Jamie Whitham Column - Dec 2002

An insight into the non-stop world of Whit. Don't mention his RD350LC

Posted: 1 December 2002
by Jamie Whitham

The end of season racing were shit, basically. I went to Imola and was feeling OK, I wasn't injured or anything but I had problems with the bike so was happy to finish fourth, although it could have been better. The problems I had were tyres and the bike cutting out.

The bike was fine when you had the throttle open, but if you had it feathered the motor would bang and pop.

This meant I had to run higher gearing so fourth was a result, really. After the race in scrutineering the bike wouldn't start for the second time this year, so we were excluded again. I was pissed off to say the least as it's the second time it's happened this year. Mind you, if I ever got a bill for all my crash damage...

The Imola Superbike race itself was awesome. I didn't care who won the series personally, and you could see that Troy Bayliss did everything he could to win. There's a real closeness in World Superbikes. Even the MotoGP paddock is still miles better than any car race paddock, which is full of nuggets. Bike racers are more down to Earth. Maybe it's because they start off with less money. You need a lot of cash to send your kid kart racing these days and if you have money, the first thing you do is ban your kids from riding bikes.

We had a good Sunday night with Colin in the Castrol Honda hospitality that night, playing with the band. It were a cracking do. It's the only time the other lads in the band can do the real rock star thing. Normally we play just pubs and clubs and suddenly the boys are flown everywhere. We don't do anything like throw tellies out of the window, as most of the boys are in their 40s and I'm the youngest at 36, but that night we all got smashed and were a bit naughty in the hotel. Last year it were the same. Apparently the boys were only allowed to stay in the hotel this year because they were booked in with a big corporate firm like Honda.

Getting back to World Superbikes, it's a shame the way things are going for next year. Honda look like they've pulled out, Aprilia are shaky, there's no Yamaha anymore and Suzuki are just going in with one bike. Until the rules are sorted out with these restrictor things on the big multi-cylinder 1,000s the Japs just aren't going to get involved. They want to know what the rules are going to be to see if they're going to be competitive or not. It really is a load of bollocks this restrictor thing, as BSB has proved that an R1 can compete with a Ducati. Sometimes I think Superbike manage to get a good world series together despite what they've done, not because of it. People don't care about the rules, they just want to see great racing where five or six people are dicing for the lead. I mean, compared to a Superbike, my R6 is tame, but fans don't see it as a lower class form of racing on road tyres, they see it as bloody entertaining racing. It's a shame that WSB looks like it could be in decline, it needs to be sorted.

A week after the race and I had a knee operation to help sort a long-term injury I've had. Funny thing was, Foggy had an identical operation to me and both operations took place a few days apart even though we didn't know it at the time! As it was a Laproscopy, I've got a video of it! You can't make out what's going on, it's all a bit like 'Close Encounters' and there's no soundtrack, but the doctor said it went well. Two and a bit weeks later though and it's still not brilliant and holding me back working on the house.

This local farmer we know, he's called Robert, but he's known as 'The Pig Man' 'cos he deals in pigs like, he's 35 or 36 but your typical Pennine farmer as he travels everywhere in his tractor. Paul, my sister's husband, told me he goes to Bradford twice a week, 20 miles each way at 20mph with loads of pigs in the back causing a tailback each time... Way back in July The Pig Man asked what we were doing with the field at the back of our house, we told him nothing as Andrea said it wasn't that suitable for horses, so he says: "I'll have it for my pigs if you want, they'll eat anything." So anyway, recently we got this Robert in to pump out our old septic tank. He did it and we asked him how much he wanted to charge us for it and he said: "Well, normally £30, but I'll do it for nowt as I'm using your field." And then he just dumped all the shit on the field that he'd got off us for his pigs! Ten minutes was all it took to come out of the tank and get spread on the field at the back of our house. It stunk. Mind you, much as I love my comforts, I'm a bit of a country boy, as I love the smell of shit.

Living in the country is great. People we didn't know popped round to buy us flowers when we moved in, people smile at you and chat. So different from a town or city where you wouldn't say hello to someone who lived next door. And you meet people like Bill Bates. He's a rough-arsed farmer with massive shovels for hands. Well, I bought this £500 tractor to help with cleaning the shit from the house and it broke down. So Bill, who is Mr Tractor man, comes and fixes it as he has the right filters for it and everything. As a laugh I said: "Hey Bill, aren't you the guy who set-up Microsoft?" And everyone's laughing, except for Bill, country through and through, who says: "What's Microsoft?" He wouldn't know what a computer was, he's more into diggers and stuff...

Everything is going on at the moment with the house. Today two guys are fitting the kitchen, the decorator is in and someone is in to do the tiling. I've done a lot myself, though, I did all the skirting boards and the doors. The doors I'm right proud of doing. My method is to actually fit the door frames to the door, rather than the other way around as it's easier than finding right size doors or cutting them to fit. I did the same thing in my old house, which I've sold to my sister. On old houses they always hang a bit cock-eyed but of course my sister after moving in just threw the old doors away and got someone in to fit new ones and the poor bugger couldn't work out why the doors wouldn't fit. I do love all that stuff. I went to a place in Halifax where they do all these old doors. They told me to look through all these different size doors, but it was no good as only two would fit. They looked me up and down, I was a right Stig of the Dump in my dirty DIY clothes with mastic and sealant all over myself. I were minging, but it must have worked 'cos they then sent me downstairs where there were doors as far as the eye can see, a right Aladdin's Cave. I spent the best part of the day looking through the doors there. I know it's sad, but if you've got a Barratt home then new doors are fine, but our place is 250 years old and you have to take your time. I know it's a bit anoraky, but I love it.

Talking about anoraks, I got a letter through the other day, simply addressed to 'James Whitham, Bike Racer, Huddersfield.' Turns out this bloke was a fellow LC nutter and he'd read a story somewhere about my RD350LC. He saw in the picture that I didn't have the brake caliper bleed nipple dust covers and had sent a couple to me. What a star! Andy Thorpe, if you're out there, cheers mate!

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