West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

Weston 2004 from the seat of the Chairman's pants!

Words and Photos By Ian Vessey

(He also rode in 03 and 05)

How it happened.

Wednesday evening. Took the Caravan down to the 'Country View Caravan Park' in Sand bay. The plan was to leave 'T' there so she could have a quiet day by the seaside, while I returned home and finished preparing my bike on Thursday.

Thursday morning  5am. The phone rings, the wind has blown up in the night and blown the awning down on the caravan! Back down to Sand Bay by 7am to sort out the Caravan, but via the new bridge as I discovered the old one was shut when I got to Chepstow. Back home by 10:30, and the KTM was soon fettled, with particular attention to the airbox, we don't want any sand in the engine! The last job was sticking on the numbers, and I'd even gone to the trouble of getting the correct 'green' backgrounds, but realised that black numbers were wrong. After I've stuck them on. Doh! A quick trip to Haynes Motorcycles sorted out the correct white numbers. By early evening I was back in Sand Bay and the awning was still up. Hurrah! Ian, Daphne and Neil arrived, and we dined on a stew provided by 'T' accompanied by several bottles of beer and wine - just to get into the spirit of things.

Friday morning and we left for scrutineering by 8:30 and there was already a queue. It took us three hours to get signed on and to get the bikes checked. It has to be said that the organisation here was abysmal. There were no signs or instructions of any description and no marshals on the queue. No-one was told to go and sign on first (which we knew from last year). And even then, there was just one queue for solos to sign on which we stood in for over an hour. Would it have been so difficult to lay out three or four queues by rider number? I don't think so. One very good thing however, was that all machines were scanned for datatags before going into the parc ferme. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of that in the future. The rest of the day was lazy, walking the dog on the beach, and later on, Glen and Suzi turn up, as do the crew from Dunstable.

Saturday came and the weather really had turned. Wind and rain, just the stuff for beach racing. No-one seemed to be able to make up their minds as to what to do, but in the end, half the Dunstable lot elect to go with 'T' who dumps them in a village called Priddy for a pub crawl while she visited her Auntie, and the rest went into Weston. As I was keen to get fit for Sunday, I donned all my waterproofs, and cycled the couple of miles around the toll road to Weston to watch an hour or so of the sidecars and quads. I really just wanted to see how big the dunes were! We all met up again at 'The Castle' at the end of Sand Bay for dinner at 4pm, then went to the New Inn for more beer. Some got taxis into Weston but the rest of us retired to the Campsite bar and an early(ish) night.

Sunday and the suns out. A miracle. Back round to Weston, and the fuel was quickly set up in the pits. We had time to watch the Kids race then go to the parc ferme. Again, the organisation broke down and there was a bit of a scrum to retrieve bikes. I also thought no-one was supposed to start engines, but you know how it is when one starts, they all start. We were let out onto the beach and sat in a queue blocked in by a couple of diggers. When the diggers moved, we all burst out onto the start line, and immediately start to inch forward, prompting the starter to let the race go a few minutes early. Some idiot next to me caught my handlebars, fetched me off, and him, and the next rider! So I was bit late at the first dune, but only had a wait of about 5 minutes. That was the only significant queue I got stuck in all day thankfully. The beach was still waterlogged from the rain, which meant that there were many soggy places where bikes could get seriously stuck. I must have seen at least a dozen buried during the course of the race. It certainly felt harder to ride than the dry race last year, and I ended up on my bum 5 or 6 times. Last year at the end I could easily done another lap, but this year I was glad to see the chequered flag after 9 laps.

My friend Neil Jones was being sponsored by Ian Beard (he borrowed his bike - Mrs Beard banned Ian from riding after he broke his wrist last year!). Neil is a retired road racer (his girlfriend has banned him from road racing because he crashes too much!), and thought that the beach race would be a challenge as he hasn't ridden off-road before! And it would be safe because it's on nice soft sand! Foolish man! He got over the first dune OK, and thought 'I can do this!'. He then launched himself off the top of the second dune and crashed down the other side, knocking himself out for three minutes, and then had to be carted off to hospital with a load of broken ribs! I don't think he'll be doing this again.

And that was about it. The bike is certainly going to take a bit more effort to clean than last year! I did my shoulder in 2002. Ian broke his wrist last year. Neil broke loads of stuff this year. Who wants to be my team-mate next year? (Compelling story Ian, I would love to, unfortunately I'm washing my hair that week! ed.)