Up The Hill Darkly
I’ve had a do at most bike sports over the years, but it’s nearly always been off-road stuff – blattin about in the dirt seemed to suit me best. But back in the 80’s I fancied a do at hill-climbing. Well, it seemed just like drag racing only with bends. Which is pretty much what it was, a narrow bumpy track used as a service road to a dam, fairly steep and with hairpin bends, a bit of a straight, and an off camber right-hander to finish. Sounded like fun.
Most of the bikes were cut down crossers with road racing wets, but there was a class for road bikes, so I took Mr Dark. That was a TR1 Yam I’d been scootin about on. In fact, you can see its line of progeny – all black with yellow HT leads followed on from me Thunderbird in its streetracer mode, while the overall stance pre-dated what I ended up doing to my Sportster when I bought it a few years later. It wasn’t hardly the best bike for the job, what with being long, lazy-geared, and top-heavy, but I invented a ‘secret weapon’. What with bein an ex-drag-racer, an doin endless burnouts an all, it seemed sensible to get the tyre hot before a run.
But you needed the sides to be hot, so I knocked up a frame out of bits of scrap steel, with a curved steel plate that just followed the section of the rear tyre nicely. So if I slotted the front wheel in and gave it some, I could burn out the sides of the tyre as well as the middle. Funky.
Don’t know how much it helped, I think being fearless about the drops off one side of the track and the protruding dry stone walls at places on the other was a useful attribute as well, but it was good fun, getting all psyched up and then blasting absolutely 110% flat out for a brief burst of about 30 seconds a run. Proper.
Anyway, end of the day I come second, just beaten by a dude on a hot Combat Commando (who apparently won every time), but beating loadsa 250 and 350 LC Yams (that kinda sets the period, don’t it?), which with them being pretty nimble I was fair chuffed about. Not sure they were as impressed, bloody deadbeat hippy dosser entourage turning up and not takin it seriously and blowin their hot little strokers away. Ha!