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.