Not With A Bang But A Whimper

August 28th, 2018

After the high of the finish (a finish!) on the TZ in the Classic Lightweight race on Saturday, the team went out and celebrated that night, and consequently Sunday started fairly subdued. And the weather was filthy - very wet and very windy. In better conditions I'd have gone to the Festival of Motorcycling event at Jurby, but in this weather it didn't appeal. So I had a 'duvet morning'. Alex, to his enormous credit, went out on his bicycle and cycled 120km round the coast road of the Island, weather or no weather, and Si Wilson had his 60s Triumph Bonneville entered in the parades at Jurby, so took his bike over there in the van, aided by the other Simon. The weather improved in the afternoon, and Simon got some dry laps in, and we all had a fairly quiet evening in anticpation of the Classic Superbike race the next day.

Monday morning dawned grey but dry. We went to prep the ZXR750, which hadn't had any attention since it did two good laps of practice on Friday evening, with the TZ250 getting all the focus on Saturday. We fuelled it up, and fitted the transponder, and gave it a nut and bolt check, and noted a bit of exhaust wadding had been blown out of a tiny gap in the sleeve of the silencer. This was easy to trim off, but we worried that if it did it again and was spotted by a scrutineer at the fuel stop, we might have issues, so we took the silencer off and managed to effect a repair. But otherwise, the bike was ready to go, and it went up to scrutineering and was soon ready waiting in parc ferme.

While the forecast for Monday had been good, this week the forecasts hadn't been worth much. A lot of rain had fallen overnight, and the roads were soaked, and slow to dry. The Junior Classic race (for 350s) had been scheduled for late morning, with my Classic Superbike race due at 2pm, but delay after delay was announced. Eventually the roads dried, the cloud lifted, and the Junior went off around 2pm, and followed by the planned classic parade (with lots of RC30s, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the launch of this iconic machine), and we were re-scheduled for 5:40pm - this was going to feel like an evening practice! But, as it always does, time ticked around, the pitlane was opened for crews to fill the fuel fillers, I donned my leathers, and was soon waiting once again with riders and crews in the noise and bustle of the holding area before the start of the race.

But this time was different. I'd decided some time ago that this was going to be my last time racing the TT course, which made todays race the last I would do, on a circuit which had come to mean so much to me. Part of me was a little apprehensive, knowing that you can still make a mistake and things can go horribly wrong. And I also wanted to go well, so that I had a last race to remember, and I definitely wanted to get a finish. So this time, it was all a bit more significant.

Bikes were called up onto Glencrutchery Road - there were something like 60 starters, and I was placed at 51, so obviously a fair way back. But I had some familiar faces around me, with Andy Cowie just behind, and even Dave Magden-Mygdal close by. We heard the front starters go away, and were soon rolling the bikes forward, and then I had the tap on the shoulder and was away down Bray Hill.

The bike accelerated off as well as it ever had, I threaded my way down the hill and through the dip at the bottom, over Ago's leap, braked and turned right at Quarter Bridge and accelerated and then braked for Bradden Bridge. And then...as I accelerated out of the right-hander, the bike stuttered and misfired. As I picked it up the engine came back on song, and I headed towards Union Mills thinking "what was that?" And then at Union Mills, as I opened the throttle when leant over, it did it again. Oh dear - maybe I wasn't going to get a finish?! But the bike accelerated well up the hill towards Ballageary, and was fine all the way through Glen Vine, past The Crosby and the Highlander. Maybe it was just a blip...but as I rolled into the rights and left at Greeba Castle, it missed again, and continued through Appledene and Greeba Bridge. It only seemed to be an issue when the bike was leant over, running well to the redline, through the gears, when upright. I thought I might have to stop, knowing that 'touring' (running at well below race pace) was both very dangerous, and expressly forbidden. But the bike was going well down the straights, so I decided to see if I could get back to the pits, and to see if we could fix it. I nursed it round, trying to ride round the problem, while also trying to diagnose it. Maybe it was a blocked pilot jet, so would only run on full throttle and revs? So I tried to ride it like a two-stroke, keeping the revs high. But that didn't work. So then I thought, maybe it was a fuel starvation issue, so I tried riding it in the mid-range, and changing up early. That didn't help either. And I couldn't think of anything that could go wrong that would cause the engine to die when leant over, but run when upright. (And it doesn't have a 'tilt switch', before you ask in the comments below).

Over the mountain, I was worried that it really was going to stop, and leave me marooned, in a couple of places, but somehow I managed to keep it goin, and once I crested Hailwood Heights I thought I'd probably get back to the pits. By this time, everyone who'd started behind me had come past. I rolled into the pits, which suprised Alex and Simon, as I was a lap early. I explained the problem to them, but they couldn't think of anything either. They waggled a few things, Alex felt the fuel pump and said it was very hot, Simon tapped it with a hammer in case the solenoid was stuck, and I said I'd go out and try it for another lap. Which I did, but it was exactly the same. I really wanted to finish so I perservered, trying to ride round the problem, but there's not much you can do when the engine just goes "buuurrrrrrr" when you open the throttle. I experimented with hanging off a lot more, to keep the bike more upright, but when the engine did come back on song it was a bit abrupt, and I worried about a potential highside, so that didn't really work either.

On this lap Dean Harrison, the race leader on the beautiful and very fast Silicone Engineering ZXR750 came flying past, meaning I was now a lap down. But could I still get a finish? I made it over the mountain a little better, managing the problem, and got to the fuel stop. The guys refulled the bike, gave me a drink, cleaned my visor, and sent me back out, so see if the bike would keep going. I had vaguely hoped that a fresh tank of fuel might clear the problem, but no such luck - it was just the same. Two more laps like this was going to be very frustrating, but now I was lapped I'd maybe only have to do one more - at the TT they do usually allow backmarkers to do full race distance, but it also depends on the conditions and road closing/opening times. I nursed the bike around another lap, and as I came round the Creg and Hillberry the crowd were waving and clapping, so that was the last lap as far as they were concerned. And so it was - the bike coughed its way out of Governors Bridge, accelerated cleanly down Glenclutchery Road, and the chequered flag was waved at me, and I was directed off the track. I was relieved, but worried that only doing three laps wouldn't count as a "finish". That would be really frustrating - I might have well retired at the pits! Aheads of me in parc ferme were Andy Cowie and Peter Creer - they'd also been lapped, and had only done three laps. But I was relieved to be done, and pleased to see my crew and Vanessa. We headed back to our awning in the paddock, opened some beers, and I ran through the shower, before we all headed up to the Classic Prize Presentation, pausing only to grab a bite to eat.

On the way there, Si Wilson got the results up on his phone, and there was my name! I was plumb last, in 32nd place, but I was credited with a finish. That was all I wanted, and obviously the 20-something non-finishers would have wanted it too. We went to the prize giving, and every finisher of each of the four races was called onto the stage to get their finishers medal, with bronze replicas for those finishing within 110% of the winner's time, and silver replicas for those finishing within 105%. A 'replica' is a exactly that - a small, replica version of the winners main trophy. I will not pretend that I was not very proud to go up there twice for my medals, for the Classic Lightweight and Classic Superbike races.

Collecting 2018 Classic TT Lightweight finishers medal from Keith Amor

And there ends my TT odyssey. I'll always ride bikes, until I can't physically get on one any more, and I'll still race them occasionally, just for fun and when it suits. But not the TT course.
In the early 2000s, I decided I wanted to race the Manx Grand Prix. I got my national licence, and was a newcomer in 2004. I skipped 2005, but went back in 2006, and nudged the top twenty. I organised a very competitive bike for 2007, and got in the top ten (9th, to be precise). I decided I was good enough for the TT, and had a full entry for the 2008 event (check the race guide), but 3 weeks before it I crashed at Jurby Road Races and broke multiple bones, including both legs. I stopped racing (obviously!) but somehow got sucked back into it, and it always galled me that I'd missed my chance to ride the TT. So I started racing again, and raced the Southern 100, and was accepted for the TT in 2013. I started all seven solo races that year, and finished all but two, including both six-lappers, something else I'm proud of. I was back in 2014, but crashed in the last evening of practice, just after setting my fastest ever lap (118mph). I decided then that racing modern bikes there was going to be the end of me, so decided to switch to Classics, and built and ran my ZXR750 in 2015. I was back with the ZXR and my new (to me) TZ250 in 2016, and again with both in 2017. And this year, 2018, I got a finish on both bikes. And now I'm done. I love riding the TT course, probably more than anything I've ever done, but the time and commitment it takes leaves little room for much else, and I want to do other things with my life, and with Vanessa. And the risk is always there, and I don't want to roll that dice any more. This last point was really brought home to me at the prizegiving last night, when we had a minutes applause (not silence) for Alan 'Bud' Jackson, who had been killed in practice. Bud had been racing the TT course for nigh on 40 years, and had ridden literally countless laps. If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. I am incredibly proud to be a TT rider, but that part of my life is complete now.

Thank you for reading.

Postscript

What a self-indulgent wanker I am (not unusual amongst racers).  I woke up this morning, and knew I'd missed something important -   I couldn't have done any of this without the amazing support and help from a group of mates who, when asked the question "Would you like to come and sleep in a tent in a field and work on my bikes so I can get my jollies?", answered "Alright then".  So, many, many thanks to Mike Horton, Tim Daker,  Barry Goodyear, Simon Wilson, Simon Weller, and Alex Ferrier.  Alex especially, was there in 2004 when I was a newcomer, and there this week at the end.  And, of course, a more than honourable mention to my Manx mate Keith McKay, who got me into this in the first place.  Anyone who has the slightest exposure to motorcycle racing immediately realises that it is a team sport, and I would never have turned a wheel without these guys.

Team and bikes

 

2018 Classic TT Lightweight Race

August 26th, 2018

2018 Classic TT Lightweight Race

Today was race day! But first, we needed to change pistons (see yesterday's post).

I woke at 6am, and got straight up and started. I had hoped the job would take a couple of hours, but it was fair bit longer than that, so it was  good I started early. Being just me (for now), I was able to clear some working space and be ordered and methodical, just the way I like it.  I got all the bodywork off, and then the radiator, carbs and airbox. By the time I'd done this, the rest of the crew had stirred, and thankfully brought mugs of tea with them, and started to join in. The pipes were quickly off (2 bolts and 4 springs in total), and we then had the rear/upper cylinder off. Removing the piston circlip was fiddly, but Si Wilson eventually defeated it, and I then had one of the pistons in my hand. It now had about 290 miles on it,  close to the recommended 300 mile limit, but it looked pretty good - certainly good enough to go in the 'emergency spares' box. We methodically fitted the new piston, with new gudgeon pin, small end roller bearing and rings (actually, 'ring' - only one per piston). And, of course, new circlips. The barrel went on relatively easily, and we bolted it down, fitted new cylinder head o-rings, and then the head. Alex had been voted "torque wrench man", as he'd brought his fine-accuracy small torque wrench - the torque setting for the head bolts is only 11 NM. Rise and repeat for the front/lower cylinder. It was now breakfast time, but I wanted to run the bike, so we quickly put carbs, pipes, radiator (with water, obviously) and tank back on, and span the engine on the Makita drill. It started with immediate, nay indecent enthusiasm.  I'm always thrilled when an engine that has been apart starts again!  I warmed it up to 45 degrees to give it a heat cycle, and then repaired for breakfast with everyone else. This had taken more than three hours, so it was gone 9am now.

The guys did a 'nut and bolt' check across the bike, refitted all the bodywork, swapped to slick tyres, made sure it was fuellled for a lap, and took it through scrutineering, while I got ready and into leathers. Roads closed at 11am, with practice starting at 11:30. It's not really accurate to describe the lap as running in - the barrels weren't new, or re-plated, and anyway a GP two-stroke just doesn't really work except when being run flat out. I was maybe a little gentler on it, but not much. And this morning I was running with the 'right' class i.e. lots of fast (some much faster) bikes, so no one was holding me up. As is often the case when not trying, I did my fastest lap so far - 101mph. But the bike itself also seemed to be running a little faster, too, and was revving through the redline down some of the straights, so I decided that we needed to change the gearing back to 15/39, which the guys did in Parc Ferme. I was back in the paddock by midday, and there was then over 4 hours until the start of the race. And it was now a glorious day - almost too hot, in fact! I had the usual race day nerves, and no appetite, but kept drinking to stay hydrated, and managed a banana and an energy gel.

The race was due to start at 4:30, and by 4:15 we were up on Glencrutchery Road, ready to go. My practice time only placed me 31st in the list of starters, meaning I started 5 full minutes after the first away (which I believe was Dean Harrison). My time came round, I got the tap on the shoulder, screamed the clutch and headed down Bray Hill, as I've done many time before. But it's never less than exciting! Unlike in practice, I was out with people on bikes like mine, and the people starting in front of me had gone faster in practice, and those behind slower - consequently I didn't see anyone else on the road, even on the very long straights through Glen Vine. In that sense, it was a lonely ride, but riding the TT course isn't about riding elbow to elbow with the other competitors, it's about riding the track, as best you can. The bike didn't feel quite as eager, back on the taller gearing, although this was undoubtedly safer for the engine, as there was no danger of over-revving it down the straights. But it did struggle a little over the mountain, and I had to learn to use the change in gearing that occurs when the bike is leant over to my advantage - for instance, along most of the (slightly uphill) Mountain Mile, it would only slowly approach the red line in 5th gear. However, heeling it over on the two flat out kinks at the end changed the effective gearing enough to allow me to snick top gear, and for the bike to pull through. However, ultimately, the change back to 15/39 was probably a mistake, as my lap times in the race weren't as good as this mornings practice, but only by a few seconds.

There was also a stark reminder of the risks involved. Only 7.5 miles from the start, at Ballacraine, the yellow flags were out, and waved vigourously at Ballaspur - one of the front runners had gone down on the exit, and there were bits of bike everywhere, and the rider being tended at the side of the road. In fact, this accident took most of the race for the marshals to clear, and it was only on the last lap that everything was tidied up, and even then the oil flag was out, and there was lots of cement dust down.

This was my third race I'd started at the Classic TT on the TZ250, and I'd never got as far as the pit stop before! In 2016 the bike seized on the first lap, throwing me down the road at Ballacob, just before Balluagh, and in 2017 the gear linkage failed on the second lap accelerating up towards Waterworks from Ramsey hairpin. So for the first two laps I was just talking to the bike, urging it to get me to the pit stop. The bike was definitely affected by the wind in places, and I could feel the revs rise as I forced my body and shoulders to get behind the screen, but I could also feel my body complain about the unnatural shape I was forcing it into. Perhaps I really am too old to do this anymore! But the bike kept running nicely, I kept hitting my marks, and as I ran down from the Creg on lap two it seemed certain I would at least make the pit stop. Which I did!

The TZ doesn't have anything as sophisticated as a pit lane speed limiter, so I had to judge my speed with the aid of the displays at the entrance and exit of the pit lane, to make sure I didn't break the 60kph limit. As I approached the entrance, the speed display said 62kph, I so I obviously slowed some more before crossing what I though was the line, and pottered to my pit, about half way along. Simon and Simon did a great job, fuelling the bike, giving me a drink and cleaning my visor - they talked to me, told me I was in a good postion, and lots of people were stopping with bike issues out on the course. And then we seemed to be away in no time. The bike took two drops of the clutch to start, but when it fired I looked at the exit speed display, which only read 38kph, and I kept it at that until I passed it and then opened the throttle fully. More on this later...

Back down Bray Hill again, with another full tank of fuel, so I was particularly careful round Quarter Bridge again - a corner with everything to lose, and not a lot to gain. At this point of the race, having done two laps, it can feel a bit daunting to have to do two more, but I kept talking to myself to keep my concentration up, and talking to the bike asking it to keep going, and the corners and miles ticked away. By now I'd managed to gain some consistency with regards to which gear to use for which corner, and I think my braking and turn-in points were similarly reliable. I'd figured out how to coax the bike over the mountain on the very-slightly-too-tall gearing and as I came back down to Douglas on the third lap I was talking to the bike, promising just one more lap, and I wouldn't ask it to do it again. My body was going to be similarly pleased - my neck and shoulders were definitely complaining as I forced myself behind the screen, and my right leg was a little numb, too, requiring me to move my foot around on some of the straights. On the last lap I definitely felt like I was in 'just get to the finish' mode, but in fact was only 5 seconds slow than my fastest lap. The bike kept running beautifully, and as I climbed the mountain for the last time I saw my mate Keith waving from his marshals point at Guthries, and then along the Mountain Mile a few more marshals who knew me were waving too. I was aware of the dangers of relaxing at this stage, so kept my focus and concentration up - it's not over until it's over. I rounded the Creg and felt sure the bike would make the finish. On the exit of Governers Dip the marshals were clapping, and I accelerated towards the flag shouting and screaming inside my helmet - I'd done it, I'd got a bloody finish on the TZ!

Si Wilson was waiting to take the bike from me as I got back up the return road, and Vanessa was there with a drink.  Simon said I'd probably finished in 13th - in fact I was 12th, out of 21 finishers, from 35-ish starters.  Also, with reference to the pit lane speed limit I covered above - I'd been penalised 30 seconds for breaking the 60kph speed limit, at 60.793kph!  The riders either side of me were distant enough that the 30 seconds didn't affect my position, and it is a matter of fact, so I don't feel hard done by, but I definitely need to better understand where the limit zone starts and ends before Monday's race!

But for a moment I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I'd bought the TZ when the Classic classes were changed to make GP250s eligible, three years earlier, and now I managed a finish. In those three years I'd learnt an incredible amount...and spent quite a bit of money!  But now I am definitely a GP250 racer! 

That evening we all went out to celebrate. Which would take a whole other post...

Now that's what practice is meant to be like

August 26th, 2018

[written two days after it happened - apologies for the delay, and anything I might have forgotten]

There was an additional practice session scheduled for this afternoon, but once again the Manx weather laughed in our faces, and very heavy showers soaked the circuit, causing the session to be cancelled. But then, like a fickle mistress, about 4pm the sun came out and the roads dried, and it started to look like we might get a full practice session in this evening. Both bikes were ready, and now that we had qualified the TZ (see yesterday's post), the pressure was off on that bike. We still had a couple of things to try, though - we felt sure it was overjetted (although yours truly had forgotten to do a plug chop at the end of the last lap yesterday), so we'd dropped a jet size, from 420s to 410. The bike usually runs around 380s on short circuits, but received wisdom is that, because you spend so long absolutely flat in top on the TT course, you need to go up 3 or 4 sizes. I'd gone 'safety first', and gone up to 420s, but in yesterday's session it wasn't happy at less than 10,000 rpm in 4th gear or higher. And we also wanted to try slightly different gearing - again I was running the general recommendation of 15/39, but it felt slightly tall, so we wanted to try 15/40. On the basis that you only change one thing at a time, we planned to do one lap with the 410 jets, and then quickly come in, swap the sprocket, and do another lap with the revised gearing.

Tonight's order of business was the faster bikes first, which included the Classic TT Superbikes i.e. my ZXR750, and then the slower bikes in the second session, where I had dispensation to run the TZ250 (which nominally should also be out in the faster session - but lots of riders with two bikes in the same group get approval to run one 'out of session'). So I planned to do two more laps on the ZXR, to continue getting up to speed on that bike, and then two more, as described above, on the TZ.

The session actually got away on time, and, as one of the higher (or is it lower?) seeded riders (with number 60 on the ZXR), I eventually got away about 10 minutes after the fast boys. Conditions were pretty good, with just a few damp patches under the trees from the afternoon's downpour. I've started to describe the ZXR as being like a 'comfy pair of slippers' - it really is that familiar and comfortable to ride. I did two laps, including having a bit of fun in the company of a couple of a few other guys, and brought it in happy enough with two good, but not particularly fast laps, at 105 and 106mph. When I came in, the second session had already started, and Si Wilson did a great job of getting the bike running, under me, and then clearing a passage down the pit lane to get out.

The TZ immediately felt crisper on the 410 jets, which was good. The problem with practising out of class is that some of the much older 350 and 500 four-strokes are quite a bit slower, and one has to be both careful and considerate when passing them. But otherwise the bike pulled well, but still only ran to about 11,750~12,000 rpm down Sulby Straight. Over the mountain, while it didn't bog down anywhere, it still wasn't as eager as I'd like, so I pulled in at the end of the lap, and the two Simons (Wilson and Weller) pulled the rear wheel out and swapped the sprocket. We only had 10 minutes before the end of the session, but that was easily enough, even allowing for a bit of ham-fistedness with with the rear brake caliper, and I got out with a few minutes left. The bike immediately felt a little easier to ride in the higher gears, without needing to be revved to the very limit before changing up. In fact I was slightly slower on the second lap, but I put that down to already having done three laps, and the light failing, and, as always, wanting to bring the bike home.

So that's what TT practice ought to be like - a good evening with two laps on each bike. After the loss of practice for most of the week, though, I'd now doubled my total practice laps from four to eight! Usually I might be at this point on the third night of practice. But plenty of people were in a far worse situation than me, so I had nothing to complain about.

But we did have some work to do. As a full on Grand Prix two-stroke, the mileage limits on the TZ are onerous - for example, the pistons should be replaced after 300 miles. With a TT lap being 37 miles, you don't need to do many before this becomes an issue, especially when the race is four laps i.e. half the limit. I knew this in advance, and had a set of pistons (and rings, gudgeon pin, small end bearing and piston circlips) ready to go in before the race - in fact, ideally, one practice before the race. Because of all the lost practice in the week, there is an extra practice session in the morning, which would give us a chance to 'run in' the new parts, before the race in the afternoon. That evening, it was already dark, the bike was very hot, and we were hungry, so we decided to do it first thing in the morning. But that's in the next post...

And finally...

August 24th, 2018

...we get out on track!

After losing practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we were running into extra time. The Manx Motorcycle Club (the organising club) had secured the option to close the roads for practice sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoon, as well as the evening sessions, and this was definitely now needed. Roads were due to close at 12:30 with practice starting at 1pm. This meant that the bikes had to be up for scrutineering at 10:45, which was a lot earlier than we were used to. But as the bikes hadn't turned a wheel all week, there was nothing for the scrutes to find anyway, and so once again they were sat on stands with the tyre warmers on, ready to go. But then the Manx weather demonstrated again that it hadn't read its own forecast, and it tipped down!. The long suffering clerk of the course, Gary Thompson, came on the tannoy to say that there would be an hour's delay, and the roads would stay open. And then the rain got really heavy, and clearly no one was going to be going anywhere, and the whole session was cancelled. This was getting beyond a joke. And then the rain stopped and the sun came out, and the whole feel of the place changed. I borrowed Simon's Honda CRF supermoto, and went on a 'course inspection', at least to see how wet the roads were under the trees in the Glen Helen section. Amd the answer was 'pretty wet'. I doubted we'd go off on time for the evening session, but the wind was blowing and the evening home traffic was drying it out, so maybe.

As we still had no laps, count them, zero laps, on the TZ, that was still the priority to get out, so that was going in the first session. And it actually went off on time, with warnings from Gary Thompson about the damp patches. Alex and Simon fired up the TZ (using my whizzy socket-wiv-a-slipper-clutch-on a drill) in the holding area, and soon I was paddling down to the starting lane, and got the tap on the shoulder to go. I was out with the really old Classics (350 and 500 four-strokes) and the slower MGP bikes - 400s and 650 supertwins. In this company, the TZ felt like a interstellar starship - it was faster, handled better, and had better brakes. But it was practice, not a race, and a degree of courtesy is required passing slower riders. And I really needed the bike to hold together and get round! On this last point, I was a little worried - I'd either over-geared it, or over-jetted it, or both. It wouldn't pull top gear as strongly as it should, if at all on some inclines, and in 4th gear or higher wouldn't pull with anything less that 10,000 rpm on the clock. But if I kept it singing it went OK, and I was enjoying myself. And felt reasonably fast, too, but that might have been the flattering slower traffic I went past the pits and started my second lap feeling quite good. On this lap I caught up with Manx mate Andy Cowie, out on Woody's ZXR400. He was going well, and it took me a while to find a safe spot to pass him. After this, there was a lot less traffic, and I found myself willing the bike not to let me down. And it didn't - we finished the second lap. Amazingly, this is the first time (I think) since I've owned it that the TZ has done two laps in a row.

The plan had been to go out on the ZXR750 in the second session, but the weather gods were against us again - there'd been a serious rain shower on the west of the Island, and a good part of the track was soaking wet. Once again, Gary Thompson had little choice but to cancel the second session - the big 750s and 1000s, many on slicks, are just too powerful nowadays to run on soaked roads (even though I, and plenty of proper TT stars, used to do it back in the day. But times have changed).

I was a little disappointed in my laptimes on the T, but a best of 96mph meant that I'd qualified it. So that's both bikes qualified now! I'm ahead of most people in the paddock in this, right now.

There's an afternoon and an evening session tomorrow, so another busy day.

UPDATE: I wrote this on Thursday evening.  Things have continued to go badly, with regard to the weather....]

From tragedy to farce

August 23rd, 2018

This is getting ridiculous...

At the third time of trying to run a practice session this week, the weather was finally perfect.  But, an hour before the roads closed, there was a serious accident, apparently a head-on collision between two motorcycles, at Guthries, on the mountain.  The police had to conduct a full investigation, which to me implies that at least one person died.  We were all up in the holding area, and time ticked on.  Eventually, the exasperation apparent in his voice, Gary Thompson came over the tannoy to say the first session (which both my bikes we ready for) was to be cancelled.  As we wheeled them away, I suddenly remembered that I'd been given permission to practice to the TZ250 "out of class", in the second session with the (slightly) slower bikes - so we quickly wheeled it back into pit lane.   And then waited some more, and some more, and then Gary had to announce that we'd run out of time, and the second session was also cancelled.  Only the newcomers, on their escorted 'speed controlled' got out, just before the roads open car was due.

We have an extra sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoon, to make up for the complete loss of practice so far this week.  This is great, but if we have any issues with the bikes, it gives us a lot less time to fix them before the next session.  But it can't be helped.

Currently sat typing this on Thursday morning, listening to the rain on the outside of the tent.  It's meant to stop by lunchtime.  We shall see...