FEATURES

FAST NEIGHBOUR

JOHN TELLS US ABOUT HIS VISIT TO A NEIGHBOUR'S TRACK DAY IN NORTH WALES

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From time to time surveys remind us how we are becoming more separate from our co-citizens and neighbours. Loneliness has been highlighted as an unwelcome component of some people's lives shown up by the Covid pandemic, despite the amount of volunteering and help on offer.
When Alan came to wire in a couple of new kitchen lights, I knew he lived close by but it turned out that his house was no more than a hundred metres away. During conversation subjects change and turn in an instant, so I'm not quite sure how we arrived at his interest in motorcycling but we did and he revealed that he races a Ducati. Alan decided some years ago that riding sports bikes on public roads was becoming more and more hazardous. If riding fast was to be continued then track days offered an arguably safer option - at least everyone's going the same direction.

Light Bulb Moment
Wiring over, we continued our conversation in my garage. He told me he was riding in the No Limits race series this season and the following weekend he was entered in the meeting at the Anglesey Circuit/Trac Mon, in North Wales. I convinced myself quickly that this would be a good bike trip, about 4-5 hours avoiding motorways and major dual carriageways. The weather forecast? Hot and dry.

The original Trac Mon circuit was built on the site of a military base, utilising some of the roads. Racing began in 1997 and in 2006 it was decided to redesign the circuit to incorporate four options: Coastal Circuit 1.55 miles; International GP 2.1 miles; National 1.2 miles and Club, a 0.5 sprint track. It is owned by and occupies a peninsula of coastal land of the Bordogan Estate - in common with much ancestral land, this estate is the property of Sir George Meyrick and his wife Lady Jean Tapps Gervis Meyrick.

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Unique And Magnificent
The landscape in which the circuit is set is both unique and magnificent. Abutting the Irish Sea, there are long views of the Snowdonia mountains and several alluring sandy coves which can be reached from the circuit, or by a short drive along the coast. It could be the equivalent of Australia's Philip Island, except that the approach roads are rural and narrow and the surrounding fields are occupied by sheep and cattle. I suspect major meetings would not be welcome and permanent spectator facilities would have to be developed. None of this detracts from the interesting circuit layout(s), especially the fast downhill corkscrew section. If you get the chance, put this venue and the area on your bike trip list.

The second race day on Sunday, I caught up with Alan who had staked out a decent amount of space in the middle of the paddock with a group of mates and co-competitors. It never ceases to surprise me how complex present day racing setups can be. Not to mention the amount of equipment and general 'stuff' loaded into often very large vehicles. Back in the day, decades ago in fact, a race bike would be stowed in a Ford Thames 15cwt van or similar. The van would also contain a tool box, fuel cans and some spares, especially if the racer was running a two stroke. Sleeping was done in the van or a tent.

Now there are many motor homes or caravans in evidence, along with complex shelters and awnings. Equipment includes generators, an array of electronic measuring equipment, tyre warmers, tool chests and the constant discussion about suspension settings, circuit abrasion, track temperature, slick tyre gradings and the inevitable post race analysis no matter where you finished. An observation rather than a commentary...'nothing lasts for long' to quote a Joni Mitchell lyric, and the pace of change can be dazzling and confusing.

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The Essence Of Racing
This is the essence of racing and Alan, along with his compatriots, love the camaraderie and helpful relationships that come with it. He is constantly checking with others about whether he has the optimum set up for his 995 Ducati. Alan has been competing with this bike since 2017 and is perhaps considered by some to be past its best. Like many race machines, often decked in unique graphics and colours, Ducatis are objects of great design beauty.

Club Level
Race classes at club level are not all about expensive and sophisticated machinery. It's possible to run bikes which are easier to develop and maintain, with races for CB500's, Super Twins and Standard Twins, plus Retro and modern 400's all featuring in the No Limits programme.

Track time and practice is what is needed in order to be running in the top half of the field, but it's an expensive hobby. A track day at one of the popular circuits like Brands Hatch or Cadwell Park can cost almost £170. If you want to make the jump to actual racing, club level entry fees cost between £250 and £300 and you need to be able to afford time off work. Alan is a self employed electrician in his early forties, but the appetite to be on the track and amongst fellow enthusiasts is as strong as ever. Full grids and crowded paddocks are testimony to a strong desire by lots of riders to go very fast in relative safety.

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Snakes And Curves
My return journey took me through the magnificent section of the A5 that snakes and curves through the Snowdonia National Park and the crowded tourist 'honeypot' of Betsy Coed. Then on to a series of less crowded roads through the small towns of Denbigh and Ruthin. On my travels I noticed that every conceivable two wheeler had been pushed out of garages, or shaken out from under covers. Cruising the Tarmac, scratching impatiently to get past slower traffic or parked up in cafes and popular scenery stops, motorcyclists are making miles while the sun shines!

Ever had a go at a Track Day, or any motorcycle racing? Let us know how you found it at news@wemoto.com or drop us a message on Facebook.

TOPICS: DUCATI JOHNNEWMAN
Posted by John Newman
for Wemoto News on 28 July 2021 in Features

Edited By: Lucy England

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