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late post

It is a very pleasant summer’s morning. July. Early in July. By early I mean 05.30. The temperature outside is a perfect 19℃. As we all know this is not going to last. I really don’t know how it is going to go. The shed fridge contains cold drinks and there is a primed cold water dispenser in the kitchen fridge. The freezer also has most of a bag of ice.

I’m also half thinking that putting the sprinkler on in the garden could offer some respite. Like those fountains that come up out of the pavement on a random basis that kids like to run through when it is a hot day.

Foolishly I have arranged two meetings for this afternoon. Emails have just been sent suggesting we pull these forward. Not sure how it will be in the shed which is very well insulated. The doors will have to remain wide open although this will probs be counter productive as common sense suggests that it will be hotter outside than in. Whatever.

I have just come back from a terrific weekend of motocross racing with Team Tett. This is Steve Wildthing Wildman from around the corner and his friend Dick with his son Kier. What a fantastic experience. 

Twas a long trek to Pontrilas, a stone’s throw from the Welsh border near Hereford. Steve picked me up from my Sheffield hotel at 11.30 ish and we set off at an appropriate trailer-tow pace arriving at 4pm ish. 

For an hour and a half Steve and I engaged in feverish activity setting up camp and in particular erecting the large industrial strength gazebo that was to be our HQ/garage/sleeping quarters in the paddock. The others not being due to arrive until 8pm we then set off on a ride on our ebikes. It was not long before we very conveniently found ourselves at a nearby pub called the Temple Bar whereupon Steve and I sat outside enjoying cold beers.

Sat on the deck outside the shed with a cup of tea and a glass of cold water from the fridge. A blackbird is working its way systematically through the leaves around the base of the greenhouse. It is perfect weather.

Meetings postponed to tomorrow and wednesday first thing.

The pub was opposite the village chippy which seemed to be doing a good Friday evening trade. One chap ordered his fish and chips and popped into the pub for a swift half whilst he was waiting. Steve put up the parasol over the bench outside the pub. We needed shade.

Two, or maybe more pints later we headed back to the racetrack. The others had not yet arrived so to while away a bit more time we headed to the beer truck that Steve had discovered on his recce around the pits.

Later that evening we cooked pizzas and shortly after the sun had set on Pontrilas we hit our various sacks of hay. Mine included a newly purchased camp bed, £34 from GoOutdoors, a sheet and a blanket. Also I forgot a pillow but my bag served the purpose. Our supply of sleeping bags had been depleted, nay eradicated by festival bound offspring but I figured the weather was going to be so warm that a sheet would probably be enough. 

How wrong can you be? I ended up fully clothed with an extra tshirt, a fleece and a raincoat under the sheet, blanket and my towel. The towel proved otherwise redundant as the only wash facilities on site were the hand sanitising dispensers in the portable toilets. Aaah the great outdoors. Many of the other teams in the paddock rocked up in motorhomes and caravans which would have had their own facilities. Not us. We’re ‘ard core.

I had a not particularly satisfactory bacon roll from the food truck and a few cups of tea ably brewed up by Kier and discovered that Dick had a spare sleeping bag which made a huge difference to the quality of sleep on the Saturday night.

Just put water in the bird bath. Gotta look after our feathered friends. I did this once on another hot day and saw a blackbird having a good old splash around. They must appreciate it. Most of them will probably have more sense than to be out and about today. They already sound less vocal this morning than is often the case.

It is at 9am uncomfortably warm out of the shade.

The weekend’s sport started early on the first day with practice at 9am. The paddock really came alive with the sounds of dozens of bikes being started up and engines revved. Great atmosphere. We applied copious quantities of sunscreen in anticipation of a hot day ahead.

The conditions in fact were very tough for the riders. Very hot and very dusty, to the point where it was sometimes difficult for them to see the bike ahead of them. To keep the dust down the track was watered several times over the two day event. 

This had the knock on effect of completely changing the characteristics of the course as parts of it became very slippery. It is said that a motocross circuit changes completely during the course of a race as the dirt gets moved about. Different approaches to bends on different laps.

Today we plan to harvest our apricots. This will be our first good crop and the fruit is looking in great condition. We had a handful of apricots last year which was our first season with harvest but that didn’t really feel like a “crop”. Anne’s cousin John, who is a gardener, happened to swing by at some point in the season and pruned the tree for us. Seems to have made the difference.

This year we also have a good looking plum crop which I have protected from the cursed pigeons by covering the tree with netting. The plums look on the small side but at least they are still there.

It was a very hard day of racing. The gearbox on Kier’s bike packed in during the first race. He made it home in second gear and at least managed to score some points. A steady accumulation of points are what it is all about in a long motocross season.

Kier rides in the “expert” class and at this stage of the season is lying fifth in the championship. It was good to be with them experiencing the life of the team.

Fortunately Steve had brought a spare bike. Constant maintenance is a feature of motocross. The bikes take extreme hammering. The most important part of the bike is the suspension. The bikes are also mostly old. The participants are hobbyists and Husqvarna’s are a particular favourite. These bikes stopped production decades ago.

Dick’s race, the over 60s, followed the experts. There were three races a day in each class and after each race we retired to the relative haven of the tent. The lads would remove their racing tops in between each race and chill out in a tshirt. Lots of fluids were consumed.

Steve and I consumed a burger and several pints of lager shandy before the third race but the two combatants stayed off the food. After the last race of the day everyone sighed with relief, removed their gear and just sat there recovering a while. During the course of the day our camping chairs had followed the shade around the tent and by early evening were well and truly inside the canvas. It was uncomfortably hot to sit outside.

Kier borrowed my ebike and cycled with Steve to the pub. The chippy was discovered to be also selling ice creams which was a result for them. Dick and I dozed until the heat of the day abated, the camp bed coming up trumps in the corner of the tent.

After the lads came back Dick and I, suitably revived, strolled off for a pint of lager and were joined by the biker from the Netherlands from the next pitch to us and also a farmer called Dom who was known to the lads.

Now there is one thing you need to know about the motocross fraternity and that is they all talk incomprehensible gibberish. It isn’t just about pistons and camshafts. It’s about specific makes of pistons and camshafts and their relative usefulness under certain conditions. 

I didn’t really mind and sat there taking in the scene. It’s unfair to call it gibberish. It’s just another language that you have to learn if you want to understand it and one that is spoken for the duration of the meet. ie all weekend.

Heventually we strolled back to the tent whereupon Kier had the cooking facilities ready to go. On the menu that evening were sausages, chicken and steak accompanied by coleslaw and potato salad.

My night was far more comfortable in the spare sleeping bag and the next morning we were refreshed and ready for the day ahead. The temperature was forecast to be even warmer on the Sunday than Saturday.

Breakfast was bacon and sausages cooked on the camping stove. Just right with lots of tea. At 9am the racing started again. Practice for the Sunday only crowd followed by a sighting lap for the weekenders. There is a sighting lap after every watering.

Quite a few of the vans that were there on Saturday had left that evening. Either they had never planned to come for two days or were always only there for the day. A fresh batch came on the Sunday and these were the ones allowed practice session.

The day warmed up as it progressed and was essentially a repeat of Saturday with the exception that it took until two laps from the end for Kier’s bike to pack in. The extreme conditions had taken their toll. The lad was disappointed but managed to come in 5th overall. Had he completed the race he would have been 4th. Dick very sensibly called it a day before the last race.

We packed up the camp and set off for our various homes, a long way away.

I have lots of good memories of this weekend. A great bunch of people. Everyone was very friendly. They all put a huge amount of effort into their sport. It is an all consuming pastime. I doubt many of them have time for anything else with the amount of work that has to to go into these bikes.

I will remember the noise, the dust, the adventurous element of sleeping in the big tent used to keep the bikes, the heat, the rudimentary but totally adequate catering arrangements, the being around the bikes, the ten or so stickers I bought with a motorcycle theme and I guess seeing all the brown dirt wash off when I had a shower after arriving home.

Thanks to Steve, Dick and Kier for being such great hosts and I will be back again, next season – no free time left until the end of the year!!!

Also I note that the cooking apple tree is looking like producing a bountiful harvest this year and the onions are nearly read to pick 🙂 Have a nice day y’all.

‘Tis veritably Mediterranean out here on the deck this evening. We have eaten, late for us but late enough at around 7.15. Early for a Mediterranean dweller. The light is a long way from going but we are much further north. During our limited jaunts to the the Med the experience is that it has been dark when eating. 

We are not heat seekers. I stayed in the shade all day. The shed was mostly a v pleasant temperature but did warm up towards the middle of the afternoon. 

Today flies became a problem. I expect that leaving the doors open let them all in. I’ve been in there with a spray and closed the doors behind me. Will pop back in twenty mins or so to check out the insect sitch.

Lots of black headed gulls circling overhead. This is unusual.

Sbeanahotsticky1. Innit. The shed has mostly been at a comfortable enough temperature but as afternoon moves into evening the stuffiness seems to have grown. Sat here now listening to a bit of CHIC. Waiting for food time. I’m hungry but bringing it forward would not be appropriate for the weather. Off to London again tomorrow. Just for the day. Will need to keep well hydrated – actually hydration is partly/mostly why I’m going to London  😉 Shorts, silk shirt and shades will be the order of the day. As usual. Because I am off to town, tonight I will need to pack for the trip thereafter. This involves some touristy bits in Bakewell followed by two posh dinners. On Friday I am off for the weekend to a Motocross meet in Pontrilas. For that I will need my IoM TT tshirts. Nojeans though. Sgonnabetoohot. Just need to be able to discuss pistons. Kipping in the awning Steve Wildthing uses as a competition HQ/maintenance shed. The kids have nicked all our sleeping bags so will have to improvise! A thin cotton sheet probs. Draw on my bivouac skills.

By Trefor Davies

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