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I still don't know how this happened but I suspect it was due to little more than a whim by person or persons unknown (Ashie Patterson again, maybe?) but somehow, out of the blue, the Newcastle Mountain Bike Club aka Midaircrisis ended up racing a one-off challenge match at Hull midway through the year. I've a fancy it was to give Ashie and his old pal Mick Hoult a run out before taking part in the British Veterans Championship at Wednesfield a bit later! Fortunately half the team that day was made up of ex-riders so the match was a decent spectacle although Hull won comfortably enough. Sadly Jim Graham didn't take to the track until after the match when he had a few impressive laps, such a shame as he'd have scored decently for us and I could see he regretted it afterwards.

Anyway, that match served its purpose and when Ash asked if I fancied a trot out at Wednesfield I almost reluctantly agreed. So it was that he, Mick Hoult, Jim Graham, Keith Dyer and I all travelled down to the Midlands to sample the delights (again) of Wednesfield's wide open spaces although Jim (yet again - why Jimmy?) and Keith were there as spectators. Once again a big entry meant a pre-final shakedown for places, and while Mick and Ash found the going tough, I managed to avoid most of the puddles on a very wet track and qualify for my second final in two attempts, and that felt good enough. Just as well really, as once again the Sport's top Vets were present to lead the way as the track and us riders began to dry out.

This time, a 14 year gap in my racing experience made ten races in one day at a track as big as Wednesfield extremely hard for me and I got one point less than in 1991, but the experience was well worth it for the memories, and in particular as at the end of the racing I got to pose with my Short Track hero, the one and only Derek Garnett who was also spectating at this one.



So here we are now, it is a cloudless, breezy Wednesday morning, 16th of May 2012 as I sit here adding a fresh bit to my story.

That's cool.

It's just struck me now how extremely lucky I am to be in my current situation. I'm racing in the same team as Newcastle's best rider of the 1960s and one of my first track heroes, Jimmy Graham. I have a reasonable claim to have been their best rider in the 1970s. I am racing in the same team as Michael Parr, our best rider of the 1980s, and his little (!) brother Gavin, our best rider of the 1990s (Mick may disagree!). All four of us are past Newcastle Champions. We've won our first two Veterans comeback matches. I've won a few races. Absolute bliss. Incredible. I love this.

Now that's Really Cool! (for an old fart).

T for Terry, T for Trouble! Saturday 9th June 2012 and our second of 1990's Secretary and racer Neil Magee's Grand Prix meetings at Cramlington. Heat 16 and John Wilson runs into Jason Keith and drops his bike. Terry has nowhere to go other than straight over the fallen machine and comes down with a crunch - result, one broken right thumb! Serves me right, shouldn't have been that close. Surely all that stuff is behind me now? Not! July 13th before the hospital decides whether or not to take the plaster cast off, bummer. I managed to come second in the re-run beating Jason, in a wee bit of pain, and also went on to defeat Michael Parr in my last race to win the GP! What broken thumb? Over ten years of nasty, high speed mountain biking accidents has taught me to get up, stop crying and just get on with it.

What pain?

I'm back again. It's Monday night, 25th June 2012. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Eastbourne just edging Lakeside in an Elite League Speedway match on Sky Sports. But most of my attention is here, recounting our latest adventures after winning at Edinburgh and Astley & Tyldesley in May, then losing narrowly to Hull. After those team meetings, Gavin finished a glorious second in the British Veterans Over 40s Final and I finished fourth in the Over 60s, both at Wolverhampton's massive East Park circuit, at 95 metres the biggest in the country and probably the wettest but it didn't hurt me a bit! If I hadn't kept slipping at the gate due to my excessive angle of lean compared to the angle of the track (I'm a left foot gater you see, and the track leans the other way!), who knows? Jason Keith and Jim Graham also took part in each Final respectively. Ashie did the Over 50s at Birmingham and Fred's done the Euro Vets at Hull and intends to do a few more. Wowee!

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It's 12th August and I'm back racing and we've won away again, this time at Bury. I stayed on outside grids all day and managed to pass most of my opponents around their outside to produce a very satisfying second top score, dropping a single point to home star Steven Whittaker which feels absolutely great.

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A week later and we're at Wednesfield for a friendly challenge match where we are almost totally outclassed apart from Gavin, Jason and guest Garry Pearce who kept our score respectable. Just couldn't get to grips here and only scored 6 from four rides. Not ideal hurtling down from the Lake District, diving straight out of the van into heat one after a very tortuous drive and surviving a scary car crash at the start of the trip!

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Then the day before yesterday we lost again narrowly down at Sheffield's Cookson Park track, a little beauty with Jason Burke as a guest, thanks to Gavin Parr gently "forcing" Jay out of retirement! Details of all these are elsewhere so I won't prolong the agony, but as this is My Story it should all be in here because I'm just loving this, even being relegated to spectator until I can grip the handlebars again. I finally get back into racing on 14th July so only missed 4 weekends.

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A bit later now and we've been back to Sheffield, this time to their Graves Tennis Centre track (aka Rowlinson Sports Centre as it was when I first rode there) on 30th September. We lost once more but had another great day and I was pretty happy with my form there.

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Next up I really surprised myself, and probably a few other folk, by finishing third in the eagerly anticipated resurrection of the NRC, the Newcastle Rider's Championship at Crammy. We made the track look great for the day and even attracted a few onlookers. Gavin won with Jason second, see result elsewhere on here. Strangely, I felt as if I could ride all day on this occasion and was able to maintain the fast lad's pace easily. Not sure if the latest bike mod helped - fitting MTB wheels with Maxxis Larsen tyres, seemed much grippier than the Schwalbe CS tyres do and I had no qualms about throwing the bike hard into the turns. Probably the highlight of my own revival, although one more point at the Vets in Wolverhampton would have given me a National rostrum. Pretty sure I could have done more with these tyres on back then!


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Our final away match of the year, and we raced at Edinburgh on 28th October again, taking on a much stronger squad than their last, and somehow we sneaked a win. Gavin fell in his first race which cost him dearly, allowing Jason to top score for once, but who was next best? - little ol' me! Every ride hurt but I felt pretty good during most of my ten races over two matches, both at crappy number four. I really didn't expect to be able to ride as quickly as I am now, and I've even invested in a bit more kit, some nice home brew MTB wheels for either the standard steel Archie Wilkinson bike or my Specialized Rockhopper experimental alloy frame. Seems worth the expense and the effort of building the wheels even if the improvement is only mental.

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It's a few weeks since my last update, but here I am again to talk about two more meetings we had. the first, an extremely historic and for us crucially important HOME MATCH against SHEFFIELD! Yes indeed, Rob Mawhood had threatened to come up to Crammy when we were down there and stayed true to his word, really catching me off guard as I'd thought, without a track, "no way!".

But they came here with a very young side and were beaten in another very sporting contest in which I managed again to hit a big score comfortably, even to the extent of deliberately easing down in two races to bring the visitor's score up a bit as we were looking a bit strong and there was a big audience watching. I wanted it to look good and close for their benefit so I did my bit. Unfortunately I was alone in that until Norman sportingly did the same in match two. However, this had to be the single biggest event of our entire comeback.

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Only one official home match remaining now with the decision to scrap the "Devil take the Hindmost" event due later. And this was the final, fifth and deciding round of the Nomads Grand Prix Series. Like most of our preconceived 2012 meetings this was again conjured up by Neil, doing a great job thinking up ways to maintain interest, and the result hinged on the last of the five meetings, and potentially the final race of our "official" year!

After being "advised" by Gavin in no uncertain terms that I should stick to my new Archie Wilkinson bike to maintain my half decent performance level, I decided that my experimental MTB conversion; the little, highly modified Specialized Rockhopper, would suffice for today as I had no chance of claiming a prize after a disastrous third round. I had fitted mountain bike wheels and the apparently supreme Maxxis Larsen tyres I was well suited to from my MTB bikes to it and it really felt pretty good, as well as a good bit lighter (actually, tons!) than the steel framed Archie.


My first race saw both overall favourites, John and Jason lining up with me, so I didn't expect to do much, but after Jay had taken advantage when I slipped a pedal, I still managed to keep John at bay so not a bad start. I then had Gavin inside me for a foregone conclusion although I gave him a little go. Two second places were added to by two wins although Ashie stole what was left of my legs in the second one by leading for the first few laps and Michael gave me no chance in my final race.

Anyway 17 points was extremely satisfying, especially after the bike switch so I was dead chuffed. However, I didn't know I'd finished fourth in the scoring and so qualified for the Super Prix which saw the series winner, the highest scorer and the next two down the pecking order take to the track again for a sixth time! Now I've never been great at staying fast for six races, not as a rule. But with the draw presenting me with a gate two it would have been a crime not to give it a good go, so I did.

Once again Jason was supreme away from the inside on his new Polish Mielec and gone, but I managed to keep a decent pace ahead of Mick and Gav who were a bit slower out of the traps. When Gavin saw Jason pulling a gap on me, he decided to strike at the end of lap two with one of his famous dives to the inside line. If he'd succeeded I would have been lying in a heap on the Astroturf fifty metres away but as luck would have it, Mick had got himself in the way and with Gavin chopping across him, he came down. He must have touched Gav's back wheel as the Skipper also skidded to a halt outside the pits gate. That left the Ref no option but to exclude Gavin, so Lady Luck was smiling on me today, just a wee bit.

So, well out of the frame looking at the overall series scorers, but I did manage to win three of the GPs (GP2 and GP5 and equal top in GP4 after 1980s racer Andy Murray's "win" due to false handicapping was rescinded) and ended my season by beating Gavin and Mick in the same race! Not bad, and although they both fell in that GP5 Finale that's exactly how it'll look on paper in 45 year's time when I'll be 107!

I've arrived! That's my story up to date as at 17th November 2012. Except that we now have an ace professional photographer, Steve Brock helping us out with some very influential contacts. He's doing all he can to help us publicise the fact we need a proper track. So I'm a very happy bunny. That's not all though, as this couldn't have happened without the rest of the Club members so I'd like to add a thought or five on the rest of my old cronies, and new ones, but I'll stick that on the end of the GP5 match report.

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