I really wanted to give this one my best, those of you who have been following my blog will know this race was my first race, two years ago. I didn't have the best of luck that time so preparation was everything this time. My bike has had a good month of prep so I thought it was the best it could be and then it was my turn. I stayed off the beer for a week, didn't have any coffee for 18 hours and worked on my nutrition ie a 5 banana smoothie for breakfast with melon and coconut milk (coffee would have been my first choice)
It really makes a refreshing change to have a race on a Saturday that starts at 1pm. We arrived early and ate and drank more smoothies and ISO drinks. Chatted to people, Lowestoft invaders run this race to encourage new riders into the sport so there were loads of newbies wanting help and advice. It was nice to be able to pass on help and advice. We had a walk around part of the course, mainly the two bomb holes to see what awaited me. The furthest one had a tight off camber 90 degree turn around a small tree. I thought people may find this tricky if they didn't take it wide enough. Then a hard and easy route out. The easy route I thought could be harder than the hard route as it had two roots right across the top of it. The hard route was steep and had a couple of nasty little bumps at the bottom and a pronounced rut at the top. It was definitely the hard route for me, I don't like roots!
The second bomb hole had a steep entry and climb out of it with lots of trees at the top but there were two clear routes to follow. At the top was another hard and easy route. The hard route was over a log about two feet high, the easy route was a zig zag around trees and tape. It's good to see proper hard and easy routes where the easy routes do actually take a fair bit longer. You can tell that Lowestoft Invaders are predominenty a trials club because some of the hard stuff was HARD! And 90% of the travelling marshalls were on trials bikes.
On row one we had the experts and championship riders, on row two we had the under 40 clubmen, Row three was the over 40 clubmen and finally first time racers bringing up the rear. We warmed up our bikes and during this time I worked on my plan to get off the line quickly. I would start my bike in first gear with the clutch pulled and fire it into the first corner. This worked a treat I was the 3rd rider into the first corner! Which was a blessing because of the dust. As usual my first lap was more of a sighting lap and a lot of the riders I beat to the first corner were passing me which was ok as the field was thinning out and the dust wasn't too bad. It's a marathon not a sprint!
As predicted the first bomb hole caught a few people out and there were a few riders off trying to get around the tree. I also got quite a bit of air on the exit up the hard route. It was more stubble fields to a small sharp jump which no matter how hard you hit it your front wheel hit a rut on landing, bottoming the forks. With loads of sweeping corners across stubble fields to the second bomb hole. I dropped it to 1st and went in and nice and easily popped it up the other side no problems. At the top I decided on the easy route this was the zig zags and they were very tight you could just about turn a bike through them. Following this was lots more open stubble fields with a mix of sharp corners and fast sweeping corners. The first set of woods were tight and twisty with changes in the soil from firm to that dusty loamy shit (I don't like this stuff can you tell?) At times the trail wasn't wide enough to get your bars through and others you could open it up a little. There were 4 sets of woods on the course and I'm a little confused as to which order they were in now.
The memorable parts were going around a tree into a shallow dusty ditch to find a hard and easy route. What can I say about this? The hard route was over a fallen tree this tree must have been about three feet high!!!!! and I didn't see anyone even attempt it, not even the top boys. The easy route was around the the roots and over another fallen tree, this was about 8” high but it caused mayhem as you had to attack it straight on because it was like ice. Oh and there was an over hanging branch to contend with.
Another part that caught loads of people out was a fast little stretch of grass before entering some woods. I rode along it and there must have been half a dozen riders at the end some on their bikes and some not. At the end of it was a 90 degree left turn into the wood but the tape was down and it was like ice, I was locked up front and rear, overshot but stayed on.
Exiting one of the woods was a small ditch probably two feet wide and deep to the right was a small bridge I saw a few riders here.
For some reason they put sheets of ply wood across the two blue tape areas across foot paths!!!!! as you can guess these became a little slippery to say the least.
As already said first lap was a sighting lap so my second lap was pushing it a little more. I was thinking during this race and practiced what I have learnt in the past. I was pushing harder in the corners and practicing drifting. Precice wheel placement, pinning the throttle on the straights and braking later and later. I was also trying different things and lines. It is at this point I must apologise to Manny for taking the piss about his log crossing exploits because on my second lap I decided to give it a go in the second bomb hole. This didn't go quite as planned I got half way across and stopped and fell off sideways hitting my head against a tree and bruising my shoulder and forearm I didn't notice these til I got home. I must have hit my head really hard because I also have a swollen eye. A marshall posted there helped drag my bike across. Talk about you can't put it where it ain't, on my third lap I decided to give another go! Which was even less successful! I came up to the log dipped the clutch revved it and..............fired myself and my bike straight into it the front wheel didn't lift at all and my best memory of this was two marshalls there an old boy and a trials rider just standing there with their arms folded laughing their tits off at me. So I backed my bike up and re started it at this point they must have thought I was going to go the easy route but no! I was going at it again, I got the front wheel over and fell off again. This time it was just the old boy laughing at me but the younger one helped me drag the bike across.
I felt as though I was really pushing it, I was giving it everything through the gearbox and braking harder and harder. It was getting to the stage where two fingers on the lever just wasn't enough, it was a full four finger job and the braking forces were amazing! Those of you who know me know i'm not small in the shoulder department but christ my hands and shoulders felt like they were going to burst.
Just before the two hour mark I pitted, mainly because I was in desperate need of a drink and to check to see how much fuel I had used. I drank loads whilst Michelle refuelled the bike. I am stunned by this bike because I was ragging it for two hours, Sceaming it and it only used 5ltrs of fuel.
Another little memorable moment was coming out of the woods to the ditch with the bridge. Obviously going faster took me a little wide so I missed the bridge. So I went through the ditch, well that was the plan!!!!!! my front wheel went in and it was like hitting an unlit skip and I went straight over the handlebars! My bike was stuck, stood up on it's own axle deep in mud. I tried to get it out to no avail. A marshall came and tried to help but it was stuck fortunately another two marshalls turned up and together we got it out. I did say to the first marshall “did you see that” he just replied “yes” in between fits of laughter.
At the three hour mark I was tiring a little but still going well. It got to the 3 ½ hour mark and I was knackered, I thought to myself another 3 laps. Now I was tired I was starting to make mistakes overshooting corners, breaking through berms, hitting trees and all this with my bike now not ticking over. I had to change my riding style after the bike kept stalling as it wouldn't tick over. It took me 15 minutes to complete a lap so I only had one lap to do. Time management was important as the chequered flag comes out at 4 hours and if you pass the check before this you have to do another lap and they only take times after 4 hours which is the deciding factor for equal number of laps. I passed the flag plus about one minute over, So time management was spot on!
Now for the good the bad and the ugly!
Wow what can I say? I could go on and on.
Bike. It was awesome! It's light, it's really easy to start, easy to ride and sips fuel.
Me, well clean living really paid. I felt really good I got a small cramp in my left hand after stopping to refuel but that was it and it only lasted a few seconds.
Learnt a huge amount.
Must work on a couple of techniques.
Lost tick over.
Brake lever now comes back to the bars
Lack of power for Eastern Centre races
Still having trouble standing up when riding fast. Which I can now say is the handlebar risers so i'm going to try some standard bar clamps.
Having to wait so long for the results.
Lowestoft Invaders are an old school club and everything is really slow ie final instructions and numbers through on Tuesday before race.
Not a lot really, sump guard brackets bend when used properly. It was rattling like a good un from lap 2.
I'm going to need a new crash helmet soon. I keep taking chunks out of it.
Exhaust is dented to buggery
Need a new rear tyre do I go for another FIM or limit myself with a MX tyre?
Loads of funny bits like some young lad I assume he was a young lad or a malnourished adult over taking me three times on one lap only to crash each time. On one occasion crashing in the corner I used his rear wheel for traction as he was picking it up. Another was yet another young lad passing me at huge speed, around the next corner he was pulled over and shaking his arms. Arm pump aint it a bitch LOL! As I said earlier it's a marathon not a sprint.
The old boy laughing at me trying to get over that log.
The marshall falling off on the exit out of the first bomb hole and me shouting at him to hurry up whilst waiting.
The bike is gonna get some big love and TLC. I thrashed it good and proper, new brake fluid and pads, tyre etc.