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How I Accidentally Entered a Race (& survived)


By Andy Garside (Sideburn art editor). Action photos courtesy of Braking Point Images


While I was at the DTRA season final after-race-party last month, James O’Hara asked if I’d be

interested in joining him for the DTRA six-hour mini-bike endurance team event. Hmmm,

enduro, you say? My mind raced through the idea of technical forest sections and a chance

to use my skills from a history of trials riding and mountain-biking… 'Count me in,' I

declared.


Fast forward a couple of weeks and James gets in touch to double check I’m still in. Turns

out I’d misheard him, it’s an endurance TT dirt track event, not an Enduro. Sod it, I’m still in.

James kindly volunteers his Suzuki DR125 for our four-man team to race. I cobble together my

race kit from my old downhill body armour, an MX jersey, some old jeans, treat myself to a

new pair of Gaerne trials boots and mentally start preparing by rewatching On Any Sunday. I push

all the thoughts of the small matter of me having never actually ‘raced’ a motorbike before.

I’d competed, yes, but in trials, a far cry from what was to come.


The big day arrives, and the pits busy up quickly with plenty of familiar faces.


Leading up to the weekend we were treated to rain of biblical proportions, but the forecast

for the day keeps its promise of dry and bright. This doesn’t help the conditions of the track

much though -a thick gloop of slick black mud from start to finish.

Bar-to-bar racing. I was probably breathing through my ears at this point


A six-hour race with a four-man team, we split our track time to three 30 minutes stints

each which works out pretty well. James draws the short straw to start us off as we all think

he has the most race experience. 20 teams meant 20 bikes on track at any one

time, all on 125 mini-bikes. As we sit trackside watching the initial laps I suddenly think I

may have made a terrible mistake… riders are struggling to stay on, let alone choose a line.

The sun comes up and along with a steady breeze the track slowly starts to dry out.

I’m next up. James pulls in, shouts a few ‘tips’ on handling the conditions and I’m off into

the fray. It’s slippy, very slippy, and it feels so much quicker than it looked from the

sidelines. Two laps in I realised I had not limbered enough up or drunk anywhere near

enough water beforehand. My body aches and my mouth feels full of dust. Relax Garside,

relax! I think it’s lap four before I start actually breathing and getting the hang of things. Just

as I’m hitting my limit I see the sign from my team to pull into the pits. Turned out I got

some ‘quick’ laps in and managed to leap us forward a couple of positions. Big grins all

round. I need some water a sandwich and a lie down.


About to be lapped by Max Inman for the umpteenth time (Max in his SB Making Tracks race shirt)


The track really dries out quick over the next hour, so by the time my next stint comes

around lap times are dropping and the racing is getting fiercer. I hit the circuit with more

confidence this time, braking later into corners and accelerating quicker out of them. I’m

still getting lapped by some riders, but I also do my fair share of overtaking. This is a lot of

fun! For our last set of shifts we give James’ DR a rest and swap bikes for a Honda CRF125.

It’s smaller and feels a little quicker, which half our team preferred. I’m not sure if it was the

exhaustion kicking in, but I was happier on the taller DR.


The six hours come to a close and I could keep going! Who am I kidding? The adrenaline

is just hiding the fact that I am going to be hobbling like a geriatric cowboy for the next

three days.


We didn’t finish last.

I went a lot quicker than I thought I would.

I didn’t crash at all.

I kept some consistent half decent lap times.

And I smiled all day.

Will I do it again? You bet I will. In fact, I’m considering getting some proper dirt track racing

in next season. Riding bikes is the brilliant. Riding bikes in dirt is better. Riding bikes in dirt

with mates is the best.

Post-race photo op of The Dream Team. Me (Andy), James, Sam and Jordan, with our team

mascot Bonnie. Smiles all round. (Andy in his soon-to-sell-out D-Rip sweatshirt). Jordan in his we-only-have-black-XXL-left Flat Track sweatshirt)


A huge thanks to DTRA for excellent organising, and to Greenfield for a brilliant track and

facilities.


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GET INVOLVED

If you're in the UK and looking to get involved with racing, but not sure where to start, the DTRA's Minibike class is a good place. The bikes are all 100 or 125s, and must have showroom standard engines and exhausts. Contact us or the DTRA for more information, or with any questions. Minibikes compete at every round and there are regular practices (though most practices are at Greenfield). The can also compete at the DIrt Track Events races and the Scunthorpe series, and also the motocross series, Minibike Champs. Lots of racing for one little bike.


#Greenfield #Minibikes #DTRA