Excursion: Heaven VMX, The Lakes, June 2011
A perfectly groomed track and blue skys greeted the Motorsport Retro team when we arrived up at the The Lakes Motocross track on the weekend of June 25-26.
I was joined by the flying Johnny Sport who had sweet talked Muzz into lending him the roaring ’82 Honda XR500 for his first crack at racing in the four stroke class.
As for me I was looking forward to finally racing the rebuilt ’84 Kawasaki KX 250 after the problems at the last round. I was also keen to have a better result on the ’77 Husky having run out of fuel on the final corner at the Crawford River Classic.
The Husky had been given plenty of love since the last round. The forks were serviced, the rear brake system had new spacers and bushes spun up to reduce the slop, and a new set of Renthal bars were picked up from Northside Motorcycles. The biggest change though was the arrival of a spanking new set of HyperX rear shocks from Gazi suspension. The new Gazi units featured both bump and rebound adjustability and looked superb on the bike. I was keen to see how they performed on track.
It wasn’t long before I was lined up on the grid for the pre’78 open race on the Husky. The gate dropped and I was swamped from all directions. The main straight and run into turn two is pretty long at the Lakes, so I was able to hold the big bore husky wide open and emerge in about 4th place.
Up front Scrivo on the Montesa was absolutely flying. That guy sure can ride. Meanwhile I made up a place, but that was a far forward as I would go. I have to admit to really struggling to ride the old bike quickly. Even with the brilliant new Gazi’s on the rear end, the Husky just works me over. During the last lap I had serious arm pump and I was just hanging on for dear life waiting for the chequered flag.
When the race ended we had to line up for the pre ’78 all in race. I had desert mouth and really needed a breather, but the gate drops again and I’m roosted by blokes on 125s, 250s and open class weapons. This time I’m mid pack and as the race unfolds I fade like never before. Each lap someone passes me and finish an embarrassing last. I don’t think I have ever finished last in a race of any description where I haven’t crashed or had mechanical problem. I need to get fit.
Next up was Sport on the XR. He only managed a single lap in practice and having never been here before and riding a bike he had never sat on meant he certainly wasn’t planning victory speeches on the grid.
When the gate dropped Sport crashed into it and had to pull the bike back to get going. He then cracked open the throttle on the big red Honda and proceeded to do a massive wheelie along the start straight. I love watching Sport race.
During the race it was obvious he was having some bike trouble and when he pulled in after the race he reported that the bike was jumping out of gear and having major selection issues. Given the gearbox is the only remaining item of the bike that hasn’t had a full makeover this made sense, but still sucked.
Finally I was lining up on the KX and it was sounding great. I got a pretty good start and settled into a nice rhythm behind Justin on the CR250. Up front Jody Perry had pulled away on the KTM. The Kawasaki was running better than it ever has, the throttle response was crisp and it was singing. I chased Justin on his Honda around the glorious lakes circuit, through the stutters, across the table tops, around the technical flat corner sections, through the beautifully banked berms, up and down the two big hills and over the big step up jump, but I was never close enough to make a move on him and I finished third.
Determined to get a better result I was all fired up for the “all in” pre ’85 race. the story goes something like this. I got an OK start, got peppered with roost and rocks, climb to about 5th, got peppered with roost and rocks up the big hill, made a passing move up the inside down the hill, but I was way too polite and rather than block pass my competitor I try and slide around the inside and leave him room, I stall, I am passed by a million bikes, I get going and recover to somewhere in the top 10.
During the race the KX has started pinging and together with Sports gearbox woes, we decide to call it a day, rather than risk more bike or human damage.
So it’s back to the shed for more fine tuning as we look forward to our next VMX adventure.
We couldn’t go racing without the help from our current partners. Many thanks to the guys at Motul, RK Chain, Polisport, Gazi Suspension, Northside Motorcycles, Classic Fasteners and The Trials Experience. And special thanks to Scott Copeland for his work on the KX.
Images: Johnny Sport, Rhod McKensey, Rich Fowler