Every year the same thing seems to happen, a long layoff and my first "real" event being the Surrey Pol, always notoriously hard on the rider, having only clocked up a few hours on the seat since the Natterjack back in September. I was hoping to last a little longer than I did at the Muntjac (less than 30 minutes) and was confident the WRF electrical problems where now sorted…frankly could not wait to see what the big bore 290 was actually like to ride for more than 60 second stints.
Session 1, 2 laps in 60 minutes.
The bike started first crank and I got cleanly away letting Bernie Marcari take the lead. First little problem was the idle was hanging badly (common WRF problem) which pushed me into the corners, so I stopped to let the idle right down which lead to problem number 2, with the extra cc and high compression piston made it real easy to stall, not something I'm used to doing. Problem number 3, the rear brake was not working very affectedly as the pads and disc where new that might explain it, sure felt like the piston was getting pushed back in the calliper, as it would go all spongy on me if not in constant us. I was not going to let those little niggles spoil my day, time to put up and ride.
Surrey Pol used a lot of off-cambers and the course was quite technical mainly down to the ground being worn, all the climbs had an abundance of high-level roots to navigate around or go over, all good ridding in my books, places you could relax were few and far between. I planned to do my special test the next lap so with past experiences with Surrey Pol schedule times, best bet was to ride at the fastest pace maintainable, it was going to be a long day ridding.
Arriving on the special test on lap 2 still feeling rusty with only one rider in-front of me, used this opportunity to wack the idle right up so at least I would not stall on the test. Must say the test was excellent, tight stuff, fast stuff, ascents, decent, fire roads pretty much everything, most of the test was done with no throttle as she was screaming away on idle (overdone it a bit lol). Made a little mistake and got hooked up on a small bush on a tight corner before a climb, recording a time of 3:01. I arrived back to the check with about 10 minutes to spare after getting customary lost a few times, backtracking to pick up the arrows instead of following the natural flow of the track like you do.
Session 2, 2 laps in 60 minutes.
Same again, doing the special test on the second lap this time faced with a big queue, test went a little better, but there was places I felt there could have gone faster, still a 10-second improvement over my first test.
After the test the exhaust started blowing from what sounded like the manifold joint, made no difference to the performance. Missed the pit entrance and went straight into the waiting area before the yellow flags, on closer inspection the gasket had been blown out from the header/silencer joint, probably something to do with my homemade quiet insert producing too much backpressure and not having the right size exhaust clamp. Never did manage to get it all the way back in due to the heat of the pipe
Session 3, 3 laps 50 minutes.
First tight session and impossible to clean, Bernie gets through the check quicker and I need to find a way past ASAP. I would rather find out if he was quicker when behind me then let him through, made my move down a sandy downhill, him going to the left (the favoured line) and I to the right which was looser but had a natural sweep into the left hander, managed to just get ahead, it was tight but fair.
Got my head down for the next 2 laps by then the exhaust was blowing again and making pops and bangs on the over-run. On the 3rd lap the bike goes into reserve so I needed to pit before going through the check. Expert Joe Searchfield helps me fuel up..cheers mate! 12 minutes lost, averaged 20 minute per lap excluding fuel stop, not that I knew that at the time.
Session 4, 2 laps 45 minutes.
Session 5, 2 laps 35 minutes.
I was focused on looking for my number to come up on the screen that I forgot to take in what the time was, with no watch on the bike or timecard it was going to be pure guesswork arriving on schedule. By this time, fatigue started to seep in, was sitting down with arms and legs feeling heavy, and tired. My right knee started to give me the same sharp pain when forced to stand up on certain sections reminiscent of the Natterjack. Surely I must be going slower? Nope the results show me clocked in 3 minutes early AARGG!, I managed to keep up a pace of 21 minutes a lap, it felt a hell of a lot slower than 1 minute compared to the previous session.
Another impossible tight schedule and nothing I could do about it, completely cream crackered, the bike was now taking me for a ride, the extra stomp from the motor making progress decidedly jerky, everything from the controls to the centre of mass had gained a few pounds. Averaged 22 minutes per lap and another 9 minutes of penalties.
Had a good day, Surrey Pol did a mighty fine job of putting another twist to Bagshot, adding up all my actual riding time comes to 4:08:00, felt a lot longer than that though. The 290 kit on the Yam makes it a different bike to ride, don’t know if I like it yet still needs a bit more fettling, main reason for doing it was adding more bottom end stomp, in that department mission accomplished, not keen on the extra vibration numbing the hands, oh and I must get a watch. Deciding to ride VetB was a good call; I deliberated over it for a while, looking at the VetA results I made the right choice, most are on a complete different level. The pace gap between VetB winner Chris Stanger and I looks big, not sure I could reel it in but will try…see you at the next check point.
Result: 3rd place
Thanks to Teamsnapper for the lovely pics..next ride SEEC Kingston MCC at Blackwood.