Sunday, 28 September 2014

Video: Tarenig Rally

Footage from the special test at the RallyMoto Tarenig Rally, on board the Wales Air Ambulance EXC, enjoy!

Race report: Tarenig Rally

Well you wouldn't have believed it was late September from the weather we had today! It started off cloudy and miserable but it soon changed to a warm, beautiful sunny day, ready for the penultimate round of the 2014 All Terrain Rally Challenge.

I was up bright and early and it was still dark when I set off at 6:30am. I signed on, dropped off the Wales Air Ambulance badges at the RallyMoto tent (thank you to everyone who very kindly donated) and then got my bike scrutineered.

My start time was 10:04 and there were 4 laps to complete, with the first lap being a sighting lap. There were some great optional enduro loops out on the course, the test was long and fast and there was a good mix of trails and technical bits throughout. When I got back after the sighting lap I tightened my chain and replaced my goggle film ready for the first timed lap.

On my second lap, I had a bit of a lapse in concentration (ok 3 of them) and came off in some very silly places on the going! The first two were successful dismounts, the third one hurt though, the front wheel tucked underneath me on a bermed section and it wrenched my left arm. I attacked the test for the first timed lap and then took some painkillers when I got back to the pits. Unfortunately I caught about 5 riders on the test and it probably cost me some time, hopefully I didn't put them off when I overtook! Somewhere along the way I managed to crack the welds on the radiator again and lost the guard as well. Frustrating!

The 3rd and 4th laps were better, I kept a good pace on the going without tiring myself out and then rode as fast as I dared on the tests. I was pushing the bike to its limits for grip in some places but I felt like I rode pretty well and I really enjoyed it.

A big thanks once again to the RallyMoto club and all the officials and marshalls today, and well done on another fantastic event!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Final prep for the Tarenig Rally

Saturday morning was a busy one for me! I was up early and took advantage of that to get some work done on the bike so that I could have a play on Sunday.

The first thing I replaced was those front wheel bearings. There wasn't much play in them, just a tiny bit, but I like my bike to be spot on. Once I'd done that, I fitted a new front sprocket, then popped down to ET James to grab some new rear sprocket bolts, the missing fork guard bolt, some thread lock and a new Renthal O-ring chain. As soon as I got back I fitted a new Supersprox rear sprocket with those fresh bolts and thread lock, got the new chain on and adjusted and sorted out the fork guard. While I was working I had another cable tie on the front brake for good measure, then I did my usual checks and topped it up with fuel.

Sunday morning was great fun! What a stunning day it was and I could hardly wait to get out on the field and muck about doing wheelies, jumps and practicing little techniques. After I'd quenched my thirst for play riding, I set about putting in a few laps on the enduro test loop. I really feel like I'm gelling with the bike now and starting to get the best out of it. Since I first set up the track almost a year ago, which is tight, technical and demanding, I have been able to knock 40 seconds off my best lap time (around 3:30 to begin with), so I'm pleased to be heading in the right direction and I know where I can make more time up.

It's absolutely true what they say, there's nothing like time on the bike and gaining experience! The Tarenig Rally this Sunday will be my 10th event of the year and my 4th ATRC rally. I'm really fired up for this one and I can't wait to get going and hopefully fight for another class win!

I'd like to say a big thank you to the RallyMoto club for arranging a Wales Air Ambulance donation option on the entry form for the Tarenig Rally, and especially to all the generous riders who have donated, what a great community.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Next up: Tarenig and Cambrian rallies

I got my entry in nice and early for the WTRA Cambrian Rally, which will be the last round of the 2014 All Terrain Rally Challenge but the other day I realised that it's a week later than last year! I'm gutted because that means I'll miss the last round of the Welsh enduro championship, the Fowlers enduro. Last year's event was really good - don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure it was the hardest enduro I've ever done, but I was looking forward to having another go at it this year!

The Jacko Memorial enduro turned out ok and the Wales Air Ambulance EXC definitely appreciated the new air filter and spark plug., she's been treated like royalty recently! I'll have to check the front wheel bearings before the Tarenig Rally and I'll be fitting a new chain and sprockets. Other than that I lost one fork guard bolt at the Jacko and I've already replaced the rusty footpeg split pins.

The Tarenig Rally is full to the brim! With a capacity entry of 175 riders it's going to be a great event and there will be plenty of competition in all classes. I'm not sure what I can realistically achieve in the ATRC, we'll have to wait and see how the Tarenig goes first, but at the very least I'd like to hold onto 3rd. Bring on another "home round" on the 28th!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Results: Jacko Memorial enduro

The results are out for the 2014 CWAC Jacko Memorial enduro, you can download them here. I'm pleased to have finished 6th out of 42 starters. I would have liked to have been in the top 5 but there were some extremely fast times in the Sportsman class this year!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Video: Jacko Memorial enduro

On board action from the Wales Air Ambulance EXC, enjoy!

Race report: Jacko Memorial enduro

It was good fun at the CWAC Knighton Jacko Memorial enduro today, good weather and a decent turnout for the Sportsman class. It was the penultimate round of the ET James Welsh Enduro Championship for the Sportsman class, so all to play for at the sharp end!

Well I have to say my day was fairly uneventful this time! The first lap was a sighting lap and there were 3 laps for the beginners class and 4 laps for all other classes. The fuel/test check was loose and stayed the same with regards to time allowance. The other check got tighter by 1 minute (for the Sportsman class) each lap. I stayed clean on time easily as the checks were loose, and didn't have any bike problems. I had a couple of spectacular brake slides on the tests but other than that things were pretty smooth.

Thanks as usual to Keith Bowen from MX247 for the photos.

There was traffic to contend with on all 3 of my timed tests, but I'm hoping it was the same for everyone as I lost a few seconds in places. All that's left to do is to wait for the results!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Update: ET James 2014 Welsh Enduro Championship

A great result for me at the Nant y Moch enduro has given me some more championship points and I'm now up in 5th place! With my entry in for the Jacko Memorial enduro this weekend and plans to enter the Fowlers enduro in October, points and positions are up for grabs!

The full standings are available on the Welsh Enduro Championship Facebook group.

CWAC Jacko Memorial enduro this weekend

I thought I'd see how the Nant y Moch enduro went before I decided to enter this one, mostly to give me a chance to assess the damage (me and the bike)! The entries closed last night but I was lucky enough to get mine in just in time.

I had a quick look around the bike after Nant y Moch and I need some new front wheel bearings but that should be it. I'll get that done on Saturday and then off I go to the Jacko on Sunday morning.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Results: Nant y Moch enduro

The results are out for the 2014 ADMCC Nant y Moch enduro, and I'm happy to have finished 2nd in the Sportsman class! I thought I'd ruined my result by dropping a minute on the last check of the day but it made no difference so I'm pleased with that, I worked pretty hard for it and felt like I rode well.

Video: Nant y Moch enduro

On board action from the Wales Air Ambulance EXC, enjoy!

Race report: Nant y Moch enduro

We couldn't have asked for better weather for the weekend, as I drove up to walk the test on Saturday morning, the Nant y Moch reservoir was still as could be and gave a magnificent reflection of the stunning scenery around it. The ADMCC club were hard at work when I got there, making final preparations for Sunday. It was an excellent, challenging and long cross-country special test, with a lot of technical sections, a "proper" enduro test if you will!

Sunday morning arrived and up I got at 6am. The weather was already looking stunning so it was going to be a good day out on the bike. I arrived with plenty of time, had a chat with a few riders and club members and then signed on, got my times and numbers and then had my bike scrutineered. Unfortunately (not only for the club), there was a low number of entries for the event, but that makes me all the more grateful to ADMCC for putting the event on regardless, it was great fun.

With a start time of 10:05am, I had 3 laps to do with each one set to take 80 minutes, 75 minutes and 70 minutes respectively. The special test was at the start of the lap and the first lap was un-timed. Let me tell you though, I was glad I made the effort to walk it! The course was great, there was a good mix including a lot of technical forestry going with tree roots and deep mud to negotiate.

I had two good timed tests, staying on the bike and going fairly steady and I stayed on time until the last check of the day. There was a deep muddy rutted section in the woods out on the second check, and I tried (and failed) to switch lines earlier in the rut, so I went for the tree roots on the outside and wedged the bike in a deep rut. The pegs were caught and not even a lifting it onto the back wheel could move it, the bike was just digging a hole - it was so soft! I was sinking into the mud as I tried to lift it out, back wheel first, then front wheel, then I had to lay it down to drag it across. What I hadn't realised though was that the rut on the other side was so deep. I had to stand in it to push the bike up but it was half way up my legs and I was pushing away from me! I had to ask a passing rider for help - I think it was Paul Jones, so thanks very much. He helped me lift it up and then he carried on. Back on two wheels I tried the next line over but ended up digging another hole, it was ridiculously soft in there. I had no choice but to drag the bike out into the deeper lower rut I was stood in but the bike had been sucked in and was hard to shift with my being lower than the bike itself. Luckily, top man Dafydd Morgan stopped to help me drag it out and down into the lower rut (diolch yn fawr, ti'n seren)! All in all that physically exhausting mistake took me 7 minutes to rectify.

I carried on and dropped out onto the fire road feeling cramp setting into my thighs and abs! This was the last section of the day - a few miles of it back to the finish. After a mile or so I checked the clock and my time due in at the check. I knew the clock was fast by 2 minutes and I was due in at 13:50. As I looked down, I saw the watch tick onto 13:48 and all the alarm bells went off! Down came the red mist and I rode flat out to the end of the check, I know at one point I had the bike flat out in top gear so I was really moving. I slid around the last corner and shouted "TIME?!" as I got there and heard "51" as the reply. I was gutted! I moved past the flag and handed my timecard in, but that was really hard to take after I'd ridden so well all day long!

So a bit of a disappointing end to what was a brilliant but hard event, now it's a case of waiting for the results and hoping for the best!

I'd like to say thanks again to the ADMCC club for putting the event on and all the effort that's gone into it, all the marshalls and officials and to Paul and Dafydd who were kind enough to help me, I hope I can return the favour at some point lads. Thanks also to Keith Bowen from MX247 and Sion Edwards for taking photos during the event.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Coming up: Nant y Moch enduro

This weekend will play host to the ADMCC Nant y Moch enduro, celebrating 50 years of the Aberystwyth club, it's all set to be a classic multi-lap enduro, with a good variety of going and will be a round of the ET James Welsh solo enduro championship.

I think the Wales Air Ambulance EXC is good to go, I just need to do my usual checks for loose bolts, clean the air filter, check the spokes, tighten the chain and check the link etc etc! Hopefully I'll get a chance to walk the special test on Saturday. I could probably do with some fuel too :)

If I have time I might seal the switchgear with sealant - they seem to be prone to getting mud/water in there and it plays havoc with the kill switch/horn!

I can't wait to get out on the bike again, I've only ridden once since the Beacons Rally and that was just a quick blast around the field to bed in my new tyres, bring on the weekend, it'll be demanding and technical I'm sure, but that should make it all the more enjoyable.

As usual, photos, videos and a race report will follow!