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Brands May 11th/12th Race Malarkey Report

Nick Sanders  Monday, May 13, 2002  00:46 GMT

Wot another weekend!!
During those 48 hours,the whole of life's rich tapestry unfolded....yet again!!
Laughter,sarcasm,attitude,bruises,beer,snogging,accusations,bodily functions,grief,pain,pleasure,....and a bit of bike racing!
All were experienced by myself and my fellow Old Trouser Shouters and 2 smokers,at the Southern Brands gig!
I'm a bit overcome,at the moment,so I will temporarily sign off,so I can compose myself.
Be back in a jiffy.
Right,dear reader!
You're in for a view of the roller coaster life,of a geriatric club racer and his chums!
It never ceases to amaze me how much "Life" is packed into a racing weekend!
Every human emotion and experience can be achieved,just by trying to ride a motorsickle round a bit of tarmac,with fellow nutters!
But the racings the easy bit!
Just getting out there(and sometimes,just getting there!)is the hard task!
Lets the beginning!
The Colonel(moi)decides that he needs to take the Friday off,to enable him to load the vast Banana rig with all the goodies needed for a ride in the country.
So,a quick arrangement with my business partner,that I can do the work I need to do ,at home (in other words,I lied to him!)and the Colonel is loading up the wagon with beer,tyres,,beer,petrol,sleeping bags,beer,fags,strange shaped metal objects,beer,fags,reinforced underwear,beer,more fags....oh,and a couple of bikes.
Off to the circuit I head,not before checking I'd got everything,one more time and discovering I nearly left behind the box with the tyre warmers in!
Arrive at Brands around lunchtime,Friday arvo and head for the area that is already occupied by fellow Farts (and one Spot)2 smokers,Mr.FFF,the Flying Scotsman and Jay Fernandez and their respective entourages.
The weather is overcast but quite mild and although there is a bit of rain anticipated for the weekend,the prospect is looking good for a fine bit of biking buffoonery!
My wonderous,but miniature Chief Engineer,was bringing himself down from his Gloustershire country estate,to oversee my pathetic mission at becoming the oldest GP1 rider in history.
Need the karzie again!
Back in a mo.
Stay there.
O.K.Back again!
After setting up the awful awning and getting the bits and bobs plugged in and cracking open an ale,the first of the weekends "events" happened!
I was on me hands and knees,trying to locate the source of a water leak from my beloved Aprilia,when there was a total eclipse of the sun!
I suddenly felt the presence of a body across my back and a voice boomed,"I've got a bone to pick with you,Colonel!"
Big Bird the marshal had descended on me!
I was pinned to the floor as she read me my rights!
It was all to do with a particular Bemsee Forum thread that had me and my big mouth upsetting a few of Karen(Trouble in Orange)s friends!
Big Bird was the one to confront me!
Luckily,my smooth talking patter got me out of a potentially messy situation!
Big Bird and I kissed and made up and the situation was sorted!
Wo betide anybody who makes a sarky comment about Karen.
She has an army of hitmen and women who will put the bejeezers up you!
Another beer was called for to calm the Colonels nerves.
The Friday was a Bemsee test day,so the Flying Haggis,Spot Jay and Mr.FFF were doing their stuff,on track,to finalise their bike settings.
I was chilling,waiting for the arrival of the Small Chap Paul,who was due to sort out my leaking racer.
He eventually arrived and after a bit of banter,he got down to barking orders at me,as he stripped the wee 'Prilias engine barrel,on the hunt for the leak.
As the piston was exposed,a few bits started dropping off it!
Seems like the base gasket had sprung a leak,raised the compression in the cylinder and had caused the piston to pop!
We had a spare,so that was duly bunged in.
Ideally we would have done both,but the only other pistons available were second hand ones,kindly offered by my fellow flatulent ones.
Since I was planning to deliver the bike up to Frank Wrathall,for it's annual fettle ,after the meeting,it was decided just to replace the one.
Meanwhile,Perilous Phil Polden and the gorgeous Lenny,rolled into town and much sarcasm ensued.
Piston job was done and grub was consumed,courtesy of Bridgette and Jan,a few ales drunk and time to hit the hay,ready for the Saturday racing!
I'm normally really crap at getting up in the mornings,but on race days,I seem to get the adrenalin rushing really easily and spring out of the sleeping bag like...well,like a spring chicken,at the crack of dawn!
The scrooting of the bikes malarkey,can either be a right pain,or a real hoot,depending how well you've prepped your bike,or how big a hangover you have!
Bikes were passed and then onto the leathers.
Oh no!!
Big Bird saw me in the queue and bellowed,"He's mine!"
She still hadn't finished with me,over the Karen-on-the-Forum episode and proceeded to thrust her hands into all my private parts!
She passed my tackle,although I left the scroot bay,with my virginity in tatters!
Onto the racing!
This is a race report,after all!
The weather was overcast,but dry and a strange temperature,in that it wasn't warm,but not cold,but when you were moving,it was a bit chilly!
We'd taped up a couple of vanes on the rad,'cos we don't use a thermostat in the dry bike and everything was fine.
Because of the new piston,I needed to run it in.
So,in practice,I did a couple of slowish laps,only taking the revs to 8,then 9,000rpm,then increased it,till I started nailing it during the final 2 laps.
Everything was hunky dory!
My start slot was 13,my Championship position from the previous rounds,outside on the 4th row.
I prefer to be on an outside position,because the start at Brands has the wonderous,but daunting Paddock Hill Bend,as the first corner and if you're on the inside,you get pretty bunched up,especially if you're starting mid pack.
On an outside starting position,you have a chance to sneak past,but you have to be careful of peeps losing it,in the bunched-up inside and running into you path,as you plunge down thru Paddock.
For my first race,I actually made a pretty reasonable getaway and managed to hold my position on the plunge to Paddock and take a couple of places on the entry to the next corner,Druids,the hairpin at the top of the hill.
After the normal first lap argy-bargy of demon outbrakers and mad lines,of peeps jostling for track position,the line of riders panned out.
I was feeling really relaxed and just enjoying myself.
I got into a rhythm and found myself picking people off here and there.
Brands is probably the circuit I know best,since I'm fairly local to it and have done numerous laps,on both track days and races.
However,I've also crashed there the most....for the same reasons!
But,as the race unfolded,I enjoyed myself more and more and was a bit disappointed to see the checkered flag,I was having that much fun!
I was even more pleased,when on returning to the paddock,I discovered I had nabbed 6th place!
Well chuffed!
And I was homing in on Gareth Davies,the runaway Rookie front runner,on his rapid Yamahaha 400,but missed fifth by 0.3 of a sec.
Small Paul had been timing me and said all my lap times were within 0.3 of a second of each other,which probably accounted for my finishing position.
But,I mainly put my result down to the fact that I knew that Perilous Mollusc was watching the race and I wanted to show him how it was done!
Have you ever seen a shellfish sulk?
The Mollusc had a face like a wet fish,most of the weekend!
It's usually the norm,that I can put in a fairly decent fastest lap,but I can't be consistent!
I'm consistent again!
I need another toilet break!
The saga will continue!
That's a threat and a promise!
Back again!
I was really up in me stirrups after the first race and was boring everybody in earshot,with tales of daring-do!
Perilous Mollusc congratulated me,through gritted teeth!
I told him I was only going for it,'cos I knew he was watching and his sulking grew to immense proportions!!
The bike had been a dream to ride and just confirmed to me that this racing malarkey is more about being relaxed and comfy with your machinery and the speed will come.
If you "try" to ride fast,you will invariably go slower!
A contradiction?
Not really.
I believe if you have your bike set up to suit your riding style you can let the bike do all the work and you can "relax",and the speed will come.
If you have to "force" yourself,then you tense up,get stiff and,although you feel you are going fast,because you're getting knackered,the result sheets will tell a different story.
Onto the second race.
A second row start!!
6th slot!!
It has been sometime since I've seen so few riders in front of me,on the grid!!
I was really feeling good and relaxed (although I'd had my normal 20 visits to the lav,before the race had been called!)
The conditions were marginally warmer.
So Small Paul and I,had decided to whip the tape off the rad and run it fully exposed.
It's a real joy to head out on the warm up lap with only 4 or 5 other riders ahead of you!
Normally,my mid pack start position means,that I'm in a whole gaggle of riders and invariably,a few of them are doing silly weaving,in an attempt to warm up their tyres.
The best way to warm tyres,on the err....warm up lap,is to give them a bit of stick,by chucking it into a few corners!
There is a danger of binning it!
It's been done before!
But if you go at three quarters race pace,there's little chance of having a red face,as you pick yourself out of the gravel!
But since there were only a handful of riders in front of me,I could give the tyres a good goosing,on the warm up lap!
Forming up on the grid,I was feeling really good.
Green lights!!
Got myself a good start again,just for a change!
Only a couple of riders snuck up the inside!
If you can get away with the front runners,it makes life SO much easier!
You can settle into your race pace right from the start and not have to deal with masses of riders,taking mad lines and avoiding action!
I can see Will Packer ahead (the gangly Championship leader) on his 'Prilia and can feel this could be a good race as well!
I try to focus on him,to try and let him "pull" me along.
However,the two Adam's (Rose and Hayes)have got between me and Will!
Perilous had told me he had had a few fairing bashing episodes,with Adam Rose,in previous races.So,I was keeping my eye on him!
I was faster than him,thru Paddock,but he was outbraking me at Druids!
I was then outbraking him,at Druids and he was getting me back at Bottom Bend!
After a few laps of this malarkey,I decided to "drop" back a bit,give myself a little space to build up speed and have another pop!
He was getting stuck into the other Adam (Hayes) going up the hill to Druids,so I managed to stuff it past both of them,rear wheel wagging in the air!
Took Druids as fast as a slippery Banana could and managed to keep em both behind me thru Bottom!
I knew I was faster than them thru Surtees and Maclaren,into Clearways,so I was away clear!!
The race was about 6 or 7 laps old by then and I couldn't see any other riders close ahead.
I didn't have a clue as to my race position,so I just tried to keep me head down and bung in consistent laps.
Eventually,I was rapidly gaining on another rider,who was a back marker,I guessed.
I was hoping that I'd catch up to him at a "convenient" point!
No such like!
I came up upon him on the plunge down from Druids,to Bottom Bend!
I had to brake more than I liked,to make sure we both got round the corner O.K.
Passed him on the back straight,but managed to fluff my upward gear change!
Still,he politely didn't try to re-pass!
Round onto the straight and the last lap flag was showing!
Great stuff,I thought.
Just keep it smooth and we're home!
Coming round Clearways,I just nailed it towards the finish!
Just as I could see the finish line,this horrible drone of a 4 poke came past me on the outside!!
I couldn't believe it!
He nabbed my spot by about half a bike length!
It was blooming Richard Norris,on his Yamahaha!
I'd passed him in the first race and had assumed he didn't like the track.
But,he'd retired from the race because of brake probs.and had started this one,from the back of the grid!
I heard later,from Small Paul,that he had charged up to me,because of my missed gear change on the previous lap and was on my arse,round the last few corners!
If only I hadn't made that mistake!
If only I had 20 more horsepower!!
Turned out that Richard had made my 5th,into a 6th!
I was mildly miffed,but still delighted to finally be on some sort of sound race pace!
Much waving to lovely orange people ensued and Karen (who was on flag off duty)was greeted with lip puckering gestures!
A good days work!
So,a delighted Colonel,returned to the Paddock,with Small Paul grinning his head off and the Whelk One with an even BIGGER sulk on!
This all took place after the 2nd Rookie race,involving that fine Flying Scotsman and the Spot,Jay Fernandez,that had ended,for them,in considerable carnage!!
This and the Saturday night entertainment,will be following shortly,'cos it's past my bedtime!
Be back tomorrow!

It's tomorrow!
As I've just said,the race I've just described was after the Rookie 400 race,in which The Flying Haggis and Spot Jay were involved.
They were both really "on it" and Haggisman was duelling for a place well inside the top 10 (7th,I think).
However,coming round Paddock,halfway thru the race,he mananged to clip the back wheel of the rider ahead (Rick Ryder,I believe) which resulted in Jock's front wheel tucking under!
The result was a graceful,but high speed lowside,that saw him and his bike sliding quickly towards the welcoming arms of Paddock bend gravel!
Before he could seek sanctuary,an unfortunate following rider,found Jocks bike in his path and he succesfully used it as a launching pad!
The resulting collision saw Jocks bike explode into tiny pieces,with the hapless following rider launching into the air!
Not wanting to miss out on the fun,young Jay Fernandez followed the carnage into the gravel and flopped elegantly over on his bonce!
Thankfully,everyone escaped with a few bumps and bruises!
However,Jocks bike was a right state!
It looked like it had been blown up!
After I had returned from my ride in the country,as previously described,the rest of the day was ear marked for repairs!
I was on a high after my second 6th place of the day so,after a few yelps and whoops and high fives,with Small Paul,we made our way to the battered Scottish Highland Beef camp.
Sleeves were rolled up by Small Paul and Ian Read,as Jock stumbled around with an ice pack on a sprained wrist and spanners were being wielded all over the place.
Me having the mechanical knowledge of a dead stoat found little to do,except drink beer and hold a bottle of brake fluid (or was that the other way round).
Anyway,I thought I could contibute most to the rebuilding of Jocks bike,by taking myself to the bar and getting pie-eyed!
I found Perilous Sulking Polden and lovely Lenny,the Italian Stallion Ballerini and sexy Sandra,Karen,Vanessa and numerous other degeneretes,willing to help me in my quest there.
After a few ales,some backward conga dancing,a rousing chorus of,"The Wild Rover",in which I managed to cover myself in beer,my mission was accomplished!
Around 10.30pm,after 5 and a half hours of bike rebuilds,Small Paul,Mr.FFF and the bruised Haggis,found their way to the bar.
They had one beer,took a look at me,and disappeared again!
Perfect prep for the Sundays racing!!

I'm going to have to break again!
I'll get this report done soon!!
Come back,for the spectacular Sunday report,involving magnificent strategic desicion making of the highest quality,more sarcasm and a gentle visit to the beloved orange marshal peeps!

The best prep for a bike race is NOT to spend too long in the bar,the night before!
I should know better,at my age!!
But'one does get carried away,once in a while!
There had been some splendidly awful kareoke singing,the night before and I had felt compelled to offer my support!
I don't know the couple involved,but a fantastic rendition of Shane McGann and Kirsty McCalls "Lullaby of New York" was attempted,in the bar,Sat night and it just made me forget myself!
Still with the results of the Sat races coursing thru my veins,I still managed to rouse myself at 7.00 in the morning,head slightly throbbing,but eager for the coming days events!
Unfortunately,a bit of precipitation had started overnight and,indeed,was still occuring,as I awoke.
Looks like the wee wet bike is finally going to get an airing,I thought.
You see,me wet bike had been my road Aprilia,for a number of years and had been converted to a wet racer,'cos I had got hacked off at crashing my "dry" bike,whenever the conditions were a bit damp.
The dry bike has a nice Frank Wrathall tuned engine,some serious brakes and a suspension set up,ideal for the dry.
It had become a real pain,to change wheels and everything,every time the weather was inclement.
However,the first time the "wet" one was run,at the first Southern gig,at Snett,it had survived a test day,prior to the meet,but had expired on the practice laps,of race day!
So,a new engine had been obtained (attached to a bike!)and had been installed,with the splendid assistance of Mr.FFF(Ian Read),who is an all round good egg.
In fact he is EXTREMELY round!
Anyway,the wet bike,with newley installed standard engine,had never been run in anger,before,except when Mr.FFF and myself had started it up,for 15 minutes,after it had been installed,to check everything was connected properly!
So,after blagging a practice pass for the Sunday,I ventured out on the damp Brands track.
The rain had stopped,but the track was still wet enough for "wet" tyres,although there was little standing water and it was a matter of some debate as to how quickly the track would dry.
The wet bike felt fine and I had a good "shakedown" practice session,to make sure the "new" engine was O.K.
On returning to the paddock,it was decided,by the Small Chap and myself,that intermediates were going to be the order of the day.
I like to get the tyre warmers on as soon as get the tyres really cooking!
So,as soon as the first race was called,they were already on!
Now,the previous evening,due to the Flying Haggismans gravel escapades and due to the fact that his fairing had been reduced to dust,I had donated my wet bike fairing to him,because the weather forecast for Sunday,had been for fair weather and fine!
I didn't think I would be needing the wet bike!
So,we had had to take the fairing off my dry bike and put it on the wet,'cos the day had started wet!
Are you following this!!
BUT,as the mornings races were completed,it became obvious,that with the drying conditions,the dry bike was going to be the best choice!
However,despite Small Pauls protestations,that there was time to switch the fairing back to the dry bike and get the tyre warmers on,I insisted on leaving the situation as it was and I would go out on the wet one,with inters on!
I have a very limited sprocket choice,for the wet one and although the ratios were correct for the wet,they were hopelessly wrong for the dry!
Apart from that,it was apparent from the start of the race (the track now being totally dry!!),that the standard engine,was seriously lacking horsepower,compared to the other bikes surrounding me!
So,from a second row start,I rapidly found myself being overtaken,right left and centre!!
In fact,I think I was down to 11th by the first corner!
I tried to settle as much as I could,but with the wrong gearing,the under-powered bike and with the frustration of Saturdays results in my mind,I went into "trying to hard" mode.
I managed to stabilise my race position in about 12th place,but was really struggling with the pace.
Something was decking out on the right hand corners and the gearing was such that I was needing to change up,while still cranked over coming out of the left hand Graham Hill Bend.
Eventually,on the fourth or fifth lap,I thought the engine had seized,coming out of G.H.Bend!
I put my hand up and thought,"Oh,Blow!",as half a dozen bikes zapped past!
Suddenly,my addled brain realised that the engine wasn't dead!
All I'd done was knock it down a gear,instead of up!!
In my frustration I knocked it down yet another gear,before I got the whole ridiculous plot rolling again!
Obviously 6th place was a bit gone by now!
So,I just tried a damage limitation excersise and managed a very sorry 18th by the time the chequers came out!
Doh!And double DOH!!
Still,at least I knew the "new" engine could take some stick!
I had the poor wee thing nailed as much as I could!
And it was the zorsts that were decking out,on the right handers!
With the soft wet race settings,I had managed to grind lumps out of the spannies!
Thought it was getting a little loose!
The rear wheel must have been lifted on a few occassions!
Still.At least I made the race!
The Flying Haggismans leathers burst open,on the warm up lap,depositing his prime Scottish beef,all over his tank!!
He had to pull in before the start!
Of course,for the second race,I was right up in me stirrups!!
After the two previous races,starting from the second row,I was not happy at being on the 5th (position 18)!
I was back on me trusty dry bike now and was really pumped!
Unforunately,I reverted to the old "crap start" routine and seemed to be passed by every bike in the race!
I was fuming at myself!!
Also,there was some seriously mad passing and strange lines being taken,by my fellow competitors!
I thought I'd better hold station and see if anybody takes themselves off,with others!
Everything seemed to settle down and I started to get some sort of rhythm going.
But,to tell the truth,I think the previous nights drinking and cavorting and the frustration of the first Sunday race tactical cock-up,got to me and after "picking off" a number of riders (I'd got up to about 14th place),I came up behind Mike Steele,on his Kwaka 400.
I was taking lumps out of him coming thru Clearways and was right alongside him,on the outside,when he appeared to begin the first moves of a fine highside,as his rear wheel stepped out!
I don't know whether he clouted me,or I completely over-reacted.
But,the consequence was,that I ran out of tarmac and made a lovely snaky-type shape in the gravel,before falling over on my face,in front of the welcoming arms of the orange people!
What joy!
Still,as Small Paul said,when I eventually returned to the paddock,"It's all about HAVING FUN,innit?!!"
"Yes",I said thru gritted teeth!!
I thought I'd mullered me front wheel or caliper or disc or something,in the bin.
But it turned out to be a tiny spec of gravel lodged in the brake lever,making the brakes bind!!
That bloomin stuff gets everywhere!
I emptied about 2 pounds worth,out of me boots and I was still finding bits 4 days later,wedged in various orifices!!
Still,roll on the next meet!
Where is it?
Back at Brands,of course!!
8th June.
See you there or see you......elsewhere!!
Mildly Bruised Banana
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