MOTORCYCLE RACING IN WALES -
ROWND Y TRIONGL FUWCH CHWERTHIN!
While the attention of most road race fans was turned towards the rain blighted Moto GP at Silverstone on Sunday 30th August - the ones who decided to watch from the dry in front of the TV judged it right. My mate Tref (he's Welsh), persuaded me and Dave to head for Tonfanau to watch the road racing there.
Where?! Open up your map of Wales or the relevant page in your map book: find Dolgellau in the Snowdon National Park, then follow the A493 road south along the coast, and Tonfanau sits on the tip of the second peninsular, down a small road that leads to the race track and a railway halt. Nothing else.
Chwerthin buwch triongl caws
The Crewe and South Cheshire Motorcycle Club have been running race meetings here for about twenty years on the little one mile circuit that's roughly the shape of a Laughing Cow cheese triangle. If there was a most picturesque race track award going around Tonfanau would be in contention. It's surrounded by low sheep grazed hills on two sides and the sea is visible from the paddock, which is, well, a grazing field...it was dry on this day.
It has a feel of all that is best about amateur sport. Not only are the competitors here, but a significant number of the spectators are family and friends: contingents of kids and dogs abound. I stood behind a group who were enthusiastically supporting one of the riders on a Triumph in the Classic class. He finished in fourth place, but you would have thought he'd won the TT; the kids clapped and cheered each lap, and gave clenched fist salutes when he finished...and why not?
Most of the action interest is the Paddock Bend. Almost a hairpin it's favourite for an overtake, and for entertaining observation as to how many different lines there can be as the riders brake hard from the long sloping Farm Straight.
Dychwelyd i'r chwedegau
It's the unusual classes that make the racing here so interesting. It was Tref (he's Welsh) who sold it to us on the basis that it's like returning to the sixties. Where else could you see a 50cc GP bikes such as Kreidler and Minarelli mixing it with a Royal Enfield 250cc Crusader Sports, a Cotton Telstar 250cc and a Honda CB125? The lap times were respectable too.
There's a steel frame 600cc class: Honda CBR's are in the same field as the Suzuzki SV650 Mini Twins. The Forgotten Era bikes are just about as varied as any track race can ever be: 1000cc FZR Yamahas and GSXR Suzukis, 400cc Honda VFR's and NC30's, Kawasaki ZXR's and a smattering of 250cc two strokes. The number of novice jackets on the grids lending proof to this being as cheap and fun way of getting into racing that you could find.
Mae Cymru yn trin beicio
Rides in and around Wales are always a biking treat and challenge. Dave and Tref came up from the south; the A470 through Rhayader and Builth Wells, then across to the coast at Aberytswyth before turning north again on the A487 through the Dovey Valley and Machynlleth. Their bikes are in good shape and well prepared ZX750 Kawasakis...unlike the riders.
I rode in from the east on the A5 from Llangollen and then along a twenty mile stretch of the A494 from Bala to Dolgellau. On the first open stretch outside Bala a single headlight appeared in my mirror, and stayed a safe distance behind. The road was devoid of other traffic so I pushed on and the light stayed in the same position. The bike looked as if it had a small front profile. I hoped I wasn't being clung onto by a 250.
At certain points the road dipped and dived through wood boundaried stretches, made damp by earlier showers: moments of adrenalin and anxiety as I tried to read series of bends. By now I'd realised that we were both enjoying our ride and not 'racing'. At a traffic light controlled junction where the road divided, the KTM990 pulled alongside and the rider lifted his visor to apologise for following me, as he didn't know the road. I told him that I didn't know it either, but that it was fun. We rode our separate ways.
The August Tonfanau meeting was the final one this year. The club hold four meetings over the summer so make a note to catch some fun racing and rides for 2016. Or better still plan a late summer excursion to the enticing Welsh road network.
www.tonfanauroadracing.co.uk Hope you have enjoyed the pics which capture the atmosphere.
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