Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Countdown to Chaos

It’s the nearly the start of the season and my cunning plans are coming to fruition! Although I’m not riding at the first meeting there’s plenty of activity at Westley Towers getting ready for the rest of the season. I’ve even been wielding a spanner or two, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks, on both the Shiny Stormer and the B50 (with varying levels of success!) so I thought now was an ideal time to provide a preseason update. So here goes with the 2010 Old Westley Almanac – my thoughts and predictions for the coming year*

The Shiny Stormer has had a thorough overhaul and has been returned to it’s previous shiny state. New points fitted, head barrel and piston all cleaned up and rings checked, exhaust de-gunged and the ‘silencer’ repacked, front suspension rebuilt with new seals, and everything thing else checked and tweaked as necessary. A final investment in industrial quantities of Solvol Autosol and the SS is ready to roll! Whisper it quietly but I’m hoping that this will initially be my ‘backup’ bike with a view to flogging it off mid season if the modifications to the B50 bear fruit. Just thinking that will most probably send the SS into a terminal sulk and will never start again!

My predictions for the Shiny Stormer for 2010 are:
• It will continue to be implausibly shiny
• The Hanningfield meeting (4th April) will be a chance for SS to prove it’s worth
• The Hanningfield meeting (4th April) will be a chance for SS to highlight my lack of riding skills and will bite back
• At some time it will realise that I intend to sell it and will develop an untraceable electrical fault that will render itself worthless

The BSA B50 is still undertaking a major program of upgrades aimed at making it more reliable, easier to start, and just a little bit faster. All the engine work has been entrusted to a local chap who knows what he’s doing and the engine is due to be reacquainted with the frame this coming weekend. The engine has been stripped, bearings and crank checked, gearbox rebuilt using the new splined shaft and kickstart, new electronic ignition fitted, compression plate removed, valve train modified and everything set up correctly to ensure reliability. The running gear has benefited from my attention: rebuilt Amal Mk1 carb with new low friction slide; new seat, sidepanels, handlebars, grips, and number boards; rebuilt front forks with new seals and uprated springs; old electrics stripped off and new rear mudguard extension fabricated, rear suspension and swing arm overhauled; exhaust and original silencer decoked and resprayed; frame inspected and flushed through; and a general tidy up of cable routing etc.. Nothing too radical, just a review of what we had and improving where we could. I hope to have a first tryout of the beast 20th March, provided the practice field isn’t under too much water, so that I can play with the carb settings and jets then it will be a baptism of fire at the Hanningfield meeting.

My predictions for the B50 for 2010 are:
• It will start whenever I need it
• The gearbox will not ever lock up again
• It will be sufficiently easy to ride so that I will be able to beat the odd rider!
• It will be faster than Keith F-J’s B50

The Club is running it’s customary range of meetings at four tracks within spitting distance of Chelmsford although the majority will be at the notoriously hilly Marks Tey track. At present, two of the meetings are going to be a little bit different and not run championship rounds – this has caused a bit of flak for the organisers (yes, I am one of them!) but hopefully those riders that enter both those meetings will have a jolly good time and plenty of rides. As with any large club (we have some 300 members) there are factions and cliques that are focussed on promoting those elements of the Club that happen to coincide with their ideals, which is fine but it does tend to mean any hint of change is taken very personally. We also have a few ‘sensitive’ riders that are prone to stamping their feet but that is to be expected I suppose – I just wish some of the would lighten up a bit! We have lost one Clerk of the Course through political in-fighting which may put some of our meetings in jeopardy yet still the wrangling continues. Perhaps the Club should invest in some boxing gloves so people can settle disputes in a pragmatic way?

My predictions for the Pre65 Club for 2010 are:
• The Hanningfield meeting will be a roaring success despite a boycott by some members of the Club
• The Championships will continue to provide the primary competitive focus for the Club despite two meetings being ‘non-championship’ in nature
• A faction within the Club will threaten to set up a rival club to promote their particular cause

On a personal front, my fitness regime has yet to kick in but I am strangely confident that with a little bit of practice I should be able to pick up where I left off last year. I was starting to trust the bikes to compensate for my lack of skill and get me through the various hazards that the track presented and as a result I was actually getting quicker (everything is relative, don’t forget!). I actually had a bit of an epiphany when one of the old stagers said to me at Maylandsea last year that you can’t overtake someone by following them. This, along with my growing confidence in the bikes, allowed me to step up my game slightly – my aim for 2010 is to continue to build on that progress but only time will tell. Oh, and not hurt myself in the process.

My personal predictions for 2010 are:
• I will ride at eight meetings during the season
• I will ride in all my scheduled rides
• I will not be lynched at the Lamarsh meeting (12th September) that I am organising and the meeting will be a roaring success!
• I will not give everyone a head start – I too will cheat on the start-line!

I will be at the first meeting (March 14th at Marks Tey), along with the GLW, learning the ropes on how to be a Clerk of the Course – we all know it’s just an excuse to boss people about! Hope to see you all there, especially if you have some juicy gossip that I can use!

Pip Pip!

*I will, of course, change this blog as time passes so that miraculously all my predictions come true!

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