The Art Of Moto-Cross
A Flashback from the past now folks. In fact the following article is now nearly five years old although it has not been previously published as far as we know. So lets hear BP's version of The Art of Moto-Cross (or how not to do it)
For all you budding Jeff Smiths and Dave Bickers types here is a somewhat hilarious account of my experience of Motocross. I thought is would be fairly easy but I was far from right.
Nevertheless I purchased a 250cc Dot two stroke and was all set to go. I might mention that a road bike converted is not an ideal proposition because of the punishment it has to take. The next thing was to join a club affiliated to the ACU. The appropriate forms received were filled in and sent off in good time for my first meeting. Finally I received a slip of paper with my appropriate machine number on.
The Sunday arrived and I was all set for the first meeting which was being held at Tilton on the Hill, Leicestershire. On arriving in the paddock, which thronged with bikes and riders, I found a spot to park. The next thing to do was to unload the bike and kit, then take a walk around the course. Which direction the course went I didn't know for there were people walking in both directions. On finding the correct way round I then had to find the right line. This was ridiculous as the course in many places had so many ruts, the only way to find out was to ride round.
After the scrutineering this was my chance. Practice had started and already there were a number of riders on the course, so I started the bike up and went into battle. The first shock I encountered was the speed at which they were travelling. One gets a different impression when spectating behind the ropes. However with riders such as the Clarke brothers, Freddie Mayes and Dick Clayton this was not surprising.
I ventured along the Tilton straight then came upon a slippery decline where I hastily dropped down a couple of gears just to make sure I didn't do anything stupid like falling off. A few yards further on came a sharp adverse cambered right hand bend. Only then did I realise I was going too fast and so made a hasty retreat, crashing through the ropes, landing on my backside. The only person on the scene was a St Johns Ambulance man who, after realising I was uninjured, returned to a safe spot. Quite surprisingly nothing was bent or missing and so I restarted and battled on up the hill. A relieving thing was that the organisers had cut out that notorious 'U' bend; one look at it had deflated my eagerness.
The next thing I encountered was a sharp left hander with a sudden breathtaking drop bringing me to another adverse cambered right hander. After picking myself up (this time I missed the ropes) I pressed on through the gates and up that never ending hill (unless one is going fast) arriving at the summit thoroughly exhausted. Oh, I wished I'd stayed at home!
After the narrow section arrived the bumps and hollows which I mastered with great skill, or so I thought from the spectators' point of view.
The last obstacle was the top gate which proved easy, bringing me out along the Tilton straight once again. Here I spotted the paddock and so made a retreat for a well earned breather. I then did another couple of laps before the actual racing started, which proved rather more successful.
When racing started in the afternoon I succeeded in battling through the heats but alas did not reach any finals. The last heat proved terrifying for I was nearly over the bumps and hollows when suddenly I was sitting on the rear mudguard and found I could not shut the throttle off. The gate I should have been going through was on my left, so there I was, front wheel proudly in the air, heading for a very large tree. A host of things went through my mind during those brief seconds until I slithered to a halt at the foot of the tree. At the last moment the bike must have skidded round and left me sliding on my side, proving very sore on the weeks which followed. After the meeting a well earned pint was consumed without too much trouble, along with a few laughs about the day's events.
A second meeting at Tilton a month or so later proved much like the first; but a meeting held at Longner near Buxton made me open my eyes. This was held on WD property, combined with a bit of rally cross to get to the paddock. After finding a spot to park we unhitched the bike and proceeded to inspect the course. This was an eye-opener for in some places jagged rocks stuck out, very different from Tilton. However after completing practice, which was very short, I was ready for my first race.
After lining up the starter was ready with his flag but nothing happened; there was someone causing a delay. Right, it was me! The regulations for the starting procedure stated that the hand operating the clutch was to be touching the hand on the throttle. This I couldn't accomplish due to the fact that I could not get the gears into neutral, but eventually everything was ready and we started. A surprising thing in this heat was that I was not lying last which was encouraging until I later found out that the rider was about thirty years older than myself. That was really deflating.
Summing up my experiences I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself along with the friendly atmosphere found at these meetings. I would never discourage anyone from having a bash.