June 16, 2009

Whale Watching in Anglesey...!

Orcas Hit the Beach!

Armed with loose fitting Wellies, Team SandM headed up toward the sheep of North Wales on the Isle of Anglesey for the next two rounds of the championship. With the promised British "BBQ" Summer officially arriving it was so hot the Stockers actually stripped down to their Watney's Red Barrel one packs and headed to the beach! Unfortunately, as the stockers entered the sea a Whaling Ship was alerted and everyone quickly retired back onto to sand to avoid being harpooned.

Anglesey is almost a brand new circuit with smooth tarmac, a mix of super fast and tight undulating bends - the UK's equivalent of Philip Island in Australia and located right on the coast line – Awesome! There is a "major" down-side however – it takes flippin 13 hours to get there and back and the nearest town to stay with any life is Bangor – without doubt the most boring night out on the planet! Basically Bangor is a youth club comprising thousands of under-age drinkers checking each others acne! However, the Team SandM riders being slightly more mature in their years (like a good wine), did appreciate the amazing views of the Menai Straight whilst they consumed their half pints of Pale Ale. Joining the North Wales rambling club could certainly be on the agenda for 2010 methinks….??!

Warm Up Session

Team SandM riders basically did not have a clue which way the circuit went having never even seen a photo of the track before. However, grid positions had been determined on a "bribing the officials" basis anyway, so the big bike boys on their 1,170's with wonga to burn were inevitably on the front row and the 750's confined to the cheap seats at the back of the grid. (To be honest the grid size was only about 10 bikes, pretty disappointing, so it made no real difference anyway).

The actual track was pretty awesome – but killed tyres in a major way. The bends comprised some really tricky tight ones combined with some fast and frightening flat out sections! On a modern bike with proper forks and handling, this would have been great, but on these 1980 designed dinosaurs with antiquated suspension and big 18" front wheels the lack of technology was really starting to show its ugly head; stopping and turning the buggers was nigh on impossible with everyone missing apexes left, right and centre.

Running on the full International Circuit, many bends sort of drew you in late on the brakes from which it was hard to get the bugger turned in quick enough – sometimes causing the front end to slide as you held on too long on the front brakes. Grip levels though were phenomenal making you want to lean the bike well beyond the max - with ground clearance actually an issue as the pegs ground out and lifted the rear wheel.

Anyway, after 10 laps of mixing fear, uncertainty and bumbling around trying to anticipate lefts and rights everyone returned to the pits to get on with the more important business of topping up the sun tan in preparation for the racing...

Races 1, 2, 3 and 4

To be honest the racing itself was a fairly lonely affair all weekend and the most fun seemed to be in the mid pack with the 750's of Alan Bowers #224 (making a come-back after a lay-off) and Mucka Mad #275 battling it out. Longy on the other hand couldn't live with the 1170's of Tom Benford and Aidy Brennan et al on this power hungry circuit, in spite of getting right up their "Jacksies" on the early laps. The main straight was just too long and on a 750 over a second was lost just on this section alone because of lack of power – then being unfamiliar with the circuit, Longy just wasn't quick enough around the twisty's to make a serious dent in the gap.

Moldy too had a fairly lonesome set of rides – what he referred to as a weekend of "Parade Laps". Again lack of circuit knowledge coupled to his Kerker exhaust decking out, kept him out of the mix. In fact rather amusingly, both riders commented on the fact many spectators actually had their backs to the racing in Race 4 – The Earlystock Club must do something more to impress their followers at these events…!!! Ultimately, due to some good fortune for a change, Longy still managed four class wins and some outright seconds to keep the points flow going with Moldy some mixed results.

Having said all of this some riders really stood out – the star being Aidy Brennan #202 on his Suzuki GS1000 (note – not even an 1170!). He was awarded no less than "Man of the Meeting" by the Marshalls on Saturday with some fantastic riding whilst battling with Tom Benford for 1st and 2nd spots. Longy could not quite keep with them on the 750 – but witnessed some great overtakes through the duration of Races 1 and 2. Unfortunately, Aidy had a catastrophic engine failure in Race 3 – Longy being directly behind him when the Conrod decided to exit out through the crank case depositing oil all over the racing line.

Another mention goes to the "new boy" – well not so new in that he's been racing Earlystocks before amongst other machine for years –Mark Oldroyd on an immaculately turned out Kawasaki GPz 1100 – big brother of Team SandM's steeds. Mark knew the track well apparently having taken 6 months off work to complete over 50 track days in preparation for this first outing on the big stocker and it paid off as he won Race One convincingly but then blew a gearbox in Race Two and had to retire from the meeting.

Fat Boy's BBQ

For Team SandM, Anglesey turned out to be more about the Craic than the racing and The Bowers' Hospitality was in full flow on Saturday night with Fay laying on a great "spread" for the boys and girls. Without a Hog to roast, it was burgers and dogs to the tune of a Geordie anti-Rossi rant emerging from the Aidy Brennan pit crew!! In a quite bizarre conversation where it seems that North of the Border, Valentino Rossi is deemed to be the Anti-Christ the Earlystocks crew had their hands full in balancing the banter with a near "tar and feather" moment! Thankfully it was all in good spirits and Team Geordie (if that's what you can call men from County Durham?) stories were some of the funniest on record and a night of hilarity was had by all.

Game On

Well onto the next round at Mallory – our home circuit. With a healthy championship lead in both the EMRA and Earlystocks the main thing is now to keep the bike running on all four cylinders, and keep on the bike…..but then again, someone has got to put a stop to that Benford guy!! Maybe Mallory could be the place where the only power section is coming out Devils Elbow and down the start and finish. Bring it on!