Race Report, Uncategorized

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley

So Round Two at Snetterton 300 didn’t go quite according to plan. The irony being that for once, there actually was a plan.

Unfortunately a prerequisite to most every part of aforementioned plan was that I would be riding my motorcycle. This was the very linchpin of the scheme that went spectacularly awry at the earliest opportunity. To put that into context, there are twelve corners to ride round on each of the 100+ laps planned for the weekend. I rode round two. Once each.

As a motorcycle racer, I have the benefit of more predictability in my life than your average Joe – I get to add ‘crashing’ to ‘death and taxes’ in my list of life’s certainties. And so it was my turn for the dreaded highside, on turn two, lap one of practice day.

For the uninitiated, a ‘highside’ is when your motorcycle acts something like a bucking bronco due to lack of adhesion at the rear wheel, ejecting you upwards at no less than 45 degrees from the horizontal, to follow a fairly predictable parabolic path and land you typically on your head, shoulder or combination thereof. It results in head, neck, shoulder, chest and pride injuries and as you may already have gathered, is not something to make a habit of should you be planning to pay many more taxes (but comes highly recommended should you be in a rush to experience death).

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Shoulder landing zone

This was my first. And it was everything I could have hoped it would be. Broken collar bone, pulled neck muscles, head impact, bruised/cracked ribs – all present and accounted for. Circuit medics scraped me from the track, checked me out and prescribed a fairly urgent trip to Norwich General. Heidi drove the mighty Sprinter into town and Norwich did a wonderful job of looking after me, finally recommending I lie in one of their beds until they could open me up and plate my bone back together. This didn’t appeal for a number of reasons, so I chose to visit Royal Berkshire on the Monday instead. This meant I could enjoy watching the racing on Saturday, drink away the pain Saturday night, drive home Sunday and for us both to be capable of work ASAP.

Royal Berkshire were nothing less than a shambles in the fracture clinic, leaving me wishing I had availed of Norwich’s kind offer of respite in Norfolk. Regardless, I opted for their offer of surgery the following morning and so by Tuesday afternoon I was the proud owner of a freshly pinned and plated collar bone. By Wednesday it was agony, by Friday it was uncomfortable, by Sunday I had binned the pain killers and after a visit to Brian Simpson’s Physio Clinic on Monday the sling was off and I had reasonable use of my arm again. Prognosis is I will be fit to ride by 11th of May, which is a pleasant co-incidence as I have Brands Hatch booked that day immediately prior to a weekend at Donington. Not bad progress considering the bone was in four pieces one week prior to me typing this with both hands, eh?

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Head landing zone

So what led us to this sorry state of affairs? Well, I’d say it was a lack of adaption of and flexibility in a pre-defined plan. You see I put a lot into preparing for Snetterton and I hoped to achieve a fair bit. This relied on track time on the practice day. As it turned out the track was not only sopping wet, but also bitterly cold on practice day. My instincts told me not to ride in the morning but my plan dictated otherwise and despite seeing bikes fall in the first session for seemingly no good reason, I rode out gingerly for the second session. The lightest application of throttle coming out of turn two resulted in an instant highside – from what I can gather from my GPS, I was travelling at a whopping 38 mph. I have been riding tracks in the UK for 14 years now and have never experienced so little traction on a track. By the end of that day 44 other bikes were lifted off the track – that’s one hell of an attrition rate and a lot of injuries early in the season.

But as already discussed, recovery appears to be going well and the bike was virtually undamaged. There is no mystery as to what caused the crash (physics) and so it’s nothing more than a ‘dusting off’ exercise. I get to come away with a decent scar and a metal plate, just a couple more trophies from my club racing days…

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This is how serious it was.

Big thanks to the following for their help when it was most needed:

  • Snetterton medical staff – they couldn’t have treated me better, genuinely top class service
  • Norwich General Hospital – well organised, highest levels of care, great people
  • Royal Berkshire – a tad shambolic to start but we got there and my day in theatre was as good as I could have hoped
  • Brian Simpson’s crew – these people treat us self-harmers day in, day out. They tell it like it is and apply magic woo-woo waves which miraculously heal broken bones and shattered dreams.
  • Nurse Heidi – this was a bit of an endurance test for my wife-to-be and she did incredibly well. Couldn’t wish for a better team mate, these are the types of trials and tribulations which confirm you’ve picked a good’un.
  • No Limits riders and staff – to all those who helped either by showing concern, by helping Heidi to help me, by having a laugh or just offering to help out – what a great paddock

To the other fallen riders from Rounds One and Two, get well soon and hopefully see y’all on track at Donington!

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A Held racing onesie aids healing. As does Stella. 

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