Tuesday, 15 September 2015
This meant I needed to race prepare the bike. Some parts of this were easy, remove the front brake (if you are racing you don't want something designed to slow you down right), fit a lanyard kill switch to prevent your bike running wild when its spat you off and fit a 'shark's fin' chainguard to stop fingers and toes getting cut off by the rear sprocket.
So far so simple. The only other thing that needed attention was the footrests. At Dirtquake the regs required non-folding footpegs to be 'taped' (because a piece of gaffa tape will stop a footpeg skerering your thigh) and the regs stated that "The ends of the footrests must be rounded with a radius of not less than 12.5mm." The footrests I had on the bike neither folded or had radiused ends, they are also quite rare BSA scrambles parts so I was unwilling to modify them. With this in mind I decided to fit the Barleycorn rear sets I had bought for the project years ago.
The rearsets originally came with fitting brackets, unfortunately one of the attachment points for these brackets was the pillion footrest loops, the loops I had removed to get the swingarm to fit. This meant I had to machine up new mounting hardware. This was actually a good thing because I got to use my Bridgeport in anger.
In the end I didn't get the rear sets fitted until the evening before the race as I had to wait for a new (longer) gear lever and for a HSS die to thread a new stainless actuator for the rear brake master cylinder (funnily enough the cheapest set of metric taps and dies on ebay turned out to be shite for anything other than cleaning up threads).
With the light failing I had a test ride up and down the lane. I could change gear ok but the brake was shite, hardly able to lock the rear wheel. As I hadn't actually used the rear brake much at Dirtquake I decided I could live with it for one meeting.
I suspect the problem is with the geometry of the lever, the distance from the bivot to the actuation rod is about 1/2 the distance from the pivot to the toepeg. I think this ratio should be closer to 4:1 than 2:1.
As darkness fell I loaded the bike onto the trailer, pushed the pair of them into the workshop and headed home.
The night was full of anxiety dreams, not of crashing of anything like that but of having forgotton something needed to race, you know crash helmet, boots that sort of thing. After fitfull nights sleep I woke up at 6:30 headed off to the workshop and attached the bike and trailer to the car.
The drive to Rye House was uneventful, no tiedowns snapped or undid themselves and the bike and I got there in one piece and in plent of time.
Signed on, and bought a day licence then hung around for a couple of hours until the riders briefing. It's funny but before enduros/rallies I never got that nervous but I had pre-race nerves, then again thats to be expected seeing as I've only ridded a proper oval once before.
Practice came and went, sort of got used to the new footrest positions and realised I had forgotten to attach the kill switch lanyard once I was back in the pits but I had got the bike round the oval and not fallen off which was all I wanted from practice.
My plan was to wait until the first vintage race went out, start the bike and wait for my race. A good plan, as long as the bike starts. It usually starts first kick so no problem.
You see the word usually there? Well just as a bike won't start first kick with an audience it decided that this was the perfect time to take a few attempts to get going, this combined with the pressure of a race starting in a couple of minutes left me flustered. I was about to set off when I noticed that my footrest was still folded (it needs to be folded away when kick starting). In my rush to get going I reached down with my right hand, forgetting about the lanyard and killed the engine. I couldn't get restarted and missed my first race. Oh bother.
For the second race I made sure I got the bike running nice and early which alleviated anxiety about not starting but replaced it with anxiety about overheating. For this race I was on the front of the grid on the outside. The race is supposed to start on a green light, no red, amber just a single light. To be honest I'm not sure if I even saw it come on I just went for it as soon as every one else set off.
Looking back its all a bit of a blur, I remember a guy on an Ironhead sporty going wide and hitting the perimeter fence, the following restart, a very close overtake and being 2nd to last for most of the race. I did my best to keep in front of the backmarker but on the last lap he got past just before the checkered flag.
I suppose technically as the guy on the Ironhead DNF'd I didn't come last but, to be honest I don't care where I came. The race lasted a couple of minutes maybe but it was a couple of minutes of fast, furious fun and I was grinning at the end.
As I entered the pits I met up with Flymo who agreed to take the position of pit bitch and help ensure I made the last race.
The last race was uneventful, no crashes and I was at the back for the whole of the race, unable to make up time lost from a poor start. I can see why people say that flattrack races can be won and lost on the first corner.
Confident that after a DNS and coming last finisher in two races I wasn't going to make the finals I loaded the bike with Flymo's assistance (thanks Flymo!) and went to watch the finals with a big grin on my face. I had completed my first ever race....