Pau Arnos – 13/14/15 May 2022 – Part 3
Courtesy of Matt being on other duties, I was able to purloin his nice soft ‘Goldilocks mattress’, snuggle up and have eight full hours of wonderful slumber. Deep joy. I was up, revitalised, with the larks at 5.55 am, ready willing and able to overcome what ‘the universe’ had in store for the day.
Totally oblivious to the fact we’d had a fair bit of rain during the night, but the road outside was already drying thanks to the high ground temperature absorbed during the previous week or so. I figured it would be ok for dry tyres by the time we were due on track and it was, although damp patches were all around the circuit, necessitating a little caution during the first part of the race.
By the time Rik had completed his first lap, some, 8 minutes 17 seconds into the race the track had dried sufficiently to cause no further problems. It must have been one of the slowest ever laps of Pau. This is what happened…
For the hour race, we require far too much equipment for one person to take in one trip. My plan was to see Rik out on his sighting lap and take all of that equipment back to base, except the rear stand. Then return with the tools and stuff required for the pit stop, to our allocated pit box number 33, right at the far end of pit lane, knowing full well I’d miss the first couple of laps.
“What could go wrong,” I thought?
Only the main clutch adjustment coming loose, resulting in no clutch on the run into the grid after the warm-up lap.
I was back at the truck at this point loading the trolly, 4 minutes walk away, oblivious of what was unfolding with Rik, so not overly rushing. I’d just started back to the pit lane when I heard the start and Rik’s name being mentioned, optimistically thinking he’d made a good start.
By the time I could see the track the riders were on their second lap and I saw them coming down the hill, opposite to where I was walking. Conspicuous by his absence, I realised Rikki had not, in fact, made a good start and something had happened. Oh shit!!!!
Twenty years ago I could have run pulling the trolley, now though my running days are well and truly behind me, a quick walk will have to suffice. By the time I’d made it to the furthest reaches of pit lane and our box, Lance’s dad Thierry and Rik, who had by now removed his helmet, had identified the problem and had sent someone off to find a spanner. Luckily I quickly produced one from the stash I had brought with me, 12 mm, and while I pulled the bottom of the fairing out of the way, Thierry did the re-tightening. Didn’t take long.
I looked at Rikki and said, “What are you waiting for? Get your lid on.”
“But I didn’t start?”
“Yes you did, you were on the grid when the lights went green and you’re bloody well gonna get a finish! We want another signature for The Manx” (only not quite so politically correct.)
It suddenly clicked with him that this was an endurance race. He quickly put helmet and gloves on and was leaving pit lane as the leaders were 4 and a half laps into the race. The next time I saw him was coming through on the completion of his first lap in 8.17 minutes.
The remainder of the race went really well with bike and rider not missing a beat. Rik was flowing and at his smooth best, enjoying some exciting dices with the other riders. In the final 15 minutes Rik was actually lapping as fast as the 5th place finisher which was very pleasing. Proving once again that he can run at the sharp end if things go unhindered.
Today though, a finish was well earned, giving us that all-important signature. Rik now has the required 6, as 4 can be carried over from last season. So, as soon as our entry is accepted, we can apply for The Mountain Course Licence.
All that remained now was to have breakfast, strike camp and drive home.
I studied the timesheet later that evening and calculated he would’ve finished about 12th overall and 1 lap down. Not too shabby. Just the usual work to do on Trudy before the next meeting at Navarra in Spain on the 17/18/19th of June.
On reflection, Pau was a very good weekend. I made a few mistakes which cost us, but that’s all part of the racing experience.