Bemsee Lydden 3rd/4th March 2001

With no practice sessions yet, Lydden was to be my practice and warmup before the start of the MRO season. Saturday didn't go quite to plan - basically I never actually got there. But Sunday got me up to speed as needed.


By half-way through Friday, I still didn't have any forks. They were in the post from Clive Horton at Racing Lines, who had been waiting in vain for some custom springs to be made up to try to stop my somewhat lardy body from bottoming out the TZ's forks.

The Best Laid Plans...

The plan was for Duncan to come up in the evening, fit the forks, and finish a few odd details like bleeding the brakes. At least, that's what I thought the plan was! Duncan, however, thought I was fitting the forks and he was tidying things up first thing in the morning. By the time we'd reconciled these conflicting theories, I'd missed out on quite a bit of potential rebuild time. Nevertheless, I fitted the forks, fitted fairings and screen and a few other bits, and by 9:30 pm had the van loaded and ready to start.

Only it wouldn't. Turning the key produced a slow chug but nothing else. I swore a lot. Duncan had only returned the van the night before after it's annual service and MOT, so there was no obvious reason why it wouldn't work. A Very Nice Man turned up and diagnosed a knackered battery - but managed to get it started anyway.

By this time it was getting very late, and calling Duncan produced the suggestion that "someone was trying to tell us something", with the implication that we shouldn't try to do Lydden on the Saturday as something horrible was bound to befall us - just before the baby arrives.

I have no time at all for superstition. However, I do understand about unhappy mechanics. I figured it was probably best to skip Saturday, get a new battery for the van, make sure the bike was fully sorted and go up Sunday morning. It would also mean Jan - 10 days away from her due date - would be able to come with us as there would be no overnights needed.


Nice flurries of snow on the way down there - why do we start racing in early March, for christ's sake?

In spite of having had all day Saturday to prepare, there still seemed to be too much left to do in the time available, but I got out for my three laps practice on a freezing track.

Race One

Well, it was a crap race. Andy Denyer led, with Rik Ballerini (who won both Saturday races easily) in hot persuit. I was keeping them in view until Rik went for an overtake and fell off at the elbow. I backed off, only to find it wasn't him who had gone down at all, but an early lappee. After this I was pretty much on my own, and I wasn't really trying very hard. Call it practice. I finished an embarassing 20 seconds behind Rik, but still managed to claim third place.

Race Two

That's more like it! This time I was much more determined. I finished in the same position, but just 0.2 seconds behind Denyer, and only five seconds behind Rik. My best lap was 44.65, a whole two seconds faster than the previous race.

I think I'd chosen the wrong rear tyre (that's Official Excuse Number 207, by the way). I was using a rear inter as it was so cold and threatening rain, whereas Andy Denyer and Rik both had rear slicks. I just couldn't put enough power down round Chessons' to do my normal up-the-inside maneouvre at the Elbow.

There were some s..l..o..w people out there. We were lapping people from the third lap, and on the final lap I was looking for some help from the tailenders. It almost worked - Andy got balked round Paddock and I drove up the inside on a tight line. But he crossed the line half a bike length ahead of me.

Another third, but a much more deserved one. Since this was my first day on the track since October at Silverstone, I was pretty happy with the result.

Ricky had now won four races out of four, but only due to his extra practice, superior Honda drive, lighter body weight, (repeat excuses ad infinitum...)

Next Race: Donnington MRO, Sunday 11th March 2001

The big one. Unless Jan gives birth in the meantime, of course...

Roger Ford

Setup Notes
Gearing 14/39 - worked
Jetting No idea
Best lap 44.65
Miles: total 27