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