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.
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!
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!
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!