I admit it, I never used like motorcycles. I have always been a car guy through and through. I just couldn’t see the point of piloting something that falls over if you don’t use the kickstand, the fact that you get wet and cold when it rains, not to mention that if you crash you get hurt, badly. Also, the simple task of popping to the shops requires you to squeeze yourself into an armored gimp suit meaning that small children will mistake you for a power ranger.
Now, a further admission, I cannot ride a motorcycle, all that changing gear by foot and trying not to fall off is just not for me. Despite not being able to ride a bike, I have a deep and profound admiration for anyone that does, as you have to have certain steel about you riding around on what is essentially a two-wheeled propulsion device with a numberplate.
Traveling To The Best Tracks In The UK, And Wales
In the late 2,000’s a good friend of mine decided to take up motorcycle endurance racing. I decided to follow this group around to racetracks dotted around this great nation and Wales. In order to photograph them as they rode motorcycles they had built themselves in an endurance racing series, the team was called MC Racing, the riders were not exactly built for endurance of any kind, one survived off a diet consisting solely of chicken and chips, another let his kids decorate his bike for some reason and the last rider drank a lot of Guinness and generally slept a lot as preparation for a race.
For reasons that still escape me, I used to hang around the pit-lane attempting to help out, this usually mean getting in the way and changing the transponder from bike to bike during a rider change. This was my first exposure to a live racing pit lane and it was tremendous. If you have never stood in the pits at Cadwell Park during a race then you have to, as it is something else to behold. From the moment I attended my first race I was hooked, thankfully the riders never got annoyed at my ineptitude and to this day we somehow remain friends.
The Season Where It All Came Together
After two seasons of abject failure resulting in the team finishing nowhere near the top ten, the 2010 season was looked upon with dismay. But, for that one final year, everything came together.
We had former road bikes re-built for the track in sheds, we had no sponsors aside from the Thomas The Tank Engine and Tinkerbell stickers one of the riders had let his kids decorate his bike with, we had no fitness program or anything remotely pertaining to a plan to keep the riders in shape. In fact, the riders seemed to think that Triathlon is just a store for sporting goods rather than an event.
Our nearest rivals had Ducati’s and lots of actual sponsors, they were also younger, fitter and more square-jawed than any of our riders. During the first round at Snetterton, MC Racing ran home in 2nd place for a podium finish, the first ever for the team.
From here the team made its way around the UK, the first of two visits to Cadwell Park resulted in a seventh place finish. A very wet Silverstone came next giving the team a deserved fourth place finish in the continual rain.
After a mid-summer break, the racing resumed at Oulton Park, a real wobble this time with the team bringing it home it ninth place. Onto Wales we trekked to complete the double of Anglesey Circuit and Pembury, these two penultimate rounds saw the team finish in seventh for both races, not the greatest result but still getting points onto the board.
Then, the return to Cadwell Park. The requisite was simply, finish ahead of nearest rivals LA Stone and the team would finish third in the championship, finish behind them and it was all over. The race itself was a cagey affair, thankfully there were no riders crashing out this time around.
In the end, though, MC Racing won out by finishing exactly as they had started the season, on the podium. A third in class finish ahead of their nearest rivals LA Stone racing, who suffered an engine failure in the closing minutes of the race. Considering the complete lack of money and that previous seasons had ended in abject failure this was without a doubt a massive win.
Seven long years later I still miss the buzz of bike racing, I still cannot ride a motorcycle and presume that, if I was to learn, I would likely end up very dead. But, I get why people love bikes, the camaraderie, the thrill and the speed and all that danger are almost unrivaled by any other machine on wheels.