Saturday, 6 October 2012

2012 Round Seven: Cadwell Park Sunday

We were halfway through our races of the weekend and the season was nearly over. Despite the weather looking cloudy, race three arrived and we were still safe to use our dry tyres - an aspect of machine setup that I have learnt to appreciate over the season. I got quicker again through the race matching my best lap time ever at Cadwell Park which was a real positive for the day. I had another great battle with Stewart McKenezie on his PX too.

When I arrived back to the camp, I inspected the bike and noticed the magneto housing gasketing had started to creep out. Some silicone and a tighten of the nuts satisfied my preparation for the fourth race - which turned out to be damp.

In my limited experience, I would have said that the weather conditions were no worse than Darley Moor so I decided to go out on my usual dry tyres again.

The sighting lap came and I was excited to have a wet race. Unfortunately, I didn't get much further than the corner you see in the picture. I got to Chris curve before the back wheel locked solid. I pushed it to the side of the track and watched the last races of the 2012 BSSO season.

Most notable was that James Campen (53) had won the group four championship outright so he wasn't near the front of the pack. Steve Conneely (99) also had an off at Chris curve chasing after his brother Bert (51). He came off a lot better than the bike. 

Most notable on our long journey home was the fact that our Mazda Bongo roof wouldn't come down, forcing us to have a slow drive back. Annoyingly, the issue was solved the next day by simply pressing the unlock button. Won't make that mistake again!

Now is as good a time as any to conclude my 2012 season, which despite trials and tribulations, had most importantly brought me some fun. I have met and raced against some fantastic people and have developed myself as much as the bike. Thankyou to everyone for their help over the season. Roll on 2013!

Race Scooter: All events occurred 30th September 2012

Friday, 5 October 2012

2012 Round Seven: Cadwell Park Saturday

In retrospect I should have posted this blog post much closer to the time but in the interest of completeness, I have returned to finish the posts for 2012. Naturally with time we forget things and it has now been a whole six months since this race weekend.

And how eventful it was! What can I actually remember? The group four championship had been as close as ever and was going own to the wire. A three way battle too! James Campen (53), Chris Geyton (16) and Mike Bonett (98). The overall champion was also to be decided between Guy Topper (2) and Damon Tunnicliffe (91).

Due to my successful last race at Darley Moor, I started much further up the grid than before where I was still in my first three races. In race one, I got a great start taking two places before coppice and followed the front runners through charlies but once on the park straight, everyone pulled away. That was unfortunately the most action I had all race. After one lap, Bert Conneely (51) took me at park and by old hairpin, I was took out by Stewart McKenzie on his PX - he has been racing fantastically all season!

There were no hard feelings after the race and luckily there was no damage to myself and the bike had come off relatively unscathed. Still, the accident had ruined a brand new helmet so I was lucky that we had bought a spare lid.

Race two didn't go great to be honest as I just wanted a finish as that was the third successive race at Cadwell Park that I had not completed. In race two I managed a finish though, I went backwards through the grid but by the end of the race I had took a few people back and ended with fair lap-times again.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 29th September 2012

Monday, 24 September 2012

Race Scooter: Final 2012 adjustments

Between Darley Moor and Cadwell Park there were a few things that needed to be sorted. For a start, the engine was stripped completely with the hope of solving the oil issue. The bike frame and bodywork was also given a well deserved polish after the rain at Darley Moor. I also used some liquid metal to improve a repair from earlier in its life.

In the process all parts were checked and cleaned. The crank had been rubbing on the magneto housing which as a result needed machining and the exhaust bracket required repair oncemore. The selector and spring were replaced as it had been jumping out of 2nd gear.

During the re-assembly a thicker gasket was used on the magneto housing and everything was meticulously put back together. I managed to fit the piston ring upside down (as the engine was upside down) but I noticed the mistake. However, it doesn't excuse me making the error twice!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

2012 Round Six: Darley Moor Sunday

Sunday morning came far too quickly. It was cold and before long, the leathers were slid into to finish the mending of dads bike. Even with the previous nights preparation, the shimming still took a while and with both of us aiming to get out for the practice, we were really pushed to get out. Everything came together with minutes spare and we both got a bit of practice. For me this was great as for the first time all weekend there was just clear track and I could learn like I should have the preceding morning.

Aside from fuel and the usual consumables and checks, there wasn't much done before the first of Sundays races. I had yet another close battle with Gary Biddle (58) and dropped my lap times and despite a jumping 2nd gear out of Park Corner, I still managed to keep it going. I had a great race, however, it appeared that dad (43) was in for yet more poor luck with a conrod failure that destroyed everything but the cylinder head.

Unfortunately, the condition of the barrel was beyond track side repair and potentially beyond repair at all so dad was going to be missing the last race. I felt great after my last race and after speaking to Mike Bonnet (98) about my gear jumping, he advised I push the lever as it might be jumping down. However, the oil leak I had been chasing all weekend was still not solved so this would need looking into.

As the final race approached, everyone knew it was going to be a damp race. As I mentioned in  an earlier post, I had replaced my front tyre with a Duro and had got some real confidence in it again. I opted for a Sava MC31 Soft on the rear as it would heat up quicker and I kept the front with Duro. I had been told confidence was the only thing needed for the wet race and I pushed a bit on the warm up lap but didn't feel the bike slip or slide at all.

I had a usual manic start but by lap two I was lapping sub 1m30s which gave me a great chance to get up to a good place in group four. On the last three laps, I ended lapping 1m24s. To put this into perspective, this was faster than my fastest lap of the weekends first race. I very nearly passed Steve Conneely (99) but settled for 7th in group four which felt great for my first wet race.

This weekend went much better for me than the previous meeting and even for dad, there was the silver lining that he had ridden really well and deserved better than he had achieved. A massive thanks goes out to him for his advice and help and to those at Replay Scooters and JB Tuning who gave us some great racing and plenty of laughs.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 12th August 2012

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

2012 Round Six: Darley Moor Saturday

As mentioned in my last post, I had decided to partake in the Darley Moor race meeting. I think that mostly I thought back to the race at Lydden Hill where I had to spectate and that gave me the motivation to make sure I was out racing again.

We arrived on the Friday evening - well more correctly - afternoon. This was an achievement in itself as for the first time all season, we both felt prepared. So much so that after setting up our gazebo, getting scuiteneered and fully unpacking, we still had a few hours before it was dark. So, armed with some drink, we decided to walk the circuit twice. It was quite nice to see the track at low speed as you feel like you notice things more than in the frantic practice session.

However, unfortunately, my practice session on the Saturday morning did indeed become more frantic. My clutch was massively slipping as soon as I delivered any real power. I was passed numerous times but stuck out there for the entire session as the engine didn't give me too much trouble in the corners.

After the session, the issue was quickly identified, rectified and tested. I now felt much more comfortable for the first race.

Race one was great with the bike sorted and saw me having a phenomenal battle with Gary Biddle (58). The spectators also had a great view watching my dad, Mark Thurland (43) stall on the line and chase through to 5th in class!

Race two saw me get some more good racing tracking down Chris Redman (88) and Trevor Childs (32) and cutting my fast lap by two seconds. I really felt like both I and the bike had improved over Lydden Hill. Unfortunately, I witnessed my dads (43) failed finish on the last corner of the last lap where his gearbox jammed and flipped him off the bike. For both of us it seemed a bit like deja vu with me experiencing the last corner last lap scenario at Cadwell Park earlier in the year.

I felt right on course for Sunday to be honest, I had been chasing a slow oil leak all weekend and had rode around the issue. It had been a success for me and despite one DNF for dad (43) he had ridden well and deserved better than he had achieved.

We set to work sorting out his gearbox issue before going out with the lads from JB Tuning which made a really nice change. I think it would be fair to say that we were both in a better mental state than at Lydden Hill two weeks earlier.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 11th August 2012

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Race Scooter: Time constraints

After the onslaught for me that was Lydden Hill, I had a few days rest to decide what I wanted to do about the next race - Darley Moor. After hearing from Chalkie of Replay Scooters that there was a little adjustment to be done in the ignition, I adjusted to the new supplied figure. Timing was way off and not only did the figure have a massive change, so did the noise of the bike - sounding truly sweet again. What a boost to my mentality to figure out there was a simple problem that explained a few of my issues over the weekend. Ho hum we live and learn.

I also made other changes on the bike, returning to a Duro front tyre which is softer than the Sava I had used at Snetterton and Lydden Hill. I also replaced my clutch circlip which greatly improved my clutch action. Gearing went back to Cadwell's gearing and I replaced my selector and spring for good measure too. And to top off all this preparation, an Elliot box of spares was put together to prevent the "Doh, we left it at home" syndrome.

Most notably, taking advice, I doubled up on cable trunions where before I had not thought necessary... The only thing I didn't manage was a dyno test but given it had had one less than two weeks beforehand and checks had been done, it wasn't the end of the world.

Race Scooter: All events occurred up to 9th August 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

2012 Round Five: Lydden Hill Sunday

On the Sunday morning, I was itching to try the ignition out as I needed to know if I had set it correctly, however, those of you familiar with the Lydden Hill weekend will know that no engines are allowed to start before the local church service finishes. The charity cycle race was also on this weekend so the morning went quite quickly after spectating this event. Annoyingly, there was no practice for scooters on the Sunday which meant there was no track testing of the ignition set-up either - just the paddock to sensibly ride around.

Rather amusingly during the weekend, Gary Biddle (58) had advertised for a passenger on his "tandan" which looked like it offered good fun. That was until a tyre was blown up to 120psi. Needless to say one loud explosion later the machine became less of a good offer. In the Thurland camp, luckily the ignition did work but similarly to Saturday, it felt lower on power. The clutch had a problem beyond simple adjustment and second gear jumps became quite frequent.

Onto race 3 and after making a poor start with the issues, I noticed very quickly that my dad (43) had broken down up the hill on the first lap. In the rest of the race, my front end felt terrible again into the the left-hander and people were just easily pulling away from me. My laps got a little better again but one point that I can look back on in hindsight was the fact that even keeping the engine on the boil, I still had to change down on the first corner and up the hill I barely snatched at 3rd gear.

At the end of the race, inspecting dads issue identified a fairly serious piston failure - it snapped at the pin luckily though, there didn't seem to be as much damage as debris so there were a few positives. All there was left was the 4th race. I replaced my shock with 43's unused BGM and gave a check all over as usual.

In the fourth race I posted my fastest time but yet again, didn't complete a race. On the last lap, one of my gear cable trunions came off meaning I couldn't change down. I pulled over and was duly collected after the race.

Overall, I actually like the circuit but came away quite disheartened. Starting issues, riding issues and bike issues all had to be considered bad preparation and I was adamant I would not compete at Darley Moor due to my poor performance and opt for a track day instead - to allow myself to improve. I had completed only one race and dad had only managed two. If there wasn't such a good crowd of people there it would have been even worse for us both. In this light, for the whole weekend, I'd like to extend my personal thanks to everyone from the BSSO.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 29th July 2012

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

2012 Round Five: Lydden Hill Saturday

Due to the preparation for Lydden Hill taking much longer than expected, when we traveled down on the Friday, which was the night of the Olympic opening ceremony for London 2012, we met a fair few queues over the route. For the first time all season, we had arrived in the dark so there was no chance of getting the newly acquired gazebo up. However, we managed to unload and went for a few drinks in the "clubhouse".

In the morning we still had a few things to sort out including swapping over rear hubs in addition to the usual scruiteneering and signing on. Despite having the week before to sort out everything, I somehow managed to leave our signing on cards at home. Luckily I remembered our ACU Licences and identity chains. After causing a more frantic morning than expected, the practice came around very quickly.

The first thing I noticed with the bike was what seemed like a lack of power and under heavy braking into the only left corner, the front end was really shaking. The lack of power was really noticable up the hill and as such I didn't really have a "fast lap" or a "good lap" in all honesty. I pulled in a lap or two early and in all honesty, I was disappointed. A lot of hours had been put in along the way and it all felt wasted.

A pep talk from my Dad (43), Chalkie, Steve (99) and Roy saw my suspension have a change in setting but to be honest I think all of us thought that the issues were down to me but one good race could change all of that - which everyone knew. Unfortunately, Saturday turned out to not be that day.

In our first race, I was dropped very quickly and was lapping slowly by comparison to everyone else. And to top it all off, the race was restarted halfway through to a race incident only to be cancelled due to another race incident. The race was to be re-run at the end of the program, given time.

On the restart, Dads bike (43) had a cush drive failure. It turned out that the front sprocket castle washer had broken causing the spring to be held simply with the engine casing. A donation kit from Gary Biddle (58) saw Dad fixed for the second race.

Race two came along but again I had issues, very early on in the race the bike just stopped. Watching the rest of the race from the hairpin was inspiring seeing John Uffindell (41) get knees and floorboards down every single time. After the race I rolled my bike back to inspect the issue - which was quickly and easily identified as the brand new ignition I had fitted. It had shaken loose and it turned out that both rotor and stator were ruined.

It was a fairly catastrophic failure and caused me to sit out the race rerun that was at the end of the day. I watched the race from the standing area and took a few pictures which was a small consolation to missing the race. This was the first race I had missed to to complete engine failure and I really wanted to be out there.

In the evening, I managed to fit a spare ignition but ran out of light and time to test it. This was a great shame as on the Sunday morning, no engines would be allowed to start due to a local church service. Needless to say, we made the best of the evening and had a pleasant time hanging out with the JB crew and even had a few short games of cricket too. I really hoped that the Sunday would change my race attitude and bring me some luck. I wasn't going to have the best chance starting from the back of the grid though.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 28th July 2012

Friday, 27 July 2012

Race Scooter: Tinkering Frenzy

There was a bit of a break between round four Snetterton and round five Lydden Hill which gave a great opportunity to make some changes to my "easing me in gently" setup. There was also repairs to be made alongside critical modifications.

At Cadwell Park and Snetterton, Mark Thurland (43), my dad had been running an experimental ignition. At Snetterton, a non static timing unit was added and transformed his bike. As I was using a Vespa modified ignition, which can see reliability issues, we felt the upgrade was worthwhile and it should be easy to set-up. Unfortunately, this was not the case and I'll explain why later.

Another area that required changing for Lydden Hill was the gearing. As it is such a short twisty circuit, we adjusted my front sprocket accordingly. However, we also changed my gearbox from a straight LI150 box to a custom close ratio box comprising SX200 1st and 2nd and LI150 3rd and 4th. Although the 3rd to 4th gear jump is as big as the LI150 box, the 1st to 4th is less which should result in better acceleration with the disadvantage of getting off the line.

This did however, mean I had my first shimming nightmare. With multiple shims and endplates to choose from, we hoped that I would find the task simple but it wasn't and took much longer than I'd wanted. A new thick cir-clip was added on the clutch assembly to hold the top plate down and a new "ergonomic" lever was added too. 

A repair that turned into a modification was my exhaust. As the bracket had fell off, a new bracket and mount were devised that held the exhaust in much less shear, which is probably why the exhaust damage occurred in the first place.

The last thing - and what should have been the first thing done - was the engine mounts. I had really liked the feel of the Indian engine mounts compared to the feel of the Italian ones as the bike felt much more stable in the corners. As I could not source any Indian ones, I had to create my own hybrids using some new AF Rayspeed Mounts and a modification of my own design to stiffen them up a bit.

After this, I just needed the bike to have a dyno session. This was to be combined with Steve Conneely (99), as we were both being set up with the same new ignition. Due to issues ranging from gear selection and choke problems to the ignitions being dialled in wrong, three days of work later saw us setting off for Lydden Hill having spent much more time than we all would have liked to. Hopefully our work would see us getting some positive results. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

2012 Round Four: Snetterton Sunday

We woke on Sunday to a somewhat less windy paddock. After a quick discussion, we decided that if I was going to be capable of performing better than yesterday, going out for the practice session would be a good idea. Following my dads successful performances the previous day, I decided to follow him. It was really the first time I had took parts of the track at speed - and it was surprising how much faster the bike felt. I also strangely felt safer at speed.

Coming back in from the session I had a much better look on my face than the previous day. Such a contrast! Dad and I checked the bikes over again and got ready for race 4 - which came around very quickly.

Hearing a call, we casually got on our helmets and gloves and bumped ourselves in the direction of the holding bay. However, there was no-one there.We were waved onto the track where the sighting lap grid had already been formed and by the time I was on the track the starting grid had left. I did my best to catch the rest of the grid up throughout the lap but immediately noticed the lack of numbers - it seemed dad and I were not the only two caught out by the call.

Aside from the stressful beginning to the race, I did much better than the previous day taking nearly 10 seconds off my fastest lap! In addition to this, I came home with a class 5th which was great considering the calamity of the previous three races. The practice session certainly seemed to have helped.

Coming in from the track to find many of the other racers disappointed to have not made the grid was a real shame as for once we had 5 races over the weekend. Quite a few front runners had not only missed out on the race but on valuable points too. However, it wasn't long before the camaraderie of the paddock made everyone cheerful again.

With one race left, we prepared ourselves for the last event. Dad was going well so nothing was changed and mine seemed to be going well but in all honesty, I think I was limiting its potential. Hopefully, I would get back into the swing of things by the next weekend.

Race 5 came and was problem free again until the last lap. I had no other group four riders close to me despite chasing Buddy Davis and Chris Redman down. Unfortunately, down the straight, the bike started misfiring so I went safe and slowed down. It was a real shame as I had felt it was going to be a fast lap. The warm down lap was terrifying as I knew something was wrong but didn't want the engine to blow.

I made it back in one piece and found that the funny noise I had was the carburetor hanging off - held on by the fuel connecting rod. And the culprit of this was not the Aprilia "trumpet" getting caught on the panel as I had suspected. It was in fact the exhaust bracket and mounting point failing. This had vibrated and hit the carb knocking it off. With engine mounts and exhaust fix on the list for the next race I certainly was going to have it all to do again. I'd be mad to try anything else.

In conclusion to the weekend, it was a really great event, there were highs and lows (that's scooter racing apparently) and I felt I had got some confidence back after that painful crash at Cadwell Park. As usual thankyous go to people who helped me over the weekend and preceding days. Chalkie and Ciro at Replay were their usual helpful selves. Notably Phil Bevis deserves thanks for helping me over the weekend and seeing me have a much more positive Sunday. A big thankyou and congratulations to my dad who got 5 amazing finishes and proved to himself he still has something (and proving to me that you can race with a really bad front end).

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 17th June 2012

2012 Round Four: Snetterton Saturday

With the Friday booked off work following the successful Cadwell procedure, we packed up the Mazda Bongo and we set off for Snetterton in plenty of time. The journey for us was very simple consisting of only three roads so before we knew it, we arrived safe and with the sun still shining. The first task was to put up the newly acquired awning for the bongo which would house the bikes in case of the bad weather predicted. Unfortunately, the wind was very strong and it wasn't long before we gave up.

However, the evening wasn't wasted as we got the Scooters scruiteneered and checked to avoid the morning queues. We did miss the sound test though which would be a job for the morning - as would the helmet, leathers and boots check. After unpacking and being slightly more organised than usual, we did a few bits and bobs before Saturdays rush and then headed to the clubhouse nice and early for a drink before we got settled in the Bongo sleeper.


Due to the sleeping experiences of Cadwell Park earlier in the year, we didn't make the same mistake of leaving the duvet at home and on the Saturday morning, it was pleasant to wake up in comfort. However, after preparing ourselves and being checked over, we had to get the bikes sound tested. This was the first time I had the chance to test my rev counter. It was a better model than the old KOSO one I used with a backlit display. Unfortunately, the rev sensor wire was not compatible so had to be switched the previous day but the new one read the revs much more accurately and seemed a lot less random.

The temperature sensor also worked well and gave me some great readings after the sound test. Luckily, I passed - and it was the first one the bike had done since Cadwell Park was declared a wet meeting. We had a short while before the riders meeting and after signing on, we fuelled them up and got ready for the practice.

Practice felt... well... awful. At speed the front wheel felt like it was square and to make matters worse, cornering was absolutely horrible. The bike didn't feel planted as it had done at Mallory and Cadwell and I had lost a bit of confidence too. In terms of the circuit, the only bits I enjoyed were accelerating when the bike was stood up. I felt the rear slide a number of times which seemed confusing as the suspension had not been altered at all.

When I came in from practice, I showed my dad the bike. Aside from having a lot of vibration, he could not find anything wrong with a little paddock ride. With a suspected twisted crank we approached Paul Baker with the SRP lads to get a second opinion. It wasn't long before he pointed out that one of the engine mounts was shot. Good news and bad news really, engine was okay but wasn't being supported properly.

Unfortunately, no one had any engine mount extractors to borrow and not many people had any spare mounts as its not normally a thing that go... Needless to say we would take spares and kit from this day forward. However, I decided to race with the mounts as they were and see how I got on. Some points was better than none and missing a race. Plus it would be valuable track experience if the mounts were fixed.

All of that theory was blown away on lap one though with me pushing hard and the back kicking out whilst leaning. Needless to say the first race, for me, was not fun. I couldn't push the bike to anywhere near its capability and it was possibly the worst thing to be doing whilst trying to regain my confidence. My lap times were slow and I was getting no real experience of the speeds I could do when the bike was fixed. To top it all off, with no vibrations being absorbed by the mounts, my arse paid a price.

In race two, after hunting still for kit to replace my mounts (and failing), I pulled in at the end of the sighting lap. I couldn't have fun or feel safe with the bike as it was as the situation felt like it had got progressively worse. I watched the race which was a great by all accounts but I wish I could have been in the mix. Upon inspection, both engine mounts had failed, I didn't think I'd make it for race three. And I certainly didn't feel like busting a gut to get out.

However, thanks to my dad, I was persuaded to try and found a donor set of mounts in Phil Bevis' spare bits bike. With a little heat, we extracted both sets and put the standard series 3 ones in my frame. The ones I was using were the Indian solid all the way through type which could now only be used as paperweights.

Race three came and the bike felt completely transformed. My lap times were still slow but I felt so much better than before. I didn't have  much of a race with anyone but I certainly felt I was well set up for the Sunday.

To top the day off, when I went for a shower, I saw Damon Tunnicliffe who said how much better my bike looked in a straight line. He mentioned that even in practice, he had noticed my bike driving more to one side and could see that I was spooked.

Today wasn't so much a good day but a learning curve. It reminded me that this had first started to happen at Cadwell (race 4) and gave me a little confidence back. My dad suffered a rear puncture on the warm down lap so we will have to think about a better solution in the near future for our rear tyre options. Today saw me use the Sava MC31 Soft on the front for the first time. I can't really say I had a chance to notice it but it was certainly harder than the Duro GP6000 I had been using.

As usual, thanks to everyone who helped and gave me encouragement throughout the day. It was really appreciated. Thanks and well done also to my dad who definitely showed he still has talent.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography

Race Scooter: All events occurred 16th June 2012

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Race Scooter: Cadwell Park Aftermath

As I was watching the rest of the race at Cadwell Park, I had a mixture of adrenalin and fear still pumping through my body. I could move my shoulder but my arm was quite floppy. I ended up holding it just assuming I had bruised it badly. Despite insisting that it was only a bruise, the track ambulance was called to take me for a check-up. We got there quite quickly and it wasn't long before I was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder.

My arms were stripped of the leathers and I was laid down on a bed to be seen to. After being cut out of my t-shirt, I was treated to some gas and air to make me relax. After a while I started smiling and was deemed ready but as soon as my arm was touched, the pain came back.  I breathed on the gas and air as it was pulled back and after a satisfying (for me at least) crack, it was re-located. However, the visit wasn't over there. I was to be sent to the local hospital for procedural x-rays, just to make sure I hadn't broken anything.

After sometime in the A+E department, I was given the all clear but told to have a follow up as soon as possible with a local hospital. My medication for the recovery consisted of paracetamol and ibruprofen. Despite being given an upgraded sling at the follow-up, my arm still ached for the next week and after yet more x-rays, I was told that rest for 2-3 weeks was the suggested rehabilitation. 2-3 weeks after that was for low impact sports. By my calculations, if everything went to plan, 4 weeks after the initial injury, I would be able to ride Snetterton.

My physical recovery went fairly well after the crash to be honest but after the off, I have to admit that mentally, I would require something to kick-start me back to the pace I had achieved at Cadwell. 

Having something to aim for, with very limited time being able to use my arm, I set about the repair of the bike. As the bike had flipped and landed on the headset top and rear seat, luckily that was where most of the damage was.

The panels were actually able to be polished and were fairly scratch free - I think there was more damage from where my boots were rubbing on them. The floorboards, left-hand-side legshields and exhaust took the largest hit and were bent back into shape accordingly. The rev-counter screen had also felt the full force of the crash and had to be written off.

After a lot of bending and hammering though, the Race Scooter was in much better shape than before and I had given all the nuts and bolts a full check. As per usual, the top end was stripped and inspected for wear - which was again encouragingly good. The chaincase side was also took off in order to inspect the clutch, which too was in pretty good condition.

Other than the addition of the carb "trumpet" and a slightly larger hole, nothing was changed for Snetterton.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

2012 Round Three: Cadwell Park Sunday

On the Sunday, waking up was much better due to the warmer duvet we had recieved. However, it was still really chilly at Cadwell Park and we both put our leathers on to warm up. Luckily, the weather was at least dry which presented us with much less stress than the previous morning.

Despite being called to the holding bay for the practice session, we had to wait around for ages which caused some stress just sat there with the engine slowly heating up. We had both decided to do the practice as we didn't know the track fully and any experience was better than none.

I took the first lap very slowly waiting for everything to get properly warmed up but it didn't take long to find the confidence from the previous day and start to go for it. I felt good as I started to catch people - even though it was only a practice session. By the end of the practice I was buzzing. I felt so much more comfortable that the previous morning and my Dad(43) too came in with a big grin on his face.

Nothing seemed to have gone wrong in the practice session and other than a top-up with fuel, we were ready for the first of Sunday's races. On the previous day, the racing had been good and even though I still had to start from the back of the grid, my Dad(43) had moved up further due to the good performance on Saturday - which was encouraging for him.

The sighting lap was again fairly uneventful trying to get as much warmed up as I could but when the lights went out, I went for it. It was a fantastic feeling to try to keep up with people around me but quite early on I realised that people weren't pulling away. For the most part, I had a lonely race until the fourth lap. The first few runners of the automatics had passed me and following one of them for a lap had me catching up with a group lead by Tony Rudd(8) who was closely followed by Gary Biddle(58) and my Dad(43).

To my disbelief, I quickly overtook them all taking Tony Rudd(8) at Mansfield on the penultimate lap. I didn't know it but I was up to 5th in group four. I carefully got my head down and with full concentration, started to pull away from the pack. The adrenaline in my body was fantastic and I was literally having the best race of my life.

As I entered the complex coming into the final stages, the back started to weave. Going round the hairpin wasn't too bad but on the very last corner, the sliding rear wheel became too much for me to control and I had to straighten her up - on wet grass... No surprises that man and machine went down almost immediately. Annoyingly the last corner of the last lap though. However, luckily there was very limited damage to the bike and none to me. The main issue on the bike was the cause of the problem - a puncture.

After waiting to be collected by the recovery van, I took the bike back and after replacing the innertube I was set for the next race. I felt sad at the prospect of losing out on a good finish due to such an unlucky event but I held my head high and really tried to not let it affect the last race.

I felt that I had come through the pack from the start and made real improvements in every race. I liked charlies and I now didn't mind the mountain either which was massively important to me.

However, my bad luck was not over for the day. On the last race, everyone seemed to be so much quicker than the first race. And I believe it was only the second lap when I entered Mansfield too fast and fell off. This time though, I was hurt.

To fill you in on how I fell off is to admit that I was an fool. Literally a stupid fool. I was pushing too hard and grounded the exhaust a bit too much. This lost me the front and I fell. As it happened I landed on the left elbow with such impact that it forced my shoulder out of its socket. To make matters worse I rolled... and rolled. The steward said 5 times but I think that was a bit of an exaggeration.

However, I was not the only thing that was flipping over and over - so was my beloved race scooter. When the tyres gripped again with me off, the whole bike got air and landed on the headset and back of the seat. Sitting behind the tyres to watch the end of the race, I enjoyed the spectacle telling my friendly saviours that I was fine and it just felt a bit bruised.

The Aftermath is a story for another day though. Needless to say I had a great weekend - Saturday was cracking, Sunday was dislocating.

As usual there are some thankyous. First and foremost to Chalkie of Replay Scooters for building what has been a fantastic motor. To my family and friends for coming to spectate and to Lee Hollick for providing me with these excellent photos for the Blog. To visit Lee's facebook page click here.

Race Scooter: All events occurred 20th May 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

2012 Round Three: Cadwell Park Saturday

I'm guessing the story really starts on the Friday evening where, as I pointed out at the time to my Dad, we arrived earlier than I had ever remembered. In all the years as a young boy we had either arrived late evening or early morning. The aim was to have a stress-free journey and it really worked. We got there just after 7pm and had missed the sound testing but scruiteneering was still taking place.

After unloading, getting the Scooters checked over and having the leathers and helmets looked at, we had done most of the things that usually stress up the Saturday morning. Fixing up the Gazebo in record time even gave us a shelter for the bikes - even if it was only temporary. One gust of wind was all it took to ruin two of the joints rendering the cover the only useable item. Need to invest in a slightly more robust solution for the next race.

Despite turning up in shorts due to the "good weather", it didn't take long to change and wasn't long before we changed and had a beer or two to keep us warm for our maiden sleep in the Bongo's roof sleeper. However as we found out that night, it was freezing without a substantial blanket. Another thing that needs adding to the list.

Waking up on the Saturday to the morning arrivers, we freshened up and got into the leathers as the weather had certainly not improved overnight. Infact it was declared a wet race and the noise testing was cancelled. However the practice session jumped up on us quickly and it wasn't long after frantically changing tyres that we were off around the circuit.

There wasn't much positive for me in the practice session. Having never ridden a Lambretta prior to this year, not surprisingly I was also new to the wet conditions. It didn't help that it was a new track to me too. Even having watched Stuart Day follow Charlie Edmunds on YouTube hadn't helped me much. It was all a lot to take in for 15 minutes and I was possibly the most nervous about it as I had ever been on the bike.

As some supporters turned up for me with my 21st birthday surprises though, my worried thoughts certainly became less so and as the track dried and my dry tyre was put back on, I certainly became a little more confident. I described the wait for the first race as me "digesting" the track. There were cakes too (as a few of you will know) and this too cheered me up.

The first race came and after the sighting lap, I felt really good. However, I still surprised myself passing a fair few people and finishing 8th in class. One bonus though was that due to clutch problems, I overtook my Dad (43) quite early on giving me a lot more confidence than I had before the race. I was also duelling with Rob Sumner (84) for part of the race which again felt really good. My fastest lap was in the 2:19:00 bracket.

When we got back, Dads clutch was fixed and we waited for the next race. This time though we were both a bit more ready than before. Over the four laps that we had, I slowly gained places and caught up with a faster group. The autos made the race that little bit more interesting as we all compressed together on the last lap. I saw my Dad overtake Gary Biddle (58) at Mansfield and in the closing seconds, it was tight!

Due to some very strange antics at the hairpin, the order didn't significantly change but I was very close to Gary as we crossed the line. Dad amazingly finished 5th in class and I achieved the highest finish I had yet with a 7th in class. Things certainly seemed to be improving with my times reducing to 2:14:00 and my chicken strips had also been significantly reduced.

After more cake, a birthday meal out and a great day, we had a well deserved sleep in the bongo - this time was warmer with a duvet. Thanks literally to eveyone that came to watch, supported or generally made my 21st birthday a day to remember.

Watch this Space for 2012 Round Three: Cadwell Park Sunday

Race Scooter: All events occurred 19th May 2012