It's never fun driving to an event in the pouring rain.......
We've all done it at one point or another. Despite all your best hopes and jokes whilst driving up, you know it's going to be muddy as hell and you're gonna be soaked and filthy.
After and hour and a half of rain though our spirits lifted slightly. The road wasn't as wet....... it was just spray on the windscreen and not rain......the clouds weren't as dark...... Dare I turn the wipers off?? The God of dirtbiking had smiled on us and it had stopped pissing it down just five miles short of our destination.
There was myself, Andy C and Howsey in the van, all eager for a day on the bikes. None of us had ever been to Thorpe before so didn't know what to expect. I'd watched a video on you tube so knew there was some open stuff and a lot of tight going in the trees but that was it.
The start area is all open ground within the grounds of Thorpe Park. It's only about a quarter of a mile round a few trees and then you drop onto the course proper. It's a good start area as it's all open and everyone gets away with room to spare. Once into the trees though it's a different matter. The course is very tight and twisty mainly being second and third gear. Only the more open farmland lets you get into fourth and possibly fifth. Despite this it still seems to be quite fast in the trees and the slightly bermed corners let you keep the speed you have up and it flows pretty well too.
After the rain we've had some parts of the course were very slippery with the hard ground underneath just having a layer of slime on top. The boggier bits of the track did cut up quite badly but there was always a way through if you looked and the marshals did a good job of keeping things moving.
There's a bit of an extreme section at Thorpe. It starts with two large dumper truck tyres lay on their sides with a small log to act as a step up. Right after this is a row of them stood on end with no lead up ramp or log. It's a case of being quite aggressive to get the front over and not fall back. A small jump next with a few logs on top of each other to get over next, and finally four truck tyres on their sides held in place by logs. The last bits were quite easy really, but with the damp ground the first two were a bit tricky and caught me out twice. The cut out route was quite long and it must have been a good 30 seconds less to do the hard route. On my first lap a saw a whole bunch of riders sat waiting at the tyres so went the long way round to keep moving. I did the hard route each lap after that.
Thorpe is cracking little venue and I really enjoyed it there. The lap length isn't long (4 miles the regs say) but due to the technical going lap times are 18 - 20 minutes. Getting past slower riders is tricky and you do need them to make room if it's in the trees.
All three of us finished and had a good ride. Howsey lost most of his water when a hose came off (helped by a tumble I think) but got some more and carried on. Andy C got a flier of a start and had no problems, though he did say this type of going isn't his favourite and he prefers more open going. I stalled on the line leaving me right at the back but got into the swing of things and loved it. Getting faster all through the race I really enjoyed practicing the berms.
This is avenue I'd go to again for sure. For the most part it's smooth and flowing. In the dry it'd be even faster and there's almost no ruts to sit in.
On the way back we'd not been on the A1M for long when we hit the rain. We really had been lucky with the weather after all. Definitely a summer venue and well worth the drive.