Le Touquet is a legendary beach enduro in a chic seaside resort in Northern France. Recently they have introduced a race for modern classic motocrossers and enduro bikes. Sideburn ambassador, Hubert Bastie entered (#99 above).
Damn, Snow Quake was awesome [read Hubert's Snow Quake report]. Soon after it was already time to prepare for the Biggest Vintage MX Race in the World - LE TOUQUET VINTAGE! 296 riders on the same starting line. Two heats of 30 minutes plus one lap.
Last year, after I broke my YZ gearbox at Snow Quake, I decided to use and destroy my 1979 Husqvarna at Le Touquet 2016. I blew the engine after 23 minutes. Now the Yamaha gearbox is repaired, so I could ride my 1987 YZ250 Sand Racer for the 2017 edition. But I still have problems with my Yamaha's rear shock. The rear tyre hits the mudguard on every landing and destroys the rear tyre.
I found a longer WP rear shock on Leboncoin [a French eBay-style site]. After another test I found that I have a 125 linkage and a 250 shock. Fortunately I still have my original parts and fit the correct linkage. Most of the rest of preparing a bike for Le Touquet is about Duck taping all the bike to prevent sand getting in. For the first time me and my bike are ready 48 hours before a race. I'm really proud of this and I make the last adjustments at my friend's shop, Clutch Custom.
Friday morning. I leave Paris a 5am with my bro Baptiste (he rode a GPZ500 at the last Dirt Quake). Tech inspection takes a very, very long time, but what a pleasure to see 300 vintage, but like new MX bikes. The bike passes inspection and I put the YZ in the 'Parc Fermé' and walk to the pits, a mile away to wait. Two hours later it's time to go.
After a quick riders briefing it's time to cross the city to the start, which is on the beach. Two miles of street racing battle to be at front. I'm really good at this game, I do it every day in Paris.
I'm always scared of my goggles fogging before the race, so I'm battling on street without them. Then, F*** we're already on the beach and I just cover my face to avoid getting sand in my eyes. It's fine I'm on the first row, in a good position, but my goggles are on my arm and full of sand... Ha, Ha, an amateur mistake. I have eight minutes to spit all the sand that I have in my mouth and to clean my 100% OSFA Google.
One minute. 100,000 spectator along the 10 miles of track.
GOOOOOO! I make a good start but all the 500cc bikes are way faster. First turn after a full straight mile on the beach, there's a big crash. I'm in the middle and come off. Let’s go for 30 minutes of very tough racing.
I complete five laps and it's already over. I'm 95th out of 287, but I miss the exit of the track that leads back to the pits and I'm doing another lap, alone on the track. When I reach the the pit everybody is already putting gas and water on the bike. I do it quickly and it's already time to go back to the track.
The same thing happens in the second heat. I crash on the first corner, but doing that extra last lap alone on the track helped me to find a good line and I cross the finish line in 72nd after 6 laps (I was about 200th on the first lap).
This race is very different when it comes to tactics, because Le Touquet is not about battling and passing others to be at the front. It's just about trying to survive and slalom between all the guys on the ground. I crash maybe 10 or 12 times during the day. And the biggest one is at the end, after the checkered flag. A final BRAAAAAP to enjoy a last, big, wide open outside U-turn but I went hard over the bars. AH-AH it was already over.
Even so, I’m damn happy. The bike rode great and my body is totally destroyed. Let's go back to Paris. It's Friday night, time for a grosse biere!
Next year, I will be back and everybody with a pre-90 MX should come and enjoy this.