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Kingston MCC
Freestyle Husqvarna Canada Heights Enduro Sept 09

Firstly I'd like to say what a cracking time we had at Sidcup MCC’s Husqvarna sponsored time card enduro on the 13th of Sept 2009 at Canada Heights. We’d taken part in this enduro at the same time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact it was the first proper time card enduro I’d ever done. I fully intended to do it again this year and had it marked down in my calendar as a ‘must do’. In the lead up to it, Tony was once again the only one that agreed to join me. In fact we only really made it because of him being so keen. Being very bad at the paperwork side of things I was a bit lax in getting my entry filled out and posted. While we were loading up the bikes after the CHEC event on the 6th, Tony was questioning if we were still going to enter. Seeing as I felt I hadn’t ridden very well (but bizarrely finished third in O40 class) I said I was going to skip it, but after a bit of coaxing I agreed to enter. Only problem was the entries were closed! Queue one begging email to Peter and we got entered, with the forms sent off the next morning.

trying to relieve the boredom of the M25!

it's no good - he's nodded off!

are we there yet?!

I picked up Tony just gone seven am and we swung into the Tesco petrol station to fill the bikes, jerry cans and car with fuel. Tony jumped up onto the trailer and filled my bike up, then handed me the nozzle while he replaced the fuel cap. I splashed about half a litre into his bike (full) then turned to fill the jerry cans on the floor, (while Tony was still on the trailer). Now this might seem to be unnecessary rambling but bear with me as it has relevance! The trip round the M25 was predictably boring but lightened by me showing off my new camera to Tony, and snapping off some shots in the car while driving. There was a smell of petrol now & again, and I joked that it was probably the jerry cans leaking in the boot – we had a good laugh about us getting stoned on fuel fumes and getting stuck going round and round the M25 until the tank ran dry.

Once we were parked up at the track, (we found a convenient spot right next to the pits) we set about unloading the bikes. “Here look as this” called Tony, beckoning to me over to the trailer. His tank cap was off and about half a tank of fuel had leaked out! “You twat, you never replaced the cap on my bike” he continued. “Me?” I replied – “But you were still on the back of the trailer when I turned to fill the cans”. That went back and forth several times but seeing as I’m writing this (and it’s my report) I declaring myself to be in the right ;)

 

not me!

Signing on and getting the times worked out was a painless affair, as Sidcup always seem to work it out for you. All you have to do is write them on your timecard (which several guys were cocking up) and mount it on your bike, along with your times on a convenient & conspicuous piece of gaffer tape. There was still plenty of time till the start so we walked up to the special test area to have a look. Unlike last year, this test was going to be held in a flat field amongst some trees. We watched for a while as one of the marshals did a few laps, then had to leg it back to the signing on cabin as we nearly missed the riders briefing. Again, unlike last year, the ‘special test’ was not part of the main course and you had to select which laps you preferred to do it on. You had to do it twice, so it made sense to do it as early as possible while the times were still nice and slack. Being fairly high start numbers we weren’t off until 10.54, so there was some standing around and the butterflies kicked in.

Eventually it was our time to start and I road up to the checkpoint where Rich C from the TBM forum was on duty. The bike was running a bit crappy as it was still stone cold, but by the time we got to the right turn into the track proper it had cleared itself.

dropping into the track after the start

 

and weaving in amongst the trees

Being thrown straight into the deep end the track started by criss crossing an extremely undulating area near the entry to the park. If you are unaware of this section it is very soft sand humps that have small trees growing out of them. The track took many tight turns, drops and rises before heading out onto the first field. After several loops across the grass you end up going into the trees again and are greeted by more slopes, twists and turns, but most are not quite as tight. The sand in this area is different from the sand in the first section barely a few hundred yards away. Now it was a gray colour as opposed to the normal ‘sandy’ hue and it was much more powdery. There was about half a dozen logs to climb/ride over as well, just to keep things interesting. This powder became thicker and thicker throughout the day and you needed plenty of pace and power to clear it later.

on the open going just after the first set of woods

coming back round again before heading off onto the other side of the field

looks like it's all going wrong but it's not!
Just using the leg as balance while getting hard on the gas

 

Tony chasing me

Once more there was a very short grass loop and we were back into the woods for a longish run, first away from, and then turning back towards the mx track. This return part cut up nicely later on and it was possible to really lean the bike over and gas it round the corners. Eventually we popped back out near the mx track.

This part of the track followed roughly the same layout as previous events. You do a short section of mx track then you turn off into a naggery infield bit and the container ride through's. Gavin was cheering me on at this part but I was trying not to go too fast. From my experience last year they give you plenty of time to learn the course on your first ‘slow’ lap. I also had the helmet cam running on this lap. No idea why now as it’s surely the worst one to film as it’s the slowest?! I also intended to film the fast or ‘tight’ lap but this didn’t work out too well as I think the lens got fogged up again, and the massive amount to dust on the front cover probably didn’t help!

Once I got to the ‘special test’ I sat in the queue waiting for my turn. Getting the go ahead I shot off and took the first right turn and gassed it out the bend trying to go fast, but more importantly not too crash. Unfortunately for me, for a brief moment, I think I once again suffered from a bout of brain fade and got slightly lost. However looking back at the footage (the cam was running) there was some marking tape down and an anchor stick sticking out the ground. I went to the right of it and looking to my left I could see two rows of tape running. This confused the hell out of me and I thought I had gone the wrong way round the tape and was now on the outside of the course!! Slowing right down I almost stopped for a minute but I carried on, turning the air blue with swearwords, so be warned when watching it at work or home! Feeling equal measures of embarrassment and anger I carried on and managed to pull the second half of the test back to some sort of proper speed. Looking at the results it was three seconds slower than when I did it on the next lap, which is more or less the exact time lost closing off the throttle at the start.

After the test we skirted through a bit of wood but quickly broken out onto the fast open going of the back fields. This is an area where previously I’ve always struggled. Not because the bike is slow, far from it, but because my flat cornering skill were pants. However a whole day up at enduroland practicing them has helped me understand what to do, so this time I felt I was lot faster. Moving off the seat, pushing the bike down and pressing the outer peg I manage to get on the gas much earlier than I’d previously be able to. This fast back field has a few excursions off into the edges and at the far end has a log to hop over, followed by three man made log obstacles on the way back.

Tony and I at the man made log crossing

me on the way back

Once coming back into the tree area near the track, there is a big hole that is normally used at these events. It also has high ridges build up around it so the drop into it can be fairly steep. Skirting around the edge on the ridge on the first lap I turned around for a good look at the condition at the bottom of the dip, just in case I needed to try an overtake later in the event. Turning around while riding isn’t always the best idea though, and I ran off the track stalling the bike in the process, oops.

Next up was some tighter going followed by the ‘easy’ ‘hard’ options at the concrete blocks. This was backed up by some more man made log obstacles. We made our way around the track on the far side, crossing the same sort of terrain as at the beginning, i.e. very sandy and humpy. Once at the bottom of the hill we turned back and following the track’s fence, climbed back up to a entry point where we once again ‘got back on track’ as in the mx track. I really tried to take it steady on these mx bits as my bike is not really set up for it, and i tend to slam through the suspension travel with alarming ease.

me crossing the 'hard' obstacle

Tony on the same section - looking a little precarious

Tony giving it a handful on the other side

So that was a lap, check out the helmet cam footage, bearing in mind it was the ‘slow’ lap. Back at the pits I tucked into a hot cross bun and Tony pulled in shortly afterwards and I had to re-live the embarrassment of telling him my special test cock up.

back into the pits for a break and re-fuel

86 and i had a nice dice mostly of the day

Lap two: (40 min allowance) On the next lap Tony got the jump away from the checkpoint as he had his card taped to the front brake hose. This enabled the timekeeper to mark his card on his lighting board without removing it. While this does allow him a few extra seconds I can’t help but feel it’s a receipt for disaster and prefer the rubber band loop option by the brake master cylinder.

Anyway, going through the first sandy uppy downy bit I was sitting on his back wheel when he jumped off a small drop off. I’d thought about doing that before, but as there was a tight turn to the left (90 deg) I though better of it. Tony should have as well as he couldn’t stop in time and almost went through the tape. This gave me an ideal chance to nip up the inside and I pulled away. This lap had been reduced from the previous 50 minutes down to 40. So although it was slightly tighter it was still easy enough to manage and I fitted in the second ‘special’ as well. This time everything went fine and I was pleased with the way it went.

First lap on the helmet cam.

Lap three: (35 min allowance) Tony once again got the better of me away from the checkpoint and again I sat on the rear wheel. Trying harder this time he managed to overcook one corner somehow. It was a tricky one, first you go up a ridge then as you come down you need to turn sharply to the right. He went wide and lost the front wheel at the turn in point, going down on his right side – or he would have, but he did a couple of summersaults down the hill first before stopping! I managed to stop in time and was balancing on the top of the ridge, holding up my hand to stop the next few riders. Tony picked the bike up and pulled the clutch in to fire it up. Unfortunately for him (again) it was on the slope, so as soon as he pulled in the clutch it ran off down the hill pulling him off his feet again. Laugh? No, not much! Luckily this freed up the path so I gassed the bike away down the hill, feeling slightly guilty about not stopping to help him pick up the bike. The lap went by without a hitch but by now the fast championship guys were flying past us so I kept a constant ear open for them so as not to hold them up needlessly. In the pits I topped up with fuel just to be on the safe side.

 

this is the ridge just before the turn that caught Tony out

Lap Four: (25 min allowance) the tight lap. Not wanting to get caught behind Tony again I mentioned if he’d mind letting me by and he agreed. This time I really hit the gas away from the check and although I wasn’t first away, I slotted into second spot behind 86. I was sure I’d be able to make the tight lap as long as I didn’t hang around. I tried to keep it steady through the first part where Tony fell and 86 pulled a fair gap on me. Once we got onto the faster stuff i closed the gap right up but ran slightly wide allowing the gap to open up again. In the next set of woods I pulled over for a championship rider, then I set off in pursuit but got held up once or twice by slower riders. I caught back up to 86 as he took a tumble and we were together across the last patch of open going. He overshot a bend and I managed to overtake. Still keeping it fast and trying to be smooth I was on the bottom part of the track when I heard another bike behind me. A quick glance over my shoulder and I saw a red flash by the numbers so I pulled to one side as I thought it was a championship rider. It was a bloody marshal and 86 nipped past at the same time! Cursing now I pushed harder and made up the lost ground just before we re-entered the pits. We both made it with a few minutes to spare.

 

So the excitement of the tight lap was over, it was just a case of riding the last few laps to end off the day. Everything went smoothly but I did run out of fluid in my camelpack on the last lap and I could just feel the first signs of cramp setting in, but thankfully it didn’t result in a major ‘cramp’. Clocking out at the final lap Gavin was there and took my card, congratulating me on being clear on time. Unfortunately for me, most of the other riders were too, so it all came down to the special tests – which as you know, I messed up on lap one. Fortunately I pulled it back a bit on lap two so I managed to initially get an equal tenth but looking a day later I’ve migrated downwards slightly. Anyway, as I was late I don’t qualify for an award so it doesn’t matter too much.

Tony was complaining of nipple rash so i said i could offer him some Vaseline but knowing where i normally apply that and worried about 'double dipping' he declined! I then offered him some ibuprofen gel, which he used, but instead of taking away the pain it stung like hell !!!!!

nipples sore mate?

Cracking open two cans of Jack Daniels and coke (ready mixed) Tony and I sat down to run through the days events and have a laugh. One of which was the state of the car! Parking near the track wasn’t such a great idea after all, as I could grow potatoes on it, it was that thick in dust. A couple of guys from TBM popped over to say hello and then it was time to brave the M25 traffic, which turned out to be surprisingly light for a Sunday afternoon and we only got snarled up briefly right at the M40.

Many thanks for another great days racing, see you next year!
Also thanks to Lee who supplied most of the pictures for this report.

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©2009 John Muizelaar