Final Indoor Winter League match Saturday 9th December 2017, WL7
Well we finally arrived at the conclusion of our Indoor Winter League which started outdoors but moved inside in early November to beat the cold winds of the AstroDrome at Cramlington.
It’s been very disappointing as far as turnout goes with usually around just six of us keeping things going while the outdoor semi-regulars preferred doing other stuff. Their choice of course but it sure does emphasise the state we’re in as a Club just now with racing a definite poor second to most other pursuits. While many would have just thrown in the towel the remnants of us are a hardy bunch with a love for our Sport the absentees just don’t have. We are continually spurred on by our super Skipper, Jason Keith, to keep the wheels turning and he was at it again after today’s match to ensure we all know what has to come next. Jason, Ashie Patterson, Norman Carson, Richie Smith and Terry Kirkup were the only ever-presents in what we hoped would be a rekindling of interest, especially with not having to face the evils of winter weather. Here I must say a massive “Thank You” to Richie for once again successfully running the hour-long junior taster sessions ahead of our league matches as well as arranging the indoor facility. I should warn our Treasurer that thanks to the low turnouts we need to meet the shortfall in hall hire from Club funds when Richie works out his deficit!
Going into this one East End Robins held a slender two point lead after the Holystone Hawks pulled a match back the previous weekend and were anything but confident of wrapping up the League Title here, especially with the possibility of Kenton Bar Kings showing up with extra riders to make them real spoilers. However that didn’t happen and with the Robins snatching track returnee JeanPaul Colback as a replacement for missing heat leader Josh Herring before the Kings could pounce on him they did at least look good on paper.
And what a start they got, a perfect score over the opening four heats off their grid ones and Ashie so close to making it five but just letting the flying Norman in to sneak the win on lap three. To help their cause, Richie copped the first cone infringement exclusion to dent the Hawk’s flight and King’s Keith Oldham, well out of practice since the first indoor meeting also took out a cone and paid the price. With Ashie the only Robin to stay clear of the enticing little devils his teammates JP and Terry both clipped a clown’s hat each while in leading positions to further jeopardise their chances of overall victory. Robins led Hawks by 12 points at heat 10 but just two heats later it was down to 4! Ashie and a flying JP to the rescue though and dropping just 2 more points in the final stage from their outside gates the Robins managed to hang on for victory on the day by 5 points and a 3 point victory in the League to become our first Modern Era league champions almost 50 years after their first title!
The Kings were badly let down by absentees and false promises with the impressive and never complaining Norman Carson almost running a one-man band most of the time. Jason had been forced to do the same a couple of times, his side just as vulnerable to alternative attractions as indeed were Ashie’s Robins. In summary then, the indoor racing while not reaching expectations for the Club has been a shot in the arm (possibly not the best choice of phrase, but you get it!) for both oldies Norman and Ashie who’ve really showed great skill here where the out-and-out speed needed on our long straights at Cramlington isn’t the only way to score points. This afternoon JP also showed a brilliant grasp of the alien indoor environment with what was almost a perfect show from our least experienced veteran racer.
We are back at Blyth Sports Centre in mid-February as we host another session for Northumberland County Council’s Sports Inclusion folk and the same month we intend to start training for the coming outdoor season until we can get back out in the sunshine at Cramlington. With a couple of our members now committed to or considering racing for Scottish Northern League sides in 2018 it is vital to get those legs moving as soon as we can after the festivities.
Saturday 2nd December 2017, WL6
The penultimate match in this winter league series once again attracted a very poor turnout, Richie Smith having to transfer (temporarily, we hope) to Kenton Bar Kings to assist ever-present Norman Carson after new recruit Mark Boxall got caught out with time issues and the expected Josh Herring failed to appear, so all three teams were represented by just two riders each. It was time for the Hawks to swoop on the poor Robins today, the East Enders not helping themselves by jumping to the top of the Cone Infringement League with two exclusions for Ashie Patterson. Further than that both Hawks (I have my own prefix now, beginning with sh) then consistently chopped across from their outside gates, and of course Jason Keith holds record for lane infringements in British Indoor Championships so he's an ace at it. No sour grapes from the Robins mind, just stating the facts! To help the day's favourites the Hawks along their way, their duo of representatives decided it was time for some rule changes to set things in their favour and proceeded to make a right old mess of the programme details and rider replacements. No sour grapes from the Robins mind, just stating the facts! And of course we need to bear in mind they are the ONLY side with TWO heat leaders, so their suggestion of an extra ride for everyone would surely pay off for them rather than anyone else. Confusion reigned throughout the match, and just to demonstrate the complete ar** they made of the programme please see below their on-site effort versus the proper, tidied-up, OFFICIAL version and draw your own conclusion! No sour grapes from the Robins mind, just stating the facts :)
and the correct version!
Saturday 25th November 2017, WL5
Holystone Hawks skipper Jason Keith had high hopes of victory over the rampant Robins this time as second heat leader Daniel Wharrier arrived for his first indoor session. There were a couple of sad faces in the Robin's nest who fully expected to be turned over today by the only team with three riders. Outstanding debutant from last week, new man Mark Boxall was there again to partner Norman Carson in the Kenton Bar Kings, who I think should be renamed now as the residents of that area have made few appearances in their team's colours so far.. Mark took us all by surprise when disclosing he'd been cruising eBay and the Web looking for a cheap bike, and this after just four races! Let's hope he maintains this level of enthusiasm, shame we didn't have another six like him.
Anyway, to the action, and the first race produced a brilliant win for Norman over Terry after their epic dead heat the week before, the Robin unable to find a way past after trying absolutely everything over all four laps on this extended track, now eased out to almost 60 metres. That pushed expectations down even further in the red camp, Ashie Patterson and Terry convinced they were facing their first defeat in four matches, the Robins now looking like sitting ducks. However, heats 5 and 6 were the pivotal moments in the meeting with first Jason then Dan being excluded for cone infringements, and it was the Kings who held a slender lead at heat 7 even though Hawk's Richie Smith took the win! With Mark being a bit more careful after his slip-offs last week and Norman copping an exclusion in heat 10 the Kings just failed to match the Hawks at the finish. However those two disasters for the Hawks were followed by a fall for Dan when trying to catch a flying Ashie in heat 9 and that's where East End began to take control. With the Robin's duo taking the last three heat wins, it was once a gain another great win for the two Old Stagers, now with a healthy lead in the league table and looking unassailable.
With the expected return of Josh Herring and Keith Oldham next week's Sixth Round could be very close.
Saturday 18th November 2017, WL4
A week off didn't help boost numbers for Round Four of the NCSC local league. A very disappointing turnout, although in mitigation Keith Oldham and Josh Herring both gave prior warning of their unavailability for this one. Luckily for the Club and the Kenton Bar Kings in particular we had a new starter turn out for them today in Mark Boxall, a seasoned biker and local Fire Officer who just fancied trying our sport! Mark slotted into Shane Gray's spot in the Kings lineup and did them proud, really getting stuck in at a very high level on his debut. He was caught out with slides a few times but his challenges were brilliant and his starting pretty decent too after a very short instructible from Jason Keith. Unfortunately one of those slip-ups caused a nasty fall for both himself and Ashie Patterson who was right on his tail and unable to avoid him, coming down very heavily. However, East End Robin's pride was at stake here so Ash jumped straight back on the bike, obviously hurt and shaken, to take revenge in the re-run.
For the Holystone Hawks, Jason's cone exclusion cost him dearly and although the Kings finished third, Norman Carson's similar cone exclusion cost them second place overall. Speaking of Norman, he became crasher number three during a few after-match laps after clipping Mark's back wheel! Luckily no knee damage for the Storm. At this stage after four rounds the Robins are firmly in control and it's going to take a few full teams turning up to stop their impressive run, emulating their forerunners of the 1970s in Newcastle's local leagues. However it doesn't look like there's much chance of that with seemingly little interest from the other club members to participate in this competition which is extrmely disappointing.
Saturday 4th November 2017, WL3
The Kings and Hawks were both hit hardest by absenteeism this time but the show must go on, so get your act together missing bods. More decent racing on the most grippy surface we've ever been on, really incredible amount of traction available with very few slides.
Richie entertained five youngsters from our Friday Bike Night series from 3:00 pm until 4:00 after which the League sprang into action until 5:00. As you can see from the rolling scores there was never much in it, as once again we use our very levelling missing rider points allocations to ensure no runaway victories. It would be great to get one of these done by the end of the indoor series with a full squad of riders. We're not even getting any apologies or explanations from the guilty, apart from Shane, so a bit of a let-down really. There's just not enough commitment at the moment from some quarters. If Josh can trot up to Blyth from Durham every week why can't the locals make it a few miles from home?
It was a bit of a strain for TK having to wash 16 bikes the night before so please keep them clean now, he's not going to repeat that exercise!
As there was no oval or suitable semi-circular marking on the floor we resorted to a mixture of flat cones and pointy ones. Some idiot, who shall be nameless, decreed that there would have to be a Cone Penalty, so anyone clouting the things would be excluded after the race. Strangely enough that very same idiot was the only one caught out - twice, and both times while leading on the last bend! Luckily for the Robins it was Josh to the rescue and they somehow managed to scrape a single point victory in another thriller.
Sunday 29th October 2017, WL2
Yes, a poor turnout today which mainly hit Holystone Hawks butthe end result was at least on paper another very closely contested event. It's to be hoped we can get a bit more committment from all club members as we now take the series indoor to escape the worst of winter. This will start next Saturday (4th Nov) at Blyth Sports Centre and initially will run for five weeks, on November 4th, 18th, 25th and December 2nd and 9th from 3:45 pm to 5:00 pm prompt. We will then take a Christmas break for a few weeks before deciding what comes next. Just by way of explanation, we have ended up chosing Blyth Sports Centre following the fairly successful run of Family Bike Nights at the track when all or most of those youngsters and adults taking part came from the Blyth area after meeting us at the Tour of Britain stage end.
Sunday 22nd October 2017, New Local Winter League Round One
Twelve of us out for this, just right! The previous weekend's four local league 2/3-man sides were hastilly revised to 3 by 4-man with reserve space before the off, and a tremendous match ensued. Changes will be made as riders come and go or are unavailable but this looks like a winner to get us through to a whole new set of adventures in 2018. Well done to all competitors today, everyone giving it their maximum effort. Maybe the cold helped, although it did warm up nearer to midday! Unlike our unfortunate colleagues up in Glasgow where we should have been today, our track didn't suffer from Storm Brian's intensely heavy droppings and was perfect today.
Sunday 15th October 2017
A windy but fine morning saw the trial run of our new Local League kicking off at 10:30 am, the idea being for us all to have permanent team members for the duration of the league itself. However after this one it is very likely we will switch to three 4-man teams to allow a bit more flexibility when riders are missing (extremely likely!).
The format will become one man per team per race, so three rider races as in most of this year's Euro-Vets series, and possibly 3-2-1 scoring to reflect that. There may then be a short Grand Prix style individual with riders graded to avoid heat leaders constantly crushing reserves.
As you can see from the scorechart below the match was extremely close, blatant team riding being banned outright with the threat of immediate exclusion for slowing rather than a warning first!
Tuesday 10th October 2017
A good turnout tonight on another surprisingly fine evening saw the welcome return of Dan Redshaw following a half-season-long layoff with knee trouble. Following on from the news of Norman Carson's retirement from racing at the end of this year due to knee trouble, I'm sorry to say that young Dan has the same problem, rare to find crippling arthritis in one so young but that's the card he's been dealt. Regardless of that he came back out tonight to give it a real go and although in a decent amount of pain he completed his rides, even managing to stave off his increasingly rapid younger brother Lee in his last race. Once again Josh Herring travelled up from Durham for another session with the Vikings and showed that he's getting some fitness back with a fast and unbeaten display. Jordan Smith also made it out to continue his improvement, even arriving at the track before Jason Keith this time! Rarely, due to normal Tuesday night travel complications, Shane Gray managed to get to the AstroDrome for this one and quite a decent pairs meeting followed after a bit of timed lap action.
That unbeaten display by Josh with strong support from partner Shane saw the duo take the win, and with Dan and Terry getting that unexpected victory over Lee and Paul in the last heat they claimed second place leaving a run-off to decide third spot. As the tapes went up for that one Dan's frame snapped in two places leaving him stranded at the first bend, partner Jordan unable to make inroads after Jason shepherded Malcolm Douglas to the front for a fine win. Looks like Malla's gym sessions are paying dividends! Next meeting is on Sunday 15th here at the Sporting Club as we kick off our new Winter League at 10:30 am.
The rider mentioned below as being involved in the incident at the track was in fact NOT the youngest rider in the club. He is in fact the third youngest currently registered and was the second youngest in attendance on 3rd October. Apologies if this caused any confusion.
Tuesday 3rd October 2017
A bitterly cold night saw just seven of us arrive ready for some pedalling so not quite enough bodies or will power to organise some sort of match. Thankfully Lee Redshaw had just about got over his chest infection of the previous few weeks so was able to join in. We did a couple of fun pursuit-type challenges but Terry's twisted rules had most of the lads scratching their heads until it finally sunk in at the third time of asking.
Dan Thompson was "shepherded" into the fence by Jason Keith resulting in the skipper's rear wheel and Terry's front needing rare surgery. Largely caused by Dan's insistence on trying to overtake when a different approach was needed to win. We ran up the genny for only the second time as it sure got dark quickly come 7pm.
An unfortunate and very unwelcome incident occurred as we neared the end of the session which was brought to a slightly premature close because of it, a fracas between youths breaking out around the track area. Unfortunately it involved our youngest rider and later also his father. The jury is still out on what action, if any, will be taken to avoid further such outbreaks but we are extremely fortunate in that no new parents with youngsters were present.
Tuesday 26th September 2017
A misty, even foggy evening awaited us but that kept the overnight dampness in the track and the grip levels, even with the current loose, crispy top dressing were fantastic, as shown by our timed laps. Josh Herring, our latest addition to the Vikings and the most welcome since Gavin Parr showed up again five or six years ago, was immediately on the pace on a track nothing like his home town one in Norfolk. We kicked off with the customary team match first, only eight of us tonight and under floodlights for the first time. Once again our good friend Alan Roberts came along to witness any possible carnage, this time it was Paul Thompson taking a tumble. Some scary stuff in the pre-match warmups between Bradley, Dan and Paul also had Alan turning his head away!
Tuesday 19th September 2017
Tonight we welcomed Hethersett heat leader Josh herring to Cramlington. Josh recently moved up to Durham so with any luck he could turn out to be a regular here at the AstroDrome, let's hope we didn't put him off tonight!
A perfect evening, perhaps the best there's ever been here with no wind and a clear sky, saw 11 riders take to the track for another six ride killer session. Some good racing as usual and a glimpse of what Josh (admittedly very unfit just now after a long layoff) could bring to our Club if he decides to ride regularly.
Tuesday 29th August 2017.
Wow! A very busy night for the Club was this, as we welcomed the 25 youngsters from Newcastle east end community bike group, the "Heaton Goonies" for a taster session. It's just as well we had a good selection of tiny bikes for this one as most of the kids were about a foot tall! As always though when we have a group like this, a few stood out head and shoulders above the rest, and one young man in particular, a 14 year old called Jack, looked really good on the bike. Sadly the only "elderly" teenager with the group, a 17 year old, couldn't be tempted onto a bike, possibly due to having no-one else his age to keep him company. I know how he feels, takes me back to my tentative approach to the Newcastle club in 1960 something.
Thanks to Dan Wharrier for initially contacting the Goonies and their mentor Dean Holmes for getting them all here at the second time of asking. And also thanks to the Vikings who showed plenty of patience, having to wait until after 8pm for their own session to start. Another entertaining team match, short but sweet.
Tuesday 22nd August 2017.
A special night for the Club as we were joined by one of Northumberland County Council's publicity officers who came to grab some ffootage for use in promoting us on their Tour of Britain web site and Facebook pages. The Tour has a stage ending in Blyth and Richie Smith is currently in negotiations to get us a stand at the finish in the Market Place. Lee Redshaw, JeanPaul Colback and Terry Kirkup were interviewed as part of the shoot and our visitor stayed for the whole session, enjoying the enthusiasm he saw demonstrated by all, both riders and bystanders. Well done everyone.
On track the team scores weren't quite as close as we are used to seeing them but the racing was good with plenty to cheer and TWO dead heats declared by the referee!
Tuesday 1st August 2017.
A poor turnout of just six riders meant no match as such on a perfect evening, but we did instead do some timed laps and followed it with a set of 2-rider pursuits, decent exercise and good fun if nothing else!
Sam, Bradley, Malcolm, Jordan, Jason and Terry present. Track was a little slippery as the wind and hot sun had completely burned off the heavy rain we'd had previously this week!
Tuesday 25th July 2017.
A few cool days following the weekend’s heavy rain kept plenty of moisture in the track for this training session and like Sunday the grip levels were at maximum. It’s a shame there weren’t more riders present to take advantage of it.
With nine available, five took on four and produced another entertaining fixture, the four men using rider replacement successfully to ease to the win. With everyone having just 4, 3 or even 2 rides we ran a pair of individual semis and a grand final to round of the session. Jordan Smith had a great night in this one with some impressive riding.
It was the four top scorers in semi 1 dicing for the two top positions, and the other five taking to the grid for semi 2.
That put Jason and Lee through from the first, and Dan Wharrier and Terry from the second. Jason went through the card unbeaten while TK managed an outside run on his shoulder from the gate in the final to finish second, with Lee third and a tiring Dan fourth.
Tuesday 18th July 2017.
Another minimal set of riders on yet another perfect evening, the track now very loose on top and dust blowing around in the cool breeze. Everyone handled it pretty well but breathing was somewhat tricky at times. Two pretty much imbalanced sides on paper saw a complete reversal of fortune on track with John Wilson blasting away from the gate to win heat one after Dan Wharrier's chain escaped, and Dan Redshaw overhauled by a well-rested and flying young Dan Thompson! More good fortune followed for the "home" team in the next with Lee Redshaw getting the better of Jason Keith into turn one and his mate interfering with the Viking's skipper just enough to slow him down a tad. Two unexpected heat wins but there was another in the offing as Dan T flew away to win while wily old fox Norman Carson held Paul Thompson and Malcolm Douglas back for a terrific four laps. Surely collapse was imminent? Well, no! Lee took another two fantastic wins against the Dans and Jason to see his team lead 41-27 at the interval and would have scored another win had he not slipped a pedal in heat 11. Somehow the away side suffered another two heat losses for no major gains and the job was done, against all bets!
Tuesday 11th July 2017.
Just enough bods with TK still not fit enough to ride, still a decent, fun workout for the lads on a lovely evening.
Tuesday 16th May 2017.
Not too many turning out for this one on a fine evening for racing, the track retaining only very slight dampness after a very wet Monday, but as usual grip was excellent. Plenty of bike swapping going on as John Wilson strives to find the ideal shape and size after 5 years on his trusty steel Archie Wilkinson, now definitely showing its age, to say nothing of its weight.
Tuesday 9th May 2017.
Another fine display by Lee Redshaw to snatch the win with a great defense against Jason keith in their final race, heat 20. A slip by Jason at the pits bend lap 3 may have cost him the chance of victory.
Also more good effort from Jordan, Dan T and Bradley tonight as they continue to progress. Quite a nice evening for racing with just a bit of a breeze.
Tuesday 2nd May 2017.
A cold start but the wind eased slightly. Bone dry track, pretty dusty but everyone stayed upright except for Malcolm's slight tip-off, nowt to do with the track though!
Once again some exceptional performances from the slightly reduced turnout with all our younger riders having at least a couple of great rides and no-one even noticed how many rides I made them take although there may have been the odd 3-lapper in there.
Thanks to under-the-weather spectator Ashie Pattrerson for his help in preparing the track for Saturday's Euro-Vets meeting once this match was over, this year we stage Round One and are hoping for a great turnout from the Vikings' Elders!
TUESDAY 25TH APRIL TRAINING CANCELLED DUE TO ATROCIUOUS WEATHER CONDITIONS
Tuesday 18th April 2017.
A perfect evening for this one after the breeze had disappeared and we’d warmed up a bit.
I started off by putting the lads through their paces with a half lap dash to try and measure/improve their gating and getting on the pedals out of the bends. Everyone had three attempts, most improving on their first runs and slowing on their third. The exception was Lee Redshaw to laid down a marker in his first attempt that would stick as fastest until late arrival Jason Keith took his second and just pipped our best young prospect by a few hundredths of a second.
On to the main event and this time with 11 riders we ran a team challenge, and I must apologise to Ashie Patterson for overlooking him when entering the names on the programme, but he did share Norman Carson’s rides once it was brought to my attention!
Another keenly contested affair the highlights being an extremely rare fall for John Wilson and some electrifying passing by Daniel Thompson, John also taken by surprise with that one. Jordan Smith continued his recent run of fine form just about proving that if he misses a few sessions it bites him. Shane Gray’s first three rides looked much more like the Shane of last year until his legs began to feel the strain.
I did try to “equalise” the scores with the three extra races but although Dan’s team was looking good when he and I took a 7-3, I couldn’t repeat the feat with John in the next one, a hard pressing Lee just running the legs off me after we’d gated on him.
Good to report that Ashie has dumped those somewhat hefty chrome plated steel wheels for some nice Archie Wilkinson MTB types which we quickly switched before kick-off.
Tuesday 11th April 2017. The wind is back! Another hot looking debut from mountain biker Reece, a mate of Dean Ildertons. Upwards!!!
As you can see our "Little Man" Lee Redshaw was at it again tonight, winning this training match by half a point, although I was the Ref and it looked to me like he crossed the line first! Good scrap between him and John for the whole four laps. Meantime, JP again showed good form as he had at the weekend (see report on here somewhere) while Dean, as he said he would, brought one of his mates Reece for a go and he also looks pretty handy and is another mountain biker. I sure wish I could get more of them along here, we'd have the biggest club in the universe!
Tuesday 4th April 2017. Yet again the wind disappeared! Great debut from mountain biker Dean Ilderton.
Tuesday 28th March 2017 and another amazingly wind-free night for some leg stretching!
Tuesday 21st March 2017 - The Skipper Returns!
Gavin Parr makes his first appearance at training since the end of last year. As Gav has now taken up amateur Speedway he has passed on the Vikings captaincy to Jason Keith, but does intend to ride for us when his speedway commitments allow, which will be a huge bonus in possibly our hardest, and maybe our final year in Division One of the Northern League.
Tuesday 14th March 2017
A good gathering tonight, missing Dan Redshaw but welcoming back Jordan Smith, complete with new ex-Hull CSC Mielec. With Shane needing to make a quick exit we lost little time in getting started after Jason and he had set up the generator for the floodlights.
Another two-team match once again proved the right formula for an interesting night's racing. And tonight I didn't hear anyone mention their fear of four lap races! This was one of those occasions when just about everyone had their share of glory at one time or another, while TK took it easy to suppoort his young teammate Sam this time. Another very well matched contest, and although everyone thought there was a chance of an upset going into the last heat, whoever filled in the scores for heat 10 got John and Terry the wrong way around, so the "A" team actually led by two points at heat 13 making their victory almost certain. With Shane leaving early "reserve" Lee took his last ride in the fourteenth to complete a brilliant maximum.
Sunday 12th March 2017
Once again we found a decent afternoon awaiting us for the second of our very late training outings. And once again we were a bit disappointed with the turnout. However, after a couple of 2-lap warmups with three groups of four, we set about picking a couple of teams after Jason Keith insisted we should now up our game and do the customary four laps. Oh dear me.
The team selection progress saw John collecting what looked like an unbeatable squad while Jason grabbed the younger kids before thinking about bolstering his side. Fortunately for him, John missed spotting TK who was acting as programme compiler, and that left him as the only available rider to complete Jason's team!
Somehow the "B" team managed to stay within striking distance up to half way, when a couple of great team riding efforts even got them slightly ahead. Early highlights came with first Shane and Ashie, then John and Norman keeping Dan at bay for two 7-3s, and later Samantha and Jason edging out JP and Paul. With seven shared heats out of the fifteen it remained tight right up until heat 12 when JP and Paul pulled off a great 6-4 to establish a four point lead for the "A" team. It looked all over as we reached the final heat, but with little Sam exhausted after a great effort on his 2017 debut, Terry took his place in the final heat partnered by the unbeaten Jason, and although a possible 6-4 for them looked likely, no-one would have bet on a 7-3. However, afdter a hotly contested, shoulder-to-shoulder first bend, TK emerged in front with Jason coming around John to slot in behind and protect his lead for a frantic four laps to clinch a 75-75 draw.
Once again the track cut up badly and we were forced to tyre pack it with the van afterwards.I just can't see it being any better for a month or two yet!
Sunday 5th March 2017
Well, we certainly didn’t expect a perfect afternoon, weather-wise, for our return to training outdoors after two indoor sessions at Walker Activity Dome. However, Sunday 5th March 2017 may well turn out to be the nicest day of the New Year at the AstroDrome!
It was a strange feeling getting back onto shale, and for me it almost made the indoor atmosphere feel like a safe haven compared to the shale with that menacing fence so close to the action. Indeed it even felt a bit scary as I speeded up a little after an initial 20 or 30 lap cruise around to warm up.
Those present at today’s session, for historical reasons, were:
We kicked off with some three lap racing, and that was well worth the effort as a leg loosener. But just two races each to start with. I then laid out some cones around each bend about a metre and a half from the outer kerb, extending the track length to 90-odd metres, and ran a series of time trials, one rider at a time, two attempts each. Surprise package Lee was fastest in leg 1 with Jason second and me third. Round two produced identical results but everyone improved their times slightly, or significantly in the case of the youngsters. This session increased to danger levels substantially having such a narrow strip of shale to aim for while being every wary that one slip could see that fence offer an unwanted embrace!
That led us nicely to The Big Match, which started out as two 5-man teams until I realised we’d missed a man out, so the quickest fix was to switch to six pairs instead. The luck of the draw meant that JP and Samantha ended up partnered as last pair so to even things up a bit, Sam was given a ¾ lap start and JP a half. As it turned out, the pair of them proved just too quick for anyone to catch, which was a bit of a surprise to me, and they ran out unbeaten winners.
Behind them however, strongest pairing on paper, Keith and Jason dropped a crucial point to Lee and Terry which saw both pairs tie for second place. The ensuing run-off didn’t help much after TK slipped a pedal while overtaking Jason and another shared heat resulted. At Jason’s insistence another run-off was called, and this time it was Lee alone who faced Jason in the decider. A great start by the youngster took Northern League veteran’s Champion Jason by surprise but a rapid spurt down the back straight had the Elder in front and he went on to clinch runner-up spot for himself and Keith.
The extended line laps really showed up the current soft state of the track, some long, deep grooves being hacked out by the bikes beyond the half way line, and the two repair patches we filled in the previous Saturday were completely removed by the passing tyres. That left us no option but to get to work on the surface straight after the session in the slim hope that it will bed down enough for good racing in three weeks’ time when League Champions Edinburgh Falcons open our Northern league season. So as on the previous Saturday Jason took out the motorised roller to squash everything back down again, now all we can do is hope.
Following the meeting, it was my pleasure to disclose that our Secretary, Neil Magee, had secured a potential on-going sponsorship deal with a large North East company, details on them later. What it means immediately is that we can now proceed with an order for new racing jerseys to replace the so-called “pink” (purple, in reality) we’ve used for the last few years now. We may not have them for the Edinburgh match but possible the following fixture.