Guest post from Dee Hardwick
Cheeky Bid... That’s usually the start of the conversation when I'm dragging my other-half to pick up some random bike/frame/engine from some random bloke in a random part of the country. It's currrently vintage BSA bits.
I love bikes, always have done since I was kid growing up on a farm in Lincolnshire. I used to leave AutoTrader (remember it? 45p from corner shop) open with rings around field bikes that my parents chose to ignore. They hated bikes and didn’t know I had passed my test, bought a Honda CB200 and was using the fax machine (google it kids) to insure it when I got rumbled. They weren’t happy. Many years and various ex’s passed by and then I met Paula who said, 'It's your money do what you wan…' She didn’t even get to finish her sentence before I had found a bike and bought it on eBay.
We then went to Camp VC and met the legend that is Leah Tokelove. Hmm, flat track looks fun. What’s the worst that can happen to a middle-aged, slightly overweight rugby player? So I signed up for Leah's Days on the Dirt school. That was it, I was hooked. I bought my first race bike, a Honda CRF250 (above), and signed up for a race at Scunthorpe. I didn’t die and I loved it, but 20 years of rugby has given me the ability to down a pint quicker than anyone else I know, and knackered knees. The CRF250 had to go.
So I picked up a 1979 Suzuki TS185 (above) that I raced in the Vintage class. That tatty little two-stroke came second in the series and despite every old boy offering daft money for her, she stays, but she isn’t quick enough for the DTRA. The search was on and eBay came up trumps again. A Suzuki XF650 Freewind. Heard of it? Nope neither had I, but it was cheap and looked the part. Someone had ridden it at Dirt Quake and it looked like a beast.
By now Covid had hit, and track action had stopped apart from the odd practice session now and again. During Covid I was furloughed and seemed to have drifted towards buying bits of British bikes (and chainsaws, but that’s a different story) I now have a BSA Bantam racer rolling chassis and a BSA C15 frame which I'm hoping to turn into a flat tracker. I have no idea what am doing but every day is a learning day.
By now I had decided to put my big girl pants on and signed up for the Rookie Class in the DTRA, so off the bike went to Wrightway Motorcycles for some regulation changes. It needed a 19in rear wheel, so a KTM wheel and disc was fitted with a bit of change to the swingarm. A quick-action throttle and a set of Mitas tyre fitted too. Munch did a cracking job and it looks amazing.
The first run out was with Gary Birtwistle's Dirt Craft school where my Suzuki was the only Thunderbike in a sea of CRFs. What we didn’t have in speed we made up in style. That thump thump exhaust just goes through you. It’s a big jump to the DTRA, but I'm determined to make one final with the big Suzuki. So if you see middle-aged woman on a big yellow bike wearing a big smile at the back of a race come and say hi and chat bikes with me. If you're thinking of taking up flat track just do it, I have found some amazing mates, and you won't regret it.
UPDATE: I did my first round of DTRA and despite my bike not working and having to learn lots of new rules, ways of working, and being loaned a bike (thanks Wag Scott) I managed to finish all three rounds wasn’t last every time and did a sub 22 sec lap. It was a big jump but one I am glad to have made bring on the next round. Dee
Photo credits to Braking Point Images, James Smith