Are you Highwaylass?

Oscar Wilde once said, Only dull people are bright at breakfast. Frank and Carol have got round this by the simple expedient of making Thundersprinters turn up at Race Control at 6.05 am, long before all but the insomniac and the parent of very small children have even staggered into to the kitchen and groped for the kettle. Next year I am going to make a fortune by setting up a small espresso machine at the side of the queue. Actually, it had better be a large espresso machine given the buckets that Costa Coffee had laid in specially for the occasion!

Despite several “planning meetings” (The Ace Caff, Foxy’s Diner and Rika’s…oh, and the Floatel on Saturday night) Thundersprint morning still dawned with Nikos and I in the queue and Clarky waiting for us at the Floatel car park, all of us feeling smug that the others were still in bed. And I was quite jealous that the boys had national flags next to their numbers – while I’m not sure what the flag of Macclesfield is, I’m pretty certain the coat of arms features pints of Boddingtons and some rockers rampant.

Lulled by Frank’s assurances to Nikos that the paddock is not a muddy field, I forgot to pack any sidestand pucks, so a freshly tested, inspected and detected Ruby, wheeled into the Cavalcade paddock with several helping hands, immediately started to sink into the grass. Note to self: next year bring plank – this was the key piece of kit that divided the seasoned from the novice.

So at this point it is about 6.30am on a beautiful sunny morning, in a field in God’s own county of Cheshire, with good friends and good bikes to admire….yes, that’s enough good fortune for anyone, and the hourglass swopped ends about now. Because I was struggling to heft Ruby around the paddock, I’d put my helmet down on a handy concrete block. And when I went back for it, it had gone. Now, my heart told me that no-one in a field of bikers is going to nick a lid. But I’m ashamed to say I still panicked and ran up and down the paddock several times asking if anyone had seen it being picked up. And of course someone had picked it up, to hand it in safely at Race Control. So thanks to the kind-hearted passer-by – but like baby birds, unattended lids are best left where they are!

The Mystery of the Travelling Lid was nothing compared to our next challenge. At about 10.05 I got a phone call to say that O would not be meeting me at Costa Coffee as planned. Camping at the rugby club closed at 10am – but the gates to the overflow car park closed at 6.30pm the previous night, a vital piece of information not imparted by the marshals organising the parking. So we offer you a list of Things to Do When Unexpectedly Locked in the Car Park of a Chemical Plant:-

– practice Tai Chi
– sing Old Man River whilst rattling camping mug on gates’ bars
– tidy up the plastic bottles from the back seat of the car
– wonder why an industrial site with the potential to blow up has less on-site security than your office at home
– examine the fence for tunnelling potential. Decide where to site Tom, Dick and Harry
– Try experimenting with Performance Art in front of the CCTV cameras
– make friends with the Cheshire Police.
– wait in the sun

Massive thanks to Frank and Carol for all they did to help release the captive, they couldn’t have been kinder or quicker in responding despite everything else they had to deal with on the day!

My photographer being temporarily behind bars some miles away, I have no pictures of Ruby cavalcading to offer, but I hope it was as impressive a sight from the pavement as it was from the road – a huge crowd pressing against the barriers, everyone waving and smiling in the sun, and the Cavalcade getting quicker and quicker….over far too soon, as all the best things are 🙂

Back in the paddock after the Cavalcade I thought I had best fulfil my Christian duty of visiting the imprisoned, and got there just in time to watch the Spitfire fly overhead. I thought the open-piped Honda I rode beside in the Cavalcade made a beautiful noise but it was nothing compared to this. Final proof that once upon a time, loud pipes really did save lives.

Thanks to:

Nikos and Clarky for organising my race numbers
The many Thundersprinters who gave Ruby a push through the paddock
Frank and Carol for their warm welcome and giving lots of help to a rather distressed Lass
The nice bloke from the 24-hour security who brought the key to the gates…

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Are you Highwaylass?

  1. And thanks to you for writing the trip report! And also for giving the moral support whilst having gunge put into my ears.

  2. Sound like a great time was had by all; it’s strange though that when I lived in Northwich a few years ago I considered it quite..a dump. Must have improved over the years.

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