 8, 19 minutes:
Nothing much left in the tank just hanging in there for the finish. I was getting a little ragged, nearly had a few near offs as the front wheel dug into the soft sand, felt like I was hitting every bump root out there and probably was. Went pass Simon and Lawrence stopped on the course having what looked like a chat, gave them a shout, and smoothed out giving it some gas round the tight bit of woods, you know how it is. Made it in losing two minutes, all the other Vet B’s I talked to also lost the same so it was going to be settled on the test..I maybe was in with a shout.
I was a little sceptical that you could run a decent timecard enduro at Hogmoor being such a compact venue, thanks to the RAFMSA for a well-run event and imaginative course, they do not call it Ardua for nothing.
Special thanks to Rich & Erika from Team Snapper that have supplied all the excellent photos.
Next event possibly PMCRC 4th September, will be at the next SEEC Sidcup MCC on the 18th September for sure.