Finally...the entries are posted and Team SandM decide to try their hand in the big one - The SUPERCLUB Championship at Oulton Park - the biggest round of the New Era season. Moldy and Longy were feeling very edgy... With only 30 laps of Mallory under their belt in the last 6 months they were trying to recall why Nemesis and Oblivion were not clearly marked on the Alton Park circuit guide. To add to the riders mental frenzy, a whole entourage of race fans were coming to watch the team from all corners of the globe...family, friends, their children, their children's children, mechanics, electricians......now was the moment of truth - could the boys take the heat!?
The Day before D-Day
The mental strain began to tell as they loaded the two very tired racing bikes into the recently acquired rusty old van lovingly named The Smoker (it smoked its way through 5 litres of engine oil in just 350 miles!). Moldy decides to fill the van with enough camping gear for a month long hike up the Himalayas leaving no room for wet weather wheels - fingers were crossed the BBC forecast was correct for sunshine.
The Night Before D-Day
The ole smoker arrives late in the night....Moldy soon realizes his shiny new family sized tent requires a PhD in Rocket Physics to erect, so, at the end of their tether, the team decides to squat in the New Era "Officially reserved" garage #1 in the hope no one finds them. Too tired to even pump up the air bed, the two lardy riders cuddle up on the hard metal floor of The Smoker and start counting Hornets.....whilst Tim, the teams loyal Sparky, slips into his one man tent hoping he will be awakened by the the curvaceous New Era pit official....
Concerned with the level of rust on the Ole Smoker, Paul Fryer, championship leader, decides to wake up Moldy requesting he takes the van through scrutineering together with the race bikes. Moldy manages to raise a smile, but is actually annoyed as he planned to sleep through qualifying and get out of the race.
With the expectation of at least matching his pole position qualifying time of 1m 56s in 2005, Longy nails the Hornet off the line...three corners later, it was clear....this was definitely NOT going to happen. Boy did it feel FAST!!!!! Tense on the bike, braking too early, gripping the bars so tight like he'd drunk 10 pints of Irn-Bru, Longy was definitely NOT poetry in motion, but puts in a reasonable 1m 58s lap in 8 laps of qualifying to finish 12th on a grid of 35 riders - not bad considering the total lack of practice. Moldy is even more pleased with his qualifying as Longy brings the CB500 grid position sheet back, but then realizes its the wrong way round....ah well, at least he was faster than Bill (PC Plod) Slater, Moldy's greatest track rival.
With the expectation of going at least 3 seconds a lap quicker in the race, hopes are riding high. Things around garage #1 start to look even better when Longy's younger sister arrives sporting her Harley Davidson T-shirt (what a biker chick!)........But then suddenly all hell lets loose.....all the Rossi-like groupies arrive and garage #1 is hit by the paparazzi. Shutters click frantically as the riders pose, sign autographs and flex their one-packs into the camera lenses and answer questions such as "why do all riders have strange back growths?" and "what do tyre blankets do?" Seriously....it was great to see my sister Di, Tim, Mick, Pam, Malc, Ange, Shaun, Tina and all the kids -brill!
Fortunately the socialising, sunshine and camaraderie of Hornet and CB riders made up for the totally off-the-pace racing. Oulton park with its numerous twisting bends, blind crests and flatout sections, is not a place for the faint hearted - or a place to "just turn up and race" like they were. Finishing well down the order in 15th, 11th in Hornet race :(- in race 1, Longy began to realise that bike racing really is an all-or-nothing sport and you can soon lose the dare devil nerve to dive up the inside of people if you're not out there doing it regularly. Unable to get within 3 seconds of his previous race times in 2005, (which would have put him in the top 5), Race 2 was no improvement.....
A missed gear off the line saw six bikes dart past and then a further false neutral into cascades let another three through for a lowly 16th place finish -12th Hornet :(( - clearly Longy had completely lost his head with the pressure! The only saving grace was Hornet regular Nige "godfather" Slater, was disqualified for using nitro-methane moving him up a slot, (cheers Nige).
Moldy fared slightly better in relative terms. In his usual style of running up the rear of the grid, he had two thrilling plod-vs-plod battles with his old mate PC Bill Slater. In a race long fight in race 2 for that illustrious last place, Moldy cleverly outwitted the old Bill by opening up a gap for a gaggle of 125's to lap them both....and then proceeded to dart up the inside in their wake to take Billy on the line by a 10th of a second! No trophies unfortunately for Moldy, but a lot of pride saved as the results get broadcast to the respective Chiefs of Police at the stations - nice one Moldy!
The rusty old smoker and shell-shocked riders return home with a smile. It was a fun and sunny days racing with plenty of good laughs as usual. The boys agree though....to cut it in the premier league of Superclub and draw their admiring friends back for more, they need to find a big sponsor, get some serious fettling done on their tired bikes and start pounding the treadmill to get in shape.......watch this space as the story continues....