“All riders to the start line” summoned the voice through the crackling tanoy system. Having been here before as a rider, I knew just how much that voice and those words could twist your insides and threaten to stop your heart right there and then, in the middle of a frosty field in Ashby De La Zouch! Thankfully, on this occasion, my insides were firmly unaffected. Safe in the knowledge that I would not be on that start line today!
It was the perfect day for a race. A frosty, sunny morning that seemed to lend itself well to the whole atmosphere of the event. The first signs of mud broke through the glistening crusty surface as the wheels made their mark. The steam from the bikes cut through the cold air as they were warmed up in preparation for their two hour race. The look of fear and excitement on the faces of the riders, no doubt at this stage trying to remind themselves why they were doing this!
On the start line and the steward held up the first sign to the rows of riders waiting in line for their commands.
START YOUR ENGINES
Each row was a different class. The pros were at the front, followed by the clubman, then the sportsman and finally the novice class. It was a timed start and so each class had to wait in line for their moment. All the bikes started at the same time and revved to within an inch of their mechanical lives. The roar was deafening but exhilarating. A mixture of two and four stroke engines sang through the trees in a battle song. All one hundred and fifty of them claiming that victory would be theirs! Then another signal from the keeper of the signs
In this type of race you have a cold start and so everyone is given the chance to warm their bikes for a few minutes before switching off their engines and firing them up again only when the “GO” sign is shown.
The field fell silent. A stark contrast to the roaring of a few seconds ago. All eyes looked forward through steamy goggles, waiting for the command, right leg awkwardly hovering over the kick start. The crowd held their breath. After a minute or so of intense silence the sign was given
The first line of riders kick started their bikes in to life and the lucky ones raced to get to the first corner. The unlucky ones continued to kick frantically at their bikes trying to find some life, hoping that each kick would be the one that got them off that lonely start line. Finally the last man raced off in pursuit of his pack, his ego bruised but otherwise unharmed!
The first corner looked like a war zone as the knobbly tyres ripped through the virgin crust and in to the soft ground, jostling for position amongst the angry swarm of bikes and riders. Mud grenades were flying in to the crowd of exited spectators and the clubmen looked on. Soon it would be their turn to go over the top and in to their own personal warzone of blood, sweat and gears!
What a great way to spend a sunny Sunday morning!
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