We began our first foray into 2017's Nifty Fifty event (it's an event, not a race!) in much the same fashion as we had began previous events. A BBQ, lots of friends from work, far too much alcohol and at least somebody puking the night before.
There's nothing like riding an under-powered bike on a formidable track to clear a hangover of a morning!
Being as we had gotten our bike earlier than any event previously, our record was finishing the bike at 6:30pm on the Friday afternoon with the race being Saturday morning at 11am, our team were feeling quietly confident. This showed in how much bravado and willy waving had was going on in between swigs of cider and munching on freshly cooked burger. In hindsight this may not have been the best course of action.
In the morning, with a few sore heads, the kettle was forced into overdrive to cope with the demand while the BBQ had sausages sizzling to try to appease the the queasy feeling that had come across much of camp.
After the initial feeling of night well spent thoughts turned to the "event", bikes were pushed to scrutineering, licence forms handed in and transponders received to zip tie to the bike. We were relatively isolated in having it quite easy, some of my colleagues teams only had their bikes running properly and well that morning and others only had their first ride of the bike that morning too! Talk about cutting it fine.
Soon it was time for the briefing and after a bit of talk about common sense, expected riding standards and the flags it was time to get the right people geared up, the bike fully fuelled and ready for the first lap just to check the transponders are reading and so on before lining up for the event start. 2 of our 6 work teams didn't even make the start, weirdly these were the same 2 that hadn't properly ran the bikes yet...
At a couple of minutes past 11:00, the two waves of bikes to separate the two classes were sent underway and thus 5 hours of eventing started. It was clear from the beginning that our bike was not the fastest machine although this is something we had known for a while, what wasn't quite expected however was the fact we would be getting beaten on the straights by some twist and go machines!
All was going relatively well until about the 1 hour mark, our final team member to have a ride encountered our first issue of the day. For some reason the bike was struggling to select gears.
In the pits with the bike lay on it's side to avoid dumping the engine oil everywhere, the clutch casing was removed, albeit with some choice swear words as it had gotten incredibly hot, and investigations began.
I think it took 6 or 7 goes of fiddling with various parts, fitting the casing back on and removing it again for more investigations until we found the clutch had a lot of end float. We quickly narrowed this down to the fact the clutch nut had come loose which was caused by the lock washer shearing a tab.
Thinking we had solved the issue we managed to bodge it back together, nip the lock nut up and got everything back together before trying to select gears. Still nothing.
Once again we delved back into the depths of the engine, with confidence waining of whether we would be able to fix the bike and the clock ever ticking, with other bikes still counting up laps we finally realised where the clutch had come loose, it had worn the splines internally that locate it on the crankshaft.
Tools required were, quiksteel, a brickhammer (see photo gallery), some green loctite, mx gloves to avoid burns, a big screwdriver and lots of pairs of hands. We managed to rebuild the damaged clutch with quick steel, bend the lockwasher back into shape to keep the distances the same, then green loctite the nut on once the quiksteel had set and use the brickhammer and screwdriver to drive the locknut around.
Finally after nearly one and a half hours of sweating, swearing, putting together and taking apart we were ready to go back out!
Only once we had actually rebuilt it we realised that we had messed around with the clutch adjustment trying to solve it earlier meaning lots of clutch slip. Poor Rich had 5 laps in a row where he would go out, have to do a lap with a slipping clutch then come back in to adjust, go back out and repeat.
We never completely solved the clutch slip issue although it did get better throughout the race. We finally felt like we were getting back on point, then Rich crashed, bending the bars and losing a little more time.
Then we were 3, our Team Captain Tom had to leave to catch a flight to his skiing holiday meaning the main knowledge of the C90 engine had departed! Fingers were crossed hoping for no more engine issues. We kept plodding on with me also taking a small tumble, directly in front of the pits where all my friends and colleagues were stood watching. It was largely unspectacular with the front end washing out (damn you Tom wanting to run higher pressures to avoid a pinch flat!) and dumping me on the ground at relatively low speed. The main issue came when I couldn't get the thing started again! Sam the powerhouse of our team came sprinting over and gave me enough of a shove to bump it and I was back underway.
And slowly, slowly we continued to rack up the laps. Then 30 minutes before the end we managed to snap the right hand foot peg. It managed to snap the frame completely where the footpeg mounts meaning we had no where to rest our foot. This doesn't sound like a major problem but for those that think it sounds easy, I implore you to try and ride on an MX track without one, we ended up having to rest a knee on the seat over jumps and try to roll them by pumping the suspension much like you would a BMX at a pump track and I ended up just hovering a leg the rest of the time. It doesn't half hurt your hip even after a lap or two!
When all was said and done we still managed to finish with Richard coming how to the chequered flag, we waited with baited breath to find out where we came in the race... it wasn't 3rd. Or 2nd. Or even 1st.
Looking at the timing sheet afterwards we managed 104 laps... which left us 2nd to last. The winning team managed 181 laps so considering we lost over one 1.5 hours all in and our fastest lap was a 1:39, I would say it wasn't the worst thing in the world.
So for the next round we are planning head mods, exhaust mods, inlet mods and cooling mods as well as a spare engine. This is because it takes approx 20 minutes to change an engine over! Much quicker than trying to fix the existing unit!
Watch this space.
Team 222, Sons of Rotron.