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.

Would you buy a used motorcycle off this man?
Would you buy a used motorcycle off this man?

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!

Me mate Brocky fixing me Suzy 250. It was me old sand-racin bike, I stuck road tyres instead of the knobblies and lent it him to do the meetin on. It were quite quick cos two-strokes are easy peasy to tune, although I used to break it regularly. It went bang once while flat out on Southport beach – it must have been well wide open, cos I found a piece of piston skirt in the airbox – and that was up under the seat!
The gang at work. We must have had more than one vehicle cos we couldn’t have got all three bikes in the back of me Yank. Brocky’s still fixin the Suzy, while me mate’s Roy’s fixin his XS650 exhausts. With a hammer.