Sidecarcross - Guaranteed Danger

Sidecar cross is Ben Hur minus the horses. Just add fearsome 100bhp 750cc two-strokes instead. Surely the best chance to lose Wozza forever?

Mentioning I was going to be a sidecar motocross passenger for a race weekend received mixed reactions. Those who knew nothing about the sport asked what it was while those who knew lots about it laughed very hard before wishing me luck in a way that suggested I had no chance of survival.

They would then go on to tell me sidecar motocross was the most physically demanding sport on the planet and one with an enormous inherent risk of gross physical harm.

With these cheery thoughts in my head I leaped on a plane to Holland to meet Carlo Van Duijnhoven, Dutch and World Championship sidecar pilot par excellence, and the man to whom I was going to entrust my life for a weekend's racing at the Veldhoven circuit.

Carlo seemed normal enough but when he fired up his race bike I wanted to leg it for the hills. Sadly there are no hills in Holland so I had to stay put. This machine was terrifyingly slick and when that motor barked into life its chainsaw din simply told me this bike wanted to rip me into little pieces.

Climbing onto the passenger's perch the evil vibes through the wafer thin baseplate sent my feet numb in seconds. The grabrails, which would hopefully keep me inside and not under the outfit, felt too awkward to do anything other than become something else for me to get tangled up in, while there was the added distraction of the red-hot exhaust taking up most of one side of my platform.

Practice was an ordeal I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy as I tried to hang on to the violently slewing outfit while Carlo nailed it. If I didn't reach the right side of the bike in time we'd have a massive crash, and with my limbs already jelly and my lungs on fire after just two laps this was becoming increasingly likely.

The race proper took everything a step further thanks to hideous ruts as deep as our bike making blasting the outfit through an even tougher war of attrition. Oh yes, that and the small matter of the world-class opposition. Taking our place on the start line Carlo and I were next to none other than the current world champions. All in a day's work for Carlo but I on the other hand felt like it was all a bad dream and I'd wake up any minute. This didn't happen.

I don't remember much of the race apart from a very strong wish it would all end before I lost the ability to hold on. And eventually it did. Once I'd finished almost throwing up, I thanked Carlo, strangely
genuinely, for one of the most extreme motorcycling experiences I have ever had.