I was both nervous and excited for my first ever reverse direction track day last week at Knockhill. From rushing downhill into the left hand off camber hairpin to sweeping up onto the start/finish, nothing bears any resemblance to riding round clockwise.
I actually raced my 350LC in the opposite direction in 1982 but it still took a few laps to get my head round what essentially is a brand new track for Scotland. On the day we had a few riders wearing confused expressions in the opening sessions but by lunchtime everyone was relishing the new challenge. And there were very few incidents although I was gutted when my friend Chris Berriman slipped off his immaculate TZ 250 and cracked his hip. The pain was one thing but his other trauma being unable to take part in the following Monday's ‘Gary’s Run’, a brilliant annual charity ride - out, held just north of Newcastle.
Avid biker Gary Routledge died five years ago from cancer so his cousin and ex-superbike racer Dale Robinson initially began marking his passing with a day out on bikes for family and friends. Over the years it has grown into an event attracting hundreds of bikers from all over the country and now local companies are also donating prizes and cash for the charities.
Riders for Health are one of the benefactors so their ambassador Randy Mamola joined in on a Ducati Diavel accompanied by Bradley Smith on an Yamaha RD400 and a certain Taylor Mackenzie on a 1979 Suzuki X7. The sight and smell of dozens of Japanese classics brought back memories of days when all you needed to jump on a 100mph two stroke was a provisional licence and your autograph on an HP agreement.
Everyone met at the Dyke Neuk Pub near Morpeth for bacon rolls before heading to Bamburgh Castle. After a tea break it was an exciting ride back across the Northumberland moors (minding the speed cameras) to the Burgham Golf Club, where the day was rounded off with prizes for the best bikes plus an auction and raffle. We'll all be there next year so bring a classic if you can but come along on anything if you can’t!