I went down to the Monza SBK race weekend with Andrea and Ruby, and it was a bit emotional really. I was in the Belgarda Yamaha garage at one time and that was nice but a bit weird. It was especially good to see them at their home round. If you high-sided at the second Lesmo at Monza you could land in their yard if you cleared the fence.
My 'old' team were all there and there was 'my' bike sitting right in front of me. They all looked after me and they were dead pleased to see me - but you can't escape the conclusion that you're just a spare part.
I went to the TT with the band but DJ's death took the edge off it, especially for me. I knew him reasonably well and we had spent a fair bit of time together because of our shared sponsors and the fact that we travelled to a few dos together.
It's shit news and the Isle of Man's like that. Everybody who goes knows the risks and Dave knew them as well as anybody. The thing about Dave that makes it easier to think of is that he would still have raced there for nothing. He wanted to go there. He wasn't just going over for the money. He were a clever lad and if the risks weren't worth taking for him he wouldn't have taken them. I feel for his family, Pauline and Tony - it's them that's left whose lives get messed up by it.
I went over to the TT with Shooey and a mate of his called Steve Bell who's got this property on Quarter Bridge which he uses for his garage door and gate business. He basically charges people a couple of quid to use his garden as a viewing point during races. Last year he started doing a few burgers and this year he has moved it onto a different level with chip machines, hotplates, big drinks fridges - a proper catering affair. So during the Senior Shooey and I were flipping burgers all day, and I really enjoyed it! I've moved on from international bike racing to flipping burgers.
We had a cracking day of trail riding on Sunday. Shooey, Steve, another guy called Steve from Yamaha and myself. The highlight of the weekend came that day, Mad Sunday. We had been trail riding on the inside of the course and we ended up coming up the Millennium Way and coming onto the course at Mountain Box, about four miles before the Bungalow. So we had to stop and go on the course itself before finding another trail to ride on.
We agreed to regroup at a certain point and then head off again back to Douglas off-road. Off we set and we were obviously racing with punters on these big roadbikes. As we pulled off at Brandywell I looked behind - to see Shooey just carry on. Head down, one arm on the handlebar, the other behind him, out of the slipstream, obviously racing someone!
Steve from Yamaha went whizzing past as well and Steve Bell came to a halt next to me, shrugging his shoulders. So we went to the Creg and asked these two lads at the roadside if they had seen Shooey and they said, "The lad on the 200 KTM were last seen racing someone on a GSX-R600, with sparks coming out of his exhaust." They carried on all the way to the grandstand like that!
I did a Post TT meeting at Mallory the very next day and I was originally only going down to do a parade lap with Granty, Robert Dunlop, basically anyone who had won at Mallory. I had the best bike, which was one of Sheeney's old Akai TZ Yamaha 500s.
I entered a couple of real races eventually, on an MT125 and a TZ350. I did practice on the 350 and really enjoyed it. I rode to top four in the 125 race, but it was just nice to be able to go racing and not go nuts. To not have to stick your neck out every single corner, which you have to do in World Championship level.
That straight four 500 of Sheene's were absolutely mint as well. It only had about 110bhp, but it only weighs about 135kilos. It's just lovely, because if it had another ten horses it would be a pig and ten less it wouldn't be any fun.
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