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The Speedway Experience Hand Job!

It’s been a crazy period for myself and the rest of the gang; as you may have read in my recent blog, 2 Machs Motorcycles is fully open for business in Northwich, Cheshire (www.2machsmotorcycles.com). I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well received it’s been, work is starting to come in, that said the self-employed hair-loss program is starting to take effect now as I panic that work is running out and when the next job is going to come in!

So going back to business, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog properly. What can I say, I’m a bad man and I must be punished! A plan was hatched amongst a few racer friends at the Anglesey Grand last October for an end of season giggle taking part in a Speedway experience. I’d not fallen off anything two-wheeled since the velodrome wipe out incident as detailed previously, so figured I’d better try something new. As a life-long Speedway fan I’d always wanted to have a go and figured that with my off-road experience coupled with my ‘devastating’ speed on tarmac I was probably the best all round motorcyclist who had ever graced this earth! So it’d be a great way to show off my awesomeness. I got to work organising the day; a few calls later and we were booked into Scunthorpe Speedway in December to ride their 125 speedway bikes on the mini track.

Jo, Ted and I headed down the night before meeting up with Alasdair, Bush, Dom and his sponsor at the track the next morning. The top speed was about 25 mph, the track was basically a circle and there was a 7 year old kid making it look easy – how hard could it be? We got into the supplied gear, I think the last occupant of my stuff had died in it, probably shortly after tearing the knees out of the pants and busting the zip on the boots. A short briefing later and the first of us got out on track. Speedway is the sport that health and safety forgot, or rather hasn’t found yet. Push starting bikes on the track whilst others were still riding around, not one flag was used…. ever, but it made for an excellent day and was a breath of fresh air.

One of the first on track was the Duracell bunny that is TT racer Dominic Herbertson, taking to it like a duck to water he was starting to slide the rear almost instantly. Bush was also looking good, his motocross technique was working well. My turn came around, head full of advice but basically the best way to go about riding a Speedway bike is to forget everything you ever knew about riding bikes and start from scratch. With a steel shoe on your left foot you are effectively surfing along the ground, stood up with a motorbike between your legs, carrying your weight through your inside leg and the single outside footpeg. Once at a corner, you throw the bike sideways with the throttle, remembering to step your inside leg out and forwards as far as possible, ready to support the weight especially if the front wheel washes out. Sounds easy doesn’t it?! As mentioned the 7 year old kid on track was broadside everywhere and running rings around all of us.

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Forgetting almost everything I’d learned proved difficult and I was flat on my face within minutes, tipping the bike into the corner, apparently with my sliding foot too close to the bike and leaning the bike in too hard, the front wheel washed out. I hadn’t time even to get my hands out before landing on the deck and squashing my left hand underneath my knee. I got back on and within 5 minutes had the exact same crash again once again landing directly on top of my hand with my knee! I laughed it off and went for a rest! My hand felt really numb, on taking my glove off, it wasn’t looking pretty; some skin removal had taken place around the nail on my pinky. More alarmingly my hand had increased in size by about 50%. Suggestions that a trip to get an x-ray wouldn’t be a bad idea were instantly poo pooed – from personal experience, the only reason to go to hospital from a race track is if you have to be airlifted!

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I carried out the rest of the day and struggled my way around, I think deep down I didn’t want to smash my hand up any more than I already had so rode a little guarded. Speedway isn’t a sport where riding guarded works, commitment is the key. Dom and Bush were looking the best of the bunch and even had a four lap ‘race’ too which looked certain to end in disaster, but didn’t! Dom although looking the most aggressive was the only one of us who didn’t fall off. I crashed again before the day was out bringing my tally to three, I’m pretty sure Bush was on three crashes too and Alasdair had a couple. The surface wasn’t overly forgiving either, it could be compared to landing on gravelly tarmac and when wearing motocross clothing this leaves some impressive rash. All in all though a top day out, we were all up for more, Dom even wanted a go on the big track which really looks like a good way to crash – but faster! I reckon a summer replay beckons, apparently it’s easier to get the bikes to spin on the dustier surface and there is more grip from the front too so crashing is harder to achieve!

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Aside from this the Cheshire Oset Cup series is going really well with a nationwide record entry of 53 riders, all on electric trials bikes, at our last event. Although the weather was pretty horrible on the day, it seemed to be enjoyed by all. Ted, in particular, didn’t learn much about the finesse of throttle control but took to the ‘pin it to the stop and hold on’ technique. At one point he was stuck on a small slope, mid-section, throttle flat out. He glanced with a big grin on his face at the observer, at me, at one of the other parents then turned to look at the rooster tail coming off the rear tyre nodding in an ‘I made that’ type of satisfaction!! After the event Ted and I were chatting, I suggested that gently closing the throttle to find grip was the best thing to do when the rear wheel started to spin. Ted countered with a tale of when he’d watched me in the Wycombe trial late last year and I’d got stuck I had just spun the wheel and pushed. Errm yes well this isn’t about me son!!

Anyway I think that’s the news, as always I’ll keep the blog up to date with what’s happening, much more regularly obviously. Next up for me is another round of the Oset series in about 10 days time, or making a birthday cake for Jo, I’m not sure which is harder!

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
DIY SOS???

Well it’s official, I am self employed! Sorry I’ve been offline from the blog for a while, I have got loads of amusing stories to tell – all stored in the notes on my phone! I’ve just been a little distracted for the last few weeks so please bear with me and I’ll be adding a blog about my speedway experience day/hand smashing incident very shortly.

Deciding that I’d like to build up my own business. I left Infront Motorcycles and took on a brand new unit which is a stones throw from the Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich, Cheshire. Day one didn’t start overly well, picking up the keys on Friday afternoon, I stood in the empty unit for about five minutes wondering what the hell I was doing!! The following morning my Brother, Steve, was coming down to help me build a showroom within the empty unit. I opened the door and stepped in with a splash, the place looked like a scene from the Poseidon Adventure, an inch of water covered the whole of the 18m x 7m area. Rushing water could be heard, I waded my way around to the toilet locating the source to be a  jet of water blasting from the water main where the interior pipe fitting had popped off. What a great start! 3 hours, and very wet feet for Jo, Steve and I, later the water was all brushed out. Time for lunch!

Materials collected the “big build” began. Now I’ve done a bit of DIY in my time (yes Jo I am aware that plenty needs doing at home!). Building stud walls wasn’t something that had come into my skill set yet. Fortunately Steve and I bounced ideas off each other, or as it should be known, Steve suggested something I nodded and operated the chop saw!!

By the end of the day the framework of the walls was standing, plaster boarding took place on sunday. I cracked on with building the ceiling framework on Monday, with some help from Matt Barber (top job thanks Matt). Then went back that evening when Steve could help with more plaster boarding.

Several long days later and the shop was looking pretty good. My Dad took a holiday from his challenging lifestyle taking siestas in Spain to come and help. This was a big help too, although the cost of cream cakes was beginning to mount up as my Dad has a bit of a fetish for a vanilla slice! Jo painted the floor and we started to move my workshop stuff in so I could get some jobs started. As I type this, I am completely operational, the first couple of jobs have come in and my Oset bike stock has arrived. I’m just short of some shop fittings to display some clothing stock but I’ll get around to that soon!

So far it has been one huge outgoing, but I’m sure that with some effort and commitment that I can make it a success! Right at this moment in time though I don’t mind telling you that I am bricking it!! So please come on down and spread the word to your motorcycling friends. As regular readers of this blog will know I’m an honest, hardworking guy who is useless at self-promotion but I’ll do my absolute best at everything I put my hands to.

That’s the serious bit, as mentioned, an amusing blog will follow shortly!

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Message from Jo

A bit of a hijack here, sorry Mackers! I just wanted to say after your latest blog post how incredibly proud you have made Ted and I. I would not change a single thing. Thanks for all the memories.

Love Jo x

 Posted: November 23, 2014

Posted: November 23, 2014

Ian Mackman
Stripped off and Sliding down the Laminate…

With the racing season coming to a close, the nights drawing in and cycling home from work starting to get a bit dangerous I decided to book some time at the Manchester velodrome – great for keeping my hard earned summer fitness going in a safe environment. Three evening, hour-long, sessions were arranged. At the start of the first night I decided that I might as well work towards ‘accreditation’ which is the first step on the way to obtaining a race licence. Now I have no aspirations to become the next Chris Hoy but I figured that I may as well do something rather than just ride around, I am a bit of a goals man after all, everything needs a point with me!

So to the first session; on arrival I get my bike, on hire from the velodrome, and sit around in the centre of the track. Side glancing the other attendees whilst we await the coach turning up revealed that I wasn’t looking too out of place (although my cycling gear does make me look a bit like vacuum packed giblets!) The coach eventually showed up, offered very little in the way of instruction, forgot the only one of us whose name he actually asked and set us on our first laps. “Ride on the blue line until I say change” was essentially the only coaching offered! Myself and two others started off riding about a wheel length apart, setting a pretty easy pace on the mid-track blue line. I noticed a bit of commotion in the first turn, to find out later that someone from another group had crashed within 20 yards of setting off, putting his front teeth through his bottom lip in the process, ouch!

Eventually our ‘coach’ looked up and remembered that we were still lapping. “Change over next lap” came the instruction. Being second in the group I watched as the leader pulled up the bank and I set about riding at the front for a lap. At the end of the lap it was my turn, I glanced over my shoulder and rode up to the top of the banking in turn one. Looking down I counted two riders through, for this is how many I thought were behind me, and started riding back down the banking to join at the rear of the group. Just at this point I caught a glimpse of a third rider, someone else must’ve joined our group whilst we had been going around. As I was already making my way down the banking I had to add some opposite lock to the bars to avoid a collision. This, coupled with some reasonably lazy speed, washed the front tyre out! Assuming the crash position, of which I’m fairly well versed, I came sliding down the banking. On my way I collected the last man of the group and we both came sliding to the feet of ‘teeth through his lip’ guy, and the medics who were tending to him.

I jumped to my feet and offered a hand to the unlucky guy who I’d wiped out. “Totally my fault, sorry” I said in the process, he looked like he’d just been in a plane crash. White as a sheet and panting like a German shepherd, “Just give me a minute” came the reply. Clearly not a man used to falling off two wheeled machines. The paramedics were trying to get me to sit down too as I’d obviously be ‘in shock’. I kept my gob shut that this was pretty much an occupational hazard of mine and had been for the last sixteen years. Falling off at under 20mph wasn’t really something to get too bothered about. Although as I looked at the state of my skinned forearm the thought occurred to me that I’ve launched race bikes at the scenery at 80mph+ and received fewer injuries. I’d also melted a hole in my best cycling shorts, bugger! If you’d like to try this at home then crashing on the wooden boards of the velodrome is best reconstructed by stripping naked and launching yourself down your laminate flooring as fast as possible. It looks quite smooth but skin tends to grip to it and start to burn. I’m now sporting a large pickable scab on my right forearm. These people really should wear leathers or something, maybe a Dragon’s Den idea. Protective/breathable cycle wear, hhhmmm.

So back to motorbikes and the final round of the series, the Anglesey Grand. In typical fashion the engine wasn’t in the bike five days before the meeting! Having removed it after the last event, for a refresh, it sat as an ornament in the workshop until two weeks before the Grand. At this point we figured it best to get it to RLR Motorsport where on stripping it was discovered that Suzuki were out of stock of the correct conrods! A massive job, obtaining the right bits in time, then ensued with it all coming together on the Thursday before loading the bike into the van and heading off to run it in at the trackday on Friday. Having also not ridden a race bike for three months this wasn’t the best preparation!

The meeting overall went well and the weather turned out better than expected for the venue/time of the year. I struggled with chatter from the front end, swapping springs, oil levels and many damping adjustments. Eventually a softer tyre compound made the biggest improvement. Adam Jenkinson, British championship front runner, was one of a few potential winners. Johnny Blackshaw, myself and David Jones had battled the Wirral 100 championships out all year and all fancied our chances too. I had some good rides, even briefly managing to pass and lead Adam in one of the Powerbike heats. My results on the Saturday saw me win the Powerbike Championship, which was good news. It’s been a good season with some great racing and I was pleased to come out as the winner.

Sunday’s races went well, Adam Jenkinson won both Anglesey Grand legs to take the overall win. I gambled a bit on a softer rear tyre than I’d used in the earlier races, struggling to match the pace I hoped that this would bring me closer. Which it did, for seven laps at which point the grip level dropped off and I started practicing my sideways riding whilst watching Adam and Johnny drift away. The second leg was a bit of a formality after that but with the harder rear tyre back in I hung onto the leaders for longer, setting my best time of the weekend to take a second place. The aggregate result of the two legs left me third overall but it had been a good weekend’s racing which, after everything, is what it’s all about. I lined up on the grid for the final senior open race, leading this championship too I just needed to finish to guarantee the championship win. Setting off for the warm up lap the bike spluttered at 8000 rpm and wouldn’t pull through it. The universal ‘turn it off and back on again’ fix for everything didn’t work and I was forced to pull out after the warm up lap. Later the fault was traced to a sticking throttle flap and was fairly easily sorted. I stood watching the final race, the end result of which meant that I sealed the senior open title too.

A good end to the season and probably my last one racing. I’ve been slowly winding down my racing career, only competing in three short circuit events alongside the TT this year. I decided at the TT this year that it would be my last one as a competitor. I love the place, the event and everything about it and I wouldn’t deter anyone from doing it. As we all know you never know what life is going to deal you next. You could choke on a peanut/get hit by a bus tomorrow but with a young family I just can’t taunt it any longer. I broke the 125mph barrier this year, a personal goal of mine, my sector times show that a mid-126 is on the cards but if I don’t stop now there will always be another goal to chase. I know all too well what I’m like! Nobody wants to be the guy that didn’t know when to stop. The consequences of me not coming back to my caravan at the end of the race are just unbearable. I love racing and it’s given me, and my family, so much but I just don’t live for it like I used to, so why risk everything doing it? Like any good gambler I think you need to know when to walk away, happy with what you’ve achieved. I’m also not exactly getting rich racing bikes, quite the opposite in fact, and I feel that the time has come to sort the rest of my life/finances out. I wouldn’t swap any of it, the experiences, stories and friends I’ve met along the way will stay with me forever. Although if I could wind back the clock I would certainly reconsider my entry speed into turn three at Anglesey on September 13th 2009! Which coincidentally is the last time my shoulders were symmetrical and I could feel all of the skin on my back! Would I like to live in a big house in a nice area? Yes! Would I swap that for the life that I’ve had racing bikes…never!

And talking of the TT, thanks to Barry Clay who sent me this great shot from this year:

I obviously plan to stay involved, on-track instruction is an area that I am really keen to expand on next season. Alongside helping out the rising star that is Dom Herbertson in any way that I can, which doesn’t include financially! Obviously if someone comes along with a 250GP bike and let’s me do a few races on it then I’d jump at the chance! I loved my years in the Aprilia RS250 challenge by my biggest regret is that I never raced a proper GP two stroke!

The Oset electric trials that myself and Jo have been running are going great, 32 kids rode in our last event, and it’s really satisfying to see them all enjoying themselves. The electric side of the event actually outnumbered the petrol adult event at the the last trial!

Next up on my venture to crash as many two wheeled machines as possible before 2014 is out is a speedway experience day at Scunthorpe in December.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Big Mountain

Big Mountain’s reggae classic ‘Baby I love your way’ rings through my mind and for a moment it’s 1994. I’m back in the Princes Risborough Youth Club’s disco wearing bell bottom jeans, ‘avec’ turn ups, have curtains for a fringe and there’s a crap smoke machine making everyone choke. As my bleary eyes open I see 4.29am blink onto the source of the music my phone screen. I really must change that playlist as I obviously never listen to reggae from 1994 anymore! I crawl my way out of bed as the reality strikes that I do actually have to get up at this hour for a fun 6hr cycle ride. Yes folks this the big one, the Etape Cymru, an 85 mile closed roads cycling sportive around the hills of north Wales.

I’d ridden the Manchester 100 mile a couple of weeks before, raising £100 for charity in the process, thanks to all who donated and shame on you to those who didn’t! The Manchester ride was longer but much flatter taking in only 3500 feet of climbing; the Etape ascends for 9500 feet in a slightly shorter distance. I’d been nervous about this upcoming ride, as I’d never really done a great deal of climbing and basically weigh about 2 stone more than I should have to drag up a hill! Eventually upright, I head into the bathroom for some cream application to my ‘sensitive’ areas. Followed by donning the lycra outfit, a quick breakfast, load up and I’m heading off the drive for Bangor-on-Dee racecourse in Wrexham before 5am, giving myself plenty of time to get there as some of the roads would be closing around the start area before my scheduled start time of 7.03am.

Parked up, before the sunrise, I headed off to find coffee in the startline ‘village’. The public address system DJ was doing nothing for anyone with an ounce of doubt in their mind. Continuously talking about the massive climbs of the Horseshoe Pass, the Shelf and the World’s End. I sat down with my coffee as one of the first arrivals of the 2000 others who would be taking part the place was fairly empty. Welsh rugby player Gareth Jones was sitting across from me, as the celebrity on the ride, he wasn’t having such a peaceful time as I. “Glad I’m not famous” I thought, as a producer type person fussed around telling him what and when all that was about to happen. I sloped around for a bit, noted from a rider list on the wall that I would be starting in the second wave. Which probably meant that I had over estimated my cycling ability when filling out my expected completion time on the entry form! Heading back to the van to get into my kit it was just about dawn and still pretty cold.

Despite a delay to the start, after getting chatting, I still managed to miss my wave and ended up going off with the third group away. In previous cycling events that I’ve ridden I’ve kept myself to a strict pace so that I don’t blow up too soon into the ride. Keeping my heart rate below 150bpm always appears to work well for me. As always this is a massive display of self control on my part, as riders steamed it past me on all sides, I appeared to get quickly ejected out of the back of my group. The temptation to go all out and get to the front was really difficult to subdue, having spent most of my adult life trying to get to the front of a racing pack! The competitive voices within were silenced as the broken record within chanted “Cycling is just for fun, it’s not a race for me, keep to the plan and get to the end!” So I stuck to the plan keeping a steady pace, basically the road was either going up or down there was no flat anywhere!

After 20 miles the ‘King of the mountain’ section started at the bottom of the Horseshoe pass. This was a timed sector and the fastest rider of the day to the summit received a Festina watch. This challenge was so far off my priority list that it wasn’t even a consideration for me. Despite the fact that the guy who won the prize did it faster than some motorcycles I’ve owned could manage! I settled myself into a pace and to be honest, with all of the fuss I’d heard about the Horseshoe pass, I expected it to be harder. It is just a long steady climb, the corners ramp up a little but only for a few hundred yards. I rode alongside another guy, who was breathing slightly heavier than I was, as we approached the summit finish line I quipped “I’ve just got to stop and pick up my new watch”! He replied “Sod off I’m having it” and with two big strokes of the pedals got his wheel in front over the line. We both had a laugh, pleased to have gotten to the top without any major incident.

The descent was great; after we passed the Ponderosa café the completely closed road pointed down and went around some great bends. Head down I hit somewhere around 40mph which is a bit of a thrill and slightly scary on a bicycle if I’m honest. Jo met me at the bottom and we swapped drinks bottles. I was still feeling pretty good, safe in the knowledge that the worst of the climbs was over, or so I thought. “The Shelf” followed a bit further into the ride I didn’t realise until I was half way up and the incline wasn’t relenting that I was on it. Once again set my pace to make sure that I got over the top. Some of the descents were a bit dodgy with broken up road surfaces and potholes but the dangerous bits had been marked by the organisers. I took my time when the going got rough, I’m not exactly a stranger to the odd two wheeled crash but falling off a bicycle at 30mph whilst wearing what is essentially a leotard is not something that was on my agenda. I did come across one fellow rider and his mates dragging his bike out of the hedge on a tight downhill turn so I guess others weren’t as cautious.

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I met Jo for the last time of the ride at the 60 mile point, just outside of Coed Poeth the highest village in Wales apparently. By this point I was starting to feel the effects of the climb and my thighs were beginning to stiffen up. As, for the first time in the ride, I knew geographically where I was I guessed that I’d done the ‘World’s End” climb without realising. I said to Jo “Please tell me that the worst of the climbing is over, I don’t care if it isn’t just tell me that it is”. A nearby spectator chuckled. “I guess that means that the World’s End is still to come?” I directed to him and he nodded in reply! Apparently as I rode away the same spectator said to Jo “I didn’t want to say anything but you see up there” gesturing to the top of a nearby mountain, “that’s where he’s going!”

The road turned sharply around a hairpin right as I noted the sign for the World’s End. It wasn’t wrong, the incline hit something like 20% instantly. I went to stand up on the pedals to keep some sort of momentum going but a muscle in the tops of both of my thighs almost locked my legs solid. Now there’s probably some long winded latin name for whatever muscle this was but bugger me, it was hurting. I just sat down in the saddle and kept turning the pedals through some sort of cramp in both legs. At an amazing 3.5mph I kept putting less and less pressure on knowing that if I stopped I’d not be able to get moving again. I was also conscious that, if one of my legs did seize up, I’d need to twist my foot out of the pedal clips pretty quickly or I’d end up face down on the tarmac looking like a right tit. Eventually whatever was burning/tearing/breaking in my thighs calmed down and the incline tailed off slightly. The climb kept going for another mile or so but I was settled into a pace making it to the summit and to a great view, what an amazing place to go cycling. The descent was pretty gravel rashed and potholed, I took it easy and everyone walked through a slippery ford near the bottom of the hill.

The final 10 miles were pretty much downhill all the way. I picked up the pace for the last few miles and clung onto the back of a group who were pushing about 23mph for a decent spell until my calves started cramping up forcing me to slow down and stretch them out! Crossing the finish line in a time of 6hrs and 4 minutes, this was my slowest ever sportive at an average speed of 14.1mph. Almost instantly a text message pinged onto my phone giving me my finishing time. Looking later at the results I had finished 654th so was in the top 1/3rd which I was happy enough with considering the Cheshire plains aren’t exactly a climbing cyclist’s training ground.

Jo, Ted and Ann met me at the finish, the organisers dished out some free coconut water, which incidently is gross so it was no wonder that they were giving it away. I still drank it though as it was something different than the energy drinks I’d been having for the last 6 hours! I ate most of the food from Jo’s packed lunch on the journey home and had a very gentle walk around the local park before becoming comatosed on the sofa in the early evening. All in all a great event, the weather was perfect and the scenery spectacular. I’ll definitely ride it again next year, with some more hill climbing training I could even do it slightly faster!

On the racing front things have been fairly static as I’ve not ridden since the last Wirral 100 meeting in June. Having taken the engine out of the bike, to get it refreshed, it’s been a nice looking ornament in the workshop for two months. With a huge workload and Manx GP tyre support to attend, getting it to RLR Motorsport hasn’t been top of the list. Eventually we got it down there and once it’s back I’ll get it back in the frame and prepped ready for my last meeting of the year at the Anglesey Grand.
As always I’ll keep you posted.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Bonkers?

Since my last blog, racing has tailed off a bit so with not much happening for a couple of months my attention turned to cycling once more. I’d still been keeping up with a couple of rides a week to work and back, iPod on for the 19 mile scenic route running through the same old playlist. For those out there who haven’t seen Disney’s latest film ‘Frozen’ I can recite the script/soundtrack with ease (please stay behind after class for the full rendition). With young Ted being at nursery if you’re not into Frozen you’re nobody! I reckon I’m up to about 8 viewings of the film and the soundtrack is on permanent repeat in the car. So it was no surprise as I’m turning the pedals up a steep (well not that steep really but it seemed it to me) climb out of Frodsham that the headline song burst into my headphones ‘Let It Go’. Not only did I leave it to play but actually found myself singing along. Now I don’t claim to have ever been badass but singing along to Disney, what exactly has happened to my life?

As my 35th birthday approached I found myself tuning into Radio 2 for longer and longer each day, no longer able to stand the dance/trance/teenie bopper junk that Radio 1 air to the world. I also have stuff like Meatloaf on my iPod, music that I wouldn’t have dreamt of listening to ten years ago even though it was in existence. I can only conclude that I must be officially old.

Dave Read, a member of the Warrington motor club and also a keen cyclist suggested that I meet up with him and his mate Colin on a Wednesday night for the local cycling club’s ten mile time trial. It seemed like a great idea, at the time, I didn’t really know what to expect but going along with a couple of other blokes would be better than turning up like Billy no mates. Meeting at Dave’s house we rode the six miles to the start of the event at Shakerley Mere near Knutsford. Signed on and £3 fee paid we pinned our numbers on and had a look around at some of the other competitors. Some were on full on knife edged time trial bikes and wearing aerodynamic helmets looking like something out of Tron. Many were just on road bikes like us and the atmosphere was pretty relaxed. Some had, but I hadn’t, gone as far as shaving their legs. I figured that enough hair had dropped from my receding hairline to counteract the amount of drag that my hairy legs might be providing.

The bikes start at one minute intervals, you sit on the chalked line on the road feet clipped into the pedals with a start marshal holding the bike up. In a nutshell they count you down from ten seconds, push you off and you pedal as hard as possible for the next ten miles! I was slightly concerned that I might get lost to be honest, not knowing the area very well and various people chipping in with landmarks and directions was adding to my confusion. I figured that I’d just follow the guy in front anyway. So the count down began, a push off the line and I was on my way. Within 3 minutes I decided that I must be pushing too hard. I was breathing like a man dying and my heart rate monitor was reading numbers greater than I’d ever seen before. I didn’t want to bonk (cycling term) halfway around the course so figured I’d better pace it out a bit better. In cycling terms bonking is what happens when you run out of energy and have to eat/drink to fuel yourself to carry on. Where I come from bonking means something completely different!

Dave had gone off a minute ahead of me, being 18 years my senior I secretly hoped that I could catch him up or at least make some ground on him. At the three mile point I was starting to wonder why the hell I was putting myself through this. Jo and Ted had parked up to cheer me on, Ted was cheering and waving, Jo was shaking her head and looking at her watch. “Two minutes” she said as I passed which I guessed was the time that I was now behind Dave! Colin, who set off a minute behind me, flew passed me shortly afterwards head down and seemingly the only thing moving on man and machine were the wheels, the pedals and his legs. I, in total contrast, was weaving and nodding like West Tip getting a whipping from Richard Dunwoody entering the final furlong at Aintree.  Another rider overtook me looking smooth and fast, I guessed that the next one to come by would either have a shopping basket or be a ten year old on a BMX! I nearly missed the turning off the A50, just catching a glimpse of Bradley Wiggins (well the speed he was going it must’ve been him), who had passed me earlier, showed me the way to go. A slight downhill section was welcome and I got my head down, thighs burning and I was start to count the miles down to the finish!

My aim had been to finish in under 30 minutes (or 20mph average), I aim for this time regularly on my journey to work but it rarely happens, from my onboard speedo it was looking like it might. An uphill section for the last mile was a real killer, especially as for the last 300 yards it climbed steeper over a motorway bridge. I crossed the line, after not pedalling for half of the down slope, to finish at 28 minutes 30 seconds. 18 seconds slower than Dave, bugger! The fastest guys, who obviously must’ve been holding onto the passing cars or something, finished five minutes faster! Five minutes, where is that amount of time? I scanned the results to make sure that I wasn’t last! I had beaten three people of the 22 who ran, and one of them was a man! By the time I’d calmed my breathing back down I’d decided that I had actually enjoyed myself! During the ride I possibly wasn’t quite convinced but I now find myself addicted to going faster!

I upped my weekly cycling mileage for the following week, to about 150 and arrived at the Mere knowing the route and how much pain to expect – I must be able to do this quicker I convinced myself! Dave set off behind me this time, Colin was absent after breaking his collarbone in a fun cycling event at the weekend, bloody dangerous this cycling! Knowing where I was going, where the slopes were etc helped me no end this time. I ran a slightly faster time for the first section of course and aimed on keeping my speed above 22mph as much as possible throughout. I knew things were going better and I actually passed three others on the road. The pain really started to set in for that last mile, but I kept my head down knowing the distance to the finish this time – crossing the line in a time of 27min 40secs. Almost a minute faster than the previous week and actually feeling less knackered too. Dave was stood at the finish which confused me as he had set off behind me and hadn’t passed me on the road. As it turned out one of his pedals had fallen off during the ride and he had to get a lift back! I scanned the results again and was pleasantly surprised to have finished 10th out of 24. Dave got a lift home and I rode the 18 miles home after the event in what ended up being a hard day. Working on motorbikes all day, warming up during the 6 mile ride to the start, 10 miles flat out, then 18 miles home I was ready for dinner when I got in that was for sure! No bonking for me!!

I’ve now put an entry for the Manchester 100 mile cycle ride (August 31st), I’m doing it in aid of a charity called Joining Jack who are attempting to raise £100,000 in the event. They hope to get 1000 people each to raise £100. I’ve never used his blog to beg before, as it’s not something that’s in my genetic make up, but please if you like what you read then you can easily donate by following this link.

https://www.justgiving.com/Ian-Mackman/

To date I’ve raised absolutely bugger all, so it would be nice to actually be able to donate something to the cause at the end of the ride!

After this I’ve entered the mid-September Etape Cymru, which is an 85 mile cycle ride taking in some enormous climbs in North Wales, the Horseshoe pass being the one of most note. I really don’t know what I’ve let myself in for as I’m more your steam it along the flat kind of rider, than a climber, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to complete the course.

As always I’ll keep you posted.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Shotguns and Cheese!

With the TT over, James and I stepped back into the Infront Motorcycles unit on Monday morning and the TT blues really hit hard. Neither of us were really feeling it for the first couple of days to be honest. Things have picked up since then and once again we are flat out building race bikes, maintaining road bikes, swearing and laughing.

With the Wirral 100 meeting only a couple of weeks after the TT, I had all sorts of plans to get the bike prepped and ready to race. As normal, with work building up, the race bike took a back seat and I finally got around to wiping the flies off from the Senior and carrying out a few token repairs on the Wednesday evening before loading the bike up on Thursday! Another TT racer, Dom Herbertson, was set to ride the IFM superstock bike.

Dom had impressed us at the TT, taking bronze replicas and 117mph+ laps in his first TT riding his own superstock Kawasaki ZX6. He is a young lad, from the north east, who like most racers needs some support. He is also a great story teller probably as a result of working in the forest as a lumberjack every day; once he’s got company without ear defenders on he just goes for it! Apparently Byker Grove is a real place, although from the sound of things it’s not the sort of place you’d go for a quiet pint! The most memorable of his stories from the TT has to be about his holiday to America as a child, where he was shocked at the enormity of everything. Most notably the superstores where the cheese aisle sits right next to the shotguns aisle! I can see how this would leave a mark on an impressionable young English lad, I mean you wouldn’t get that at Tesco, and I’m pretty sure not even at Tesco Extra! Ever since this recollection was aired young Ted now keeps piping up at random times of the day “Shotguns….Cheese”.

So after staying at the unit to finish a customer’s track bike build on Thursday night until 10.25pm (needs must) James and I set off for Anglesey that night. For Friday’s practice session I’d been asked by Ricky Leddy of RLR Motorsport to run a couple of his classic TT Suzuki GSXR750 machines. Ricky had built the bikes from the ground up to run at the event during the Manx GP. Paul Shoesmith is set to ride one, with Dan Kneen on the other. It would be an experience for me having not ridden a race bike with carbs since 2004 on my ZXR400. With my head full of instructions, “Don’t just bang the throttle open it’s got flat slides”, “Don’t stall it there’s no starter motor” etc, I headed down pitlane for the first time.

Not that it’s obvious just walking the streets but mankind must have evolved since the early nineties. People must’ve had really long arms and really short legs back then as bikes of this era have a massive reach to the handlebars and a short one to the pegs! I don’t remember people’s knuckle dragging back then but I guess they must have! Squeezing my seemingly hugely long legs on I set about riding a few laps. I was pleasantly surprised –  always a fan of early sports bikes (I restored and ride a RD350LC remember) a few laps in and some changes to the bike beckoned, softly sprung suspension was stiffened up and gearing altered.

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After a couple more sessions the bike was now feeling like a race bike, riding underneath and around the trackday gang with their modern sports rockets on a bike old enough to remember when ‘Everything I do I do it for you’ spent 16 weeks at number one was quite a satisfying experience! All in all, a successful run out for the RLR bikes, hopefully I’ve given Ricky a direction to go in for their next outing in a few weeks before they head to the Manx. I managed to get a couple of sessions on the IFM superbike too. I had a bit of trouble with a binding and overheating brake, not a surprise given the rushed preparations, oops! A caliper strip and new brake lines for Saturday’s races sorted the problem.

Dom’s inaugral ride on the superstock bike didn’t start so well. Coming back from the riders’ briefing on Friday morning his tyre warmers hadn’t been on for long but the sighting laps were about to get underway. Rushing about, knowing that these laps are important to the organisers for insurance purposes etc he jumped on board full of youthful exuberance. Riding out of the pitlane and tipping into the right handed hairpin of “the banking” on a closed throttle at low speed, the rear, cold tyre cried ‘enough!’ Coming around broadside at first, then gripping and highsiding Dom into the scenery and the bike onto its left side. I don’t think anyone could’ve been as hard on Dom as he was on himself. He obviously had to put up with some piss taking, which was deserved; crashing 200 yards after joining the circuit in mostly male company it’s the only outcome to expect.

I got in from the session and searched all over the place, eventually finding Dom I slapped him on the back turned that frown upside down and we got to work fixing the bike. As I tell Ted, if you fall off you must get straight back on! The bike wasn’t too bad, some cosmetic damage, a bent handlebar and snapped footpeg –  it didn’t take much to get it mobile again. We both had a good day from here on in, I got to watch one of the sessions while changes were being made to the classic bike and Dom was looking smooth and fast.

Saturday’s weather was almost perfect for racing, if anything a bit on the hot side. I came in after the qualifying session with not a good word to say. The bike was chattering from the front as I released the brake in the mid-corner. “It won’t do this, I can’t do that blah blah blah” I moaned, although I quietened down a bit when a time sheet was thrust in my face and I was on pole! That aside though if the bike isn’t right then it can be adjusted to go faster, it doesn’t matter where you are in the grid if you know it can be improved. The times were good and there were three of us at the front who were going well; myself, Johnny Blackshaw and David Jones. I was keen on beating the lap times that we were running at the Wirral 100 meeting in March. We had been close to the lap record for the Coastal circuit and I think all of us had our eyes on bagging that.

We had three close races, everyone had a turn at the front. I pushed hard but kept coming up short of the record by half a second. Johnny had a couple of fastest laps, David rode well although lost the front while leading in the senior open at the end of the first day. Johnny crashed in the same race at the first corner leaving me out on my own. I figured I must be the last man standing when I saw all these riders emerging from the barriers during the slowing down lap! Three wins from three starts was a good way to get back into short circuit racing but ultimately the best thing was that there was some top competition and good close racing too. Dom was running well bagging 6th and 7th places, he was bouncing off the walls, great results for his first time on the bike. Not forgetting that he had crashed the day before- none of us let him forget that and we probably never will!

Sunday’s racing took place on the International circuit. Again the main goal was to beat the lap record set by yours truly at last year’s Anglesey Grand. James, myself and Ricky Leddy had slowly been making progress with the chatter from the front wheel. Although it had never really gone away, having spoken to several other riders it would appear that I wasn’t alone with this problem. I now wonder if the circuit is beginning to get bumpier, with car meetings and trackdays on the increase here it could just be the rippling effect that the cars have in the braking areas causing the problems. Anyway the problem was one which others were also having so basically I needed to just get hold of it and make it have it!

I won the first race after a battle with David, still the lap times were half a second short of the record. Johnny beat me to the first corner in the second race, I got a run around the flat out sweeper and made a pass into Rocket, the bike was slightly broadside though! Running wide Johnny got back by me and I had no answer to him, covering the passing line on the final laps I crossed the line 0.1secs behind in what was the best race of the day. I finally made a decent start in the last race of the day getting the hole shot I stuck my head down and went for that lap time. The bike, by this point, was riding great. On the brakes, into the last ninety degree left hander, the rear wheel hangs out with just a touch of the clutch as I tip the bike in to bring it back into line and hit the apex… Perfect. I still didn’t manage to break the record and am starting to wonder how I ever went that fast! I now have a great handling bike with 25 more horsepower and am consistently half a second off, Doh! Dom set some impressive times for only his second time at the circuit and first time on the big bike.

Next up for me is a cycling club’s ten mile time trial which a friend has got me involved with. I have no idea what to expect but he says I won’t look like a weirdo so that’s good. I’ve also got another Oset electric trial to organise and run on July 6th. As always keep an eye on the blog for the updates.

Mackers. #30

And finally: this got uploaded onto my Facebook by Phil Windrum. I reckon it needs a caption like “strawberry blonde actually”….

Ian Mackman
Senior Race Report

Thursday was spent waiting for most of the day whilst the (postponed) sidecar race was completed after a further weather related delay in the morning. We had a single lap of practice scheduled for the afternoon on the superbike for the Senior race on Friday. I set off from the line next to John McGuinness, which was great as it’d give me a chance to follow and learn from the master even if only for a few miles before he buggered off into the distance. I followed John, losing a few tenths at Ballagarey, and was still with him at Greeba Bridge (around eight miles into the course). As I pulled on the bars to change direction in the high speed section running through Greeba one of the handlebars moved slightly on the fork leg. I pulled up at Ballacraine, knowing that I couldn’t finish the lap like this. Once stopped I had a go at moving the bar back. Even breaking out the gun show I was unable to move the bar highlighting how hard the rider has to work to turn a bike around here.

The marshal let me through the fence and gave me some directions on how to get back on open roads. Amazing that I’ve been coming here for eight years and still only really know my way around the course, the rest of the Island’s roads remain a complete mystery to me! I got a few odd looks riding along Douglas Prom on the superbike, having to keep turning it off in the heavy traffic – no cooling fans here folks! Getting back to the race truck, James immediately practiced the rear wheel change in preparation for the blue riband Senior race set for Friday. A top job, wheel changed in under 40 seconds, gave us all some confidence for the next day’s race.

Blue skies and great weather greeted Friday’s Senior race day. The Infront Motorcycles superbike GSXR 1000 was the bike which I’d felt most confident on, and spent the most time on, so all was set for a good race. I started well and felt good on the bike immediately, although seemed to be struggling to set a consistent lap making a few mistakes. The wind was strong over the Mountain especially tipping into Black Hut my helmet was twisting on my head against the crosswind and the bike really needed to be fought to hold the racing line.

Passing Ben Wylie on the road was the only real event of what was a fairly lonely race. My lap times were held back a bit by the wind, my best lap being five seconds short of my personal best which I was happy to be near. For some of the race I was honestly hoping to either get overtaken or catch another rider up. It really gives you something to aim at, riding around flat out for two hours on your own can lead to getting stuck in your comfort zone. Following someone else just gives you that carrot to chase and brings your times down generally.

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The pitstops both went perfectly; fuel, visor and rear wheel were all swapped in 40 seconds, a testament to the team which have been with me since my first TT in 2007. I crossed the line for the final time of 2014, to finish 15th over all. A great result for myself and the team, tagging onto the back of the big names and teams from the British Championship on a bike which myself and Infront Motorcycles put together at our unit in Chester.

The name dropping moment of the TT goes to team chef/child care executive Ann. At the end of the Senior we packed the awnings away not wanting to have to do so during the forecast storms of Saturday. Dinner was looking to be a bit late as a result and the prize giving start time was looming so Jo and Ann headed down to the local Chinese. As Ann walked in Jo, waiting in the car, was shocked to hear Keith Flint, of Prodigy fame, say hello and call Ann by her first name. “Err, how do you know my mum?” Jo then asked. “Everyone on the grandstand knows your mum” came the reply. A conversation about the TT followed, on her return Ann needed some explanation of who ‘the bloke in the grandstand’ was!! I never thought my mother-in-law was so rock and roll!

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All in all a good TT for me and the gang. Finally getting that 125mph lap was probably the stand out achievement of the fortnight for me. Alongside this was taking a great result in the Senior, coming close to some of the fastest teams/riders in the country in the process.

All that’s left is to give thanks to all of the supporters, which is something I’m terrible at by the way, stiff upper lip and all that! Infront Motorcycles, Kemtile, RLR Motorsport, Electrico, Dunlop, Ohlins, Maxton, Zero One race fx, HEL hoses, A&S Transport, Daniel Cross, Howard & John Tipping, Bob Beese, AM leathers, and many more besides that I’ve probably forgotten.

The trackside crew… Me (obviously the most important person in the equation!), Jo (for keeping everyone in order), James (for everything from financial input, owning the bikes, closing the shop for a fortnight to changing the wheel in the pitstop), Jack (for twirling the spanners, at all hours without complaint or errr payment), Ann (childcare executive, chef, energy drink mixer etc etc), Dad (pitlane re-fueller, even after seeing the consequences of it going bad!), Alasdair (born to be a trucker). Many, many others from Gary Thompson (clerk of the course) who does a fantastic job of keeping the riders informed and making some very tough calls, through to the marshals, giving their time to stick their neck on the line so the event can go ahead.

So is that my last TT? Many of my personal goals have been achieved, lots of money spent, risks taken and a young son who is now starting to understand what’s going on. I think the time maybe upon us.

Thanks for reading, next up Anglesey in mid-June, and another Oset trial in early July.

I’ll keep you informed.

Ian

Ian Mackman
More popular than Prada

Sorry for the late update, it’s been a crazy race week. Monday’s Superstock race ended up being postponed until Tuesday. The first Supersport race went ahead on Monday, after a delay. I’d not spent an enormous amount of time on the 600 during practice week, focusing my attention on the superbike. The first couple of laps I struggled to get my head into Supersport mode; thrashing a machine with little or no mechanical sympathy isn’t really my style. I also appeared to be lacking top speed, getting passed at Sulby and then held up through the bumpy section to Ramsey. I hung onto the riders who passed me but patchy damp areas on the Mountain and light rain aren’t conditions that favour me on the TT course. The Supersport class is never my best so sticking my neck out to finish a few places higher wasn’t the sensible option. I crossed the line a disappointing 34th having lapped at 117.8mph. I managed to avoid the enormously popular physiotherapist’s tape. I’ve seen half of the competitors covered with it from the first night of practice onwards – it’s more popular than Prada, just man up and hold on!

Superstock got underway on Tuesday. Again with limited time on the stock bike we decided to fit the suspension from the superbike into the stock machine, knowing that the settings wouldn’t be too far out. I had a good steady race really. The conditions were good and the bike felt good throughout the race. There were a lot of waved yellow flags during the race. Gary Johnson had crashed exiting Ramsey hairpin and was being attended to for the first two laps. Another incident on the run up to Joey’s was covered with waved yellows for the final two laps. As a result the lap speeds were a little down on previous years. My best wishes go out to all involved in those incidents. The Superstock bike did me proud, against the high top speeds of the BMW and Kawasaki a stock Suzuki is always going to suffer down the long straights here. The good handling and stable chassis is its trump card, I was pleased to cross the line in 23rd place, lapping at just under 122mph. I have been faster in previous years on this type of bike but on-track incidents taken into account I was about on my previous pace.

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Supersport race two went ahead on Wednesday as planned. A change to the gearing and instructions from team boss, James Powell, to “Rev the tits off it!” were the two main differences from Monday’s race. I set off and immediately the bike felt better on the new gearing. The first two laps were faster than I’d managed in the whole race on Monday. Coming into the pits for the only pitstop of the race, I was greeted by the fire siren sounding and pit entrance blocked. I later found out that some spilled fuel had ignited during a fill up. The rider sensibly dropped the bike on its side but the fuel filler, in his pit crew, was also on fire across his chest. Other pit crews and the fire brigade quickly sorted the blaze out. I lost around 20 seconds waiting at the stop box at the entrance to pit lane. A quick pitstop followed, I left the pits with a gaggle of riders.

Obviously a decent amount of us had been held up and with everyone’s pitstop taking about the same amount of time the track was now going to be pretty busy. I quickly got past Rob Barber and set about catching a group of three others who were about five seconds ahead. By Ramsey I was on the group one of whom was riding my old Triumph (the one that spilled its guts on the Mountain Mile in 2011). I managed to get past going into the Les Graham memorial. Getting by Ryan Kneen coming into the 33rd milestone, I was again spurred on by a small gap to Roger Maher. Making a pass on the entrance to Laurel Bank I pressed on only for Roger to pass me back on the Cronk-y-Voddy straight and signal for me to follow him! This wasn’t my plan, having caught a gap and made an overtake, following wasn’t an option. I stuck behind, getting a good exit towards Douglas Road corner I made a pass stick going into Kirk Michael. A final run over the mountain and I crossed the line in 22nd place, my best lap was my final one 120.5mph. Happy enough to have finally got the supersport bike working better for me, it had been a good race. Thanks very much to Mark from Electrico for loaning me the bike.

To be continued shortly…

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
TT 2014 Results

Dainese Superbike Race, Saturday May 31st  
Position: 24
Race time: 01:53:18.532
Average race speed: 119.874 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 1 125.377 mph
Bronze Replica

Monster Supersport TT1, Monday 2nd June
Position: 34
Race time: 01:17:51.612
Average race speed: 116.301 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 2 117.825 mph
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RL360 Superstock, Tuesday 3rd June
Position: 23
Race time: 01:15:29.024
Average race speed 119.962 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 4 121.824 mph
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Monster Supersport TT2, Wednesday 4th June
Position: 22
Race time: 01:16:40.382
Average race speed: 118.101 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 4 120.501 mph
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Pokerstars Senior TT, Friday 6th June
Position: 15
Race time: 01:51:13.305
Average race speed: 122.124 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 6 124.860 mph
Bronze Replica

Ian Mackman
‘There goes another 50p!’

Wednesday and Thursday were reasonably non-eventful days during practice week. Wednesday’s session ended up only being one lap on the superbike, not an especially good one either as the roads were a little damp in Ramsey and over the mountain. A red flag at the end of the lap brought a close to the session. Thursday’s session was delayed due to wet roads over the mountain. I’d had a poor stomach during Thursday, forcing me to break the ‘no number twos rule’ in the caravan toilet! I reckoned that the water wasn’t agreeing with me, so bottled water it is from now on then. I wasn’t feeling overly great for the session with several delays and then with reports that the mountain road was soaking we decided that there wouldn’t be anything to gain from going out for the 30 minutes that were left once it got underway. I got back to the caravan, shivered and shook myself to sleep, waking up feeling much better on Friday morning. I still wasn’t farting with confidence but survived on toast all day and generally improved until Friday night’s practice.

I concentrated on the superbike once again, getting three laps in. Some minor changes had improved rear grip. After stopping for fuel and more changes after two laps, I sat waiting to be let go onto the track in what appeared to be rush hour for race bikes for a little too long causing the engine to get a bit hot and bothered and chuck some water out. I pushed back to the Infront Motorcycles pit garage and we let it cool down. Getting back out for another lap I noted that the bike was running a bit hotter than normal so stopped after the lap  (probably due to having lost a little water) and we called it a day, not wanting to do any damage for the race the next day.

James and Jack stayed up until late on Friday night working on the bike, which was great as it left me to get some rest ready for the race. Jo prepped all of the visors on Friday night. I’d bought a new helmet, as the dates on mine were running out, and 50 tear offs before we left home and mentioned to take it easy with the tear offs as they’d cost £25.

I had qualified in 23rd for Saturday’s superbike race setting off behind Jimmy Storrar. I felt like the first lap went well, hitting my planned lines etc I could see that I was catching Storrar. We both caught Ben Wylie in the second lap, I managed to pass on the brakes into Ballacraine and pulled more time back to follow Jimmy Storrar over the mountain as we came to the first pit stop. The stop went well, fuel, visor and wheel change. Somehow I came out behind Ben Wylie again though and passed him again at Ballacraine. Laps three and four went well as I pulled a tear off exiting the Gooseneck a spark flew in my mind saying “There goes another 50p”. I have no idea where these little snippets of randomness come from during a race but they do flash through my mind occasionally!

The pitstop at the end of lap four was a disaster, entering the pits in 14th place, and having beaten my personal best laptime in the first two laps to 125.3mph, things were going well. The fuel went in and the visor went on then I waited…… and waited. Clearly there were problems, apparently the centre spacer between the wheel bearings of the new wheel had dropped down so the spindle wouldn’t go through. While James wrestled with it Jo did her best to keep me calm. Apparently the Manx Radio TT commentator, Chris Kinley, mentioned how calm I was staying, he obviously wasn’t three feet away from me! Just use it as a test now Jo said. ‘I might as well ‘cos it’s f@£ked now@  was one of my many expletives.

James sorted the problem out and I was on my way, a two minute delay had pretty much ended my chances of any sort of result and to be honest left me not riding at my best for the two final laps. Catching Ben Wylie again I got peppered with stones for a bit and eventually got past. Finishing the race in 24th position I was disappointed, as we all were. The wheel issue was nobody’s fault just one of these things – we’ll make sure that it can’t happen again. I then found out that I’d broken the 125 mph barrier, something that I’ve been stuck in a rut trying to do for several years. Great news and some real positives are to be taken; checking my best sector times if I pieced them together then a low 126mph is on the cards. Not bad for a part-time racer on a bike that I only tested once before arriving here. A testament to the set up given from Ohlins and the engine work by RLR Motorsport.

A couple of laps practice followed on the supersport bike in the afternoon. I felt like I was riding the bike better but both laps had some hold ups with yellow flags and slower riders. My qualifying time still wasn’t up to scratch so I start 40th on on the supersport bike on Monday. I haven’t ridden the superstock bike since the first night so will be off the line 47th on that!

We worked until late on Saturday night getting the bikes ready so we could have a day off on Sunday. A trip down to the beach at Port Erin was a welcome break from the Groundhog Day that is paddock life. We took Ted up to the Oset stand in Nobles park where they have set up an obstacle course display and some have a go rides. While I stood talking to Simon from Oset, Ted decided that he would have a go at the seesaw obstacle on his electric trials bike! Crashing off the side, I ran round and picked him up. He said that he would have another go if I held onto his rear mudguard. I helped him over the first time and then he just went for it on his own. What was most amusing was that as the seesaw dropped down from its peak Ted appeared to open the throttle harder so he ended up pulling a little wheelie off the end! Great to see him enjoying himself!

I write this on Monday morning the weather has turned a little wet overnight causing the races for today to be delayed. Hopefully we will get a run out this afternoon and I’ll keep you informed.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Practice report – Monday & Tuesday

A good start to the TT this year. As noted in my previous blog, preparations have been as crazy as always. Myself, Jo and Jack (spanner man) caught the 2am boat from Heysham on Friday morning before the newcomer and lightweight practice was due to start on Saturday. I sat smugly as the dock workers measured the length of my van/caravan combo, there was no way I was over length this time. Last year I had slightly underestimated my length (ooh err Mrs!) – by 2 metres! This year I’d booked half a metre over, as I thought anyway. They must have a new tape measure for this year as I was still 10cm short by their calculations, but they let us go anyway! So a reasonably smooth crossing followed with very little in the way of sleep.

We got to the paddock at about 7 am, it was absolutely packed! At one point the paddock security told me that I wouldn’t be able to put my awning up as there wasn’t room; what shall we do just leave the bikes out in the rain? We got sorted once I’d given my opinion on where we could park. I almost nodded off in the riders’ briefing later that afternoon, not because it was boring but, having basically been awake since 6am on Thursday morning, sitting in a warm, quiet room I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open. I held it together anyway and got signed on and my clothing checked ready for Monday night’s practice. James and Alasdair (team trucker) had caught the Thursday afternoon boat with the race truck. They had done a great job of getting the awning and bikes all set out and looking very professional, almost as if we know what we are doing!

We got a few finishing jobs sorted on the bikes and planned to head out to watch the first practice, as I wasn’t a newcomer or had a lightweight to ride. The weather called a cancellation to the session, which I’m sure all involved weren’t that disappointed with. It’s never great riding your first laps in patchy damp conditions.

The first night for everyone was Monday. Team owner, James Powell (he loves being called that!) and I decided that I would be best to run the superstock bike for the first night. It is the bike which I know the best; having the Maxton suspension in it, which I used in 2011, I was able to dial in my previous settings and things should be pretty good. I managed four laps on the bike, struggling with rider comfort more than anything else, as if riding flat out on a road course was ever going to be comfortable! The screen was a bit too low and I needed some more support at the back of the seat to hold me forward as I was wearing my arms out trying to hold on!

A reasonably non-eventful night followed, the bike performed well and aside from the highlighted issues above I was happy with the first night’s shake down. Going off the line next to British superbike front runner Josh Brookes I figured I’d let him go as he would probably pull time out on me along the section to Ballacraine with his superbike vs my superstock. As we hit the brakes for Ballacraine I was still with him and followed him through the section to Laurel Bank where he ran a bit wide and I passed him. There’s not many times in my life that I’m going to get to say that!

Ian Hutchinson passed me on the run to Ramsey and I managed to hang on to his shirt tails until the final part of the mountain, which I was pleased with. The night finished with a lap speed of 119 mph which I was slightly disappointed with if I’m honest! At the end of the day it was the first night and I had a good few things to sort on the bike, some of which could also be amended on the other bikes too so it had been a productive night.

Tuesday was spent working on the superstock bike, although the plan was to run the superbike first and then the 600 had its own session alongside the lightweights. I went off the line and the superbike felt just like being at home, even though I’d only ridden it in its current form for half a day at Anglesey a week ago. I’d put the taller screen on and changed the seat padding and it was about as comfortable as it was going to get. My first lap was good; 122 mph followed by my second of 124.2 mph, which is only 3 seconds from my personal best lap time and put me 13th in the superbike class overall. I was really pleased with the bike, we had set the gearing tall as we were unsure what it would pull with the extra power as we didn’t want to spend the night bouncing off the rev limiter. It was a bit over geared in the finish, sitting at around 12000 rpm down the long straights, where normally it revs out a couple of thousand revs higher. There is certainly more to come from the bike.

The supersport was like a breath of fresh air, after wrestling the big bike around it felt like someone had stolen the engine!!! For the first bit of the lap I struggled to get my head into the amount of abuse that the rider has to dish out to the engine on these bikes. It just doesn’t feel right squealing the motor everywhere, but if you don’t then you go nowhere fast! I managed to get three laps in on the 600, getting a little bit held up on my last lap meant my second lap was my fastest at 117.6 mph. Happy enough with that for my first time on the bike, as I know there is plenty more to come with a gearing change to do on this bike too.

Practice is due to continue tomorrow (Wednesday) night, although the weather looks like it may play its part again.

I’ll keep you posted.

Mackers. #30

Ian Mackman
Go ‘ed Macca Laaaa!

Preparation for the TT has been at absolute fever pitch for the last few weeks. The Suzuki GSXR1000 – my original 2011 Privateer Championship winning bike – has been modified into a right beast! A bulk of expense, and huge thanks, go to James of Infront Motorcycles, Chester (www.ifm-moto.com). Kemtile, a long-term supporter of my racing, have also financially helped towards a big list of modifications. Harris have lengthened the swingarm and fitted a quick release rear wheel system. RLR Motorsport have tuned and set up the engine, now making over 200bhp (previously 178bhp) so it is now very, very strong. Ohlins suspension has been fitted all around, alongside various other mods. I have to admit things have been crazy for weeks, working all day at the unit in Chester to then carry out building race bikes until late evening.

Last week in particular sticks out as for several nights we were flat out working on the bikes and then up at 5am (having got home at 11pm) on Friday morning to collect TT virgin mechanic Jack and head for Anglesey to give the superbike and 600 a shake down. Then up at 6am the following morning to take the bikes to Zero One Race FX near York, for some final additions to the livery, and carrying on up to AM Leathers near Darlington for a final fitting, tea and cake in Barnard Castle, then back to Zero One to pick the bikes up!

The Anglesey ‘test’ went well; my plan was to give the superbike a bit of a shake down without crashing, blowing it up or getting knocked off as there was under a week left before it was going on the boat. Also the 600 needed a short run around to check it was running ok before it was dropped off at the dyno for fuelling set up. The day proved a success as a couple of minor issues were found and remedied on the superbike which otherwise would’ve caused time to have been lost during practice week. It is an absolute monster on track and barely compares to how it used to be. The engine is so strong from the midrange it just pulls and pulls all the way to a higher than stock redline.

I was most impressed, some minor changes were made to the suspension settings provided but on the whole it wasn’t far off. There wouldn’t be much point in changing loads and then having to change it again when it hits the motocross track that is the TT circuit anyway. One very noticeable change from the short circuit set up was the slipper clutch. I was keen not to wear the clutch out at the TT so slightly less slip was adjusted into it for the downshift into corners. Now, ‘backing it in’ isn’t massively my style having come from a background of riding two strokes but it’s now almost impossible to avoid! Backshifting into the hairpins at Anglesey had the rear wheel hanging out all over the place to the point where I could hear the tyre chirping on the tarmac above the other chaotic noise generally associated with hammering a motorbike around a circuit. On passing another Wirral 100 rider and celebrated Merseysider, Steve Smith affectionately known as “Smiddy”, I hit the brakes and the bike did its usual sideways-on style right to the apex of the turn. Once back into the garage, Smiddy appeared with a huge grin on his face and quotes like “You only see that sort of action in moto2″, ” The rear must’ve been 2 foot out of line” and, my favourite, “I thought, “Go ‘ed Macca Laaa!” which when translated in my Merseyside to Buckinghamshire phrase book means “Jolly impressive piece of riding Mr Mackman sir!”

The GSXR 600 Supersport bike has been kindly loaned by Mark “Bushy” Jones, of Electrico (www.electricouk.co.uk) and is another top bike. I was keen not to repeat my on-loan-Triumph catastrophic-engine-failure problem from 2011. So this time I have bought my own engine, prepared by Slick Bass in the Isle of Man for Dan Kneen, it should do the job for me. The expense was something that I could’ve done without but my Grandma would definitely have approved of using some of my inheritance to race motorbikes, she was a motorcycling fanatic. The fuelling has been set up by RLR and I’m pleased with the results.

For Superstock I have the GSXR 1000 which we use for one-to-one on-track training. We have swapped the Maxton suspension from my original GSXR, prior to the mods listed above being made. With my set up notes from 2011 still in the van and in chronological order, thanks to the wife, I can start from where I left off with this bike. Hopefully it will bring me a solid result in the Superstock race.

So with the truck loaded and on its way to catch the ferry I sit at the unit waiting for some last minute parts for the bikes to arrive. From here I head home to load the van, sleep for 13 minutes and 28 seconds then drive to Heysham to catch the 2am boat.

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Aside from TT preparations things have been going well. The last Oset Cheshire trial which I ran went down really well in sunny Frodsham; 24 kids turned up to ride and, as a result, it’s shaping up to be a really good series now. I marked out the sections on the previous Wednesday afternoon. The harder of the two routes gives me the biggest challenge each time. I keep making the route harder, as I think anyway, for the first rider of the day to get round without dropping a mark. I’m constantly impressed with what the kids are capable of. My thirteen year old nephew, Jordan, comes along to the trials and uses an ipad (other tablet devices are available) to video the action. Once the event is over I piece some of the clips together and make up a video of the trial then upload it to the Infront Motorcycles website.

Jordan came and stayed over at my house the night before the trial and while watching some random film on sky movies we got onto the subject of which movies we had seen. King Kong came up in the conversation and I said “It was ok but I thought it was a bit of an epic” to which Jordan replied “I didn’t think it was that good”. Confused by the reply for a few seconds I finally came to the reality that my 1990s understanding of the word ‘epic’ doesn’t match its current 2014 meaning!

So that’s all the news, I’ll keep the blog up to date during the TT with some short reports. I believe the race truck will be in the paddock B so please come and say hello or give me a wave from the hedges. I’ll be riding number 25, which by some coincidence is also my age, in the big bike races and 28 in supersport.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
How many?!

Since my last blog,plans for modifications to the superbike have been hatched. With currently less than five weeks to go, the swingarm is on its way for an extension mod and quick release wheel system. The forks are set for some Ohlins internals; an exhaust system is en route and the bike is back in around 1000 pieces with 2000 things to sort out. Once complete, I feel that this bike will be the best machine I’ve ever campaigned at the TT. If it doesn’t come together in time I have got my restored RD350LC in the garage, so I guess I could pull that out for the Senior!

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So with loads of things to get sorted on the bike and time running low, my body has decided to let me down……again! I’d been feeling a bit rough with cold type symptoms for the week running up to Easter. I’d carried on cycling to work as this normally gives me a good snot clear out. After a trip out on Good Friday to watch Belle Vue speedway (read more on this later) I started shaking and generally running hot (possible head gasket fault?). I laid about all day on Saturday taking paracetamol to control my temperature and headaches –  generally I felt rough.

Come that evening after coughing up some impressive looking colours Jo suggested that I call the out of hours doctors. Obviously I’d got some kind of infection so getting started on some antibiotics would be a good move and save me feeling like death for the next 2 days before my doctor’s surgery reopened. Out of hours asked a few questions, one of which was how much paracetamol had I used? Now when I got thinking about this I’d just been popping them in every four hours. The reality that I’d been a knob and taken 7 doses in 24 hours, as opposed to the 4 dose limit, suddenly hit me. I was told to go straight to casualty to get checked out.

After a few hours messing about A&E informed me that I’d need to be admitted to a ward for 21 hours of ‘antidote’ to be administered through a drip….great news! They didn’t seem overly bothered to check the root cause of my fever, which was the reason that I had become a junkie in the first place. Sunday was spent attached to a drip on a ward. The doctor came around once to ask if I’d been up and about. I politely said that I’d been around the ward a few times. The voices inside me were screaming that I was attached by 4 feet of pipe to a pump which had 3 feet of electrical cable, every time I unplugged it to go to the toilet the battery back up flashed and it stopped pumping. I didn’t fancy prolonging the experience by going on a ten minute walk!

At 11pm Sunday the bag ran out, watching the timer tick down was like a countdown for new year, they had said that after some blood test results returned I could go home. But I’d started running hot again so suddenly it was decided that an investigation was required, all they’d looked at up to this point was my stupidity (for which there was no cure!) and accidental overdose. A chest X-ray revealed that I had pneumonia on my right lung. With this in mind they said that, with the now addition of antibiotics required to go into my body, I’d need another 16 hour bag of the antidote to be input by drip again! Now Jo wasn’t best pleased, neither was I but I played good cop as she spelled it out to the doc that all this should’ve been checked out sooner, we came in telling them there was an issue in my chest etc etc. Funnily enough as the same doctor was taking blood five minutes later it was the most painful experience of the whole hospital visit – odd that!

Night number two got started and it must’ve been a full moon in the nuthouse, old ladies screaming in the night, nurses arguing with them to get back into bed etc etc, not much sleep was had by anyone. Bank holiday Monday was spent attached to the drip again. I’ve now discovered that there’s no better way to be taught a lesson than have to sit on one of those things for 37 hours and miss the holidays! 7pm on Monday they finally let me go under strict instructions to rest. This was no chesty cough, it would take a week to clear the infection and several weeks for the lung to heal. So the Oulton park meeting is off on Saturday then? Yes, came the reply. I also asked how I keep my temp down if the fever comes back, as I’m pretty sure paracetamol is off the menu for a while! The doctor said to take ibuprofen and take my clothes off. What even if I’m in Asda??? So I’ve spent the next two days resting at home and am gradually feeling better. To be honest the pneumonia thing isn’t causing me any breathing difficulties after all I’d cycled 35 miles the day before the symptoms came out just thinking that I had a head cold.

As mentioned earlier we had a family trip out to watch Belle Vue speedway, Ted always watches the speedway GP on Eurosport. We had looked at taking him before but the meetings are generally all late evening. Fortunately the away team was Wolverhampton whose captain is world champion Tai Woffinden. Ted always shouts for “Woffi” on TV so it’d give him a point to be interested in. Just before the meeting started the pit gate is opened for the fans to meet the riders. We nearly missed the opportunity but the guy on the gate took pity on us and let us through. Ted got to meet Tai Woffinden, who was a true gent and really took his time to meet the fans and promote a good atmosphere. A proper champion! He even pointed to Ted to look at the camera as we took a picture of them both. Belle Vue won the meeting, Ted watched with intent especially when his “friend” Woffi was racing. Since then Ted said that he wants to be a world champion. Jo convinced him that he needed lots of sleep to achieve this goal. So he now goes to sleep with no problems at all, to be like Woffi!

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Finally, the sexual innuendo moment of the month goes to Walt Disney (shame on you Disney!) Whilst watching ‘Frozen’, for one of the many times that Ted sat through it in a matter of days, at the point where the Princess stomps into a hay barn and demands that Christoph (the ice salesman) ‘takes her up the north mountain!’ Maybe it’s just the way my mind works but I can’t get through that bit of the film without an adolescent snigger!!

I’m looking forward to getting back on my feet this week and starting to get some jobs done on the race bikes. I’ve also got another Oset trial to run on the Sunday of the first May bank holiday. I’ll keep you posted as always.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Do it with your eyes closed!

With my busy schedule preparing race bikes over the last few weeks I’d not had much spare time to take Ted riding on his Oset. The third Oset trial, which I organise alongside the Frodsham trials club, was due to take place on Sunday April 6th. After spending a few hours marking out sections with my brother and nephew at the venue on the previous Saturday afternoon, I got home and figured I’d give Ted a ride on his bike to shake off the rust on the field next to the housing estate, AKA the ghetto! As always we marked out some ‘sections’ with cones. Ted likes to show me which route he would like to take. He walks the route and I follow dropping cones along the way for him to follow when he’s back on his bike. We got to one particular easy bit which he wanted to include I, which I now realise mistakenly, said “You could do that bit with your eyes closed!”. He finished walking the section got on his bike and headed around the course. On arriving at the part of the section in question he……….shut his eyes!! Remember Dads –  always watch what you say as it may be taken a little too literally!

Not normally a show that I watch I caught a bit of “The Voice” with friends a few weeks ago. The question was asked “Which mentor would you pick if all of them were to turn around?” Several answers were coaxed from the group but no one seemed willing to commit to a conclusion. The immense talent of Sir Tom Jones, pop queen Kylie, the indie rock sound of the Kaiser Chiefs or the slightly abstract style of will.i.am?

The trial got underway on Sunday morning; dry but cloudy. Watching the kids pulling wheelies and stoppies before the start my brother, Steve, turned to me and said “I think we’ve made it a bit too easy bro!” In the previous events there had only been a few kids riding the harder route. Suddenly I’d got 13 out of 18 riding it and some really talented little riders. With 18 riders this time the series seems to be growing nicely, all told we’ve seen 25 different riders through the three events that we’ve run since new year.

Jo signed the kids on this time, as opposed to the club doing it, to save time and things generally ran smoothly. The venue this time was a little more cramped and with more riders showing up than expected we are already starting to outgrow what space is available. The day went really well and I was really impressed by many of the kids’ riding abilities. Ted rode well, as most 4 year olds are he is easily distracted but enjoys riding. At one point when being called into the section he was looking everywhere but at the observer to then announce that he had seen a worm whilst he was riding through the section begins cards! I’d been running around in front of him through most of the sections as he finds it easier to follow me than to follow the route markers. At the final section of the day he told me, in no uncertain terms, that he would do this one by himself and that I was to stand aside! He promptly rode his four laps through without fault then, when being congratulated by one of the other parents, was completely blasé about his achievement. I guess he gets this side of his personality from me as I come across pretty much flatlined about everything too!

 

Aside from the trials the race bike is back in many pieces once more! It seems to like being like that anyway! RLR Motorsport are checking the engine over and plans are being hatched on an hourly basis about how to improve the rear traction issue which reared its head at Anglesey. I’ve always run standard exhaust headers but on advice from Ricky Leddy, RLR Motorsport Yoda, a performance system is being sourced. Potential mods/replacement of the swinging arm are also on the cards although last time I checked neither James (Infront Motorcycles) or I were millionaires! The next outing is April 26th at Oulton Park, depending on where modifications are up to I may ride the bike which we use for instructing, to get the required signature for my mountain course licence.

I reckon that’s all the news once more. Oh and as a teenager when the “Spinning Around” video was released (look it up on YouTube kids) it had to be, the gold hot pant wearing, Kylie Minogue…….. in a heartbeat.

Cheers,

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
We’ll have to cut it wonky!!

Since my last blog, racing preparations have reached fever pitch. James of Infront motorcycles (www.ifm-moto.com) and I spent a day travelling the country a few weeks ago. After dropping the race bike with Zero One for its new vinyl wrap clothes to be applied we carried on to AM Leathers for a made-to-measure fitting. Steve, owner of AM, took one look at me and asked which collarbone I’d broken previously. I stripped to my t shirt and let the measuring commence, the inside leg bit was my favourite! A close second was showing off the “guns” when they were measured, I normally keep them holstered you see! Once he had finished Steve announced that my suit would have to be cut wonky, due to my no longer symmetrical shoulders, by over an inch. At that moment I felt really special!

The second of the Oset trials which I organise locally for the kids has also been and gone since my last blog update. On the Friday afternoon before the event set for the Sunday I find myself taking half a day off work to mark the sections out; alone except for the occasional cow, in what felt like the middle of nowhere, clearing thorny bushes and talking to myself. “Will the easy route be ok doing that turn?” “Is that barbed wire fence too close?” “Surely they’ll be ok doing that?” etc etc. I wondered what the bloody hell I was doing there a good few times!

Jo sorted out the paperwork side of things ready to input the results on the day. There was also a minor panic the night before when assembling the medals to give to the kids at the finish I found that they didn’t fit the lanyards supplied! I found another way around this problem as opposed to spending an evening drilling each mounting hole bigger! Come Sunday it was all worth it. 16 kids turned up, the sun shone and everyone had a great time. Jo sorted the results out within twenty minutes of the finish and we had a presentation for the top three in each class which went down really well. The whole day had a great atmosphere. For those wanting to see what it’s all about I’ve uploaded a short video of the trial onto the Infront website, www.ifm-moto.com That’ll be two mentions of the website in three paragraphs boss! The quality of the video is great on my ipad but once uploaded it turns a bit hazy. I’ve always been more of a hammer and throttle kind of guy so if anyone has advice on this I’d be happy to hear it.

Back to racing, James and I had dropped the second bike, which I shall be using to carry out one-to-one track tuition on, at the vinyl wrappers. The race bike remained gloomily in the corner of the workshop, just a frame and wiring loom. Time was marching on, we awaited the engine’s return from RLR Motorsport from its refresh and various chassis bearings to land for their respective suppliers. The instructor bike and second bodykit came back, looking awesome after its vinyl wrapping, from Zero One on the Sunday before the first Wirral 100 meeting. At this point the race bike was still in many pieces and it was decided to use the instructor bike for the first meeting but with the suspension from the race bike fitted for familiarity. I got to work on Monday swapping the forks and shock alongside prepping the bike ready for a shakedown at Oulton Park on Wednesday.

Wednesday went well with no surprises from the bike or myself. Having not sat on a race bike since the Anglesey Grand in October I was expecting to be a bit rusty but jumping on board the Suzuki felt immediately like home once again. Half way through the day James got a call from RLR to advise that the engine for the race bike was now ready. We really needed to put some miles on the race bike to get it ready for – the ultimate goal – the TT so the plan changed again! I headed from the track mid-afternoon back to the unit, in Chester, and swapped the suspension from the instructor bike to the race bike frame (again!). I loaded the rolling chassis into the van and headed to RLR, with willing volunteer Jack, the following morning.

After an early start, once there we fitted the engine at RLR’s workshop. Ricky Leddy then did some dyno runs and made some fuelling alterations. Friday was spent putting the rest of the race bike together, trimming/drilling bodywork etc etc. I finished it off at the unit around 6pm and headed to Anglesey to run the engine during the test day on Saturday. All in all a pretty busyweek in which not much paying work was completed!

Saturday started wet at Anglesey, which was a good opportunity to get some gentle miles on the freshly rebuilt engine. Even once it dried out I took it reasonably easy on the motor for the whole day, I knew that I had a ball park setting for the bike so pulling the engine’s pants down all day wasn’t really a necessity. I also took the new ACU licence applicants on track assessments alongside three other ACU instructors. It was interesting and good to be able to put a little something back into a sport which has given me so much. The new riders all performed well, part of the assessment includes practice of the warm up lap and start procedure. The first of which didn’t go quite to plan, as the red light came on one guy dumped the clutch, everyone else panicked and went too with one going vertical and sooooo nearly flipping over backwards! The second attempt went much better!

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Sunday’s weather turned out dry and bright with, miraculously, no wind. I set out in first qualifying, pushing from the off the bike was struggling a little for rear traction. Some minor shock changes were made during the session. I was pleased to go into pole position with a laptime just under 1m09. I hadn’t managed to log a sub 1m09 for a few years so things were looking good. Some further shock alterations were made before the first race. I got a good start but missed third gear going into the first corner so lacked drive out getting mugged back to third place into turn two. Jonny Blackshaw put a great race together and impressively set a 1m08.00 to take the win and the coastal circuit lap record. I passed David Jones, who was having a good first ride on a 1000, in the latter stages to take second place.

Further damping and ride height changes were made, rear grip was a big improvement especially from the mid corner in the second race. I stuck with Jonny this time, see-sawing from his rear tyre I was never close enough to make a pass. Setting my personal best time of 1m08.2 I was making good progress and took second place. Getting beaten by this pesky kid who was better at me at wheelies too was beginning to get frustrating though! With the bike making such good progress I went further in the same direction with the setting of the rear shock. Unfortunately I appeared to have gone past the ‘sweet spot’ and was back to wrestling a motorbike for the final race of the day. I got a good first lap in, passing David Jones, to take the lead at Rocket I managed to hold him off until the chequered flag to take the victory. My difficulty with traction showed in the lap times though, only managing a 1m08.9 in that race.

All in all a good start to the season, many a plot has been made since to improve the rear grip issues. Hopefully I’ll have something sorted for the next Wirral meeting at Oulton Park towards the end of April. From there our next outing is the TT for which my rider numbers have come through. 25 in the big bike classes and 28 in supersport. I’m hoping that the supersport bike that I have been offered on loan can go ahead. I still need to raise the funds to run it! The bike is an ex-British championship Suzuki 600, on loan from a friend, on the basis that I rebuild the motor on return. Regulars to this blog may remember the last time I had a bike on generous loan like this. After posting my best ever TT finish (2011 supersport, 9th place) the motor let go in the second race, throwing a rod through the crankcases in various places. I ended up buying the broken bike from the owner as it was a cheaper option than replacing the very high spec engine! I need to make sure that this eventuality is covered this time, hoping for the best doesn’t always work.

I’m looking forward to running another Oset trial this Sunday (6th April). Aside from that I reckon that’s about all of the news!
Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
February Update

There hasn’t been much motorbike related happening for the last few weeks for me, aside from a very busy patch working at Infront Motorcycles. We have had a huge influx of track bikes in to prep/service for the forthcoming season – which reminds me that I really must get around to sorting out my own ride for the year!

So the beginning of February came around again, where for many years, I’ve spent the first Saturday of the month helping out at the Northwest Stages Rally in Blackpool. The event is a multi venue stage rally, that’s for cars, running stages along the promenade in the town, at Fleetwood, Weeton army camp, etc etc. My role at the event is result courier via motorbike. The job basically entails collecting time cards/other results related paperwork from the end of each stage then taking them back to the rally head quarters for results type magic to happen with them. It sounds like I don’t care what I’m collecting but the truth is that I could honestly be transporting the first draft of Rocky 18 it just doesn’t matter to me. I see the marshal at the time control he passes me a handful of paperwork, I shove it in my bag, ride across town, give it to someone else and ride off to the next stage end for the process to repeat over and over.

This year was no different, I unearthed an SV650 from my garage which I had been using as a commuter a couple of months ago. I fired the bike up in the garage with new spark plugs and oil, chucked it into the van and headed up to Blackpool on the Friday night before the event start on Saturday. My first run of the day was out to Fleetwood, north of Blackpool, the weather was windy and cold but previous years of this event have seen much worse. I fired the SV up, one cylinder ran, the other coughed/popped/banged and misfired. “It’ll clear its throat with some use” I decided as I headed out.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, the bike popped and banged its way through every town in and around Blackpool for the remainder of the day. Women and children ran for cover expecting that a drive by shooting was taking place as I trundled through with my head held low. The bike has always been pretty reliable, considering it is a heap of sh1t, maybe a faulty new plug etc etc. I hadn’t got time to investigate. From 10.30 in the morning the job is on, a collective hour of downtime is the only rest through until 7.30pm. By lunch time the heavy wind, which would nearly knock you off your feet when standing at the exposed areas of the docks, had turned to wind and rain. I’d been down this road before at this event, it really does make you appreciate what the Marshals and organisers go through to make Motorsport a success.  At the end of the event, things had run pretty much to schedule; a certain Mr Paul Bird had won and I was soaked through to my undies. It always gives me something to whinge about but ultimately I’m pleased that I’m able to put a little something back into Motorsport each year.

Aside from this I’ve spent a day at ACU House in Rugby on a training course to become an ACU instructor. This year new road race licence applicants are required to have an on-track assessment as well as the classroom training which they’ve had to do for the last few years.  My local club, Wirral 100, asked myself and several of the other experienced members to train to carry out these assessments. I was more than happy to help as on-track coaching is something that I am very keen to get involved with. The course was taken by Shaun Brown, against whom I used to race in the RS250 challenge, if memory serves he used to kick my inexperienced ass back then!! There was a lot to take in, not just from assessing somebody on track, but child protection, risk assessments and the like. I think that most of us racers just don’t realise quite what is involved with organising an event these days, it certainly opened my eyes. On getting back from the course I had a wad of paperwork and a test paper to make my way through, with all that now complete, fingers crossed I should be able to take assessments for the club in their first test day at the end of March.

Last but not least, I write this whilst at home recovering from having my gall bladder removed. Why, I hear you ask, it’s not going to give any great weight loss advantage and it’s not worth anything on eBay (even signed). Regular blog readers may remember that I had an episode last August of extreme abdominal pain, an admission to A&E followed. I figured it must’ve been as a result of something that I’d eaten but later I got some results to say that I had gallstones. They’d put me on the waiting list for key hole surgery to remove my gallbladder. So there you have it after 34 fun filled years together, I’d got quite attached to the little guy but, my gallbladder and I have parted ways, if you could now be upstanding for a minute’s silence……………. I’m now sitting about for a week then hoping to return to work, without doing anything strenuous for another couple of weeks.  Fortunately the Winter Olympics are on which spares me from hours of watching Loose Women. This morning has been spent watching the Skeleton or “tummy sledging” as my son calls it!

Thanks for reading.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
Is winter cycling more dangerous than summer racing?

With the nights getting shorter my cycling to work routine had become somewhat sporadic.  Working in a cold unit, I’d struggled to find the enthusiasm to ride to work in the cold, work all day in the cold then cycle home in the dark and cold. I’d also had three bouts of man-cold, which I’d managed to pull through, but it had been touch and go for a while. So November had seen me out on the push bike just twice (I normally ride 35 miles a day 3 days a week). With the Christmas break came some time to get back into it during daylight hours. One morning Jo suggested that I ride to the Tattenhall ice cream farm, about 25 miles away, she and Ted would meet me there in the car for a day trip out. Training miles, day out with the family and ice cream, what could possibly go wrong?!

The weather was cold and the conditions damp so I donned my cycling tights (remember they are ‘cycling’ not ‘ladies’ tights) to complete the Peter Pan look and set off around ten o’clock. I was finding the going quite tough having been off the bike for so long and the excesses of Christmas had taken their toll. On the whole though I was enjoying getting back out. About 15 miles in I turned off the main route, in a small village called Cotebrook, to avoid having to ride on the busy A49 near Oulton Park. This lane climbs up from where it leaves the main road, and after about 500 yards I was working hard to keep a Wiggins busting pace of 8mph up the hill. Suddenly the rear wheel broke traction, just outside a farm house. It gripped again and although a bit shocked that even though I have Chris Hoy spec thighs I’d never actually manage to spin up my push bike before. I guessed that there must’ve been diesel on the road outside the farm and carried on. Another quick spin 100 yards later changed my mind that it must be black ice. At the moment this thought entered my head the bike spun out sideways, my tiny mind was overwhelmed. I wanted to put my feet down but they were clipped into the pedals; I wanted to control the bike but was wrestling to unclip my feet etc etc.  The wrestling match continued for the next three seconds. It was all over in a flash though as the bike swept out from under me dumping me on the deck. Amusingly my feet were still in the clips, so I lay in the middle of an icy lane attached to a push bike, just hoping that no-one had seen me! I got my feet out of the clips but struggled to get up as the road was like an ice rink, I dug the points of my cycling shoes into the ice and got to my feet. Picking the bike up I noted that I had a ‘hurty knee’ which, like man-flu, can be serious. I decided that walking back to the main road was probably the best idea. Pushing the bike down the hill I’d got about 50 paces when my feet slid out from under me and again I found myself landing straight on my backside, this time getting stabbed in the back by the front chain ring of the bike. Several unrepeatable words were spoken as I again struggled to get enough grip to get back up! Eventually I got back to the main road and rode happily along the ‘dangerous’ A49 getting to the ice cream farm about 20 minutes later than I expected! All in all it wasn’t the most successful training ride!

Aside from this things have been fairly quiet since my last outing on the trials bike. There haven’t been many changes from the racing perspective. I still plan to ride for Infront Motorcycles in some Wirral 100 meetings locally and campaign the TT on the www.ifm-moto.com GSXR1000. Some rumblings about me riding an ex-British supersport 600, can also be heard, I just need to generate the funds to run the bike.

Last weekend was the first round of the Frodsham Mcc clubs trials series. As mentioned in my previous blog I’d arranged to run a conducted route for the kids on Oset electric trials bikes. So on the Saturday morning before the event I find myself at the venue alongside another Father/mug, sorry, willing volunteer in the shape of Mike Robinson. Armed with a rake, some section markers and tape we set to work. Mike had volunteered to help which was great as his two lads were already competing in other Oset Cup trials on the harder route. I knew what sort of level of severity to set out for Ted and the other kids on the easy route but really hadn’t much of an idea what the hard route lads were capable of. The ground was fairly well overgrown with brambles, note to self bring a machete next time, a rake struggles to cut brambles and they don’t half leave a mark with those thorns! “It’ll only take an hour” I’d said to Mike before the day. Two and a half hours after arriving, five sections were cleared, raked and marked out and we were both down to our shirt sleeves even though it was freezing!

The following day dawned brighter than the forecast had predicted, for an 11am start. Ted was slightly over excited and had talked about nothing else for the previous 24 hours. He behaved so well considering I was tied up which, as a result, made him wait ages before he could ride. We got signed on and they gave him a tabard with his rider number on. He looked like the kid from ‘Big’ after he had shrunk but was still in his adult clothes! A bit of gaffer tape soon made it like a tailor made suit. 13 riders all on Osets had signed up for the event which was a great start and really as many as I’d wanted for this first event. There was a great cross section of kids, from ‘experienced’ 9 year olds to those who had only ridden their bikes a few times since Santa dropped it down the chimney. Ted had a great day, paddling his way around the sections that he struggled with; there wasn’t a section that he didn’t get his way through. He has announced since that he will ride trials, then motocross, then race a 600 at Oulton Park and at the TT. He’s certainly got it all planned, I’m hoping he sticks with trials! All in all the day went well and everyone I’ve spoken to has vowed to come back for the next event on March 9th.

That’s about it for news from me, as always I’ll keeps you posted.

 Mackers #30

Ian Mackman
‘I’m only happy when I’m trials -ing!!’

With the racing season at a close, once again I was again looking for something to do except decorate at the weekends. My new role with Infront Motorcycles has been going great with a vast variety of tasks from fixing scooters to building track bikes from brand new Fireblades. The planned one-to-one instruction is gaining momentum and we already have our first customers booked for February next year. Alongside this I planned to get the word around that we are an Oset Electric Trials Bikes main dealer. As regular readers of this blog will know, my son Ted, who has just turned four, got an Oset from the guy with the red suit and white beard last year. He has taken to it really well and asks at least once a week if he can go ‘jumpy biking’. As long as he keeps wanting to ride then I’m happy to encourage him – my plan to prevent Xbox world domination continues! He’d gotten to a stage where he really needed slowing down and showing what trials is really about.

Now I’m a huge fan of 2 stroke exhaust smoke and needlessly burning fossil fuel to ride around in circles but these electric bikes are the start of something big for motorcycling. It’s great, with the bike being virtually silent, to be able to take Ted for a ride on the public field next to the house without any finger wagging from the locals. Unfortunately there really is only so much you can teach with 6 football cones and a virtually flat field so I made enquiries with the local Frodsham Trials club. My plan is to start up a conducted route, to run alongside their adult trials, for kids on bikes that wouldn’t be capable of the main event. The idea, in principal, was received very well and it really is now down to me to get organised and set it up. With a following wind I’m hoping to get this started early in the new year.

So for the long term I may have got the ball rolling but we could do with something a bit sooner. Step in Dave Horne from Oset UK. With our enthusiasm to promote the bikes and my Norton connection, Infront Motorcycles were asked to assist with a fun trial at Norton’s new headquarters. The trial would be non-competitive and a chance for the kids to get to grips with sections, waiting their turn and all of the basic disciplines that trials is about. Ted was keen on the idea and spent the week running up to the event asking to watch YouTube clips of Junior Kickstart on my phone. Now I’d forgotten what a great show Kickstart was, why is it not still on?! I hatched a plan to dig out my Beta Techno, for the first time since January, and carry on south after the Norton trial to ride in the Wycombe & District club trial (where it all started for me!) on the following day.

Ted bounced off the walls for most of the journey down to Donington Hall. Around 30 riders, and their families, turned up for the event with loads of others coming to have a test on the Oset demo bikes in the display area. When the trial got started, Jo looked like she was going to have kittens; Ted loved it straight away. He was a bit too keen, not realising that he was supposed to wait for the rider in front to finish the section before he went in, he followed the lad in front through the first section! That sorted, he got his way around the rest of the 8 sections, I walked around behind him but he rarely needed my help. Standing up on the pegs as much he could, he really has grasped the concept of trials. I reckon it was the Junior Kickstart brainwashing!! He even managed to clean section three, and immediately screamed out “Did you see my clean?!” to Jo and me; I think we may have created a monster! A good day was had by all and I got some great ideas for when I come to run a similar event.

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We set off in the van to stay overnight with my Aunt and Uncle near Bicester, for another early start to get to the Wycombe trial on Sunday morning. I’d even treated myself to a new set of trials boots, at the last event Jo had to gaffer tape my old ones onto my feet as the stitching had failed so badly! Looking back through pictures in my loft I reckoned they were about 18 years old so I’d had my value for money out of them to be honest.

It was great to see the old faces again at the Wycombe trial. I decided to enter as an expert, to ride the hard route, for some strange reason. As mentioned I’d not even sat on my trials bike since January and the nearest thing I’d done to off-road since then was cutting across the grass at Oulton Park’s Knickerbrook chicane when things didn’t exactly go to plan! The bike kicked into life, no electric start buttons here folks, on the third attempt. Everyone knows, in macho point terms, ‘kickstarting an engine’ is right up there with ‘using power tools’! I rode over the same log three times and deciding that was enough practice, I headed to section one.

Walking the section I decided that I was going to have a tough day, the hard route was tricky for someone at my mediocre level! Surprised myself with a single dab on lap one, maybe I was a trials riding genius after all! Section two brought me back down to earth with an epic fail trying to get over the roots much to the observer, Chris Hurworth’s, amusement. Section four had a tree trunk to get over which stood just above my waist height (I’m 7’ 4” tall, dark and handsome by the way for those that I haven’t met!) Shortly after this was a tight turn and slippery approach to a felled tree stump to get over. Another fail on my part, with Ted watching; he announced that I was “supposed to keep my feet up!” Thanks for the information son! I was hoping that the moment where you realise that your dad isn’t the world champion at everything would be slightly further into the future, up to this point I reckon Ted thought I could take Mark Marquez, then stop for chips on the way to beating Dougie Lampkin followed by out lifting Geoff Capes!!

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The rest of the trial was thoroughly enjoyable, I kept a smile on my face all day, managing to get myself out pretty much every section with the exception of Chris Hurworth’s! Section nine proved difficult for me too, up a steep bank (the same bank that used to terrify me as a nine year old) and diagonally across some big tree roots at the top. Flying the bike over the roots was pretty much the only way to do it, but with a tight turn followed by another tree stump immediately at the bottom of the bank it wasn’t ever going to go well for me! I checked out the rest of the section after the roots on a “by chance that I get this far” basis. Three out of four laps in and I still hadn’t made it over the roots, as the trial wore on though I actually started to improve, by lap four a whole new persona had taken over and I flew the bike over the top of the bank. Swearing on the inside that I’d managed such a feat, I then needed to remember the rest of the section! I aced my way around another tight turn and bank, then promptly chucked it on the floor.  Must try harder!!

The results came through the next morning, to reveal that I’d dropped 118 marks (of a potential 200) was sixth in class (out of errm…. 6) but I did beat a ‘Youth A’ (who was probably about 15!!!) I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on myself considering all of the previous excuses mentioned –  and that I was bedding in new boots (there’s another one for the book)!

I met up with Ted and Jo back near the car park. Ted laughed his head off all the way back to the van sitting on the fuel tank and holding onto the handlebars of my bike. I even did a wheelspin and a wheelie on request with him on-board, just because he asked me to obviously! What a great weekend, it was good to get back the wood where it all began for me. It was good to see Ted have a ride around a couple of little sections that Jo and I marked out at the end of the day too. Just one weekend of proper trials has brought his riding on hugely. The following morning Jo was driving Ted to nursery as normal, he asked where they were going. When told he was off to nursery for the day he burst into tears and said “I’m only happy when I’m trials-ing!” So it looks like we’ll be attending a few more trials events this winter then!

Mackers

Ian Mackman
Anglesey Grand Report

Being a Husband and Father, I now spend a fair amount of time watching rubbish TV shows,  X-Factor being one of them. Now I really shouldn’t be allowed to sit in front of this stuff as it only winds me up and usually finishes with me shouting at the TV. I’m sure that they wouldn’t allow a machine gun nest controlled by my red button either. My biggest gripe is collapsing/crying; yes I understand that your dreams are shattered and your dog/cat/hamster always wanted to hear you sing on TV but please, please, please keep your dignity people, it is just a competition after all! What ever happened to the British stiff upper lip? Keep calm and carry on? Rant over.

The Anglesey Grand sits as one of the main races of the season for me having won the event in 2008, 2010 and 2011. I missed the 2009 Grand as I was having a rest in Bangor hospital, I also missed last year’s event as it clashed with the final round of the Thundersport GB Championship for which I had campaigned all of that season. This year was a bit different, I’d only raced in four short circuit meetings all season, plus the TT, so the Grand was firmly on my radar. Having won the event 3 times, no one has ever won it 4. (Hate to spoil it but they still haven’t!)

Preparation for the meeting was a little bit disjointed, I swapped around between 3 different bikes during fortnight running up the event. The Fireblade which I have ridded for Shaun Boyle/Barry Ikin was still waiting for the engine to come back from having the gearbox repaired. It looked like it might show up in time but then didn’t. A hasty plan had to be hatched. My old GSXR was sitting in the showroom of Infront Motorcycles, Chester (who handily, also employ me) ready for me to use as a one-to-one track instruction machine. James, one day said what I was already thinking: “Why don’t you just use your old bike?”. I had sold the bike two years ago, Adam Robinson rode it in Thundersport for a season and now James has bought it back.

I still had all my data sheets from the three seasons that I rode it for, it needed a good check through etc but essentially was ready to roll. The decision had been made then, two nights before the Grand, James took a race Fireblade in to sell and this was thrown into the mix. We both agreed that the GSXR was probably the best plan still as riding a Fireblade that I’d never sat on was probably going to make a harder job of things than riding the GSXR which, although I’d not sat on for two years, was more of a known entity. Thursday night before leaving on the Friday and I’m still at work at 10pm working on the bike. My text message to Jo saying “Got a few bits to sort on the bike so might be late” now seemed a bit of an understatement. New clutch, chain/sprockets, oil/filter, tyres, battery, settings put back to my last outing on the bike and we were ready to roll.

Turning up at the circuit late on Friday afternoon, I spotted some new flags up at the entrance to the circuit, to later be told that a picture of me was on one of them. How cool is that? I now appear to be nearly as famous as I think I am! We got everything set up, except for the awning. Page one of my Anglesey circuit guide includes “Don’t put up your awning until you really need it as it will probably get blown away/destroyed by the weather during the night!” Jack, one of my old work mates from Bill Smith’s, arrived to spanner for the weekend. He didn’t seem to find my good news/bad news gag overly funny –  the good news being that my caravan has gas heating, the bad news that the back of my van (where he was sleeping) hasn’t and we had no electric hook up.

 

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Saturday dawned dry but windy, the entry list had the best quality that I’ve ever seen at the Grand. Gavin Hunt, Jonny Blackshaw, Leon Jaecock, Jay Harris had all come across from the BSB Paddock to compete, this wasn’t going to be easy! I was grateful for the support but every time someone patted me on the back with a “Got my money on you Mackers” or “You’re gonna get the record Mackers!” I’m pretty sure a little bit of wee came out! I was pretty nervous about the job in hand to tell the truth. Preparation hadn’t been the best really had it?! I’ve probably done more miles on my pushbike than I have on the short circuit this season, and I was jumping on a bike that I’d not ridden since my son was in nappies!

Timed qualifying for the club races on Saturday settled me down a bit, riding the bike again was like coming home. It just did everything I wanted it to do, I’d spent 2012 wrestling with a ZX10 and this season riding pretty much anything that anyone would lend me, but the GSXR and I just made sense once again. I qualified on pole 1m 28.9s which was only 0.4s from my personal best, set at my last Grand in 2011, I was happy with this considering the windy conditions. The brakes were pretty poor and the pad behind my seat was on the spare fairing (at the unit in Chester) so my arms were wearing out a bit too quickly. James gave me a set of Bendix carbon pads to try (I promise I’ll pay him for them soon). Jo and Jack got to work creating a much neater seat back pad than I would’ve gone to the trouble to sort out!

Race One got underway; I got a great start, had a good race with Jonny Blackshaw and eventually took the win and improved my personal best time to 1m 28.3s. Jonny lapped faster than me, catching me up towards the end of the race. Gavin Hunt missed the start of the race so had to start from the back of the grid, so wasn’t really able to show what he was capable of.  I reckoned I was going to have some trouble with this pair!

I’d noted that I was losing some time through the twisty, top section, of the circuit and wasn’t using as much travel in the front fork as I used to. I decided to check that the fork springs and oil level were ok in the forks between heats. Jack and I got the left leg apart and checked it through, all was good. On undoing the cap on the right leg the whole fork cartridge assembly came out in my hand. Basically the cartridge had come free from the lower stanchion, if the other side had done the same then the front wheel would’ve fallen out when it lifted off the road! Remember kids, always get your suspension serviced! A quick call to Richard from Maxton; he said to bring it over and he would meet me that evening and tighten the assembly back down if I needed him to. It was great that he would help me out to this degree, the only other option was to somehow tighten this ourselves. Special tools were required for the job as the castle shaped head of the cylinder was deep down inside the leg. With that Caskey, the circuit handyman, appeared to see how we were getting on and was immediately roped into operation ‘Make Something to Tighten That Up’. I eyed up the storm bars of my awning and  after a quick recce we all reckoned that it’d do the job. We hammered a socket down the centre of the box section to splay it out enough to clear the damper rod then, with my trusty angle grinder and some squinting, I cut out four sections of the bar to make the rough shape of the top of the cartridge piece. We offered it up to the fork leg, it fitted first time with no mods, a stroke of genius or luck (you decide), mole grips were used to nip it up and we rebuilt both legs, pretty pleased with our ingenuity. That quick job had taken a bit longer than we had expected so the next race loomed.

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I got another good start but dropped to third in the early stages behind Gavin and Jonny. To be honest I was happy to follow them around. I wasn’t campaigning this championship and there was more to learn from staying put than diving through trying to win the race. We all set virtually identical times, but I had found my spot of the circuit. Quite ironically it started from the corner where I really badly injured myself four years ago; I could get great drive out of Church into the virtually flat-in-sixth right hander and this put me in a passing position on the brakes into Rocket. I didn’t have much else over these pesky kids so it was still going to be a close race on Sunday.

That evening Jack and I removed, and Jo flushed, the radiator as the bike had been running at 90 degrees on track all day, which given the conditions seemed a bit high. Jack refitted the rad, while I was chatting, a few checks and the bike was ready for Sunday.

Sunday was warmer and the wind calmer than the previous day. I pushed hard in qualifying, on yesterday’s tyres, setting another personal best which still only got me third on the grid. All four of us were within 0.4 of a second so there was no telling which way the first leg was going to go.

I fitted a new set of Dunlops for the race and got a good start behind Leon Jaecock from pole. He started to pull a gap in the early stages, Gavin Hunt and I started to battle on-track which gave him a bit more time. Just as I was beginning to panic that Leon was getting away, he lost the front into the left hander of the Corkscrew. I now sat in second place behind Gav and my plan modified; I reckoned sitting behind and holding pace for a few laps would do me better than trying to pass and make a break for it. I passed my pitboard with four laps to go and decided that the time was now, I got the good run out of Church to set up a pass into Rocket. Getting though I stuck my head down and got a small gap during the next 2 laps. I covered the line on the final lap which meant my final lap time wasn’t the best. This was probably a mistake as Gav had a really good lap and closed up the gap to see me win by just 0.2 of a second. The Grand is run over two legs with an aggregate result deciding the overall champion. I was going to have to win or be sniffing Gav’s aftershave over the line in the second leg to win this!

Jack fitted a new set of tyres for the second leg – tyre warmers, over socks and blankets from the caravan were used to heat them up as quickly as possible as there was only around an hour between the two races.

I got off the line ok in the second leg, Gav got a flier taking the lead and breaking away by about 2 seconds in the early stages. I dropped to fourth at the second turn on the first lap, and was starting to panic a bit seeing Gav pulling away. A couple of failed overtaking attempts later and I was screaming obscenities at the two in front of me. I began to make mistakes nearly losing the front a couple of times and running wide. I shouted at myself to calm down, got it back together, and passed Jonny into Rocket then Leon into the hairpin on the same lap. With 7 laps to go I was about 2.5 seconds down. I did everything I could but Gav was running a really good pace at the front. I made bits and pieces of time but ultimately the gap stayed reasonably static. I did manage to break Alistair Seeley’s outright lap record in my effort to catch back up though. Eventually I crossed the line 2 seconds down to take second in the race and the event.

In all honesty I am gutted not to have won the Grand but am happy with how I rode. If I was typing this now and saying that I’d not performed at my best then I’d have something to be annoyed about. I did all that I could and it really just came down to the circumstances of the race than anything else. Gavin Hunt rode a great race, with the pace he was running, by making the break at the start he had pretty much sealed the deal by lap three. I can take some consolation from the fact that I now hold the fastest ever two wheeled lap of the full Anglesey circuit. I also didn’t cry or collapse, shook the hand of the winner and accepted that I had been beaten on the day, an example to X-Factor contestants present and future?

The winter is upon us once more, I have a few trials planned as normal. I’m also hoping to organise a guided route youth trial at my local club’s event aside from the full adult trial. I’ve discussed this with the club and they seem keen on the idea so really it’s down to me to get it arranged. Oset are running a trial at Donington Hall on November 16th and have asked me to shadow the organiser so that I can get a feel of how the day should be run, to then put that into place locally.

Aside from this, I’m also provisionally planning a solo charity cycle ride/challenge for next year. This will all be in aid of a local friend of a friend cancer patient. Things are very much in the early stages of planning, ie. I’ve had an idea of what I’d like to do! My provisional thought is to attempt 6 laps of the TT course in a day. Please folks if anyone has any other ideas I’d be glad to hear them and I’ll give more information once I know what the plan is myself!

Mackers #30

Posted: October 15, 2013

Ian Mackman