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

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Race Scooter: Finishing touches

With the majority of items on my list neatly ticked off from last weekend, I very much hit the ground running into my last two preparation days. However, to make a change from the normal, almost everything to do was cosmetic. I find these last steps so rewarding and to treat myself for the Version 1.1 upgrade, I borrowed a much better camera than I have become accustomed to using. Luckily, I got a few nice snaps to share on the blog and here is one of them as a little teaser.

As usual, during the week, I did a couple of odds and sods whilst I wasn't with the race scooter. Firstly, I hand cut my numbers to fit on the side-panels. I got the hang of it in the end but I can certainly see why vinyl cutters were invented. Lastly, I received a batch of "inkjet printable vinyl". This allowed me to form small stickers for application. It was perfect for the labelling on the bike and the logos on the rear panel give it a professional look.

Although there has been so many small 5 minute jobs done this weekend, I don't think that I'll be able to say them any better than the photos show. So louvres attached, floorboards modified and rubbers finished, I began having some fun with the camera.

In other business, after looking at the ignition timing again, I adjusted it slightly and retimed it. The only thing outstanding is a Carburettor manifold and I'm waiting for it to arrive in the post. The exhaust has been on and off a few times so it was re-siliconed and I probably managed to knock off a few decibels - which is good with Cadwell Park as the next meeting as they have a strict noise limit.

As is the usual for my blog posts, a list of thanks. Firstly to Will, my housemate, who cautiously lent me his camera. Next has to be to the neighbours who stood the bike being started a number of times over the weekend. And as usual, thanks to the family for support. Looking forward to Cadwell Park next weekend and celebrating my 21st Birthday in the way I want to - on the race track.

Race Scooter: All events occurred 12th May 2012 to 13th May 2012

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Race Scooter: Checks and Upgrades

Entering the bank holiday, I had a few objectives for the race machine. Firstly, I wanted to check the engine over. This split nicely into two parts; checking the chaincase and checking the top end. Secondly, I wanted to fit the new bodywork that KAS Racepaint had provided me with. With just over two days, I would have to be efficient and focused to achieve the aims but hopefully, it would put me in a great position for Cadwell Park, having confidence in the bike.

After a discussion with my Dad ordering my priorities, we decided that the top end should be looked at and be potentially dealt with first. This involved getting the bike over out "pit" and carefully stripping part by part. Almost immediately I came across an issue; the cylinder head would not come off the studs. I had never tried this as when I was provided with the engine, it was assembled and was simply put straight into the chassis. After the offending fins were reshaped, the issue was solved.

The innards of the top-end looked fine to me but as I had got this far, thought it best to take the parts over to Replay Scooters and get the expert opinion. One thing which I had measured was the ring gap. Not surprisingly, the ring had worn: Not by too much but enough to recommend a change for a weekend meeting. Otherwise, the piston, cylinder and head looked in good condition so after a clean, the parts were reunited with fresh sealant and the nuts torqued up.

On a side note, my Dads bike was ready for testing this weekend after the events of Mallory Park. It started on the engine starter but not so well on the dyno rollers. After a bit of machining on the cylinder head, starting became easier but we had trouble on the dyno; the bike kept on jumping out of gear. Hopefully a different gearbox, cursor combination will solve that.

Back to my race scooter and I decided the next thing to do, as the evening was coming, was to move to a clean environment and replace the bodywork. This was a fun task and was surprisingly quick due to me having sourced all the nuts and bolts for the first iteration. It didn't take long to get my rattle can work off and the new sleeker legshields in place. It wasn't that much longer before the rest was attached too.

On the Sunday morning, I took the scooter outside and admired the fine work by KAS Racepaint. After cutting and applying the safety walk and other odds and sods (including some polishing), we were ready to get on with the next task. I think anyone would be forgiven for standing back and admiring the scooter for a while though.

As I stated at the beginning, I also wanted to check inside the chaincasing. Hopefully this would be a quick check up on the condition of everything in there. After being layed on the side, the cover was removed and I inspected all of the visible parts. The chain was still in really good condition as was the tensioner, oil and sprockets. In fact, even the clutch had shown only a little sign of wear (on the bottom plate) and this was further confirmed with the magnet having picked up next to no swarf.

The chaincase cover was re-attached and the gaskets greased and we have the bike 99% ready for Cadwell Park on the 19th May. I feel a lot more comfortable with having checked out the inner parts of the race scooter. I also feel a lot more confident of being able to perform the same tasks at a trackside now. I'm really looking forward to Cadwell Park and already feeling great with my machine.

Thanks as usual to the never ending source of advice in my Dad and to Chalkie of Replay Scooters for constantly providing the answers to my questions. KAS Racepaint should also get a big thumbs up this post as I have finally got a bike that is entirely painted by KAS - and it looks fantastic!

Race Scooter: All events occurred 5th May 2012 to 7th May 2012