2014 plans

November 27th, 2013

I can't help but look back on 2013 with a feeling of satisfaction - raced the TT for the first time, didn't disgrace myself, didn't hurt myself, and had some really enjoyable and successful outings with Andreas Racing at Jurby Airfield.

But it's November now, and I'm already thinking about 2014.  Current plans are:

  • TT - on Dave Clarke's brilliant ER6, and one (not two) other bike - probably another ZX10R
  • A full season with Andreas racing, with perhaps a chance of challenging for a championship
  • Classic TT - running a 1992 ZXR750 in the F1 class

Given all this, plus the ususal climbing, snowboarding, mountan bike & road cycling, I've taken heed of the words my surgeon impressed on me after putting a pin down the middle of my right femur in 2008.  He said it would be "very bad" if I broke the bone again with the metal in it.  So I've taken advantage of the off-season to have the pin removed.  I went into hospital last Tuesday at 11:30am, the inestimable Mr Holt removed the pin that afternoon, and I walked out of hospital the following morning (with the aid of a stick).  The leg is feeling pretty good, but I have to be careful not to shock it for the next 6~8 weeks while the holes in the bone (where the screws were) strengthen.  But yesterday I felt good enough to ride my bicycle for a couple of miles, and the stick hasn't been used much.

On Friday the staples are coming out (stitches are so 20th century); the wounds look to me like they are healing nicely.  A couple of photos follow - look away if you're squeamish.

Knee, where screw was removedHip with staples

Last meeting of the season, Day 2

September 23rd, 2013

After the brilliant highs, and really not-too-bad low of Saturday, we did it all again on Sunday.  I was obviously quite excited, as I was awake before 6am.  Fortified by a McKay bacon butty, we headed to the track.  The forecast was for "dry, sunny, and unseasonably warm", and so it turned out.

The track was run in the opposite direction to yesterday, so clockwise/right-handed.  This was the config we used in July, when I had a grand day out, so I was quite happy.  But after yesterday's winning exploits, perhaps I expected too much, or maybe wasn't forceful enough with traffic, as I only did a 1:17 and then a 1:16 in my two practice sessions.  This was ok, good enough for second row starts in both classes, but didn’t compare with the P2 start I got in the 650 twins yesterday.  Perhaps it was a reminder not to get complacent

Race 1: Steelies + singles/twins/triples + classics (aka Wacky Races)

I'd qualified p6, and one of the Martin Bullock riders, Dean Osborne was in P4.  Hmm.  If I wanted another win, I was going to have to work here.  I made a cracking start (I seem to have nailed the start technique on Dave Clarke's ER6, and it just leaps off the line), into 4th place following Ryan Kneen on the 'classic' OW01 (Bike: built 1989; Ryan: born 1989) and the two fast steelie boys (Matt Mylchreest and Mally Oates).  And then on the entry into Nan's, Dean Osborne came past; actually, he nearly came through me, clouting my arm good and hard.  This pissed me off a bit.  I chased him round for a lap, and could see that I had a bit more speed in lots of places.  I lined up a standard block past on the left hander before the pits, and showed him not just my front wheel but half the bike too.  He just turned in across me, forcing me to grab the brakes.  This pissed me off a lot.  Fortunately, the combination of my bike's pace, and (I like to think) the better drive I get onto the straight, allowed me to pass him in a straight line.  I didn't see him again. Hah. I held onto 4th, and 1st in class, with a best lap of 1:13.505.  Which just happened to be a lap record for this class on this circuit!  *Very* pleased about this!  I’m a lap record holder!

Race 2: 650 twins + 400s

After wrapping up the championship yesterday, class star Callum Colister (has won every race he started) didn't go out, leaving things a bit more open for me.  I was starting P4, but Dean Osborne was ahead again, as well as fast youngster Nathan Harrison, and 400 class champion Dave Kennington.  I got away well, but didn't make any places until I passed Dave's 400 on good old fashioned power down the straight.  But the two 650 twins in front of me were setting a good pace, and I thought I'd have to work for this one.  To save me some of the trouble, Nathan Harrison lost the front on the left-hander before the paddock, and I set my sights on Dean.  Half a lap later the red flags came out, as apparently a load of other people had also crashed.  We waited quite a while, then rode back round to the restart.  Two more warm up laps, and then a shortened 4 lap race, which I have to say wasn't very memorable - I think I got past Dean at the start, blew past Dave's 400 on the straight, and didn't see anyone else.  Another win, and a best lap of 1:13.230.  Could I get into the 12s in this direction too? [spoiler: no]

There was some intrigue in the lunchtime gap.  While I'd been focussed on trying to get into the top 3 of the 650 twins class, I'd surprised myself by jumping to second place in the singles twins & triples class (from about 12th), following yesterday's 30 points from two wins.  The class leader, Rich Waterfall, had started the day 27 points ahead, so only needed 4 points even if I won both races.  But, in the morning race he'd had a problem with his bike, and only scored 1 point...and his bike had now lost 4th gear! If I won the next race and he scored less than 3 points, I'd be champion!  I felt a bit shitty about this, as he'd been placing in the top 6 all season, and now a bike failure and some Johnny-come-lately (me) could rob him.  We had a chat about it, and he was very philosophical. He sounded like he wasn't going to start the race, but when it was called, I saw him head out to the collecting area, so he was clearly going to try and get the couple of points he needed.

Race 3: Steelies + singles/twins/triples + classics (aka Wacky Races)

Having won the first running of this race, I was obviously confident for the second.  Ryan Kneen on the OW01 and Matt and Mally on steelies dashed away, but this time I was right on their tail.  Close enough to see Ryan sail way over the white line on the exit, into the really gritty, dirty part of the track and just about onto the grass.  Didn't slow him down any, and he didn't get passed on the straight.  I managed to hang on to these guys for most of the lap, but by the end of it they had a second or so on me, and I tried to just settle into my own rhythm.  Which wasn’t helped by the fact that the quick-shifter wasn't working, and even clutched up-changes weren't entirely reliable. This must have cost me time, because on the 4th lap Dean Harrison came past.  Damn! I needed to win to get the championship!  I hoped I could get him on the straight, as I'd been able to do all weekend, but the more measured gear changes meant I couldn't quite make it.  I was comfortably on his tail everywhere, but there wasn't an obvious pass anywhere else on the circuit.  We went past the last lap flag, so it was my last chance on the straight.  I focussed everything on getting good drive, but he'd obviously improved here too, and as we headed towards the flat-in-top kink of Snuffies, I wasn't close enough.  But I knew I always carried more speed than Dean through here, so just gritted my teeth and flew round the outside of him into the braking zone for the bus stop.  I threw out the anchors and got round, and then just kept my nose clean round Nan's and back towards the start.  Defensive lines on the last two corners ensured the win.  Best lap of 13.756 (on the last lap).

As it turned out, Rich Waterfall managed to get 7th in class, and 4 points, thus clinching the championship by 2 points.  I don't begrudge him that at all.

Race 4: 650 twins + 400s

Last race of the day, the weekend and the season.  The circuit was bathed in late afternoon sunshine, it was unseasonably warm, and I was looking for the perfect end to the perfect day.  Let's not f*** it up, eh?  And I didn't :-)  Despite having to change up with the clutch, and even struggling to get a clean change every time, I managed straightforward passes on Dave Kennington and Dean Osborne, and a comfortable run to the flag.  Another win and fastest lap of 1:13.614.  [Looking at the lap times, I'm also pleased to note better consistency for the race - 1.1 seconds between fastest and slowest laps, which is much better than previous races]

So there we are - what an unbelievable weekend :

  • 8 starts
  • 7 wins
  • a damage- and injury-free crash (while leading – that’s important!) 
  • a lap record.  
  • Third place in the 650 twins championship (started 9 races of the seasons’s 13) 
  • Second place in the singles, twins and triples championship (starting 6 races of the 13)

We drank quite a lot that evening, which hurts now, especially as I had to be up before 6am to get to the airport.

Special thanks to Dave Clarke for letting me ride his fabulous bike, and especially to Keith McKay, without whom I wouldn't be doing any of this.  

Of course, now I'm already making plans for the 2014 season...

Last meeting of the season, Day 1

September 22nd, 2013
I didn't need to do this meeting, and wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Mephistopheles (aka Keith McKay) pointing out that I was 5th in the 650 twin championship (after doing 3 of 5 rounds), and could maybe get inthe top 3.  Dave Clarke  agreed that I could ride his wonderful ER6 again for the weekend, so I signed up, booked flights, etc
The weather forecast was mostly good, with the odd chance of a little dampness, and so it turned out.  A bit of drizzly nothingness in practice (made your visor wet, but not the track), and dry for all the races.
This is a 2 day meeting and today (Saturday) is the anti-clockwise / left-handed circuit.  Which I've not ridden since April.  Still, first practice in the 'Wacky Races' (3 classes in one race: steelies, singles, twins and triples, post-classics) went well, and I put it on the 3rd row with a 1:16.7.  Importantly, no-one in my class qualified ahead of me.  For second practice, for the 650 twins (the class I was more interested in), I managed to find a bit more, and got P2 (front row!) with a 1:14.3.  Callum Colister (2013 MGP Newcomer winner), who had won every race this year in this class, did a 1:12.6, so I was looking at a 2nd place at best.
Time rolled round and we lined up for the wacky races.  I got away ok, made a place or two, and followed half-a-dozen quick steelies round for a lap (all being led by Ryan Kneen, in the classic class, on an OW01!).  On the 2nd lap, one of the guys in front highsided, and we all threaded past (it's a measure of how unpleasant a person I am when competing that when someone crashes in front of me, I smile).  One lap later, the race was red-flagged.  Damn. 
We lined up again, with a gap in front of me from Mr Highsider, and got away again for a shortened 4 lap race.  A better start, and I think I was into 5th, and made a place up a lap later.  From then on, Ryan rode away on his OW01 (best lap 1:11.0 !!!), two steelies ran a second or so slower, and I got 4th, and 1st in class, with a best lap of 1:13.1 - a whole second faster than my then unbelievable best lap in July.  What is going on...?
Not much later, we lined up for the 650 twins (also run with the 400s).  I was P2, but there was a gap where pole position was - the unbeatable Callum Collister hadn't joined the grid.  So I knew I was on for the win, and that's what I did, by a margin of 5 seconds by the end. Best lap of 1:13.9, so still in the 13s, but (as I promised Keith, see more below...) not trying *too* hard.  Even better, the guys I was trying to catch, for 3rd (or maybe even 2nd...) in the championship only managed 6th and 7th places.
The second wacky race was also red-flagged, after one lap this time, but when we eventually got away I again got myself into 4th place, 1st in class, with a best lap of 1:13.7
So, three starts, three wins....it could only go downhill from here.
Last race of the day was the second 650 twins race.  Callum Collister joined this one on a different Kawasaki ER6 (turns out his had blown up).  He and I left the line absolutely neck and neck, but he had the inside line to the corner, and took the lead.  Over the next lap he stretched out a second or so (not helped by 400 class leader Dave Kennington trying to force through - I rebuffed him "firmly").  On the second lap I was thinking 2nd was ok, when...Callum started coming back towards me.  By the bus-stop chicane I was nearly on him, and chased him through the fastest corner of the track (Snuffies) and settled into his slipstream on the back straight. And it was here that Callum had the mother of all tank-slappers.  I thought we were both going to be off, if not dead.  I *just* managed to flick to the side, and flew past him as he fought his bike, both feet off the pegs like an Ewok on a speeder.  Now I was leading!  I knew Callum would come back at me, so tried to keep focussed and fast.  On lap 4 I allowed myself a glance behind on the straight, and saw another bike, not too close, but not too far away either.  On the penultimate lap I was still leading, and quickly catching a back-marker.  I really didn't want to be held up, and started to think where I was going to get past - when, as I was about 5m behind him, the front tucked on the bumps into Nans, and I was sliding along on my arse. Loss of focus, rolling the throttle slightly - I don't know the cause, but I know it was 100% my fault.
When I came to a halt I quickly found I was completely unhurt, and the bike had only lost half a clutch level.  Andreas has a 'no restart' policy, so my race was done.  Zero points.  Shit.
Still when we got back to the paddock and assessed the damage properly, the bike needed the following:
- replacement clutch level
- replacement gear change toe-thingy (iyswim)
- that was it.
I'm not going to get pissed off with a crash like that.  Especially as I was leading the race, and set a best lap of 1:12.9.  Into the 12s!
Looking at the championship tables, I'm into 4th place in the 650 twins, with a chance of getting 3rd tomorrow (2nd is now beyond reach).  Interestingly, 2 wins in the singles, twins and triples has put me in 2nd place in that championship!  1st place is mathematically possible, but requires the leader to not show up.  Today he got a 3rd and a 4th, so this is a tall order.
This is quite possibly the best mood I've even been in after crashing a motorbike.  3 wins! Three!  And crashing while leading ahead of the class champion - rock and roll!!!
Apologies if this is all bit too enthusiastic and full of myself.  It'll pass soon, I'm sure.

Less power, more mud

September 15th, 2013

Manx End to End Mountain Bike Challenge

I've ridden this 3 times before, and it's almost become a staple of my calendar now.  I've struggled to find an action photograph of me, but this post-event pic is probably worth the following thousand words: 

Muddy & Smiling

 I arrived on the Island Saturday lunchtime, parked the car in Q-Parks in Liverpool, got on the boat full of bicycles, arrived, beat everyone else off the boat and up the hill to Nobles Park to sign on, met Keith who picked me up and took us back to Ramsey, went for a cuppa, with Slick, had a quiet pre-dinner pint in the Traff, then back to Aardvark Towers for pasta and a relatively early night.

 Up at 7:30 on Sunday morning, fuelled with porridge and banana, filled camelback with go-juice, checked and treble-checked supplies, tubes, tools, kit, etc and then the Aardvark Support Crew (Keith) drove me up to the Point of Ayre. The place was already thick with people and bikes.  The entry was limited to 1700 people, and even allowing for a few hundred no-shows, there was still a lot of people there.  And a biting wind, and a hint of rain in the air.  And an hour until the start.  I passed the time sheltering where I could, and chatting to other folk.  It *was* a little bit of a shame not to have any friends there, but I'm a gregarious sort of chap, who will talk to anyone.  Eventually I figured I should get in line for the start, only to realise that a few hundred people had already thought of this.  The start was not well organised this year - there were no flags marking expected pace (4 hours, 5 hours, etc), so the collecting area / line was just a melee.  So I got as far forward as I could, figuring that while there were a few hundred in front of me, it looked like there was about a thousand behind me.

 The time came around to 10am, and the horn went, and the 100 seeded riders were away, and then....nothing.  I could see the start line, and there was a definite gap of a couple of mins before they started setting off the rest of the field. Don't know why, and with everyone having a timing chip, it didn't matter anyway.  We shuffled forward, eventually able to get on and peddle, and I crossed the line at about 10 minutes past 10.

 My plan was to get with a group running a decent pace, and hide from the wind.  Which I mostly managed to do.  It felt like many more people came past me than I went past, but I usually managed to hang on to each fast set for a little while, and spent hardly any time in the wind by myself.  I felt like I was at the right pace, not pushing myself too hard, but hard enough, iyswim.  I'd told Keith that I wouldn't be at The Cronk before 10:45, but checking my watch that was exactly when I did arrive. I looked for Keef, but didn't see him, and he never saw me, either.  A quick look at Google Maps now suggests that The Cronk is 19.4km from the start, which in 35 mins is not a bad pace <sums> Hmm 33km/h, which on a fat tyred sit-up mountain bike is pretty bloody good for me. I knew the first climb of the day was only a few km away, so I paced myself to Ballaugh, but was heading for the first off road section before 11am, which felt like a good time check.

 The weather wasn't as windy as last year, and the rain was holding off.  I headed up the first climb, which is quite a long one, and cycled almost all of it until a chap in front of me lost traction and I had to stop too.  It wasn't a  problem, as it was steep enough that walking was no slower than riding, and pretty much everyone else was pushing too.  Once up onto the top, I knew this year was going to be better than last, as the killer headwind which had greeted us here last year was absent.  But it was wet and muddy up there - there were puddles of mud everywhere, so I communed with my inner ten-year-old and joyously splashed through them.  The route was a little different from last year, and I seemed to be on the run down to food station on the Drysdale road in no time.  In fact it was about 11:45.  Still I felt really good, and unlike previous years felt no need to stop for food or water.

 This part of the route undulates up and down on fire trails and farm tracks.  I generally lost places on the climbs, and gained them on the downs.  I can climb, but I can't do so quickly, so I just have to set a pace that I know I can tap out continuously, and this is where I think I lose out.  But on the downhills I took no prisoners, often going 'off line' to bounce over the bigger rocks past people, cheerily calling 'on your right|left' as I went.  But on some parts it was impossible to overtake - I'm not going to make a big deal out of this, as with the best will in the world, I doubt I could have been slowed more than 5 or 10 minutes over the whole route.  Anyway, only one person overtook me all day going downhill (in the grassy field where I crashed in fine comedy style last year), and I quickly got him back once he'd demonstrated how much grip there actually was.

 Soon enough I was at the check-point at St Johns, and I did stop here to eat something, and drink some proffered water (tho my camelback was still lasting well).  According to the timing system, my first leg took me 2 hours 42 mins, meaning I was there at about 12:50.  As I cycled away on the road I heard "Go Champ!" and looked round to see Andy Cowie of this parish, with the lovely Samantha.  Thanks for turning out to support, guys.

 I then had a bit of a dip - only half-way, and the road turned up again.  I wasn't sure I wanted to do another 2.5 hours on the bike.  This part of the route was different this year, and, I think, slightly easier, but not much - the first off-road climb was bloody steep, and I and everyone around me got off and pushed up it.  And then it was back on for a long, long slog up hill.  If I hadn't been muddy before, I definitely was now, as the ground was sodden.  Still, every so often the route turned downhill, and these bits were fun.  At one point I came across 3~4 people cautiously negotiating a rocky downhill into a hairpin, and I just blitzed past them on the outside in a slither of loose rocks, rode the berm round the corner and accelerated off down the next pitch.  I felt so exhilarated I couldn't help shouting "Woo hoo!" as I did it.  Hope they didn't think I was being rude.

 Shortly after this we headed into the purpose-built single-track section in the Arrassey Plantation, which was properly technical, and very enjoyable.  Unfortunately it was over a little too soon, but then I was soon upon the last food/drink stop.  I checked my watch, and had 40 mins until my target of 5 hours - I wasn't going to make it.  And I needed a break, so forced myself to stop for a couple of mins, eat, top up the camelback (which was nearly empty) and stretch out my legs.  I headed off up the next climb, which I knew was the last real big one.  The food and drink seemed to work, as 20 mins later I felt much better, and was able to ride without suffering too much.  Pretty soon we crested a rise and could see the southern tip of the Island, and I knew it was mostly downhill from here.  The off-road path here is very narrow, making overtaking all but impossible, but the people I caught weren't going much slower than me anyway, and I was able to scoot past on the couple of occasions that the path widened.  Then I was on run down to the road at Port Erin, and soon across to the bottom of the climb up to Cregneash.  This is a real, real killer, but I knew just to put the bike in bottom gear, and tap away.  I was still putting a lot into it, tho, and while I was able to raise my hands above my head as I crossed the finish line (damn I wish I could find a photo) I really needed to get off the bike and lie down for a couple of minutes immediately after.

 But then I was ok, and was able to get up, get a coffee and some cake, and sort out the logistics of meeting up with Keef with a dead phone battery.  Which the wonderful people at Manx Timing Solutions sorted out for me.

 My final time was 5:20:37, and I was in 599th position out of 1263 finishers (although only 1147 made it to the finish - the rest stopped at St Johns)  I crossed the line some 5 or 10 minutes ahead of Connor Cummins, which I was really Very Pleased With Indeed, but the final results placed him some 3 minutes ahead of me, so he must have started a fair bit later.  Damn.

During much of the second leg, I told myself that I wouldn't be doing it again.  And, I think, I probably won't, by myself.  However, if any of my regular cycling friends fancied it, I could almost certainly be talked into it....

First meeting after TT 2013

July 30th, 2013
In order to keep my TT Mountain Course Licence up for next year, I need to do a few more meetings, so went back to the Island to ride Dave Clarke's 650 twin at the Andreas Racing meeting at the end of July. The unexpected summer had extended to the Isle of Man, but was dampened by a storm on Saturday night.  Still, the roads to the circuit were already drying nicely as we drove out from Ramsey to Jurby International Speed Bowl Raceway, and the forecast was for another good day, with maybe the chance of a storm.
At the riders briefing there was a minutes silence for the riders lost at the Southern 100 - David Dukes, Paul Thomas and Mark Madsen-Mygdal, and then a parade lap (3 actually) of the whole field, plus some road riders, including Mark's dad Dave, who I've known moderately well since the 1980s. The meeting also had a slightly subdued feel as two local men had died 24 hours earlier when their small fishing boat had overturned.  As is the case with the Island, almost everybody knew them.
By first practice the circuit was completely dry - I got out at the back and felt like I overtook *everybody*.  I was actually disappointed to find I was 8th (middle of the 3rd row), but with local Ramsey mates Steve Ault on one side, and Andy Cowie on the other, we knew we'd have some fun.  My time was a 1:19, which turns out to be the pace I got down to last time out at Jurby on the twin, so not a bad start.  This event is referred to by Keith as "The Wacky Races", as it's a combined grid of 'post-classics', 'singles, twins & triples' and 'steelies'.
Second practice (for 650 twins & 400 fours) didn't feel a whole lot faster, but was - a low 1:16, putting me third on the grid!  Front row!!!  Pole was local hotshot Callum Callister, and 2nd was Johnny Barton, who was 12th in the Lightweight TT with his twin, so no slouch.
First race was the first Wacky Race, gridded with mates Steve & Andy.  I managed to beat Andy (on the venerable Thundercat) off the line, but Steve launched his TL1000 well, and showed no fear in the traffic.  I got behind him, into 9th place, and then followed him for 5 frustrating laps - my bike was much more nimble through all the direction changes, but Steve's 1000cc v-twin leapt off the corners, and he was good on the brakes too.  I kept harrying, waiting for a mistake, and he made one - on the last corner - just outbraking himself a little and leaving room for me to get up the inside.  
8th place overall, 2nd in class, best lap 1;16.2
Second race was the 650 twins/400 fours.  I took my unfamiliar position on the front row, the lights changed, and pole man Collister fluffed the start.  Johnny Barton and I leapt through.  I'd only recently come in from my first race, while Callum and Johnny only entered the 650 twins, so I 'had my eye in', and charged after JB down the back straight, noting that my bike was actually a bit quicker, and maybe I could make a move on the flat-out kink 'Snuffies', but thought better of it...but Callulm Collister had no such compunction, and stuffed it underneath me.  He spent another half-lap getting past Johnny, and then cleared off.  I kept Johnny honest for the rest of the race, losing time through backmarkers then clawing it back, and was very pleased that he was only two-anna-bit seconds ahead at the flag.
3rd place, best lap 1:14.0
When I checked the results, I was actually lost for words.  A 1:14!!! A 1:14.zero?!?!?  How had I found 5 seconds since first practice? How was I riding up with the likes of Johnny Barton and Callum Connister (who, it has to be said, did a 1:12.2).  Hmmm
Bit of a break before the second run through the card, so it was out of leathers and into shorts for the glorious Jurby weather.  Not a sentence I've written many times.
For the second outing in the Wacky Races, I knew I had to get ahead of Steve Ault from the start.  I got a great launch, but so did he, and we both ran around the row in front, him on the left, me on the right.  He arrived at the chicane slightly in front, but on a very tight line, and I just forced my way round the outside. First job done.  There were 4 steelies in front of me, but the one just ahead looked a bit ragged.  I pressed on, and a lap later he ran wide at the flat kink Snuffies, sitting up and heading for the grass.  In the heat of battle, I shouted 'Yes!' inside my helmet.  I suspect I have issues...   I focussed on the 3 steelies ahead, but they slowly but surely out-paced me.  Still, first in class would do...until John Craine came past on the last lap on his 675 Triumph.  D'oh.  I'd been caught napping.
5th place, 2nd in class, best lap 1:14.8
Last race was the 650 twins, 400 fours.  This was back to back with the Wacky Races, so unlike Callum and Johnny, I had hot tyres and my race face on.  The flag dropped, I stuck the front wheel in the air, got it down, and followed them both into the first corner.  But I was able to get better drive onto the back straight than Johnny, and got past cleanly before Snuffies.  I focussed so hard braking into the bus-stop that I miscounted the down-changes and ended up in first, with the rear wheel all over the place.  But I kept it together, and kept my head down.  Callum road away from me (another fastest lap of 1:12.2 from him), but while I expected a challenge from Johnny, it didn't come.
2nd place, best lap 1:14.7
So - two 2nds in class in the Wacky Races (both behind a 675 Triumph) and a 3rd and then a 2nd in the 650 twins.  A bloody good day out, in glorious weather.  Drink was taken later that evening.