June 23, 2009

Cadwell Park - The Race Of The Year..!

Cadwell was Awesome! With the best, biggest and most competitive grid of the year on arguably the best bike racing track in the UK with great weather- this is about as good as bike racing gets.

Ex-champions galore made come-backs and the star line up included:

Andy "Jacko" Jackson (#214 Suzuki GS1000)
Simply Red look-a-like Jacko (only joking Andy!) is a legend in Earlystocks racing. With the best looking bike on the grid, and in spite of being on the pies during his lay off, he is "as Fast as FCUK!".

Rob "aka-Tom" Eley (#213 Suzuki GSX1100)
Eley is big lad and a Cadwell expert to boot. Famous for his amazing jumps over the mountain. Like Jacko, this man is super quick on the big bikes.

Karl Scott (#215 Yamaha XJ600)
Ex 750 champ Karl was renowned for going "balls out" to win races regardless of class. Riding a pretty standard XJ600 he was no slouch.

Clive "The Bike" Wadey (#206 Katana 1170)
With a smooth, knees in style like Mike Hailwood, you would need a Cray Computer to keep track of the number of races and championships legend Wadey has won. Head Honcho of Paxford Garage, his firm is in fact arch rival to none other than S&M Motorcycles in Banbury....!!!

Party in the Pits....!
Minus one rider (Swiss-Moldy), Longy headed north to Louth, Lincs Billy no Mates style. Deciding to give the local Hilton a miss was a wise decision as the "party in the pits" on Saturday night was a blast! Blagging beers like Scotsman until the early hours, Longy scrambled around outside looking for a tree to sleep under, and vaguely heard a comment of coffee and my place until before he knew it, Ed Wright (#220 750 Kawasaki) had him all tucked up in his caravan bunk!

Cadwell Park CircuitFor those who have never visited Cadwell Park, it is renowned for its near vertical "Mountain" section, where bikes literally take off (if the rider has the bottle to keep it pinned..). However, beyond this, it is a narrow and twisting track made up of very fast, very slow and winding sections that leaves next to zero time to relax. It is a phenomenal track, but one to be respected as you can very quickly run out of road as Moldy found in 2004 when he made a hash of the tricky Gooseneck section which resulted in multiple broken bones!

In general, this has been the bogey circuit of S&M through: 1) lack of circuit knowledge (only 2 previous races on the Mountain circuit is just not enough) and 2) fear - it's bloody scary!! Longy therefore had mixed feelings coming into Race 1, as warm up had only confirmed these issues!

Race One (Championship Points Race)The two straights at Cadwell give the bigger bikes some advantage, however the number of corners means there is ample opportunity to make up ground and make a move to overtake. As the lights went out, inevitably the big bikes got into Coppice first, then it was a question of holding onto their tails around Charlies and the Park Straight, trying to make it up on the brakes into Park and out manevour them around the rest of the twists and turns. This was going to plan until literally at the end of Park Straight, Allen Bowers (#224, Kawa 750), appeared up the inside absolutely flying. With new high lift cams fitted, his bike was going like a train and with his love of the circuit he was riding the absolute wheels off it.

Longy had given up the ghost on catching the big bikes with enough on his plate keeping in Bowers tow...and in the process scaring himself senseless as he nearly ran out of road entering corners too fast. This was exciting stuff, but Longy had wished he's done a bit more testing there to know the lines. "Geezer" Bowers was pushing so hard, his road compound rear Dunlop RR was at breaking point - literally....nearly every few bends it was sliding out until an almost major highside coming out of Barn let Longy through. This was short lived however as the slick riding of Geezer-Bowers slid through again at the Gooseneck running a great tight line. To make matters worse as Longy struggled to keep with Geezer's pace, ex champ Karl Scott (#215) snuck through and at this point it was game over.

How strange racing can be however... Alan, clearly riding his tyres to the limit, just overstepped the mark going into the Mountain and lost the front end, resulting in what appeared to be a pretty monster crash. Inevitably the race was Red Flagged and thankfully, albeit some pretty hefty bruises, Alan was OK and the race result was re-calibrated to lap 3 meaning an (un-deserved) class win for Longy. Geezer-Bowers had definitely deserved that one!

Race Two (Trophy & Points Race)For Longy - this WAS the race of the year...

With grid positions now determined by finishing slot, this gave Team S&M a chance to get off the line with the big bikes and try and hang out with them. Trying to "up his game" knowing that Kark Scott (#215) would be up his proverbial jacksy, getting a fast start was key - and this worked out. Ignoring some heavy clutch slip, Longy managed to get away with the leaders so now it was a question of trying to hang on - and not run out of road!

Jacko (#214) and Rob "Tom" Eley (#213) started to gap the group immediately, although it should be said Eley's Suzi 1,100 bike was not a great deal quicker than my 750! Possibly connected with a fair bit of ballast being carried around the track...?? Anyway, these two went off to play as Wadey (#206), Alec "Cockney" Gilfillan (#216), Aidy Brennan (#232) from Team Geordie and Longy chased in the preceding pack. Man of the meeting at the Anglesey round Brennan (still unbelievably a novice!) is a tough competitor with nerves of steel when it comes to close overtaking. Inevitably, his (only slightly) more powerful standard Suzi GS1000, appeared alongside Longy at the end of Park straight and it was playing chicken to see who was first to hit the brakes. Thankfully, Longy won this little tait-a-tait for the first 4 laps but then Aidy managed to get by and make it stick... the chance of some silverware (and more importantly a Cadwell Park Cap prize!) was slipping away as Alec and Clive Wadey extended their gap....

As Longy rode practically on the rear mudguard of Brennan's bike down through Mansfield and through the chicane, he could sense he was gaining a lot of ground which meant only one thing....a major buttock clenching move had to be implemented over the mountain!!!!!!!!! For Longy (not being a wheely demon like Mad-Myatt #275, right), this was the equivalent of climbing Everest....! But, it had to be done - and with eyes closed and breathe held, the throttle was pinned and the big green Kawa was airborne....And then landed - Longy was still in one piece!

Keeping it nailed to cut the nose of Brennan's Suzuki going into Hall Bends, the move stuck - awesome! The first ever overtake up the mountain...!! Then like magic, through the sweeping section of Hall, Longy was catching Alec on his 1170 Suzi. The temptation was too much and the Kawas big green nose was stuffed into the apex of possibly the tightest bend on any UK track - but the move worked! Wheelying out of Hairpin with only 1 lap to go, the smooth riding machine of Wadey was in sight....team orders of "You have to beat Paxford Garage or you're fired", from Team S&M boss Martin Strong started to ring through Longy's ears - this was now a chase to the line to win the Cadwell cap - Go for it!!

Wadey's superb Katana 1170 pulled a gap down the start and finish, but then as they hit the top of Charlies Longy had closed to deficit but just didn't have the line to get around Clive's smooth exit line. Wringing its neck along Park Straight, once again a size able gap appeared - this left only the ultra fast Chris Curve section and the dreaded Gooseneck - notorious for big offs - to get past Wadey - but there was a "Cap" at stake!! The buttocks clenched again as the throttle was pinned to the stop and surprisingly coming out of the Gooseneck, Longy had caught Shadey-Wadey's silver machine..which left only one final chance to get by....the chicane..and as Clive shifted left to take a smooth line in, a tiny door was left ajar to stick the nose of the Kawa in for a sniff.

Admittedly a very tight move, peripheral vision allows you still see the effect of such a move on the other rider, and Longy, whilst committed, was ready to back off on the brakes if T-Bone city was pursuant - however, the move stuck - with Clive having to hit the grass verge (sorry!!) and the S&M Kawa had a clear run to the line. Amazingly, ultra-talented Earlystocks photographer Mucka-Sioux, captured the exact overtaking moment on Digital (see the photo left - brilliant/ fantastic work Sioux!!)

Only a few moments in your life give a high when you want to leap up and shake your fist in the air- and this was one. Probably one the most exciting races ever had - the testing Cadwell circuit making it such a high......! More importantly, The Cadwell Cap was won and will be treasured for ever more...

Race Three (A Spare Race)Unusually the organising club provided three races - result! Whilst hard to get motivated for a race that means nothing other than pride, inevitably when the Red light went out, all this was forgotten and male testosterone kicked in! However after a lap, Longy though his chain had dropped off as he couldn't get a gear out of Barn corner so pulled into the pits. Unsurprisingly, the chain was still there and it was just a false neutral..however on rejoining the race and with nothing at stake it gave a great opportunity to witness some superb riding on smaller, less powerful machines. Of note was:

Adrian Skaife (#313, LC250) and David Barker (#317, LC250) who were having an absolutely mental ding dong of a battle. These guys were literally keeping the throttle pinned around the entire circuit is seemed and the entry speed into Coppice was phenomenal! Fantastic to watch. In addition, Ian O'Reilly (#366) on the shaft driven Moto Guzzi 950 Le Mans was riding superbly - bear in mind with shaft drive it lifts the rear end when you apply the gas - I don't know how he does it??!! Then there was my sleeping partner Ed Wright (#220, Kawa 750) on his first proper outing of the year looking very good - until, regrettably his 4 year old front Avon AM22 (yes 4 years!) broke free going into the Mountain (see photo above).

A Great Day All RoundThis was bike racing at its best and a true challenge of man, machine and nerve. Team SandM has a couple of weeks respite now to regroup, check the machine and most importantly "BUY SOME BEERS!" in preparation for the next round at the Go-Kart circuit of Three Sisters in Wigan - a track never been seen or ridden before. Let the games commence.....!

Cheers!

Longy #223