As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m already entered for the Tour of Portugal and determined to improve on last year’s 13th overall. After all I managed to take 5th place on the prologue despite starting 20 seconds late and being only 10 seconds down on third place. Although I genuinely decided not to ride the special stage on the prologue flat out, I made the school boy error of assuming the timing was triggered by your actual start i.e, by a light beam, not so: it was manual timing so started on your exact start time on the clock! So had I started on the correct time twenty seconds earlier and ridden at exactly the same pace, I’d have finished third!!!
It was day two that was my ultimate downfall, when a hard, loose climb proved impossible to get up without assistance from the marshals, this delayed me for so long that I then got caught up on the ridgeline, in low cloud, hail and snow. Visibility was so bad I was reduced to riding at about 20mph so lost a lot of time and eventually finished 18th on the stage.
Day three was better, with 8th overall for the day but marred slightly when I missed the turning to the start of the special stage and continued several kilometres down the road to where it eventually turned into to a gravel track, I continued for a while but after arriving at a junction that was clearly not on the road book I decided I was definitely off track, so turned around and retraced my steps. Then when I did find the correct turning and started the special stage, it was not long before we entered the same gravel track from a side track (I had wondered about all the tyre tracks at this point so should have realised I was off route then) and of course as it was a public road, was subject to a speed limit on the road book! Of course I had already ridden it at rather faster speed than was allowed…. and then did it again on the way back!!! As our speed was recorded by GPS tracker, there was no escape and I had inadvertently picked up two speeding penalties!
So definitely room for improvement!
Racing will go on hold for a while as we have the wedding in May but I hope to be back in action at the BAJA GB in June. The only UK event where we share with cars and buggies (although not on the course at the same time) as it’s also part of the Welsh Hill Rally, I’ve not managed to fit this one in before but I’m keen this year will feature road book navigation. The cars traditionally use a road book on these events and this year so will the bikes.
Then in September I hope to do the two day Tour of Mann, on the Isle of Man. Another event that I have missed in the past but I’m keen to give a try as I’ve never been to the Isle of Mann before. Not a navigation rally but a “follow the arrows” event, it has a reputation for being a bit tough!