When my dad used to talk about “scrambling” and I, trying to be cool talked about “motocross” I thought we we’re talking about the same sport . . . . . and maybe we were at the time . . . . well not any more ! Me, the Foggmeister and a couple of mates decided we’d have a day at a place called Armthorpe, a practise motocross track near Doncaster. We used to go quite regularly about ten years ago when it first opened . Back then it was mint . . . Lots of turns and berms with a couple of fast jumps thrown in. Now they have a new layout that’s virtually all jumps, evil lookin bastards too, and unless you are good in the air (err, and I’m not) it’s no fun at all. . . Not only that, it’s F##kin dangerous.
About three of the jumps are doubles. The problem with doubles is that you can’t really build up to doing them properly . . . . . You either ride them like two separate, slow jumps, and look shit.. . . . Or go balls-out and try for the double. The problem with this second approach is that if (and it’s fairly likely in my case) you get it wrong, it’s gonna hurt rather a lot. Now, I was never too bothered about hurting myself when I was racing for a living, it was part of the job, an “occupational hazard” if you like . . . . but needing your Christmas dinner liquidising so you can sip on it through a straw doesn’t seem too attractive when you’re just pissing around.
What was wrong with the old scramble tracks that followed the contours of the land instead of trying to fire you into space ? . . . . Like world champ from the late ’70s Graham Noyce said when asked to comment on modern motocross . . “it’s all about timing the jumps nowadays . . . . all you can do in the air is adjust your goggles and play wi’ yer cock” . . . . . never a truer word spoken !
Don’t know if any of you saw it when it went to air, but Eurosport had me riding round the paddock and pitlane at the recent Oulton park BSB round, dressed up like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 on a Harley Fatboy. As it was the final round of the championship the idea for the opening sequence was “judgement day” . . . . . geddit ? . . . . . I don’t know about “living tissue over a mechanical endoskeleton” . . . . . more like pasty flesh underneath a borrowed jacket, cowboy boots and tight leather jeans ! . . . . I may never work in this industry again !
My good mate Shoey has been racing for about ten years or so now, but in recent seasons he’s got more into riding the pure roads, Isle of Man TT, Northwest 200, Ulster GP etc. than the short circuits. This year he was invited out to ride at a circuit called Frohburg in the Eastern part of Germany. He’s discovered there are still quite a number of pure road circuits still operating on the continent and is quite fancying doing as many of ‘em as he can next year.
Any normal person would, in time honoured fashion, set off on this European adventure with a bike in a van, a caravan on the back, and a “damn you all smile” on their face . . . . but not Shoey ! . . He thinks a bit bigger than that does the boy ! He called me the other day and said he’d bought a 65 seat, double-decker coach on Ebay to convert into a race transporter and would I run him up to Glasgow to pick it up. The idea of a road trip to Scotland and back to fetch an unfeasibly large bus was too much to resist, but I quite fancied driving back in the bus with him . . . . So we decided we’d go up on a bike and chuck it in between the seats for the return trip.
Clearly, doing 260 miles, on motorways, on a bike, in late October wasn’t gonna be the warmest of undertakings, as the “9th Huddersfield” cub scouts always taught me . . . . you’ve got to be prepared, so I got my proper winter riding gear out for the first time this year.
Wolf “titanium series” two-piece, all weather suit . . . . . Lovely ! . . I was warm as toast all the way up. Unlike Shoey, who, in contrast to his travel plans for next year had under thought this trip somewhat . . . . Jumping on the back of me in just his vented race leathers and gloves ! . . . . The little fella had to be helped off when we reached Glasgow.
The coach looked bigger in the flesh than it ever had in the pictures on eBay . . . . . The bloke who was selling it went through the various features and systems and then asked us if either of us had any experience driving large vehicles . . . . . Shoey told him no . . . . . but we’re quick learners ! . . . . Seconds later, and with a “ppptssshheeee” of the handbrake we were off. Once we got used to the size of the thing it was easier than a car to drive . . . . The trip back was mint . . . . I was getting so used to driving it by the time we were coming off the motorway I felt like a proper bus driver . . . . So much so that , just for a laugh I pulled up at a bus-stop and opened the air door . . . . The slightly bemused old lady stood at the stop asked what number we were and “are ya going t’ town” . . . . . I said no and shut the door, but it wasn’t until we were driving away that I remembered I wasn’t wearing any trousers coz I’d got a bit warm in the riding gear and took it off . . . . No wonder the poor old lass looked a little confused !
So we're all moving to Eastern Europe to get away from the HSE then...?
Quality blog Mr Whitham, brightened me day right up
Posted: 19/10/2010 at 18:53
As usual great humour from Whit. Your writing always makes me laugh.
I thought you need a special license to drive a bus?
Enjoyed the terminator bit on the BSB coverage - very funny and clever! (turning the riders faces into terminators was brilliant - my kids loved it). Shame Tommy Hill's GSXR wasn't built like a terminator, he may have won the championship - he must be gutted after setting the pace for most of the year.
Posted: 19/10/2010 at 19:58
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