Spring Series – Round 7 – Cycle Speedway
With the penultimate leg of the Spring Series we returned to the battle ground of the cycle speedway track. Rob Mawhood of the Sheffield Stars has hosted races for us several times in the past and we keep coming back because this is about as much fun as you can have on a bike. Ok so that’s a phrase I use as lot, but these are bikes being raced against mates, Fun is the name of the game. The Cookson park track in Hillsborough has seen many a battle in the past, the Sheffield Stars Club are riding pretty high in the national league, but it tends to get a bit bloodier when we roll.
Speedway has been around for a long time but gained popularity in post war Britain. Tracks sprang up amongst the rubble of decimated cities and were ridden on ghetto bikes otherwise un-roadworthy. Cycle speedway is still raced on bikes with no gears and, like its big motorised brother, with no brakes on a short oval track with a loose sandy surface and only the slightly of banking in the corners. A race lasts 4 laps and its pure sprinting whenever you’re not hanging a foot out in the corners. The locals do this with the bike leaned over to 40 degrees railing the turn, we turn up, drift in and roost the hell out of the corners killing all speed. Bloody mountain bikers.
On a gorgeous Tuesday evening a big crowd turned out to watch, heckle and race. Rob was joined by a few of the youth team who’d come along to help out and show us how it was done. Moreover, they’re raced with us before and know how we roll. They’d come to see the carnage and, if they could, cause more. Rob had pulled out all the stops to put on a proper race with the full start gate and a very well prepared track. He might as well have rolled out a red carpet. With series leader Swinny absent due to work commitments it left the rest of us hungry for points to try and catch him up in the series standings. After a few practice laps and a bit of instruction we got straight down to the racing, with 19 of us we didn’t quite get to race everyone else but not far off. Speedway uses a predefined grid system to define who races who and in which lane you start. We rattled through the preliminaries pretty quickly but not without incident. The lack of brakes and straight line sprint meant many riders ended up on the track loosing various amounts of skin. Josh Lewis took a great rag doll tumble and Joe Bowman went down really hard on his knee but manned up and kept racing.
Once thorough the Prelims we were divided up in to finals, A to E. The E’s went first to decide the wooden spoon and no one wanted to be last. Lane positions were chosen at random by drawing a ball out of a hat. It was hard fought but Irwin came out on top with Steve Hardcastle walking away with the booby prize. The A final was contended between Tim Pearson, Jack Bauer and myself. Jack had been commended by Rob all night on his skills on the bike, he cornered like a natural. Tim, as ever, can ride any bike bloody quick. I got a lucky draw with lane 1 for the final, a real advantage to be able to get the inside line on the first corner. I managed to hold off the other two and walk away with the gold medal. Tim did a great job of holding Jack off to take second.
Then came the Challenge. Two of the team riders wanted to take on Tim and I in a team race, who were we to say no. As we walked up to the start line Aiden Wild, the challenger, proudly said “He’s going down in the first corner” while looking at me sending ripples of laughter throughout the crowd. Now I being 6’2” didn’t think I had much to fear from a 5’4” 15 year old, how wrong could I have been. The start of the race was rerun about 5 times as we couldn’t get through the first corner. Twice Aiden put me straight down and I couldn’t do anything about his tiny shoulder getting under mine and knocking my front wheel out of the way. Then I managed to get my wheel in to his and just about stay upright but ran with my feet so we had another restart. Then Tim and I switched lanes to try and at least get through the first corner and on the second try we were finally off. As you’ll see documented in the video it wasn’t the cleanest of races. I’ll not say anything other than, they got what they deserved.
So to the points, 16 points for the win as usual with a linear distribution down the standings. Jody also picks up top points for being the highest placed (only) lady.
|Spring Series – Round 7 – Cycle Speedway|
The Series standings are getting closer and closer with only one race left. Swinny is still out in front, with myself and Tim in 2nd and 3rd. With Martin Baker moving down the standings, Chris Pearson and Ruari both move up and Jody retains here Leading Lady status.
|Spring Series Standings|
|Position||Name||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Round 7||Total|
Tonight is the last round of the Series, a classic XC loop from 18 bikes in Hope. Its all left to play for depending on who turns up.