Mas­ter­class

Ever thought ‘ that looks easy...’ and then de­cided to have a go?

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents -

Want to im­prove your skills? Ask a mas­ter. We try life on three wheels.

Some peo­ple, prob­a­bly the vast ma­jor­ity, go through their mo­tor­cy­cling life with­out even try­ing the sport with a third wheel at­tached. They seem quite happy, they will be less bruised... but will they have that true sense of achieve­ment? For these pages of CDB we de­cided to get some train­ing in the gen­tle art of side­cars... and to find out how easy (!) it re­ally was with that ex­tra wheel... I first touched on this side of the sport some 36 years ago when an­other un­will­ing vol­un­teer and I were duped into try­ing side­cars. It wasn’t suc­cess­ful be­cause while we were – and still are – mates, we didn’t gel as a team. That’s the main thing, as in a sport like side­car­ring you must work as a team and both mem­bers have to have con­fi­dence in each other, oth­er­wise it will hurt… as I dis­cov­ered.

If you’ve been to our shows at Stafford then you can’t help but have seen the tri­als demos put on by ‘Owd Codgers and Friends’ which in­cludes side­cars in the line-up. Part and par­cel of Owd Codgers is Bert White, and af­ter wob­bling around on a side­car in the demo I had a chat with him to see if he could help me im­prove my chair­ing abil­ity.

“Oh, un­doubt­edly,” he grinned, “ac­tu­ally, for you, the only way is up…” Thanks Bert.

In or­der to take part you need a side­car (okay, that was the ob­vi­ous part). Bert has a few and was happy to loan one for our test ses­sion. All I then needed was a will­ing vol­un­teer. A glance at the other oc­cu­pant of the Brit­ton house­hold drew a def­i­nite shake of the head and a ‘not a chance’ ex­pres­sion. Luck­ily our friend Sara has the twin at­tributes of en­joy­ing a chal­lenge and hav­ing some ex­pe­ri­ence in side­car com­pe­ti­tion and was eas­ily con­vinced to meet at our se­cret lo­ca­tion well away from pry­ing eyes.

As well as Bert, along came Heath Dando who is also a bit good at this, and be­tween us we were de­ter­mined I was go­ing to im­prove. Once it dawned on me how to ad­just the rid­ing style – which is noth­ing like that of a solo – progress was made. I’m not go­ing to say it was easy and at one point as we slith­ered to a halt through the ag­o­nis­ing haze of ex­haus­tion I heard the oc­cu­pant of the chair ex­claim: “I’ve no idea where he’s go­ing to be…” At this Bert said: “You’re rid­ing it like a solo, stop it.” What he meant was when go­ing up a hill or across a cam­ber I was mov­ing my weight around as I would on a solo. In­stead what I had to do was re­mem­ber there were two of us on the out­fit. Tak­ing go­ing up hill as an ex­am­ple, there I was keep­ing my body in the cen­tre of the bike and ex­pect­ing it to find grip. What I should have done was move ei­ther for­ward so the per­son in the chair could put their weight over the rear, or stayed back so the crew mem­ber could counter-bal­ance the out­fit at the front. Ei­ther method is ac­cept­able, it just goes on pref­er­ence. In the end it was Sara who said: “I gen­er­ally go to the front…” Once this was es­tab­lished things started to work, and there was a lot less yelling in my ear… 

Words: Tim Brit­ton Pics: Fiona Wat­son

Early in the day... still smil­ing. From left are Bert White and Heath Dando (aka The Ex­perts), Timbrit­ton (aka The Novice) and Sara Carter (aka Ex­pe­ri­enced Crew).

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