Yes I am still alive and riding, main problem been so much riding that I could have spent a week writing all of it down. Taken the last 6 weeks off riding to let the pain in my right wrist calm down a bit, was going to take longer off but itchy feet and brain numbing boredom at weekends forced me back early.
Right to the event, all last minute decision made the day before, Si and I were just going to show up and get a late entry. Had a small job to do in the morning and the plan was to get home wash the Yamaha and swap out the recently purchased second-hand rear Ohlins shock for the standard YZF unit, or swap the springs over depending what I felt like at the time. The Ohlin’s having a spring fitted four steps stiffer for my weight giving it the ride comfort of a vintage tractor (some say it is one). All that went out the window, as it was so hot by mid-day I did nothing apart from given it a clean.
We got to Bagshot about 3pm and started to walk a little of the course first, sign-on and get the bikes scrutineered, then a short push to the very narrow start area which for me was the second row of the Vet’s, bikes already taking up the first row.
The heat from the sun had dwindled a little by the 6 o’clock start time and as the flag dropped, I got a half decent start top six maybe? The usual first lap mayhem and desperate riding issued, not by me I might add, was not long before a felt someone’s handlebars whacking my lower back. What had come apparently clear was the Yam’s clutch had started to slip a little on clutching out of corners again, recent plates and HD springs and still not up to containing the extra ponies from the 290cc kit.
I was riding in a nice long train, bit dusty but could have been a lot worse, my new chunky safety glasses doing a decent job. We got to a fireroad on the South side and there was bikes everywhere figuring out where to go next, bikes where spotted in the distance and everyone made a beeline towards them, lost a few places as I had to turn round. The person I was stuck behind was just a smidge off the pace and we were gradually losing the tow, by the time I got past there was clean going head and the checkpoint.
Now there was a train of riders behind me probably fast Clubman’s so I got my head down and see if they could stay with me, yep they could. Quick glance behind revealed number #42 (Gareth Hughes, Clubman winner) was on my tailpipe so I gave him some room to pass, waved a leg and no second invite was needed. Got to that same fireroad and the same thing happened..confusion, again everyone headed for the same place.
By lap 3 I was already catching and overtaking backmarkers, tried to round a tree with a loose rut lost my footing and dropped the bike that was the first time I felt pain in my wrist thanks to Simon’s painkillers. Picked the bike up and the clutch lever had taken a whack from a stump, carried on got to “that” fireroad and marshals where there directing us the right way. First time I rode the full track, we had been cutting out all the big hills..the best bits DOH!! Dropped it again going over log and the clutch perch broke away..double DOH!! Time to adapt the riding style, having no clutch was a bit of a hindrance to say the least but was getting round ok, the tight bits where a pain though, stalled a few times and getting going was tricky, finished the lap and carried on to lap number 4.
Was still enjoying the ride, being clutchless just made me concentrate, really had to think specially on slow turns that lead to steep loose hills were any momentum lost at the bottom could mean getting stuck, factoring the unpredictability of Sportsmen ahead to screw up your plans. Still stalled it a few times luckily in recoverable places, a little annoying seeing all those people go past you and having to do it all again. So it was a bit of a shock to be accused of cheating when arriving at the checkpoint by one of the REME guys, apparently they had a complaint from a rider that said they had to overtake me 3 times on the same lap. Well that just made me mad and I apologise now for the language used, made up my mind to just pack it in after the next lap..Damn wish I still had a working helmet cam or they used electronic timing, left me with no choice really, still pissed off about it now.