Something about Cadwell...
Been a while since I re-visited Cadwell. Its always had a special place with me as it was only the second trackday I ever did, the first being my then local track of Croft. Lack of days off meant for the weekend event I had to work my Friday nightshift, take the Saturday nightshift off and travel down, 7am on the Saturday morning.
I did plan to do this in the car so we could go for a meal Saturday night but that didnt work out as the tin box was stranded in a garage (too long a story). So the unstoppable ST4s was pressed into service again and pointed 'South' for a change.
Since I had the bike at work, I thought I'd do my best to refill the tyres with Nitrogen as we have a piped supply at work and its easy to do and was carried out under glorious early morning sunshine. Nice Start.
Tooled up and able to make excellent progress through the light traffic, I stayed happily with the A19 around York, until the 'fun' started on the A1079 near Pocklington where I was stunned by the numerous 'safety' cameras all within such short distances of each other? Then a white van man, kindly flashed his lights and waved arms wildly in a camera flash gesture prompting me to slow down radically, just in time to see a Humberside safety van parked with camera ready at stupid o'clock in the morning, what good use of tax payers money!
I LOVE crossing the River Humber via the A15 bridge, I must stop and walk out onto it one day as its an awesome structure and view - sadly, for me there has almost always been rain waiting at the other side and this crossing was no exception. I didnt want to stop on the busy, multi-lane section of the A15, so gunned the big Duke to the junction with the M180, where I knew there was a service station nearby to hide in....
Shows how long its been since I was last there, the Little Chef was not only closed but blocked off with giant rocks. Oddly, my last memory of being at this spot was bypassing the petrol station and going for food & drink in the Little Chef, only to have a lightening bolt, knock out all the petrol computers at the filling station and my having to wait for an engineer to reset everything as I was desperately running on fumes when I arrived.
(Note to self: Refuel, before doing anything else!)
On the move again, the road changes to the A18, a lovely bit of Lincolnshire tarmac that twists and turns all the way to the A16 and Louth. Good job I enjoyed that because the rain started again and not mainly on the 'plain' either. All the way to the circuit, this thankfully, was, only a few miles further.
The fields were FULL of tents, caravans and motorhomes of all shapes and sizes, I'd never seen so many for a club event and probably outdid the last BSB races I watched there. I found my buddy John (racer) and his mentor, for the weekend Alan, (injured racer) who miraculously had a hot plate of breakfast ready for me a few minutes after I got off the bike. John had returned to race classic bikes after racing many years ago, so has served an 'apprenticeship' and learnt well. After acquiring a 'burger van' trailer, a professional gazebo followed and finally after working his way up through various vehicles, a superb motorhome capable of pulling the whole plot at any speed required.
Until a trailer tyre explodes that is!
Too old a tyre took the blame but died in a memorable way - ripping the metal double length mudguard off the trailer and bending it over on itself. The spare wheel was soon mounted and a replacement tyre sourced but repairs to the trailer body will be needed.
The races were hosted by the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club and simply called the 'Classic Cadwell Weekend'. Qualifying was already running and before long it was John's turn to brave the damp conditions and look for a dry line:
John’s chosen race tool is the popular Honda K4 350 twin and after a few years of refinement, his is now a reliable and enjoyable machine to ride. Qualifying went well and there was no drama from the changeable conditions. Nine categories of machine classes each had two races on the Saturday and one parade session made for a busy day for the staff and riders. The track was completely dry by the time the first races started and the heat rose so quickly that I was glad an ice-cream van was present in the race paddock! The first race for the 350 twins was delayed as the sidecar race immediately before had deposited some oil on the track that needed sorting, the race itself went well, with John improving on his qualifying position and finishing close enough to the winner to be able to get a signature towards a national licence.
With a break for lunch we were able get sorted, have a bite to eat and watch some of the other races for a change on the restart. The clubhouse seemed a good place to begin from as we collected some warm drinks on the way past to Hall bends, to comment on the various styles being employed, all of which looked deceptively fast. A few more racing incidents, thankfully none with injuries, slowed events down and then came the news that the last race of the day, yes, the 350 twins again, had to be rescheduled to run as the first race, Sunday, A bit of a shame as the bike was fully prepped to go but, these things happen.
The great thing with having a gazebo present is that the bike can be lifted on stands and covered over and basically left until the next day, instead of loading and unloading into a van or whatever. The ‘burger van’ became John’s changing area while ‘Chef Al’ came up trumps again by making a crackin’ tea, as we were all hungry as it was well past 6pm by that point, clean plates all around then. Lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me so obviously it was time to crack open a few ‘tinnies’ while washing up and a bit of tidying took place ready for us all to crash to sleep, later on…
A quick change of clothes and we were soon down to the already buzzing clubhouse again, where a live band was playing and drinks were merrily flowing. The Guinness tasted fine as the time flew past talking to locals and other racers and before long, ‘last orders’ were called and John decided my Jack Daniels chaser sounded good and ordered another round.
It was around this time that the subject of Cadwell being such a special and unique place was aired while we were walking past the giant back and white startline mural near the clubhouse. I supposed I was in a minority by thinking of Cadwell as almost a hallowed location, not just because of all the happy times I’ve had both walking and riding on the track, club trackdays and watching both club and BSB racing but to me, there is definitely something, hard to define, perhaps somewhere between a location demanding respect and yet recognising a kindred spirit?
Even though I was dropping on my feet, the mood swept me along and we ended up at another racers motorhome and Dave’s lovely daughter offered some very nice vodka and coke, so who were we to resist. It would have been great to stay up quite a bit longer but we all realised there was extra race to cope with in the morning so fire in our bellies we stumbled off to bed.
I fully expected to be woken by either generators or bike engines being fired but tannoy testing awoke me from a great slumber, Chef Al had coffee underway, so the race bike was pulled out and checked over, while the maestro set to with breakfast. Race one soon came around in the dry and warm and set the tone for the rest of the day.
John was already happy with the bike apart from a slight nipping up of the gearbox after the first few laps. That was soon erased when we found out this times were easily fast enough for him to get another two licence signatures for the weekend. The remaining two races were very similar to the first and John rode consistent, smooth and safely but stated that a full engine rebuild is probably on the cards for winter.
Being anywhere near Hall Bends will always remind me of Paul, RIP, mate.
The day remained dry and even better only a single red flag incident slowed proceedings down and we were able to wander around the track and paddock, almost able to pretend we were at Misano as the weather was so pleasant. Time rolled on too quickly, as it does and it seemed too soon to be packing the bike and kit away but needs, must. I had a ride back home to enjoy but with one last sting in the tail. Deep into my petrol reserve and arriving back at the M180 service station, I was greeted with the sign ‘Sorry – NO unleaded’, it was true, only diesel was available but at least the big Ducati was frugal and able to divert to nearby Brigg for refuelling. No scenic route home this time, now, boring motorways and dual carriageways, that I have now had enough of for two lifetimes!
Oh yes, I did manage to find an appropriately named motorhome as well...