Archive for the ‘Latest news’ Category

Bonkers?

Posted: August 3, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Since my last blog, racing has tailed off a bit so with not much happening for a couple of months my attention turned to cycling once more. I’d still been keeping up with a couple of rides a week to work and back, iPod on for the 19 mile scenic route running through the same old playlist. For those out there who haven’t seen Disney’s latest film ‘Frozen’ I can recite the script/soundtrack with ease (please stay behind after class for the full rendition). With young Ted being at nursery if you’re not into Frozen you’re nobody! I reckon I’m up to about 8 viewings of the film and the soundtrack is on permanent repeat in the car. So it was no surprise as I’m turning the pedals up a steep (well not that steep really but it seemed it to me) climb out of Frodsham that the headline song burst into my headphones ‘Let It Go’. Not only did I leave it to play but actually found myself singing along. Now I don’t claim to have ever been badass but singing along to Disney, what exactly has happened to my life?

As my 35th birthday approached I found myself tuning into Radio 2 for longer and longer each day, no longer able to stand the dance/trance/teenie bopper junk that Radio 1 air to the world. I also have stuff like Meatloaf on my iPod, music that I wouldn’t have dreamt of listening to ten years ago even though it was in existence. I can only conclude that I must be officially old.

Dave Read, a member of the Warrington motor club and also a keen cyclist suggested that I meet up with him and his mate Colin on a Wednesday night for the local cycling club’s ten mile time trial. It seemed like a great idea, at the time, I didn’t really know what to expect but going along with a couple of other blokes would be better than turning up like Billy no mates. Meeting at Dave’s house we rode the six miles to the start of the event at Shakerley Mere near Knutsford. Signed on and £3 fee paid we pinned our numbers on and had a look around at some of the other competitors. Some were on full on knife edged time trial bikes and wearing aerodynamic helmets looking like something out of Tron. Many were just on road bikes like us and the atmosphere was pretty relaxed. Some had, but I hadn’t, gone as far as shaving their legs. I figured that enough hair had dropped from my receding hairline to counteract the amount of drag that my hairy legs might be providing.

The bikes start at one minute intervals, you sit on the chalked line on the road feet clipped into the pedals with a start marshal holding the bike up. In a nutshell they count you down from ten seconds, push you off and you pedal as hard as possible for the next ten miles! I was slightly concerned that I might get lost to be honest, not knowing the area very well and various people chipping in with landmarks and directions was adding to my confusion. I figured that I’d just follow the guy in front anyway. So the count down began, a push off the line and I was on my way. Within 3 minutes I decided that I must be pushing too hard. I was breathing like a man dying and my heart rate monitor was reading numbers greater than I’d ever seen before. I didn’t want to bonk (cycling term) halfway around the course so figured I’d better pace it out a bit better. In cycling terms bonking is what happens when you run out of energy and have to eat/drink to fuel yourself to carry on. Where I come from bonking means something completely different!

Dave had gone off a minute ahead of me, being 18 years my senior I secretly hoped that I could catch him up or at least make some ground on him. At the three mile point I was starting to wonder why the hell I was putting myself through this. Jo and Ted had parked up to cheer me on, Ted was cheering and waving, Jo was shaking her head and looking at her watch. “Two minutes” she said as I passed which I guessed was the time that I was now behind Dave! Colin, who set off a minute behind me, flew passed me shortly afterwards head down and seemingly the only thing moving on man and machine were the wheels, the pedals and his legs. I, in total contrast, was weaving and nodding like West Tip getting a whipping from Richard Dunwoody entering the final furlong at Aintree.  Another rider overtook me looking smooth and fast, I guessed that the next one to come by would either have a shopping basket or be a ten year old on a BMX! I nearly missed the turning off the A50, just catching a glimpse of Bradley Wiggins (well the speed he was going it must’ve been him), who had passed me earlier, showed me the way to go. A slight downhill section was welcome and I got my head down, thighs burning and I was start to count the miles down to the finish!

My aim had been to finish in under 30 minutes (or 20mph average), I aim for this time regularly on my journey to work but it rarely happens, from my onboard speedo it was looking like it might. An uphill section for the last mile was a real killer, especially as for the last 300 yards it climbed steeper over a motorway bridge. I crossed the line, after not pedalling for half of the down slope, to finish at 28 minutes 30 seconds. 18 seconds slower than Dave, bugger! The fastest guys, who obviously must’ve been holding onto the passing cars or something, finished five minutes faster! Five minutes, where is that amount of time? I scanned the results to make sure that I wasn’t last! I had beaten three people of the 22 who ran, and one of them was a man! By the time I’d calmed my breathing back down I’d decided that I had actually enjoyed myself! During the ride I possibly wasn’t quite convinced but I now find myself addicted to going faster!

I upped my weekly cycling mileage for the following week, to about 150 and arrived at the Mere knowing the route and how much pain to expect – I must be able to do this quicker I convinced myself! Dave set off behind me this time, Colin was absent after breaking his collarbone in a fun cycling event at the weekend, bloody dangerous this cycling! Knowing where I was going, where the slopes were etc helped me no end this time. I ran a slightly faster time for the first section of course and aimed on keeping my speed above 22mph as much as possible throughout. I knew things were going better and I actually passed three others on the road. The pain really started to set in for that last mile, but I kept my head down knowing the distance to the finish this time – crossing the line in a time of 27min 40secs. Almost a minute faster than the previous week and actually feeling less knackered too. Dave was stood at the finish which confused me as he had set off behind me and hadn’t passed me on the road. As it turned out one of his pedals had fallen off during the ride and he had to get a lift back! I scanned the results again and was pleasantly surprised to have finished 10th out of 24. Dave got a lift home and I rode the 18 miles home after the event in what ended up being a hard day. Working on motorbikes all day, warming up during the 6 mile ride to the start, 10 miles flat out, then 18 miles home I was ready for dinner when I got in that was for sure! No bonking for me!!

I’ve now put an entry for the Manchester 100 mile cycle ride (August 31st), I’m doing it in aid of a charity called Joining Jack who are attempting to raise £100,000 in the event. They hope to get 1000 people each to raise £100. I’ve never used his blog to beg before, as it’s not something that’s in my genetic make up, but please if you like what you read then you can easily donate by following this link.

https://www.justgiving.com/Ian-Mackman/

To date I’ve raised absolutely bugger all, so it would be nice to actually be able to donate something to the cause at the end of the ride!

After this I’ve entered the mid-September Etape Cymru, which is an 85 mile cycle ride taking in some enormous climbs in North Wales, the Horseshoe pass being the one of most note. I really don’t know what I’ve let myself in for as I’m more your steam it along the flat kind of rider, than a climber, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to complete the course.

As always I’ll keep you posted.

Mackers #30

Shotguns and Cheese!

Posted: June 29, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

With the TT over, James and I stepped back into the Infront Motorcycles unit on Monday morning and the TT blues really hit hard. Neither of us were really feeling it for the first couple of days to be honest. Things have picked up since then and once again we are flat out building race bikes, maintaining road bikes, swearing and laughing.

With the Wirral 100 meeting only a couple of weeks after the TT, I had all sorts of plans to get the bike prepped and ready to race. As normal, with work building up, the race bike took a back seat and I finally got around to wiping the flies off from the Senior and carrying out a few token repairs on the Wednesday evening before loading the bike up on Thursday! Another TT racer, Dom Herbertson, was set to ride the IFM superstock bike.

Dom had impressed us at the TT, taking bronze replicas and 117mph+ laps in his first TT riding his own superstock Kawasaki ZX6. He is a young lad, from the north east, who like most racers needs some support. He is also a great story teller probably as a result of working in the forest as a lumberjack every day; once he’s got company without ear defenders on he just goes for it! Apparently Byker Grove is a real place, although from the sound of things it’s not the sort of place you’d go for a quiet pint! The most memorable of his stories from the TT has to be about his holiday to America as a child, where he was shocked at the enormity of everything. Most notably the superstores where the cheese aisle sits right next to the shotguns aisle! I can see how this would leave a mark on an impressionable young English lad, I mean you wouldn’t get that at Tesco, and I’m pretty sure not even at Tesco Extra! Ever since this recollection was aired young Ted now keeps piping up at random times of the day “Shotguns….Cheese”.

So after staying at the unit to finish a customer’s track bike build on Thursday night until 10.25pm (needs must) James and I set off for Anglesey that night. For Friday’s practice session I’d been asked by Ricky Leddy of RLR Motorsport to run a couple of his classic TT Suzuki GSXR750 machines. Ricky had built the bikes from the ground up to run at the event during the Manx GP. Paul Shoesmith is set to ride one, with Dan Kneen on the other. It would be an experience for me having not ridden a race bike with carbs since 2004 on my ZXR400. With my head full of instructions, “Don’t just bang the throttle open it’s got flat slides”, “Don’t stall it there’s no starter motor” etc, I headed down pitlane for the first time.

Not that it’s obvious just walking the streets but mankind must have evolved since the early nineties. People must’ve had really long arms and really short legs back then as bikes of this era have a massive reach to the handlebars and a short one to the pegs! I don’t remember people’s knuckle dragging back then but I guess they must have! Squeezing my seemingly hugely long legs on I set about riding a few laps. I was pleasantly surprised –  always a fan of early sports bikes (I restored and ride a RD350LC remember) a few laps in and some changes to the bike beckoned, softly sprung suspension was stiffened up and gearing altered.

After a couple more sessions the bike was now feeling like a race bike, riding underneath and around the trackday gang with their modern sports rockets on a bike old enough to remember when ‘Everything I do I do it for you’ spent 16 weeks at number one was quite a satisfying experience! All in all, a successful run out for the RLR bikes, hopefully I’ve given Ricky a direction to go in for their next outing in a few weeks before they head to the Manx. I managed to get a couple of sessions on the IFM superbike too. I had a bit of trouble with a binding and overheating brake, not a surprise given the rushed preparations, oops! A caliper strip and new brake lines for Saturday’s races sorted the problem.

Dom’s inaugral ride on the superstock bike didn’t start so well. Coming back from the riders’ briefing on Friday morning his tyre warmers hadn’t been on for long but the sighting laps were about to get underway. Rushing about, knowing that these laps are important to the organisers for insurance purposes etc he jumped on board full of youthful exuberance. Riding out of the pitlane and tipping into the right handed hairpin of “the banking” on a closed throttle at low speed, the rear, cold tyre cried ‘enough!’ Coming around broadside at first, then gripping and highsiding Dom into the scenery and the bike onto its left side. I don’t think anyone could’ve been as hard on Dom as he was on himself. He obviously had to put up with some piss taking, which was deserved; crashing 200 yards after joining the circuit in mostly male company it’s the only outcome to expect.

I got in from the session and searched all over the place, eventually finding Dom I slapped him on the back turned that frown upside down and we got to work fixing the bike. As I tell Ted, if you fall off you must get straight back on! The bike wasn’t too bad, some cosmetic damage, a bent handlebar and snapped footpeg –  it didn’t take much to get it mobile again. We both had a good day from here on in, I got to watch one of the sessions while changes were being made to the classic bike and Dom was looking smooth and fast.

The Superstock bike, post Dom's crash

The Superstock bike, post Dom’s crash

Saturday’s weather was almost perfect for racing, if anything a bit on the hot side. I came in after the qualifying session with not a good word to say. The bike was chattering from the front as I released the brake in the mid-corner. “It won’t do this, I can’t do that blah blah blah” I moaned, although I quietened down a bit when a time sheet was thrust in my face and I was on pole! That aside though if the bike isn’t right then it can be adjusted to go faster, it doesn’t matter where you are in the grid if you know it can be improved. The times were good and there were three of us at the front who were going well; myself, Johnny Blackshaw and David Jones. I was keen on beating the lap times that we were running at the Wirral 100 meeting in March. We had been close to the lap record for the Coastal circuit and I think all of us had our eyes on bagging that.

We had three close races, everyone had a turn at the front. I pushed hard but kept coming up short of the record by half a second. Johnny had a couple of fastest laps, David rode well although lost the front while leading in the senior open at the end of the first day. Johnny crashed in the same race at the first corner leaving me out on my own. I figured I must be the last man standing when I saw all these riders emerging from the barriers during the slowing down lap! Three wins from three starts was a good way to get back into short circuit racing but ultimately the best thing was that there was some top competition and good close racing too. Dom was running well bagging 6th and 7th places, he was bouncing off the walls, great results for his first time on the bike. Not forgetting that he had crashed the day before- none of us let him forget that and we probably never will!

Sunday’s racing took place on the International circuit. Again the main goal was to beat the lap record set by yours truly at last year’s Anglesey Grand. James, myself and Ricky Leddy had slowly been making progress with the chatter from the front wheel. Although it had never really gone away, having spoken to several other riders it would appear that I wasn’t alone with this problem. I now wonder if the circuit is beginning to get bumpier, with car meetings and trackdays on the increase here it could just be the rippling effect that the cars have in the braking areas causing the problems. Anyway the problem was one which others were also having so basically I needed to just get hold of it and make it have it!

I won the first race after a battle with David, still the lap times were half a second short of the record. Johnny beat me to the first corner in the second race, I got a run around the flat out sweeper and made a pass into Rocket, the bike was slightly broadside though! Running wide Johnny got back by me and I had no answer to him, covering the passing line on the final laps I crossed the line 0.1secs behind in what was the best race of the day. I finally made a decent start in the last race of the day getting the hole shot I stuck my head down and went for that lap time. The bike, by this point, was riding great. On the brakes, into the last ninety degree left hander, the rear wheel hangs out with just a touch of the clutch as I tip the bike in to bring it back into line and hit the apex… Perfect. I still didn’t manage to break the record and am starting to wonder how I ever went that fast! I now have a great handling bike with 25 more horsepower and am consistently half a second off, Doh! Dom set some impressive times for only his second time at the circuit and first time on the big bike.

Next up for me is a cycling club’s ten mile time trial which a friend has got me involved with. I have no idea what to expect but he says I won’t look like a weirdo so that’s good. I’ve also got another Oset electric trial to organise and run on July 6th. As always keep an eye on the blog for the updates.

Mackers. #30

And finally: this got uploaded onto my Facebook by Phil Windrum. I reckon it needs a caption like “strawberry blonde actually”….

Senior Race Report

Posted: June 11, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Thursday was spent waiting for most of the day whilst the (postponed) sidecar race was completed after a further weather related delay in the morning. We had a single lap of practice scheduled for the afternoon on the superbike for the Senior race on Friday. I set off from the line next to John McGuinness, which was great as it’d give me a chance to follow and learn from the master even if only for a few miles before he buggered off into the distance. I followed John, losing a few tenths at Ballagarey, and was still with him at Greeba Bridge (around eight miles into the course). As I pulled on the bars to change direction in the high speed section running through Greeba one of the handlebars moved slightly on the fork leg. I pulled up at Ballacraine, knowing that I couldn’t finish the lap like this. Once stopped I had a go at moving the bar back. Even breaking out the gun show I was unable to move the bar highlighting how hard the rider has to work to turn a bike around here.

The marshal let me through the fence and gave me some directions on how to get back on open roads. Amazing that I’ve been coming here for eight years and still only really know my way around the course, the rest of the Island’s roads remain a complete mystery to me! I got a few odd looks riding along Douglas Prom on the superbike, having to keep turning it off in the heavy traffic – no cooling fans here folks! Getting back to the race truck, James immediately practiced the rear wheel change in preparation for the blue riband Senior race set for Friday. A top job, wheel changed in under 40 seconds, gave us all some confidence for the next day’s race.

Blue skies and great weather greeted Friday’s Senior race day. The Infront Motorcycles superbike GSXR 1000 was the bike which I’d felt most confident on, and spent the most time on, so all was set for a good race. I started well and felt good on the bike immediately, although seemed to be struggling to set a consistent lap making a few mistakes. The wind was strong over the Mountain especially tipping into Black Hut my helmet was twisting on my head against the crosswind and the bike really needed to be fought to hold the racing line.

Passing Ben Wylie on the road was the only real event of what was a fairly lonely race. My lap times were held back a bit by the wind, my best lap being five seconds short of my personal best which I was happy to be near. For some of the race I was honestly hoping to either get overtaken or catch another rider up. It really gives you something to aim at, riding around flat out for two hours on your own can lead to getting stuck in your comfort zone. Following someone else just gives you that carrot to chase and brings your times down generally.

Photo courtesy of Andy Findlay, finders-fotos.com

Photo courtesy of Andy Findlay, finders-fotos.com

The pitstops both went perfectly; fuel, visor and rear wheel were all swapped in 40 seconds, a testament to the team which have been with me since my first TT in 2007. I crossed the line for the final time of 2014, to finish 15th over all. A great result for myself and the team, tagging onto the back of the big names and teams from the British Championship on a bike which myself and Infront Motorcycles put together at our unit in Chester.

The name dropping moment of the TT goes to team chef/child care executive Ann. At the end of the Senior we packed the awnings away not wanting to have to do so during the forecast storms of Saturday. Dinner was looking to be a bit late as a result and the prize giving start time was looming so Jo and Ann headed down to the local Chinese. As Ann walked in Jo, waiting in the car, was shocked to hear Keith Flint, of Prodigy fame, say hello and call Ann by her first name. “Err, how do you know my mum?” Jo then asked. “Everyone on the grandstand knows your mum” came the reply. A conversation about the TT followed, on her return Ann needed some explanation of who ‘the bloke in the grandstand’ was!! I never thought my mother-in-law was so rock and roll!

Just after the Senior, slightly dishevelled and Ted either eating a sweet or gesticulating!!!

Just after the Senior, slightly dishevelled and Ted either eating a sweet or gesticulating!!!

All in all a good TT for me and the gang. Finally getting that 125mph lap was probably the stand out achievement of the fortnight for me. Alongside this was taking a great result in the Senior, coming close to some of the fastest teams/riders in the country in the process.

All that’s left is to give thanks to all of the supporters, which is something I’m terrible at by the way, stiff upper lip and all that! Infront Motorcycles, Kemtile, RLR Motorsport, Electrico, Dunlop, Ohlins, Maxton, Zero One race fx, HEL hoses, A&S Transport, Daniel Cross, Howard & John Tipping, Bob Beese, AM leathers, and many more besides that I’ve probably forgotten.

The trackside crew… Me (obviously the most important person in the equation!), Jo (for keeping everyone in order), James (for everything from financial input, owning the bikes, closing the shop for a fortnight to changing the wheel in the pitstop), Jack (for twirling the spanners, at all hours without complaint or errr payment), Ann (childcare executive, chef, energy drink mixer etc etc), Dad (pitlane re-fueller, even after seeing the consequences of it going bad!), Alasdair (born to be a trucker). Many, many others from Gary Thompson (clerk of the course) who does a fantastic job of keeping the riders informed and making some very tough calls, through to the marshals, giving their time to stick their neck on the line so the event can go ahead.

So is that my last TT? Many of my personal goals have been achieved, lots of money spent, risks taken and a young son who is now starting to understand what’s going on. I think the time maybe upon us.

Thanks for reading, next up Anglesey in mid-June, and another Oset trial in early July.

I’ll keep you informed.

Ian

More popular than Prada

Posted: June 9, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Sorry for the late update, it’s been a crazy race week. Monday’s Superstock race ended up being postponed until Tuesday. The first Supersport race went ahead on Monday, after a delay. I’d not spent an enormous amount of time on the 600 during practice week, focusing my attention on the superbike. The first couple of laps I struggled to get my head into Supersport mode; thrashing a machine with little or no mechanical sympathy isn’t really my style. I also appeared to be lacking top speed, getting passed at Sulby and then held up through the bumpy section to Ramsey. I hung onto the riders who passed me but patchy damp areas on the Mountain and light rain aren’t conditions that favour me on the TT course. The Supersport class is never my best so sticking my neck out to finish a few places higher wasn’t the sensible option. I crossed the line a disappointing 34th having lapped at 117.8mph. I managed to avoid the enormously popular physiotherapist’s tape. I’ve seen half of the competitors covered with it from the first night of practice onwards – it’s more popular than Prada, just man up and hold on!

The Electrico Supersport bike. Photo courtesy of Andy Findlay, finders-fotos.com

Superstock got underway on Tuesday. Again with limited time on the stock bike we decided to fit the suspension from the superbike into the stock machine, knowing that the settings wouldn’t be too far out. I had a good steady race really. The conditions were good and the bike felt good throughout the race. There were a lot of waved yellow flags during the race. Gary Johnson had crashed exiting Ramsey hairpin and was being attended to for the first two laps. Another incident on the run up to Joey’s was covered with waved yellows for the final two laps. As a result the lap speeds were a little down on previous years. My best wishes go out to all involved in those incidents. The Superstock bike did me proud, against the high top speeds of the BMW and Kawasaki a stock Suzuki is always going to suffer down the long straights here. The good handling and stable chassis is its trump card, I was pleased to cross the line in 23rd place, lapping at just under 122mph. I have been faster in previous years on this type of bike but on-track incidents taken into account I was about on my previous pace.

The Infront Motorcyles Superstock bike.  Photo courtesy of Andy Findlay, finders-fotos.com

The Infront Motorcyles Superstock bike. Photo courtesy of Andy Findlay, finders-fotos.com

Supersport race two went ahead on Wednesday as planned. A change to the gearing and instructions from team boss, James Powell, to “Rev the tits off it!” were the two main differences from Monday’s race. I set off and immediately the bike felt better on the new gearing. The first two laps were faster than I’d managed in the whole race on Monday. Coming into the pits for the only pitstop of the race, I was greeted by the fire siren sounding and pit entrance blocked. I later found out that some spilled fuel had ignited during a fill up. The rider sensibly dropped the bike on its side but the fuel filler, in his pit crew, was also on fire across his chest. Other pit crews and the fire brigade quickly sorted the blaze out. I lost around 20 seconds waiting at the stop box at the entrance to pit lane. A quick pitstop followed, I left the pits with a gaggle of riders.

Obviously a decent amount of us had been held up and with everyone’s pitstop taking about the same amount of time the track was now going to be pretty busy. I quickly got past Rob Barber and set about catching a group of three others who were about five seconds ahead. By Ramsey I was on the group one of whom was riding my old Triumph (the one that spilled its guts on the Mountain Mile in 2011). I managed to get past going into the Les Graham memorial. Getting by Ryan Kneen coming into the 33rd milestone, I was again spurred on by a small gap to Roger Maher. Making a pass on the entrance to Laurel Bank I pressed on only for Roger to pass me back on the Cronk-y-Voddy straight and signal for me to follow him! This wasn’t my plan, having caught a gap and made an overtake, following wasn’t an option. I stuck behind, getting a good exit towards Douglas Road corner I made a pass stick going into Kirk Michael. A final run over the mountain and I crossed the line in 22nd place, my best lap was my final one 120.5mph. Happy enough to have finally got the supersport bike working better for me, it had been a good race. Thanks very much to Mark from Electrico for loaning me the bike.

photo

Mini Mackers

 

To be continued shortly…

Mackers #30

TT 2014 Results

Posted: June 7, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Dainese Superbike Race, Saturday May 31st  
Position: 24
Race time: 01:53:18.532
Average race speed: 119.874 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 1 125.377 mph
Bronze Replica

Monster Supersport TT1, Monday 2nd June
Position: 34
Race time: 01:17:51.612
Average race speed: 116.301 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 2 117.825 mph
Bronze Replica

RL360 Superstock, Tuesday 3rd June
Position: 23
Race time: 01:15:29.024
Average race speed 119.962 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 4 121.824 mph
Bronze Replica

Monster Supersport TT2, Wednesday 4th June
Position: 22
Race time: 01:16:40.382
Average race speed: 118.101 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 4 120.501 mph
Bronze Replica

Pokerstars Senior TT, Friday 6th June
Position: 15
Race time: 01:51:13.305
Average race speed: 122.124 mph
Fastest average lap speed: Lap 6 124.860 mph
Bronze Replica

‘There goes another 50p!’

Posted: June 2, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Wednesday and Thursday were reasonably non-eventful days during practice week. Wednesday’s session ended up only being one lap on the superbike, not an especially good one either as the roads were a little damp in Ramsey and over the mountain. A red flag at the end of the lap brought a close to the session. Thursday’s session was delayed due to wet roads over the mountain. I’d had a poor stomach during Thursday, forcing me to break the ‘no number twos rule’ in the caravan toilet! I reckoned that the water wasn’t agreeing with me, so bottled water it is from now on then. I wasn’t feeling overly great for the session with several delays and then with reports that the mountain road was soaking we decided that there wouldn’t be anything to gain from going out for the 30 minutes that were left once it got underway. I got back to the caravan, shivered and shook myself to sleep, waking up feeling much better on Friday morning. I still wasn’t farting with confidence but survived on toast all day and generally improved until Friday night’s practice.

 

I concentrated on the superbike once again, getting three laps in. Some minor changes had improved rear grip. After stopping for fuel and more changes after two laps, I sat waiting to be let go onto the track in what appeared to be rush hour for race bikes for a little too long causing the engine to get a bit hot and bothered and chuck some water out. I pushed back to the Infront Motorcycles pit garage and we let it cool down. Getting back out for another lap I noted that the bike was running a bit hotter than normal so stopped after the lap  (probably due to having lost a little water) and we called it a day, not wanting to do any damage for the race the next day.

James and Jack stayed up until late on Friday night working on the bike, which was great as it left me to get some rest ready for the race. Jo prepped all of the visors on Friday night. I’d bought a new helmet, as the dates on mine were running out, and 50 tear offs before we left home and mentioned to take it easy with the tear offs as they’d cost £25.

I had qualified in 23rd for Saturday’s superbike race setting off behind Jimmy Storrar. I felt like the first lap went well, hitting my planned lines etc I could see that I was catching Storrar. We both caught Ben Wylie in the second lap, I managed to pass on the brakes into Ballacraine and pulled more time back to follow Jimmy Storrar over the mountain as we came to the first pit stop. The stop went well, fuel, visor and wheel change. Somehow I came out behind Ben Wylie again though and passed him again at Ballacraine. Laps three and four went well as I pulled a tear off exiting the Gooseneck a spark flew in my mind saying “There goes another 50p”. I have no idea where these little snippets of randomness come from during a race but they do flash through my mind occasionally!

The pitstop at the end of lap four was a disaster, entering the pits in 14th place, and having beaten my personal best laptime in the first two laps to 125.3mph, things were going well. The fuel went in and the visor went on then I waited…… and waited. Clearly there were problems, apparently the centre spacer between the wheel bearings of the new wheel had dropped down so the spindle wouldn’t go through. While James wrestled with it Jo did her best to keep me calm. Apparently the Manx Radio TT commentator, Chris Kinley, mentioned how calm I was staying, he obviously wasn’t three feet away from me! Just use it as a test now Jo said. ‘I might as well ‘cos it’s f@£ked now@  was one of my many expletives.

James sorted the problem out and I was on my way, a two minute delay had pretty much ended my chances of any sort of result and to be honest left me not riding at my best for the two final laps. Catching Ben Wylie again I got peppered with stones for a bit and eventually got past. Finishing the race in 24th position I was disappointed, as we all were. The wheel issue was nobody’s fault just one of these things – we’ll make sure that it can’t happen again. I then found out that I’d broken the 125 mph barrier, something that I’ve been stuck in a rut trying to do for several years. Great news and some real positives are to be taken; checking my best sector times if I pieced them together then a low 126mph is on the cards. Not bad for a part-time racer on a bike that I only tested once before arriving here. A testament to the set up given from Ohlins and the engine work by RLR Motorsport.

A couple of laps practice followed on the supersport bike in the afternoon. I felt like I was riding the bike better but both laps had some hold ups with yellow flags and slower riders. My qualifying time still wasn’t up to scratch so I start 40th on on the supersport bike on Monday. I haven’t ridden the superstock bike since the first night so will be off the line 47th on that!

We worked until late on Saturday night getting the bikes ready so we could have a day off on Sunday. A trip down to the beach at Port Erin was a welcome break from the Groundhog Day that is paddock life. We took Ted up to the Oset stand in Nobles park where they have set up an obstacle course display and some have a go rides. While I stood talking to Simon from Oset, Ted decided that he would have a go at the seesaw obstacle on his electric trials bike! Crashing off the side, I ran round and picked him up. He said that he would have another go if I held onto his rear mudguard. I helped him over the first time and then he just went for it on his own. What was most amusing was that as the seesaw dropped down from its peak Ted appeared to open the throttle harder so he ended up pulling a little wheelie off the end! Great to see him enjoying himself!

I write this on Monday morning the weather has turned a little wet overnight causing the races for today to be delayed. Hopefully we will get a run out this afternoon and I’ll keep you informed.

Mackers #30

Practice report – Monday & Tuesday

Posted: May 28, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

A good start to the TT this year. As noted in my previous blog, preparations have been as crazy as always. Myself, Jo and Jack (spanner man) caught the 2am boat from Heysham on Friday morning before the newcomer and lightweight practice was due to start on Saturday. I sat smugly as the dock workers measured the length of my van/caravan combo, there was no way I was over length this time. Last year I had slightly underestimated my length (ooh err Mrs!) – by 2 metres! This year I’d booked half a metre over, as I thought anyway. They must have a new tape measure for this year as I was still 10cm short by their calculations, but they let us go anyway! So a reasonably smooth crossing followed with very little in the way of sleep.

We got to the paddock at about 7 am, it was absolutely packed! At one point the paddock security told me that I wouldn’t be able to put my awning up as there wasn’t room; what shall we do just leave the bikes out in the rain? We got sorted once I’d given my opinion on where we could park. I almost nodded off in the riders’ briefing later that afternoon, not because it was boring but, having basically been awake since 6am on Thursday morning, sitting in a warm, quiet room I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open. I held it together anyway and got signed on and my clothing checked ready for Monday night’s practice. James and Alasdair (team trucker) had caught the Thursday afternoon boat with the race truck. They had done a great job of getting the awning and bikes all set out and looking very professional, almost as if we know what we are doing!

We got a few finishing jobs sorted on the bikes and planned to head out to watch the first practice, as I wasn’t a newcomer or had a lightweight to ride. The weather called a cancellation to the session, which I’m sure all involved weren’t that disappointed with. It’s never great riding your first laps in patchy damp conditions.

The first night for everyone was Monday. Team owner, James Powell (he loves being called that!) and I decided that I would be best to run the superstock bike for the first night. It is the bike which I know the best; having the Maxton suspension in it, which I used in 2011, I was able to dial in my previous settings and things should be pretty good. I managed four laps on the bike, struggling with rider comfort more than anything else, as if riding flat out on a road course was ever going to be comfortable! The screen was a bit too low and I needed some more support at the back of the seat to hold me forward as I was wearing my arms out trying to hold on!

A reasonably non-eventful night followed, the bike performed well and aside from the highlighted issues above I was happy with the first night’s shake down. Going off the line next to British superbike front runner Josh Brookes I figured I’d let him go as he would probably pull time out on me along the section to Ballacraine with his superbike vs my superstock. As we hit the brakes for Ballacraine I was still with him and followed him through the section to Laurel Bank where he ran a bit wide and I passed him. There’s not many times in my life that I’m going to get to say that!

Ian Hutchinson passed me on the run to Ramsey and I managed to hang on to his shirt tails until the final part of the mountain, which I was pleased with. The night finished with a lap speed of 119 mph which I was slightly disappointed with if I’m honest! At the end of the day it was the first night and I had a good few things to sort on the bike, some of which could also be amended on the other bikes too so it had been a productive night.

Superstock, Monday evening. Photo courtesy of apex-photos.com

Superstock, Monday evening. Photo courtesy of apex-photos.com

Tuesday was spent working on the superstock bike, although the plan was to run the superbike first and then the 600 had its own session alongside the lightweights. I went off the line and the superbike felt just like being at home, even though I’d only ridden it in its current form for half a day at Anglesey a week ago. I’d put the taller screen on and changed the seat padding and it was about as comfortable as it was going to get. My first lap was good; 122 mph followed by my second of 124.2 mph, which is only 3 seconds from my personal best lap time and put me 13th in the superbike class overall. I was really pleased with the bike, we had set the gearing tall as we were unsure what it would pull with the extra power as we didn’t want to spend the night bouncing off the rev limiter. It was a bit over geared in the finish, sitting at around 12000 rpm down the long straights, where normally it revs out a couple of thousand revs higher. There is certainly more to come from the bike.

Into the low evening sun at Greeba Bridge

Into the low evening sun at Greeba Bridge

The supersport was like a breath of fresh air, after wrestling the big bike around it felt like someone had stolen the engine!!! For the first bit of the lap I struggled to get my head into the amount of abuse that the rider has to dish out to the engine on these bikes. It just doesn’t feel right squealing the motor everywhere, but if you don’t then you go nowhere fast! I managed to get three laps in on the 600, getting a little bit held up on my last lap meant my second lap was my fastest at 117.6 mph. Happy enough with that for my first time on the bike, as I know there is plenty more to come with a gearing change to do on this bike too.

Practice is due to continue tomorrow (Wednesday) night, although the weather looks like it may play its part again.

I’ll keep you posted.

Mackers. #30

Go ‘ed Macca Laaaa!

Posted: May 22, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Preparation for the TT has been at absolute fever pitch for the last few weeks. The Suzuki GSXR1000 – my original 2011 Privateer Championship winning bike – has been modified into a right beast! A bulk of expense, and huge thanks, go to James of Infront Motorcycles, Chester (www.ifm-moto.com). Kemtile, a long-term supporter of my racing, have also financially helped towards a big list of modifications. Harris have lengthened the swingarm and fitted a quick release rear wheel system. RLR Motorsport have tuned and set up the engine, now making over 200bhp (previously 178bhp) so it is now very, very strong. Ohlins suspension has been fitted all around, alongside various other mods. I have to admit things have been crazy for weeks, working all day at the unit in Chester to then carry out building race bikes until late evening.

Last week in particular sticks out as for several nights we were flat out working on the bikes and then up at 5am (having got home at 11pm) on Friday morning to collect TT virgin mechanic Jack and head for Anglesey to give the superbike and 600 a shake down. Then up at 6am the following morning to take the bikes to Zero One Race FX near York, for some final additions to the livery, and carrying on up to AM Leathers near Darlington for a final fitting, tea and cake in Barnard Castle, then back to Zero One to pick the bikes up!

The Anglesey ‘test’ went well; my plan was to give the superbike a bit of a shake down without crashing, blowing it up or getting knocked off as there was under a week left before it was going on the boat. Also the 600 needed a short run around to check it was running ok before it was dropped off at the dyno for fuelling set up. The day proved a success as a couple of minor issues were found and remedied on the superbike which otherwise would’ve caused time to have been lost during practice week. It is an absolute monster on track and barely compares to how it used to be. The engine is so strong from the midrange it just pulls and pulls all the way to a higher than stock redline.

I was most impressed, some minor changes were made to the suspension settings provided but on the whole it wasn’t far off. There wouldn’t be much point in changing loads and then having to change it again when it hits the motocross track that is the TT circuit anyway. One very noticeable change from the short circuit set up was the slipper clutch. I was keen not to wear the clutch out at the TT so slightly less slip was adjusted into it for the downshift into corners. Now, ‘backing it in’ isn’t massively my style having come from a background of riding two strokes but it’s now almost impossible to avoid! Backshifting into the hairpins at Anglesey had the rear wheel hanging out all over the place to the point where I could hear the tyre chirping on the tarmac above the other chaotic noise generally associated with hammering a motorbike around a circuit. On passing another Wirral 100 rider and celebrated Merseysider, Steve Smith affectionately known as “Smiddy”, I hit the brakes and the bike did its usual sideways-on style right to the apex of the turn. Once back into the garage, Smiddy appeared with a huge grin on his face and quotes like “You only see that sort of action in moto2″, ” The rear must’ve been 2 foot out of line” and, my favourite, “I thought, “Go ‘ed Macca Laaa!” which when translated in my Merseyside to Buckinghamshire phrase book means “Jolly impressive piece of riding Mr Mackman sir!”

The GSXR 600 Supersport bike has been kindly loaned by Mark “Bushy” Jones, of Electrico (www.electricouk.co.uk) and is another top bike. I was keen not to repeat my on-loan-Triumph catastrophic-engine-failure problem from 2011. So this time I have bought my own engine, prepared by Slick Bass in the Isle of Man for Dan Kneen, it should do the job for me. The expense was something that I could’ve done without but my Grandma would definitely have approved of using some of my inheritance to race motorbikes, she was a motorcycling fanatic. The fuelling has been set up by RLR and I’m pleased with the results.

For Superstock I have the GSXR 1000 which we use for one-to-one on-track training. We have swapped the Maxton suspension from my original GSXR, prior to the mods listed above being made. With my set up notes from 2011 still in the van and in chronological order, thanks to the wife, I can start from where I left off with this bike. Hopefully it will bring me a solid result in the Superstock race.

So with the truck loaded and on its way to catch the ferry I sit at the unit waiting for some last minute parts for the bikes to arrive. From here I head home to load the van, sleep for 13 minutes and 28 seconds then drive to Heysham to catch the 2am boat.

photo (1)

Aside from TT preparations things have been going well. The last Oset Cheshire trial which I ran went down really well in sunny Frodsham; 24 kids turned up to ride and, as a result, it’s shaping up to be a really good series now. I marked out the sections on the previous Wednesday afternoon. The harder of the two routes gives me the biggest challenge each time. I keep making the route harder, as I think anyway, for the first rider of the day to get round without dropping a mark. I’m constantly impressed with what the kids are capable of. My thirteen year old nephew, Jordan, comes along to the trials and uses an ipad (other tablet devices are available) to video the action. Once the event is over I piece some of the clips together and make up a video of the trial then upload it to the Infront Motorcycles website.

Jordan came and stayed over at my house the night before the trial and while watching some random film on sky movies we got onto the subject of which movies we had seen. King Kong came up in the conversation and I said “It was ok but I thought it was a bit of an epic” to which Jordan replied “I didn’t think it was that good”. Confused by the reply for a few seconds I finally came to the reality that my 1990s understanding of the word ‘epic’ doesn’t match its current 2014 meaning!

So that’s all the news, I’ll keep the blog up to date during the TT with some short reports. I believe the race truck will be in the paddock B so please come and say hello or give me a wave from the hedges. I’ll be riding number 25, which by some coincidence is also my age, in the big bike races and 28 in supersport.

Mackers #30

How many?!

Posted: April 24, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

Since my last blog,plans for modifications to the superbike have been hatched. With currently less than five weeks to go, the swingarm is on its way for an extension mod and quick release wheel system. The forks are set for some Ohlins internals; an exhaust system is en route and the bike is back in around 1000 pieces with 2000 things to sort out. Once complete, I feel that this bike will be the best machine I’ve ever campaigned at the TT. If it doesn’t come together in time I have got my restored RD350LC in the garage, so I guess I could pull that out for the Senior!

The... err..... Superbike

So with loads of things to get sorted on the bike and time running low, my body has decided to let me down……again! I’d been feeling a bit rough with cold type symptoms for the week running up to Easter. I’d carried on cycling to work as this normally gives me a good snot clear out. After a trip out on Good Friday to watch Belle Vue speedway (read more on this later) I started shaking and generally running hot (possible head gasket fault?). I laid about all day on Saturday taking paracetamol to control my temperature and headaches –  generally I felt rough.

Come that evening after coughing up some impressive looking colours Jo suggested that I call the out of hours doctors. Obviously I’d got some kind of infection so getting started on some antibiotics would be a good move and save me feeling like death for the next 2 days before my doctor’s surgery reopened. Out of hours asked a few questions, one of which was how much paracetamol had I used? Now when I got thinking about this I’d just been popping them in every four hours. The reality that I’d been a knob and taken 7 doses in 24 hours, as opposed to the 4 dose limit, suddenly hit me. I was told to go straight to casualty to get checked out.

After a few hours messing about A&E informed me that I’d need to be admitted to a ward for 21 hours of ‘antidote’ to be administered through a drip….great news! They didn’t seem overly bothered to check the root cause of my fever, which was the reason that I had become a junkie in the first place. Sunday was spent attached to a drip on a ward. The doctor came around once to ask if I’d been up and about. I politely said that I’d been around the ward a few times. The voices inside me were screaming that I was attached by 4 feet of pipe to a pump which had 3 feet of electrical cable, every time I unplugged it to go to the toilet the battery back up flashed and it stopped pumping. I didn’t fancy prolonging the experience by going on a ten minute walk!

At 11pm Sunday the bag ran out, watching the timer tick down was like a countdown for new year, they had said that after some blood test results returned I could go home. But I’d started running hot again so suddenly it was decided that an investigation was required, all they’d looked at up to this point was my stupidity (for which there was no cure!) and accidental overdose. A chest X-ray revealed that I had pneumonia on my right lung. With this in mind they said that, with the now addition of antibiotics required to go into my body, I’d need another 16 hour bag of the antidote to be input by drip again! Now Jo wasn’t best pleased, neither was I but I played good cop as she spelled it out to the doc that all this should’ve been checked out sooner, we came in telling them there was an issue in my chest etc etc. Funnily enough as the same doctor was taking blood five minutes later it was the most painful experience of the whole hospital visit – odd that!

Night number two got started and it must’ve been a full moon in the nuthouse, old ladies screaming in the night, nurses arguing with them to get back into bed etc etc, not much sleep was had by anyone. Bank holiday Monday was spent attached to the drip again. I’ve now discovered that there’s no better way to be taught a lesson than have to sit on one of those things for 37 hours and miss the holidays! 7pm on Monday they finally let me go under strict instructions to rest. This was no chesty cough, it would take a week to clear the infection and several weeks for the lung to heal. So the Oulton park meeting is off on Saturday then? Yes, came the reply. I also asked how I keep my temp down if the fever comes back, as I’m pretty sure paracetamol is off the menu for a while! The doctor said to take ibuprofen and take my clothes off. What even if I’m in Asda??? So I’ve spent the next two days resting at home and am gradually feeling better. To be honest the pneumonia thing isn’t causing me any breathing difficulties after all I’d cycled 35 miles the day before the symptoms came out just thinking that I had a head cold.

As mentioned earlier we had a family trip out to watch Belle Vue speedway, Ted always watches the speedway GP on Eurosport. We had looked at taking him before but the meetings are generally all late evening. Fortunately the away team was Wolverhampton whose captain is world champion Tai Woffinden. Ted always shouts for “Woffi” on TV so it’d give him a point to be interested in. Just before the meeting started the pit gate is opened for the fans to meet the riders. We nearly missed the opportunity but the guy on the gate took pity on us and let us through. Ted got to meet Tai Woffinden, who was a true gent and really took his time to meet the fans and promote a good atmosphere. A proper champion! He even pointed to Ted to look at the camera as we took a picture of them both. Belle Vue won the meeting, Ted watched with intent especially when his “friend” Woffi was racing. Since then Ted said that he wants to be a world champion. Jo convinced him that he needed lots of sleep to achieve this goal. So he now goes to sleep with no problems at all, to be like Woffi!

photo (1)

Finally, the sexual innuendo moment of the month goes to Walt Disney (shame on you Disney!) Whilst watching ‘Frozen’, for one of the many times that Ted sat through it in a matter of days, at the point where the Princess stomps into a hay barn and demands that Christoph (the ice salesman) ‘takes her up the north mountain!’ Maybe it’s just the way my mind works but I can’t get through that bit of the film without an adolescent snigger!!

I’m looking forward to getting back on my feet this week and starting to get some jobs done on the race bikes. I’ve also got another Oset trial to run on the Sunday of the first May bank holiday. I’ll keep you posted as always.

Mackers #30

Do it with your eyes closed!

Posted: April 11, 2014 by judefreckelton in Latest news

With my busy schedule preparing race bikes over the last few weeks I’d not had much spare time to take Ted riding on his Oset. The third Oset trial, which I organise alongside the Frodsham trials club, was due to take place on Sunday April 6th. After spending a few hours marking out sections with my brother and nephew at the venue on the previous Saturday afternoon, I got home and figured I’d give Ted a ride on his bike to shake off the rust on the field next to the housing estate, AKA the ghetto! As always we marked out some ‘sections’ with cones. Ted likes to show me which route he would like to take. He walks the route and I follow dropping cones along the way for him to follow when he’s back on his bike. We got to one particular easy bit which he wanted to include I, which I now realise mistakenly, said “You could do that bit with your eyes closed!”. He finished walking the section got on his bike and headed around the course. On arriving at the part of the section in question he……….shut his eyes!! Remember Dads –  always watch what you say as it may be taken a little too literally!

Not normally a show that I watch I caught a bit of “The Voice” with friends a few weeks ago. The question was asked “Which mentor would you pick if all of them were to turn around?” Several answers were coaxed from the group but no one seemed willing to commit to a conclusion. The immense talent of Sir Tom Jones, pop queen Kylie, the indie rock sound of the Kaiser Chiefs or the slightly abstract style of will.i.am?

The trial got underway on Sunday morning; dry but cloudy. Watching the kids pulling wheelies and stoppies before the start my brother, Steve, turned to me and said “I think we’ve made it a bit too easy bro!” In the previous events there had only been a few kids riding the harder route. Suddenly I’d got 13 out of 18 riding it and some really talented little riders. With 18 riders this time the series seems to be growing nicely, all told we’ve seen 25 different riders through the three events that we’ve run since new year.

Jo signed the kids on this time, as opposed to the club doing it, to save time and things generally ran smoothly. The venue this time was a little more cramped and with more riders showing up than expected we are already starting to outgrow what space is available. The day went really well and I was really impressed by many of the kids’ riding abilities. Ted rode well, as most 4 year olds are he is easily distracted but enjoys riding. At one point when being called into the section he was looking everywhere but at the observer to then announce that he had seen a worm whilst he was riding through the section begins cards! I’d been running around in front of him through most of the sections as he finds it easier to follow me than to follow the route markers. At the final section of the day he told me, in no uncertain terms, that he would do this one by himself and that I was to stand aside! He promptly rode his four laps through without fault then, when being congratulated by one of the other parents, was completely blasé about his achievement. I guess he gets this side of his personality from me as I come across pretty much flatlined about everything too!

Aside from the trials the race bike is back in many pieces once more! It seems to like being like that anyway! RLR Motorsport are checking the engine over and plans are being hatched on an hourly basis about how to improve the rear traction issue which reared its head at Anglesey. I’ve always run standard exhaust headers but on advice from Ricky Leddy, RLR Motorsport Yoda, a performance system is being sourced. Potential mods/replacement of the swinging arm are also on the cards although last time I checked neither James (Infront Motorcycles) or I were millionaires! The next outing is April 26th at Oulton Park, depending on where modifications are up to I may ride the bike which we use for instructing, to get the required signature for my mountain course licence.

I reckon that’s all the news once more. Oh and as a teenager when the “Spinning Around” video was released (look it up on YouTube kids) it had to be, the gold hot pant wearing, Kylie Minogue…….. in a heartbeat.

Cheers,

Mackers #30