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2005 Season Review

This year has been a mixed year for me. It started with a bang. It seemed like every weekend I was racing. I still had 7 signatures to achieve for me to race in the Isle of Man. I raced as many meeting as possible. Pembrey, Jurby, Darleymoor and Three Sisters. This year also saw me buy and ride an R6. This had its share of problems. The Frame number being the main bug bare.

The best meeting at the start of the season was with the Andreas Club at Jurby. This saw my best and most consistent results to date. 2 nd, 3 rd and numerous top 5's made for a very enjoyable meeting.

First meeting on the R6 also proved to be a good meeting although I was plagued with brake problems. But learning to ride around them my mates were surprised I could ride as hard as I was with almost no brake by the end of the race. My best result was 8 th in the A Final with North Gloucester. This was better than I ever imagined I would finish.

Once a National rider came my first bad accident. A silly little spill at 30 mph broke my collarbone in 2 places. Lucky me!!!!! So from 1 st May my racing stopped, till I was better and ready for the Manx.

Months pasted, eventually I was fit enough to strip the R6 to nothing and rebuild her with a new frame up. Slowly she was brought back to life. Discovering little problems on the way, sorting them so it would be a better bike for the Manx. The Brakes upgraded, the Suspension sorted by Maxton. Believe it or not the front was sprung for an 11 stone bloke and the rear a 15 stone bloke. No wonder she dived.

Then the final kick in the nuts. Work wouldn't let me ride the Manx. Good one. My dream, my life…

Then the Manx. No real plans just go and do it. See how things go. Never believed I would get a 100mph lap, so chuff to bits when I got 105mph on the R6. The only real goal I had was to do a 100mph lap on the 400, just to put Ivan Coates in his place, as he never has. So even more impressed when I did it race day. I nearly got a 100mph average for the race.

I'm left feeling strange about 2005. See, I feel like I have ended on a low after the meeting at Anglesey. Plus looking back I have missed more races, because of my collarbone, than I have competed. But on the other hand I have achieved everything I wanted for 2005 and that was to become a National rider and compete in the Manx (1 year sooner than I was told possible). So I suppose the year hasn't been that bad. Try saying that to my collarbone that is still not 100% and it's the 6 Oct.

So what of next year? Well I plan on selling both bikes. I know if you could see them both, they are awesome. Both are sorted right out. But like I have said the 400 needs lots of money spending on it just to make it competitive. I want to ride a 600; at the Manx it was obvious that my R6 is old. Its very fast, 113bhp at the back wheel. But she is a carb bike and needs attention. A newer CBR600RR is my plan. Faster, reliable and more confident inspiring too ride.

Race wise, now I don't need to ride every event possible to get my signatures for the Manx, I am going to concentrate on just one club. Preston I feel is not where I want to be in 2006. Maybe North Gloucester again or a complete change and go to either New Era or Bemsee and compete in there championships on the bigger, faster tracks out there. But I would also like to try a few more Road Races, Tangdragee, Ulster and I'm definitely doing the Manx again.

Roll on 2006!

Autograph

Anglesey - 10th & 11th September 2005

Preston & District

My Holiday in the Isle of Man was now over. My dream of racing on the TT Course fulfilled. Having achieved more than I thought I ever would on the island, racing in the top 10 during the newcomers (although finishing 21 st because I cant keep my exhaust on for more than a mile or two from the end), 105mph lap on the 600, a 100mph lap on the 400 and nearly got a 100mph race average, I was feeling on top of the world waiting for next years GP to come round.

Just 2 meetings left and the season would be over. After staying on the island for an extra week of leave, Friday I packed up headed for the ferry and over to Anglesey for a meeting with Preston, last time I rode with these guys I broke me collarbone. For the first time this year except the Manx, this was the first time I got to ride both bikes. I arrived at Anglesey and completed the last few jobs on both bikes.

We all got up early in morning; Jon and Rick were also racing. It was chilly and damp, mmmmm my favourite conditions. It was so alike Three Sisters that I was already beginning to worry about another get off. I completed the Manx with no injuries, which is a good thing; however I was now worried that another silly little spill here would or could get me into a whole world of shite with work.

I changed tyres on the 600 to the intermediates. But, out on the 400 first. As I had already raced here last year I had made my benchmark and all the gearing was sorted. The 400 went well, I didn't really expect anything different, and it’s just a cool bike to ride. But like the Manx changing to the 600 proved harder than I thought. The bike was obviously more aggressive to ride, but so heavy to turn, I wobbled around most corners like it was my first race meeting ever.

As the day continued I slowly got quicker on the 6, but struggled all day changing between bikes. The weather improved as the day went on and I changed tyres again on the 6 for a set dry race tyres. The first thing I really noticed was the profile of the tyre was far more aggressive and quicker when turning in.

I had a run in with the timekeepers for the event, with my front number plate on the R6. They said they were unable to read it, which was a fair one as it was on the right side of the bike. So the Clerk of the Course stopped me and I changed it immediately. Thing was they penalised me on both bikes. I had raced from the back row of the grid on the 400 to 5 th. So in my eyes I was in a good position for maybe a top 3 or even my first win in the next 400 race. But as I was being penalised for my number plate again I was on the back row of the grid for the 2 nd race. I rode angry, hard and took risks to try and win. But it was to no avail. I finished the race disappointed; feeling denied my first chance of glory on the baby blade.

The Biggest disappointment on the 600 was I got a good start for a change, but took the wrong line around school house and got trapped on the inside, only to see Jon go flying around the outside of everyone and cut straight across me and leave me for dead.

Sunday I decided that I would only ride the 600. It was time to move on from the 400, as I will only be riding the 6 from now on. The 4 has taught me all it can, I outride it, the bike don't challenge me no more and I am not willing to part with the cash needed to bring it in line with the other little rockets out there.

Again the day started slowly, I was really riding for the first time ever, really tight. I was really beginning to worry about work finding out that I was racing. I was concerned that I was risking too much. With constant battles in my mind all weekend I came away from the meeting feeling like I should never have bothered. This was the first time that I have ever felt like that racing. Even when I have crashed motocrossing and have smashed my shit right in. I have still loved it.

Thing was I didn't do that bad over the weekend. I found I could never really get into a flow. Before I got going I found the race was over. Another thing I noticed was that the whole race distance at Anglesey I wouldn't have even got to Ballacraine on the TT Course on my first lap. So no time to settle in.

After such a high from the Manx this really felt like a big low and a low end to a mixed year. Like I said I didn't really do that bad, but my head really wasn't where it needed to be. Roll on next season where I can ride again, fully fit and ready for a stonking new years racing.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Sat 29th Aug 2005 - Newcomers Race

On Sunday, we had our race brief, after which Rob Sylvester from VRS, was going to tune my R6 for the final time. Earlier in the week we had the 600 tuned, only to find that the needles were the wrong way round (I didn't know they were directional) and the jetting was wrong. Also because of the mods done in tuning the engine, the carbs could not be balanced. The bike was running ok but in the last practice session the bike coughed a little flat out. So he checked her out. The carbs were way off. Once balanced, the new jetting was masking the fact that the carbs were out. So rejetted back to original. The bike was running sweet. Problem was when he finished doing what he does best it was 2300 and time for bed. So the bike wasn't checked over.

So up earlier than planned, Tony had sorted the day before, the fairing ready for the race, as I was getting quicker and quicker in practice the harder I was hitting the bottom of Bray Hill. Body Filler, Respray, and you'd never know. Up at the grandstand 0630, bike out and checked. Jim Stewart came over to say hi and said. You guys are always working on that bike. Really!!!!

Bike scrutineered and in the Holding Area. For the first time all week, I had the tyre Cookers (warmers) on. Now time to focus on what may lay ahead. For the first time proper, I was nervous. Tony has always said to me I ain't nervous enough before a race. Well this time I was kaking it. It's just another practice session. While waiting for the start, Chris Kinley came over for a quick interview, thanks to John. Although he called me Neil, it went ok. He was curious why I planned to get married tomorrow after a race. I said some mushy stuff, what I should have said that the stress wasn't enough so I thought id throw in a wedding to plan and have for good measure.

Out on Glencrutchery Road I just kept myself to myself and tried top control the nerves. Thank God, there wasn't a delay. The first pair got under way. The thing that caught me out here was how fast 10 seconds felt. It was supposed to be the same time in practice but I think not. It was much quicker in the race.

Finally, it was my turn. Yet another shite start for me on the R6. Although they are getting better. I wasn't too bothered that Kenneth Bartley No. 27 pulled away from on the start. I knew was much quicker than him as I had been all week. He held me up a little through Bray Hill. As I went through the bottom I was close, I wheelied off Agos trying to get past. By Alexander Drive, I had over taken him. Around Quarter Bridge, I could see the next pair. I quickly past them and on into Union Mills. I past Marie Hodgson up the Ballahutchin. With all these people to over take, got me into race thinking very quickly.

Steady through Glen Helen the first lap, as the roads were damp through here all race. Wrong Gear around glen Helen proper. I can't lie as it was heard on the radio. Tony, John and Stevie all had a good laugh at me. Little nod to Marty out onto Cronk Y Voddy, really settled in now.

Coming into Kirk Michael I caught another 2 battling together, although a lot slower than what I was wanting to travel at. So I just nipped round outside of the pair of them.

I smiled as I was doing it. You could image the spectators saying, He's trying!!

I out broke someone into Ramsey Grammar. Heading up to the Hairpin I caught 22, Craig Beech. I had the inside advantage, the commentator going mad, but he pulled away. It was a little too tight. He pulled away over the mountain. He was quick over there.

For the rest of the lap I rode hard but steady. At Glen Tramin on the second lap and up to Sky Hill, I caught and chased number 22, Craig Beech again. I followed him for a bit and out broke him into parliament square. Going into the left before the Goose Neck I hit a false neutral and just made it around the bend. I was nearly in the hedge. Just kept my cool and got round. Shit me self though. Around the Goose Neck, I got the Pit Board saying I did a 105 from standing start. That put a huge smile on my face. I thought the lap was a little slower than that.

Coming off the Mountain I started to get a little concerned at how the pit stop might go. I shrugged it out me mind as quickly as possible. Steady around Governors and away for the pit stop. We were told to use the bus stop as a braking marker. I found, over the 2 laps I was going into corners a lot harder than in practice and all my braking markers were to close to the corners. This was making me out brake myself at all the big corners Ballacraine, parliament, and signpost. So when I got to this bus stop slowed a little first only to find if I was David Jeffries then maybe yes use the bus stop, but It was far to early.

Foot down in the stop box, nod from the judge and off to the crew. John on Fuel, Stevie on Fuel Cap and helmet change, Tony on Drink for me and Top up of Gearbox Oil (because she was using a little oil, bless her). Apart from Stevie getting a little flustered with the fuel cap the Pit Stop flew, and most importantly was smooth, although a little slow. Off on my third lap and I was cruising.

The lap zipped by. I got to Bishopscourt and right on the apex of the left at the end there was a Chicken on the road. I just missed it by inches. It caught my Eye, as you can imagine. A Fucking Chicken!!!! I laughed out loud, a Fucking Chicken!!!!

The lap rocked, it flowed so nice, and I was in Ramsey in no time. Over the Mountain I was smiling, I'm racing the Manx; I'm living my dream, right here right now. It was hard work over the mountain the whole race because of the wind. You really had to hang off to get the bike to lean over. My fitness was fine. I relaxed whenever I could and I looked forward to my last and flying lap.

I was finding it easier than I thought I might. Down through the Grandstand for the last lap. I saw Tony leaning out to wave me by. I was pushing hard for the lap I wanted to see just how fast I could really go. John from fastrackimages said it looked like I was really trying round ginger hall. Which I was.

Then trouble struck. Into Glen Tramin, the Exhaust fell off. The link pipe was loose and the bracket holding the silencer to the sub frame had stretched with all the vibrations and the pipe slide through and came off.

The noise was loud, I wonder what the fuck had happened. I pulled in and the marshal tried to stop me from fixing the bike. Grabbed it and cracked on.

I got to the Goose Neck and it fell off again. This time the marshals wouldn't let me continue. I was gutted. The Kipper Kilip told me to finish the race, and let me go.

I cracked on slowly. Then onto the mountain mile, it fell off again. I stopped again and finally this timer a marshal with tape. I wrapped it up so much there was no way it was coming off again.

Got back on the bike and 27 Kenneth Bartley went by. Gutted. I cracked on as hard as I could to at least catch him. I didn't. I nearly did, I tried to dive up the inside at Governors. But I did want to wipe us both out with less than a mile to go.

So I finished. A little disappointed, an understatement. My last lap was only 90mph, it brought my race average down too 96.871mph and finished 21 st , after being in the top ten the whole race.

The boys desperately wanted to know what happened. They all thought it was my fitness, only to find out what happened. John was thredders (pissed off) as he could have prevented it from happening.

I look at it like this. You can't predict what will happen in a 150-mile race, if it wasn't that that happened maybe something else would have. I got back safe and sound and loved every second of it.

Yes it was a shame but that's racing. Still, I am happy with everything that happened. My fitness didn't stop me and nor did my pace. So onto Friday.

I got a phone call from Lee who was holding out the pit board. He had a friend at the bottom of Bray Hill. He called Lee and said “Your mates trying”. Lee asked why. “Well everyone is touching at the bottom of Bray Hill and scrapping their fairing. Your mate just nearly smashed his off the bike”. AWESOME!!!!!

One last thing before I go, I remember going around Glen Helen on the last lap and thinking, Al (my fiancé) will be happy, we are getting married tomorrow.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Sat 27th Aug 2005

Got up this morning and there wasn't much to do. Look over the bikes. Do that up the grandstand. So a chilled out day. It was so relaxed that I was beginning to think what's going to go wrong. Still I rolled with it and tried to stay chilled. After all tonight was my last night of practice. I was qualified with both bikes, and finally was going to run both bike in the same night.

Before Jon, left he told me to change my tyres to the Dunlop 364's. He was right in what he was thinking. He said that I had total and utter faith in them.

Which I do. They are awesome. But what he didn't know was because I was running the bike without a steering dampener; the bike was a bit jittery, on the Manx roads. This wasn't a problem, but the 364's are even more unstable in a straight line than the Pirelli's. So I was a little concerned that I would be slower because the bike would be all over the place, so I would have to ride slower. Jon was like, its practice that's what it is for. Try it and you might like it. You love those tyres. So I changed them.

Tony and I went to the grandstand. We got to the top of Bray Hill and this car pulled up along side us and waved for our attention. We both thought, because we were in the KaKa Battle Bus (with big logos on the side) they were going to say we saw you last night or something like that. But No. You've got a flat tyre. Sure enough, the rear left was flat as fuck. Yeah didn't know, couldn't tell, well until they said. So limped her to the paddock. I knew this day was too chilled.

We pulled into the paddock and parked next to our new friend Jim Stewart. He was sat there, all chilled with not a lot to do. Suddenly I had a world of work on my plate. Stevie turned up as he had done every night to help me. He set to changing the Battle buses tyre, while Tony and I changed both the R6's tyre back from intermediates to dry. And the 400 from Pirellis to Dunlop's.

Tyres changed both the bikes and van. Sorted, or so we thought. Both bike then went and failed scrutineering. WHAT!!!! You're having a laugh. This was far too chilled a day. Jim sat there and said you are always working on those bikes. Which reminded me of when I started racing? The first load of meetings after each ride I would pull in top up, sit and ponder.

While everyone else seemed to have things to do. Forever tinkering. But what were they doing. Me, Jon and Tony wanted to know. So we use to joke take the fuel tank off for a few minutes and we can all stand and look at the engine. Debate if it is an engine then pout it back on. At least we would be tinkering. But the thing is, now with experience we have found out what they were all doing, as we now do it too. Perfection, you tinker for perfection.

The 400 failed for the silliest of things, when I told John Ridout, a scrutineer. He flashed! That's why I ignored it. My catch bottle wasn't good enough, I’ve only had it 2 years, and a scrut has been helping me prep for the Manx. So ignored that one.

The 600 was a little more embarrassing. I didn't realize I had scrapped the fairing as hard as I did at the bottom of Bray Hill. I mean, I knew I had touched down. But not to this extent...

...I had a hole in the fairing you could put all four fingers through. Doh!!! And I had left the transponder at home, Doh!!!

John was a little worried. Resin takes too long to sort out Bill he said. Don't panic matey. Just get me some Super Glue. Got my emergency Fibreglass kit out.

Cut out a patch of fibreglass soaked it in super glue and it set in seconds. Thanks Pete Foort for that one. John who knows most things was well impressed. He learnt something new today. Track side repairs. The Glue reacts with the fibreglass. Bike sorted in seconds.

Back together, off to scrutineering a second time when a bird shits on the bike. Settled me nerves right down. Well things were again getting hectic.

The practice session rocked. I had planned to only go out for 1 lap on the 4 and 2 on the 6. Well I am racing in 2 days. I was still a little concerned. Not about my shoulder. The Manx, they thought would damage my shoulder, has sorted it right out. All the tight muscles have been pulled and stretched to where they need to be.

The physio wanted it done without pain. But the bike was a little more rougher than that. Probably had 6 months of physio in 1 night. I was concerned with bike fitness; I still haven't done more than 2 laps in a night. I am racing 4 laps in 2 days. I ain't suffering as much as I was in the first place though.

The first night was a killer. So I cracked on. I got to the end of the first lap with the 400 and thought sod it and cracked on for another lap. Jon was right. The session felt really fast. I was convinced that would never get anywhere near the 100 mph lap with the 400. It was just too slow. But like he thought with the tyres on I love I rode so much harder in the corners. I had my knee down everywhere. Glen Helen especially. Classics still in the way. But I was much faster than them now. I love the 400. I have so much confidence in it. I know where I am at on it all the time. It was more jittery, especially through Ginger Hall, but it was fun battling with the little shit.

I got back to find I had done 99.6mph just off the 100, but well happy. I didn't think it was possible. Not on this bog standard thing. All thanks to the tyre I could ride much harder in the bends and carry the speed needed.

The 600 was a good ride except for the first 2 bends. It rocked off. Again, the speed difference through Bray Hill was immense. But Quarter Bridge was a nightmare. It was so heavy, the bike the fuel it all added up. I thought I had flat tyres. It just didn't want to go over. Then Bradden was the same. By Ballacraine, I had settled in and was now in tune with this bike. A cool session, I relaxed everywhere I could and rode as fast as I could. 105mph was my average. My fucking God!!! One lap was all I got; it was dark over the mountain. But I was prepared to do another if they would let me. Got to the grandstand and stopped. The 3 laps I had was OK. 4 shouldn't be a problem. I can't wait until Monday.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Friday 26th Aug 2005

I saw Graham just before I went home last night, he told me to pop round tomorrow about 11 o clock that he was working on the bike tonight and finishing it tomorrow. So a bit of a lay in and then over to grahams. This was beginning to feel like a real Manx GP for me. As a kid, I remember seeing riders working all hours trying to get things sorted in time for the next practice. Naive of me to think that it would all be plain sailing. So a gearbox change mid week and only 2 days left to qualify for the race, with only 2 thirds of a lap under my belt, this was a Manx GP alright.

Graham showed me the damage I had done to my gearbox. I've learnt that the clutch is a pretty useful bit of kit. John Ridout called me and asked if I wanted to go for a lap with Travelling Marshal and Manx GP Winner Tony Duncan. Which of course I did, Jon and Tony said that they would get the bike sorted for me. So off I went.

This proved very beneficial for me. He didn't really teach me much. I know that sounds cocky, but what it did do, was confirm that what I thought was right and was doing, was in fact right. That gave me confidence in itself.

Imagine I had gone out and had to learn the whole course again. However, he did teach me couple of things. Like the slight left by Alexander Drive before Quarter Bridge. He gave me a better line there. But the biggest point he sorted was Laurel Bank. Even though I thought I knew it, at speed I kept getting it wrong. He said aim for the orange sign, when you think it is right throw it in. The corner straightens before the left and you end up hugging the kerb on the right, where you want to be. Awesome!!!! So thank you Tony.

Back after the lap to find that the engine had only just gone in. Time was getting short, and it started to rain. Winner. Graham also needed to sort his own bike out. So you can't blame him turning his attentions to that. But he still helped. Scrutineering started, still loads to do. The clock was ticking.

Tony filled her with oil. Jon doing things up, while I adjusted the throttle cables.

Threw on the fairings, 10 mins until scrutineering finished. Heaven still dumping on us. I thought I was panicking over nothing, as I really thought it wasn't going to be happening tonight. So I jumped onto the bike, I didn't even have time to put the bike in the back of the van, and rode to the grandstand. Good job I did as they were just closing the scrut bay. A couple of adjustments now that I had rode it and I was ready to ride.

I decided that the way things were going that I would only ride the 400 tonight. The conditions weren't great.

Got ready and off I went. The gearbox was lovely. I rode its little balls off. The thing I found with this bike, it was really boring along the straights because it was so slow. But through places like Glen Helen, it Rocked. I was loving it. The thing I was finding now was Bloody Classic rider. They were so slow and get in the bloody way. A couple of them nearly pushed me in to hedges or kerbs trying to overtake them. It ain't really their fault, my bike weren't much faster.

But what I found was like them I could carry so much more corner speed that was why I was catching them so fast.

My knees hurt by the end of the 2 laps. Being so tall, I get cramped up on the small bike. But I was happy, 94 mph on the first lap; I qualified on the first lap for the race.

Sorted!!!! I was tempted by John to take out the 6 in the next session. But no. I needed some rest.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Thursday 25th Aug 2005

Got up early today to try and sort my 400 out. Last night I borrowed an engine and gearbox from someone, only to find that it wasn't the same model of engine, so wouldn't work. A few phone calls later, an old College friend of mine Graham Taubman, said he would sell and fit a gearbox for me and to bring the engine to the Grandstand tonight. So the 400 was sorted.

Thursday night and again the conditions were unfavourable, so I changed my tyres from the Pirelli Super Coarses to the Intermediates. So if I were to come across any damp patched I would or should be sorted.

The roads from the start to Glen Vine were very greasy and of yet l didn't have the confidence in these tyres, so trundled on. The course was even greasier at Glen Helen, so again real caution though here. This was backed up when I got to Glen Helen proper, to find some poor sod stuffed in the bales. Up onto Cronk Y Voddy and the roads dried up lovely because l was concerned about the conditions and the tyres l went to the classic guy's way of riding. Yet more yellow flags, crashes and brake downs, kept me nice and steady.

The main difference with these tyres l found was yes they were grippy, I never doubted their stickiness at all but the bike became very unstable under braking. Which was something I was going to have to ride around.

On the second lap, the bloke was being airlifted from Glen Helen. A harsh reminder oft the risks involved. I continued on my lap to find l did 103mph lap.

Home and out for my mums birthday. And to celebrate of course. I'd just done 103 for Christ's sake.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Tues 23rd / Wed 24th Aug 2005

The one thing not only me but all the riders wanted was good weather. Unfortunately, Tuesday it was pissing down. So much so, I didn't even bother with going to the grandstand. I just didn't think it was worth it. Only to find out that even if it was raining the race would go ahead unless the visibility across the mountain was that bad that the helicopter can't fly. Ekk lesson learnt there.

So onto Wednesday....

Today was the first opportunity for me to run the 400 and 600 in the same night. The 400 was out first. Here starteth the epic.

Pulling out of the holding area onto the start line, as l had a full left lock on, my left hand got trapped between the clutch lever and fairing and could not turn right, so first panic.

Jon ran back to the van and quickly got me the Allan keys, and adjusted the clutch lever before l started.

Making my way down to the start line now, engine sounded sweet, I was all set to see how fast l could go on the 400. I should have realised when l pulled off the start line couldn't hook second, that l was bound to brake down somewhere around the track. But no gear changes were sweet until l hooked sixth and the just like the Dyno run the gearbox was trying to spit me out of sixth. So I rode in fifth everywhere. Then l got to Sulby, then the bike did not want to stay in fifth, by Ramsey, fourth was now a problem. On the approach to Parliament Square, I went down to first never to hook another gear again. I thought about limping it over the mountain in first then thought don't be a dick, so l pulled in just before Ramsey hairpin. Thanks to a Marshal I rang back to my pit crew and told them l have broken down and l was on my way back to Douglas, little did they know that l did not even have a lift at this point.

After a 3 mile run up the coast road, and a few coughed up fur balls later, someone stopped to give me a lift, can you put your seatbelt on please he said. I knew from this point this was going to be a long trip back to Douglas, but bless him, I told him l needed to be back for 7.15pm and he got me there for 7.18pm and went quite a distance out of his way to help me. If you are reading this mate, thanks again.

Yet more running through the pits, I found my pit crew to all cheers of joy that l made it back in time for the next session with minutes to spare. My new friend John the Scruitineer told me to calm down. A change of helmet and some fluids on board l was ready for the next session.

With the antics of the night so far, I thought l was THE very last rider to leave the pits, but having just jumped off the 400 the speed of the 600 was a little scary. I headed off towards Bray Hill, I could not believe the speed that l was approaching the bottom of Bray Hill at, so l shot off a little. Only to find out that at the end of the session that because l was the only rider on the circuit for miles, they heard me race off and they heard me shot off. Fanny!! Was the thought from my pit crew?

I put a blinding lap in, as l went across the start/finish line, I was looking for the chequered flag but little did l know that my whole pit crew, in bright red overalls, where standing up from there waving their arms, trying to get me stop this lap, did l see them? NO! l was about to find out way they were trying to stop me. Out the way, I'm coming through.

If l thought Bray Hill was scary the first time, on this flying lap it was terrifying. So yet again l rolled again. Fanny!! Coming out of Union Mills towards Glen Vine the heavens opened, it was like a tropical monsoon. But l know that l did not have the tyres on for these conditions, so l slowed immediately. It was in these conditions and on these tyres, that l broke my collarbone months earlier. So no point in stopping anywhere so I cruised to the nearest pub, The Crosby.

Again, thanks to another Marshal, I rang back to the pit crew to tell them to come and pick me up from the pub as l was having a pint, it was here l found out that l had cracked 102mph lap.

All was left of the evening was to pick up my bikes from around the Isle of Man. While going to get the bike from Ramsey we saw Jim Stewart parked up at Sulby Bridge. We stopped on our way home after picking up my bike. Unfortunately for him he had a small spill exiting the bridge. A little battered and bruised, but Ok, thank god.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Monday 22nd Aug 2005

Monday, my first proper night of practice, no one to show me the way, just me and the course. A little nervous and apprehensive but still excited. Up to the grandstand early making sure the bike is sorted and ready for the night's events, finally I sat down with half hour to myself. This was actually a bad thing. This gave me time to think, and helped the nerves to blossom.

Finally, we were on the start line and slowly making my way up Glencrutchery Road. Pair by pair everyone made their way down towards Bray Hill. Closer and closer, I was getting toward the start line. Final little preps in my mind. I pulled up to the start line. The bloke grabs my arm.

I check I'm in gear. I'm on the line on an R6 with a 250 next to me, GO!!

I blast off, I'm on my way. My first lap of the course. The 250 fucked off quicker than me, but once I was up and running I soon caught and over took him. Bray Hill was fast and ballsey, but fun, I suppose that's why I do it. Because I love the buzz of it all.

I attacked the course as fast as l could, try me best to ride as hard as I do on the road, but try and do it for a full lap, without my usual rests in the villages. The first thing that became really apparent was that yes, the track is wider but because it is you're approaching things much faster that the course suddenly becomes very narrow. It was a shock to find that l had to battle with the bike for the whole lap.

By the time l got to the mountain, I had run out of steam, struggling to hold on, I was set to pull in after just one lap. As this was my first lap, I decided to slow down and make sure that l at least complete one lap. Around Governors bridge l changed my mind, sod it I have got to try and do two laps, my plan, ride steadier and if l can't hold on anymore, pull in and call the boys to be picked up.

At Ballacraine I caught a classic rider and thought follow him, no matter what he does follow him. He accelerated up Ballaspur; I was lolled into a false sense of security thinking that l could keep with him. Around Doran's bend, I was struggling to keep with him already, but l learnt a valuable lesson, constantly fast was the key; he wasn't braking heavy or accelerating hard. He just was fast and stayed there. I followed him for the whole lap, sure, there were places that l could have overtaken him easily but there were places that he dragged me around faster than l believed that l could go. Following the classic guy slowed me down and took all the erraticness out of my riding and got me around the second lap.

I pulled into the pits at the end, drained but pleased.

I couldn't celebrate like everyone else, I was just glad that l was upright and on two feet. I then found out that from my brother that l had done a 98.5 mph lap. They expected me to do a faster lap for my second lap but not realising the physical effort l had just put in, although a massive lesson learnt. My second lap was only 96.5mph, so by not trying as hard I had lapped only 2mph slower. The key to the Manx is fast but steady after all this is no short circuit.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Saturday 20th Aug 2005

I landed on the Isle of Man sprinting, not running. More to do than I first thought. I had to finish off the bike, just a few little jobs, mainly lock wiring the things I didn't want to fall off, you know like the wheels and brakes. Then yet another check over the bike. Then there was my first of many visits to the grandstand for what was supposed to be a quick visit and get my leathers and helmets checked. Two hours later, I was finally through all the checks, and then it was back off to finish the bike and put all the sponsors’ stickers and make it look like a race bike rather than street hawk. 10 o'clock I finally finished. Great off to sleep. Could I sleep? Could I fuck! I was like a child Christmas Eve. All excited. Eventually I did, and then the alarm went off at five for me to go and pick up my bro and his wife at the sea terminal. Will I ever catch up on my sleep?

The day was busy. Lots of things to do. Load the van, get fuel, have all my paper work sorted, then off to the grandstand for my riders brief and lap of the course on the bus. The travelling marshal we had knew the course like the back of his hand and was the master of understatements. I sat next to Jim Stewart a Californian that had come over to race and I thought I spent lots to get here. It was just a coincidence I sat by him, as my brother wanted to meet him so he could find out what he need to do over in America so he could race the Manx.

I found that I wasn't nervous while I had things to do. However, when I had everything sorted the bike scrutinized and in the holding area, it was now I had time to think. Again, I wasn't nervous just wanted to get on with it. Then all the stuff happened, first there was a delay because a farmer spilt grain on the track. Cool!!! That doesn't happen at Donington. Then we got the go ahead and pulled onto the start line. My God what a feeling. I got a sense of nostalgia sat on the start line of Donington, Silverstone but this was something else, I mean this is the TT course, the history, the people that have raced here, My God and I am part of it. Plus it was mad looking down Glencrutchery Road with no cars on it knowing I was about to throw myself down it in figures few. Then a fire broke out in Kirk Michael and delayed us another 50mins or so......

.....Finally, we were off. One second I was sat waiting, and then the Marshal just fucked off. Christ, I thought this was time controlled. I didn't get a real sense of oh my god down bray hill; in fact I was more scared at the number of riders fighting for a position behind the marshal. Through bray and onto quarter bridge, this was the first time I just realized how fast we were travelling at and all the times you have heard its hard to stop at quarter bridge are true.

A couple of near misses just because of the sheer number of bikes on the course. I thought Sod this; I’m off to the front. I over took all to get to the front and from Ballacraine I followed the marshal to the end.

Everyone has said to me, oh the course is so different when on closed roads and of course they are right, yes it is twice as wide. However, because you can ride so much faster, and you do, the course becomes very narrow because of the speed. It still rocked though.

The thing that I notices most about it was how much bumpier the course is the faster you go. In addition, there are bumps there I never knew were there, simply as I have never even rode on that side of the road in my life. Plus the bike wheelies in the maddest of places that I never even knew it would or could.

The two down sides to it all though was the sun, its scary as hell when you are blinded by the sun when travelling at those speeds. Plus the strobe effect through the trees is off putting. The other thing was the bloke who out broke him self going into governors, (even I nearly did following the marshal, Christ it is slow around there) Like some short circuit over take he tried to nip up the inside, when I was all ready turning. He locks his breaks and slid off, and hit me in the process. Lucky not to take me out I carried on. My first lap completed I can't wait for Monday to do it properly. Should be better without so many bikes around me.

Thanks for everyone that turned out to watch, and for those up at the grandstand that helped me and supported me through out the day.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix – 2005

Road to the Manx

It's the 15 Aug; just five days till the start of what will be my first Manx GP. I first moved to the Isle of Man in Aug 1989. A few weeks later I was sat at the bottom of bray hill for the Manx GP 89. Amazed at what I was watching I remember my brother and me saying that one day we would get a road bike each and have a go at this. Now with only 5 days to go I cant believe that it is just around the corner.

Although this could have happened a lot sooner than it has for me, but having only starting road racing 2 years ago, I have done extremely well to qualify and getting a start in the Manx in just 2 years, when 3 years would have been more realistic. I have always raced motocross, since I was a kid. I love it, but with having a bike on the road and no real goal with motocross (well nothing to aim for, not like the Manx, although I did race on as many British Championship tracks as possible) I thought I would put my motocross on hold for a while and give road racing a go. My Goal, racing the Manx and fulfil my child hood dream.

So I started racing, I threw everything I had at it. I spent thousands, but most of all with every race meeting I getting closer to the Manx. At the end of the first year, it still seemed so far away, and 3 years was looking likely. But I started this year like a ball of fire. I had 7 signatures to get, and I had to finish in the top 50% to get them. My best meeting this year was over on the island at Jurby, with regular finishes in the top 5. My final signature was gain at a meeting at Darleymoor with North Gloucester. This was also my first race meeting on my R6. I found it a lot of fun on the 600 although I was plagued with brake problems all weekend. Fingers crossed, this is all sorted for the Manx.

Everything sorted, now a national rider, and 2 starts in the Manx. A race meeting at three sisters saw my plans turn for the worst. A silly little spill on the third lap of practice caused a major set back, not only did I break the bike (not much, but still broke) I broke my left collarbone in 2 places. Quiet a bad break, so the doc said. But lots of physio and rehab has made sure that has improved. But to every cloud there is a silver lining. By breaking my clavicle, made sure I didn't enter any more races, which I really couldn't afford and save some much needed money for the Manx. This also made sure that I got the r6 sorted properly for what well be the biggest race of my life.

My friend asked me the other day was I nervous yet. Not really, although a little. It’s like anything you dream really hard for, when it finally looks like its going to come true, when I think about it I get a real sense of realism. Most people say, "I want to race this". I am racing it in just 5 days. I get more excited than nervous. I'm playing TT Superbikes on the Playstation at the moment, the first time I did a flying lap day Bray Hill I just started laughing (mainly from nerves) but the realism hit me then. Fuck me I AM RACING IN THE MANX IN JUST 5 DAYS!!!!! - AWESOME!!!!!!!!

To all my family and friends that support me, but who also worry. Please don't. My dreams are coming true.

Autograph

Darleymoor - 16 & 17 April 2005

North Gloucester Road Race Club

High expectations this weekend, a little pressure to perform. So why not make things a little harder for yourself and race, not ride, a new bike. My 400 was/is a little ill, so instead of racing it and making it terminal, I decide to race my new R6, which is now ready to race. So unfamiliar bike, in an unfamiliar class. See what you probably don't realise is I need only 2 more signatures for my national license and that's me, qualified for the Manx GP. So why not wait till I get my sound 400 back on track and get it where I know I can. Because I love racing see, and I love a challenge. Beside I want to go scare myself on a bigger bike. Ave It!!!

The weekend started horribly. It was raining Cat and Dogs when we finally arrived at Darley. A familiar track as this was my third meeting there. So off I went to the other car park and through the quagmire I go. In the pissing rain I set up for the night, then off to bed it is, for what was going to be a very hectic next day.

0630 start with the finally prep of the bike. The fairing didn't fit and like all good bootnecks plastic cuffs and harry black you'd never know. Crash bungs and 1 too many hole cut in my fairing I got the necessary tick in the box to go racing. Marion from the club decided to put me in with the fast boys in the A group, rather than the slower boys in the B group to see how I get on. Ekkk! Now the Sig might not happen today.

First race was a settle in, see what the new bikes like. How it handles, bed in my new wavy discs and pads and by the end of it I was surprised to find that I was lapping Darleymoor at around 1.05. Five sec quicker than my 400.

Happy with the bike and the way it handles the next race I decide to push it and really see how fast both the bike and I are. I was struggling to get off the line quickly, but once going I was picking off people very quickly. I found that experience in the F400 class was now paying off. With carrying more corner speed and gutsy “get out of my way I'm coming through” technique I made my way up to 8 th place. One signature in the bag. I was shock that I finished so high, on a bike I didn't know in a class I had never raced. And I dropped my lap time down to 1.03.

The rest of the day went fine; except for I pushed a little too hard at one point and clipped a kerb overtaking a bloke I had chanced for 4 laps. I also started to get problems with the new brakes. I was getting brake fade with 2 or 3 laps to go in the race. As you can imagine not nice when you are travel at around 150mph and need to slow for a 90 right. But hey that's racing, adjust as necessary.

The next day went just as well, a gear change, brake discs and pads change. A signature later I was trying for a 1.02 lap. Which I got, twice. I was gutted to find I got 1.02.05 and nearly got into the 1.01's Still there are more races to go. Now with all my signatures got. All I have to do now, with the pressure off, is go out learn and prep myself for the Manx GP.

Autograph

Jurby GP - 26, 27 March, 10 April 2005

Andreas Racing

Another weekend of racing, 2 more signatures to go, what a start to leave. Because I was at home on leave, the weekend start with a real slow pace. A lot slower than the weekend before at Pembrey. Upon arriving at the circuit we got the bike sorted, and scrutineered and went for a riders brief. I then went out for a little wobble around the new GP circuit on my practice. Having never ridden on the track before I mainly spent the whole time learning the track. The new circuit was definitely better than last year's circuit, although extremely narrow along the whole of the new sections.

Once back from practice I went into the race office to find out grid positions, only to find that my practice session was also a qualifying session and I had qualified 5 th fastest out of 28, and was to start 2 nd row of the grid. Nice one! So realising what I could really make of the weekend, I geared myself up for the days racing.

The racing as always was fierce. With some hard fought battles. My most memberial moment on the sat was racing in the Clubmans race; I was racing the 400 against all the 600 and 1000's. Not an easy task. I was having a real battle with a newcomer on an R1. He would blast past me on the back straight. But then I would out brake him on the corners and leave him till he could get me again on the back straight. We rubbed plastics a couple of times trying to squeeze past each other. Until I finally crossed the line ahead of him in 9 th place.

The next day was a lot more eventful. Now realizing that practice was actually qualifying I went out to see just how quick I could go. The day before I qualified 5 th fastest with a 1.25min lap. Sunday I went out, pushed hard from the off. After completing 4 laps of practice, and having overtaken what seemed like everyone on the track, I came in, feeling like I had done enough. Happy with my decision I had qualified 3 rd fastest with a 1.19min.

This stood me in good stead as most the battling was done. Front row of the grid along side Chris Palmer, TT winner. On his Factory 125. And Derren Slous on a Slick Bass (Carl Fogarty's old Mechanic from his world championship days) Tuned rocket. And then me on my old shed. I went over the line in 3 rd place, but 2 nd in class. The rest of the day followed suit with a 3 rd in class later that day. The best result for me was again in the clubman’s race. Up against all the big boys I held my own and finished 5 th over the line. Even the commentator commented that I was showing the Manx boys a thing or two on their own circuit.

The last meeting was on the last weekend of leave. Pretty much the same format. I qualified high up the ranks in 5 fastest. 2 nd row of the grid and went on to finish 4 th in 2 races and a 9 th and 10 th in the clubman’s. Best part of the day was the last race of the day. An old friend from school and me had a right ding-dong. He was riding his 600 and me still on the 4. We went hammer and tongs. We clipped each other a couple of times and he ended up on the grass twice. But by the end of it, I finished before him. Ave it!!!! Best lap time of all the races. 1.17min.

Look forward to the next meeting at Darleymoor. My first outing on my R6.

Autograph

Pembrey - 19 & 20 March 2005

North Gloucester Road Race Club

The start of a new season, new expectations, new goals and new bikes to ride. The first of many races to come, saw us riding at Pembrey, a small circuit near Llanelli, South Wales . An early start of 0630 had us out side dumping the bike coolant and changing to water all before the year's first scrutineering. An unnecessary worry so early in the morning, got the nerves following a little earlier than planned. Once passed and signed on, was the start of a very interesting meeting.

Having already tested at Pembrey early in the year, I was lapping Pembrey at around 1.10.24. I thought that the settings for the bike where ok and started the first race confident in my choice of gearing. My goals for the first 7 meeting of the year is too finish in the top 50% of finisher and get promoted to a National rider, which in turn allows me to enter the Manx GP. 20 th on the grid with a reasonable start, I finished the race in 16 th . Pleased with the turn out of the race, I was even more excited to find that I had put in a fastest lap of 1.07.58. Going 3 seconds quicker than I had previously.

The rest of Saturday went to plan with me putting in average laps of 1.08 and finishing in the top 50%, gaining my much-needed signature. Once I had achieved my goal for the day, the pressure was off for the rest of the day where I could just go out and enjoy the racing. I was having a good battle with two 125 riders, where I had caught and passed them both, only on the second to last lap we caught two back markers. About to over take them I noticed a yellow flag, despite them going so slow I slowed to their speed as not to over take them (these are the rules) the two 125s over took both the back markers and myself taking an unfair advantage by not keeping to the rules. Therefore, the first ever-official complaint went in. The results were reversed and I got the points for the championship I deserved.

Sunday morning started a lot slower than the previous days events. I changed the gearing on the bike after the observation of Club Chairman and Spanner man for the weekend Jim Aston. The other riders seemed to pull better out of corners. So, we upped my rear sprocket by one tooth. After the first race although the bike felt faster. Infact I was lapping around a second slower. So in, after that race and changed the sprocket around and went down one tooth. A completely different bike. Stronger on the straights and faster in the corners again. The racing was back on. Second race of the day, saw me needing to finish in 16 th or better. A strong start made my battle for the top 50% easier. The result I got felt very well deserved as I really had to fight for them. Two very committed over takes and yet another 1.07 lap I got yet another signature.

With only five signatures to go, I am one step closer to getting to national level and one step closer to the Manx. I would like to thank Jim Aston at this point for all his help and support over the weekend. He made the weekend flow that bit smoother for both Jamie Adams and me.

Roll on next weekend where I am racing both my 400 and 600 over in the Isle of Man at Jurby Airfield. Two more meeting and two more signatures. Ave It!

Remember you can keep up to date (eventually when the site is fully constructed) with both Jamie's and my results and progress as the year goes on my website.

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