2013

We zoom along the Viking's Timeline now to 4th May 2013, and this beautiful (if a little windy!) Saturday afternoon sees the Cramlington outfit stage Round Two of the national Orchid Euro Vets Grand Prix Series, the first having been run by the Leicester Club a few weeks earlier with no Vikings taking part. This has categories for Over 40s, 50s and 60s. Today's fixture, however, saw the home club take full advantage of geography with a whole raft of Vikings joining in the fun to try and grab a few series points. You'll find the overall story on the Home Matches page so I'll restrict this short piece to my day, as it's my page!

There was frantic activity at the Sporting Club from just after 10:00 am when we started gathering to lick the place into shape for staging a prestige meeting. We then had a few moments to collect ourselves before taking to the track, and with the Over 40 contest being first up, Yours Truly thought he could have a nice rest, a wee snack and get mentally prepared for the Over50/60 combined match afterwards. That didn't work too well, as the lower than expected turnout had meeting and series organiser, an old adversary of mine Halifax's Fred Rothwell, seeking an Elder willing to double up to help fill the Over 40s grid! So that saw me stepping forward to volunteer for a few extra rides, not the ideal preparation for the battle to come!

Anyway, I managed to finish my five rides, staying out of the way until my second grid one in a row when I could hardly fail to finish first. I suppose it was good to get the legs going but it didn't feel that way. Soon after the end of the Over 40s it was time for Ashie Patterson, Jim Graham, Norman Carson and myself to race. With a combination of good starts, favourable gates and missing riders I managed to win my first three rides, which resulted in the unbeaten Paul Timms, Joe McLaughlin and myself clashing in heat 15 with Steve Hodgkinson who'd only dropped one point! Right from tapes up, Joe had only one thing on his mind, to keep me mid-track or wider and make that do, so although I managed to keep Steve behind me, I couldn't summon up enough energy to burn around Joe and that was that.

I then had to face the flying Steve Woodroof in the final heat from grid 4, but the earlier rides in the Over 40s were now starting to leave their mark on my fast-ebbing energy so it was a second place only to give me a total of 17 points. However, that was plenty enough to not only cement my place in the A Final off grid one, but also squeezed me into the Over 50's A Final on four! Thankfully, the Over 60 run-off came first and I nicked the title from Fred, Ashie and evergreen Chick Mackie.

The Over 50s A Final was a bit of an anti-climax for me as I was completely spent by then, my twelfth ride of the day, but the reward for getting there was a second medal, and very nice they are too, so I'm pretty happy to be collecting silverware at this rather late stage in my Short Track"career"! A great day for the Vikings but another memorable one for me.

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A few weeks later and we faced Astley & Tyldesley at home after defeating them narrowly at Gin Pit. This one threw up an unexpected result not just for my beloved Vikings who won 95-55, but for myself also as I managed to grab a maximum, something I never dreamed would happen again after quitting the Sport around 1992! I put this down to home track knowledge and the final, seemingly small tweak to my lovely little Specialized Rockhopper, on which I'd finally caved in and shortened my Chinese forks to the more cycle-speedway sized norm. It sure felt quicker out of the starts and I was first out in three of my four rides, very happy with that performance.

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OBITUARY

It's never nice to lose a loved one, and end a long, loving relationship. However, after my faithful friend, my Peugeot Expert 2 litre HDi Combi had let me down a second time at Wetherby on the way to Heckmondwike, it was time to part company. It had served me well since we met in 2005, and after a loving and very expensive restoration it had become capable of transporting five riders, their camping gear and mountain bikes at well over three figures on any flat stretch of tarmac, thanks to some police mechanic's tweaks! It was hurriedly replaced by a slightly older machine, a 2001 Renault Scenic which is quite a bit more sedate, comfortable and quiet, and should be more protective of my driving licence. Got a super new 4-bike rack for it and fitted a tow-bar in early July 2013, it's first trip away being the Northern League Individuals at Graves Tennis Centre, Sheffield on 7th July.

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Well, we've had a brilliant half season of Northern League racing and notched up an amazing five wins, the division two side also doing very well. Gav won his second Euro Vets title at Sheffield and Jay won the B Final, while Ash did superbly for 2nd place in his new class, the Over 60s. So we're really on a high and approaching new track build time.

So what does Terence go and do? You guessed it, he falls off! We were only at heat 2 of the Cramlington Crown Individual on 13th July when improving novice Andy Amos-Adams tips off right in front of Yours Truly leaving me no time to react. Result - one broken metacarpal on the left forefinger and a fractured wrist bone, possibly needing an operation to repair! It's Summer again! No Euro Vets at Sandwell or Edinburgh, No Veterans Team Championship at Norwich. No week's MTB holiday in Wales either. I LOVE Short Track. Duh!

At least I found some free time instead of helping Jason out with his workload and made use of it sorting out my programme collection and getting our stall ready for the Newcastle Sky Ride on Saturday 27th July at the Quayside. Not too easy cleaning my little Specialized CS bike for the display with one hand though. The day went off reasonably well and I had company from some of the members for most of it, but although we made few rider contacts, we must get used to doing this sort of thing now whenever we are offered the opportunity. I had a 4 foot by 2 foot banner made for the stall and it looked pretty good with some other posters and leaflets scattered around, and a few shirts hanging up. However, Sir Chris Hoy rode straight past on his silly roadie bicycle without any acknowledgement!

TerrysStallQuaysideSkyRide2013

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Thursday 15th August, and I'm so fed up being sidelined that the temptation to join in the evening mountain bike ride is overpowering, so I do, and it goes pretty well with no damage done - great!

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Saturday 17th and I head up to Edinburgh for the Orchid Euro vets Round 6, again determined to ride and doing so. I take it extremely carefully through the 5 programmed rides, not trying to gate but gradually pulling a tiny bit harder, and it all feels fine as I cruise around at the back to finish lowest scorer on 10 points. I then join Smithy and Keith spectating on the first bend for the repêchage races and finals, to take some photos. Then Ashie shouts over from the pits "Terry, you're in this one!". I was a bit stunned here, but was only called because of the low number of Over 60s. Anyway there was only Ashie, Chic and myself in it so I thought, 'bollocks, I'm gonna try a decent start' and I got a pretty good one over Ash on my inside to romp away and win the "B" Final. The main reason for giving it some attack this time was that I knew I'd be needed against Stockport at Cramlington the next day, so had to see what it would feel like. And surprisingly I got away with it, it felt fine and I didn't squeal leaving the gate, so things are looking good!

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Sunday 18th August looms, with the appearance of Stockport on our temporary track, and all I have on my mind is staying away from trouble and completing my rides. I'm at number two with Mick Parr but can't support him against the rampant young visitors. However, his efforts and those of Gavin, Jason and the others see an amazing match remain within one point until the penultimate race when Stockport struck! They were slightly weakened themselves but even so this is Vets against superstars and we did amazingly well. Best thing for me though was coming through the match unscathed and feeling pretty good, no problems with the left hand at all.

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THEN!

I wake up almost screaming in agony in the middle of Monday morning, with intense shooting pains up and down my left arm from finger tip to elbow. Oh heck! Looks like I did indeed overdo things, or probably simply come back to the bikes too soon. Couldn't help it though as I was going stir-fried sitting around idle for five weeks, and all I could think about was last year's similar disaster with the other hand, missing the best summer rides in both my chosen sports. I'm scribbling this now with my Welsh mountain bike week looming on Saturday 24th August and getting a wee bit concerned it ain't going to happen. I'll be gutted if I can't go after three years waiting since the last one, but at the moment (Wednesday 21st) I'm no bike rider.

{ It didn't happen, crap, crap, crap.}

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Slow September? The middle of August saw a mystery bug creep into my system, and everything just got slower and more difficult. This was nothing to do with the hand injury but something internal. I was utter rubbish at Bury on 15th and let the team down badly but just couldn't hack it. I felt extremely lethargic, started nodding in front of the telly which I've never done before, much to Janet's indignation, and just found it hard even standing up. Energy levels were at floor level and on the bike it became harder and harder to do four laps, even slowly. Eventually I took Mrs K's advice (orders) and visited my physician. There followed a blood sample session and chest X-rays to try and pinpoint the problem. Although I managed a few quicker laps at East London on 29th September in the Euro Vets I couldn't maintain it over the full four and totally collapsed half way through the A Final while leading it. As I write this I'm booked for yet another blood-letting on 7th October and not feeling too much better. Just hope the Doc can explain it all when I finally get the results on 14th.

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'Orrible October! Well, the painful sight of TK trying to finish four laps continued as four of us entered the final round of the Euro Vets at an immaculate, fast Wednesfield on Saturday 5th October. Once again my energy was very limited with just a couple of decently quick laps in a few of my races, but the Brick Wall being hit again and again. Jimmy Graham kept me behind him when we met each other so when we met again in the "B" Final I stood the same treatment for 2 laps until the brain managed to overcome the body and I squeezed past for revenge. Fortunately a great night at the Aces' local Gilbert's Bar munching on chips while watching Tai Woffinden win the Speedway GP title made up somewhat for another hugely disappointing performance.

Next day, after a very entertaining night and morning in lodgings at a haunted hotel in Dudley with Gavin Parr, Jason Keith and Jimmy we cruised northward to meet the rest of the Club members at Bury where we'd switched our home match to because our new track isn't ready yet. Riding at reserve again it was the same old story with everyone giving their all except Number Seven, yours truly, who struggled yet again and only had one decent race over the full four laps. And as it was last time, we only lost a by a couple of points which were the ones I should have been scoring, so another apology is due to my hard-working team-mates.

I'm due at the Doc's to find out the results of all the tests I've had next Monday, 14th October and just praying that she's found something that can explain this long bout of lethargy and maybe get me moving again. That's the League and Vets season over now so the rest of the year is mainly down to our younger riders and I wish them all Good Luck, but hope to be pushing for my team place again come tapes up in 2014.

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Neutralized November! October 14th didn't see the end of the tests as planned and I had an ultrasound scan on 23rd. With a visit to the Doctor on 4th November I hoped that all of my test results would finally show the reason for my sudden loss of energy (I suppose I should call it lack of form as far as CS goes) but alas, no such luck and it remains a mystery. It seems it may be down to an unfound bug or lack of sleep as I'm up a lot to shed water overnight but that's been the case for 9 or 10 years now. Just have to see what an enforced lay-off from Sunday mountain biking does for me, although I miss that as much as Short Track.

Youth Coach Richie Smith ran another of his Under 16 sessions on Saturday 9th November but there was a low turnout with just six riders this time, although they made full use of their time on the new track while I kept my eyes tightly closed so I couldn't see the damage young Jack and Martin were doing to the soft surface!

On a brighter note, Secretary Neil Magee, Chairman Keith Dyer and I attended the Northern League AGM in Bury yesterday (Sunday 10th Nov) with all clubs represented and although there's always a lot of stuff to discuss that we aren't directly involved in, such as the 2014 staging of the British Individual Championships, we did have plenty of input and it's always useful to chat to like minded souls (non-committee members!). We came away with a real prize, that of being awarded the hosting of next year's Northern League Individuals, an event we are determined to carry off big-style and a massive boost for our first year on a new track. I am also trying to strike a deal with the Sheffield Club to permanently acquire their four junior loan bikes, to go with our forthcoming purchase of full size and intermediate models for new riders to play on. Good Speedway quiz on the way home!

A glance at the provisional 2014 fixtures would suggest I'm due to break a wrist around 15th June if the previous two seasons are a template for the rest.

It's 10:25 pm on Monday night, 11th November and I just got home after attending the local BC Go-Ride Volunteer Coordinator course presented by Northern Rep Dan Small at the Premier Inn, Team Valley and what an interesting night it's been. Good to meet another fresh set of like-minded people and some new to their jobs in their respective cycling clubs. One of the tasks in this workshop was to try and place a value on the time I spend doing stuff on behalf of the Club, and then trying to guess what time the Committee members spend, and with a base costing of just £10 per hour, our little Club's volunteers (that's anyone who does stuff for the Vikings for free) I figured the total value to be around £63,000 per year! Not bad value you "ordinary members" are getting for your quid a week then, I reckon!. The real value of the night though, I suppose, was making contact with a few more bicycle organisations and their representatives, you never know, it may do us some good one day.

Now then, what can I do 'til bedtime?

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I hope this isn't turning into a repeat of the Club's history which can be found elsewhere but I don't want to gum up the home page with stuff newcomers don't need to see. That's why I now mention I've met this morning (Wednesday 13th November) with the contractor D&M Fencing who's erected most of the School and Sporting Club's fences over the past few years. We spent three quarters of an hour discussing how best to do the job and like our track builder ALN Construction, this lad knows everything about what he does for a living, and was ready with suggestions to get us over any problems that may arise. When we get his quotation that'll be the time to light Richie's fuse again and set him whizzing off to find the money pronto!

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It's now Wednesday 20th November with Winter looking like it's ready to oust Autumn and a few light snow showers around. Still feeling weird, energy-wise and have now forgotten about any hope of doing my much-loved Sunday mountain bike rides all over the northern UK. Good news is Gavin managed to perfect and tidy up our old Vikings cloth badge logo to use on his next badge of hoodies, and I've given it an additional Northumbrian flag background for the web site and various paperwork. It really does look great and is a really nostalgic item to those of us older who rode in the 1960s. Not so good news is the Doc was on the horn this morning and wants me to do some more blood tests in two months time to try and solve my mystery. Never ending, this seems to be. We're due to hold our first indoor training session on Saturday but I'm not even sure I could get around the sports hall in this condition.

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It is Saturday 23rd November and I've been increasingly worried about the start of our indoor training sessions at the Percy Hedley Sports Academy just a mile up the road from me. Why? Because it's been a while now since my last attempt at racing and I've even given up trying to join my Sunday MTB rides because of this strange lack of oomph I've been suffering. Almost half a year now since I could complete four fast laps so I wasn't even going to take a bike today. Anyway, I'm now glad I did (I scribble this the morning after) as it didn't go too badly. I deliberately held back in my first ride just to see if I could hang on to the bike properly after having real trouble doing the same on my mountain bike lately with loads of very uncharacteristic Thursday night falls. Followed up with a bit more speed and even a couple of wins in this not-too-serious contest between two six-man teams which most folk seemed to enjoy. Although I was gasping and wheezing after every ride it may just have given me a confidence boost. We'll just have to see what happens next weekend as this condition remains a mystery to my personal physician. I know this weeping and wailing is getting really boring now, but all this numbness may be a biggie in my biking history, so it's in here.

Just been instructed by the Doc to make an appointment for even more blood tests in two month's time!

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