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Sunday, 12 February 2012

GBC goes Karting....again....

I haven't got any 2 wheel machines to get my fix on at the moment, so a 4 wheel fix it had to be. And where better than a 1km long beatifully surfaced kart track????? Well, it would have been a beautiful surface had it not been quite so greasy on some parts, and covered in mud where everyone in the previous session had been off-roading and returning to the track with their wheels dragging sploggits of mud with them. There were 16 of us in total, mostly members of the Grumpy Club (aka the Grampian Classic MCC) with a few friends and family thrown in for good measure, and we all met up at our local Aberdeenshire track, just after 1pm this sunny Sunday afternoon. There was a bit of a bite to the gentle breeze but apart from that, it was a perfect day for being out and about. After topping up on the carbs and calories in the cafe, we all trooped up to the kart track and kitted up in the disposable overalls handed out by the chaps in charge. We were given a short safety briefing and instructions in how to operate the karts (right pedal for 'go' and left pedal for 'stop') before being split into groups of 4.

The first group out included two brave ladies who had never been karting, but boldly they climbed into the low slung single plastic seat (not the same seat, they had one each, not in the same kart, they had one of those each too, sorry, its late and I might not be at my optimum mental state for writing this!) and waited for the starter to start their karts.

The two guys in the group were more confident and as Lorna and Val took things nice and steady, the chaps were catching them up all the time. Luckily it wasn't head to head racing, but each kart was sent off at intervals of a few seconds. The next heat was an all male affair, and you could sense the testosterone kicking in as the macho chaps all floored it and flew round the track.

I was in heat 3 or it might have been 4, and had a most terrific time. Off the line, and easy into the first right hander, cos I'd seen most people have a slight slide there, then another right before going into a tight left hander that had plenty of tarmac run-off (not needed on this lap tho, just getting the hang of things...). A gentle right, a dip in the track, another right, a short straight and wham, it was into the l o n g s w e e p i n g left corner before it tightened into the hairpin. This being my warm up lap I was still learning my limits, but in future laps I realised I could slam the brakes on in the hairpin and use them to pull the kart round, and accelerate out into the sharp and tricky right hander. On the far side of that right hander was a muddy rut where many a kart had ventured before our group had arrived. Then it was time to press on as the track opened out into a huge smooth curve, again to the right, before really letting it have some welly for the bottom straight. Errrrrrrrrrk, another right hander, another short straight, left, right, left, right in quick succession, minding the raised iron work (manhole cover things) and being careful to avoid being the next victim in the very deep and liquid mud filled hole to the side of the track, before belting it through about 6 sets of tyres placed on alternate sides of the track, and waiting til the last minute to slam the brakes on to help get round the last right hander before hitting the start / finish straight. Wow. Pheeeeeeweeee. And that was just the warm up lap! Then it was 3 timed laps, each one feeling smoother yet each one pushing me and my limits just a little bit more. Well, she who don't push the limits don't get nowhere, right? So that wasn't bad, returning a race time of 4min 10sec. Climbing out of the kart (easier said than done with those low bucket seats) and catching my breath it was time for a sit down on something that didn't move, me oh my, my hands, they're shaking! Fun, with a capital F.

Another short wait and then it was time for another go. I blagged kart number 3 again, for I'd spied the Man from Muckle Flugga putting it through its paces after me and it still seemed the best kart out there. Oh boy, no way, by the time I got back in it, it was shot. The steering was all over the place and the brakes yanked to either side, but still, it was all part of the challenge. The guy in front of me was a Grumpy Club member, Hugh, and he had the customary few seconds head start. Then it was my turn. Whooosh, first corner dispatched with ease this time, flying around the hairpin, yikes, those brakes are snatchy now, but not to worry, the tyres are warm and the track is drying in places. I had Hugh in my sights, but I was fighting that kart. A couple of times I thought I was close enough to get past, but Hugh had the racing line. It was oh so close on the last corner, then he pulled away on the start/finish straight, and as he veered across to close the door on the first corner I thought I could nip round the outside, then I had to try the inside, but no go. At each corner it was up the inside, down the outside, but each time Hugh was in the better position. I nearly nearly got past as he ran wide out of the hairpin, but perhaps he ran wide to get the better grip as my kart skewed around and threatened to let go, but I somehow managed to sort it and it was chase-me-Charlie all the way along the long bottom straight. Then his Hugh-ship made a mistake. Out to the left on the next straight and GBC was there, snicking the bumpy concrete on the inside verge, on his right, and I had him, flooring it, it was fair and square then BHAAAMMM!!!! Next thing I know is I'm on the grass, mud splattering everywhere, but I'm ok, I'm still running parallel with the track, if I can just ease the wheels back on....then I ended up spinning it right round 360degrees before I can get back on track. I've got what looks like thick chocolate milk shake all over my once-hot-and-grippy-tyres and I'm fighting the kart to keep it on the tarmac. Oh dear Hugh. You know what they say about shoving GBC off the track? You only do it once!

I hit every other bit of mud going and swerved around the tyres, crossed the line and the chequered flag fell, but I had Hugh in my sights and he had to pay! 50 or so seconds later and I'm right back behind him, he's stuck behind another kart and its time to make my move. All three of us are through the hairpin together, theres a tyre come adrift from the wall and its lying further in on the track, making the turn evern more hairy, then the first kart loses control, spins, Hugh swerves and takes the wide line hoping to get past and probably isn't aware that GBC is breathing fire at him. I take him. Fairly, of course, he's wide and I've got the lucky line, how I managed to avoid hitting the spinning kart I've no idea, but I take advantage of it and stick my foot down, give Hugh a little wave and I'm away. Talk about adrenaline. Crikey, I'm just flying now, and this is my 'cool down' lap, a final race time of 4m 18s which I can live with considering the 'off' and the battle to get past 2 other karts. Hugh pulls up eventually and we have a laugh about the state of my previously pristine white overalls. My gloves were covered in liquid mud too, as was my helmet and my helmet-cam got a muddy dollop over the lense. Need chocolate. Don't have any, darn, peanuts in my pocket, they'll do. Another bunch get their next go and everyone has a right old laugh at GBC. Do I care? Nah. With just enough time to recover it's time for the final. The 4 fastest drivers will take each other on and the fastest lap of this race will win the day. Maurice, Tony D and moi all from the Grumpy Club and a young lad, Callum, all lined up. I pinched kart number 8 this time, thinking anything was better than that slack number 3. I was third away, and by gum, that kart was weird, the steering was from side to side and only really controllable in a straight line, so I thought, its all or nothing...foot down. All is well until the hairpin where I just lost it. I've no idea what happened, but I think as it started to go, I over corrected it and then ended up having to take a wide turn onto the grass. Darn. Still, peddle to the metal and see if I can make up any time. On every corner I'm clipping kerbs and dicing with sliding off again, I get a bit close to the tyres too, and leave my braking on the last corner until the very last set of tyres, brakes on, haul it around and we run a bit wide, over the start/finish line and then I've got a better approach to the first corner. It looks easy but HELP I run wide again and struggle to hold it on the concrete bit that seperates me from the muddy ruts. I'm off the throttle in only the very smallest snippets and I'm sure I can give it some more gas, but my arms are aching and my right shoulder is throbbing, just relax GBC, its only a game, haha, yes, ok, three big pulls on the wheel to get through the hairpin, flat out over the dip in the track, along the bottom straight and the smell of petrol starts to make me wonder if number 8 is going to blow up, but it doesn't and I make it over the line to complete my 2 of the 3 laps. Oh boy, this is fun, and I stab the brakes and throttle on at the same time which just pulls the kart through the bends and out with a squirm. Oweeee, bumps, I'm hurting now, I've given it my all and I seem to have to try harder than the men to achieve the same things. I don't think thats a gender thing, I think their average build gives them a bit of an advantage, having just that little bit more weight to keep the wheels down and propel them along. Chequered flag time, stop, breath. One of the chaps in charge comes up to me and says why did I do that? Why did I spin? I had a good chance of winning if I'd only managed to stay on the track. I know. I knew in reality that any chance I had was gone as soon as I hit the grass, but I had jolly good fun trying to make up for it. The young lad Callum did a grand job and beat me by 2 seconds with a time of 3m 58s. Maurice had a 4m 09s and I'm not sure what Tony D did as he nipped away with his score card before I could see it!

If ever you need a bit of motor-based fun and for whatever reason, you can't use a bike for that purpose, then maybe you need to try karting. So, when can you guys all go again...???

PS got some fabby video footage but I need a bit of time to get it in an uploadable state, each one is about 700MB at the moment!


Hairy Larry said...

Exciting 'blow by blow' coverage there. Can't wait to see the helmet cam footage.

Squire Neil said... ;)

Bodger said... the comments I left on Faceache about karting battles wasn't far off then!

Never viewed go-karting as an extreme sport, but then again, maybe it is.

Hairy Larry said...

Or, is that a Hazmat team? Better than getting slimed with mud I suppose.

Stuart said...

I'm all outa breath after reading that!
I reckon the film will be nominated for an award, I'm sure it will be on a par with "War horse"

MrsBC said...

Better than that, Stu, no horses get hurt in the making!

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Thanks for the comments chaps! I can highly recommend karting to burn away the winter biking blues. Squire Neil, can't get your link to work - better email it to me please!

Squire Neil said...

Its OK GBC it was only a link to the wiki definition of a paragraph! Lokks like you had fun

Anonymous said...

Amazing commentary GBC. A corner by corner account ... or is it more like a blow by blow account! I kept expecting to read "unless I'm very much mistaken ..." :o)

Graham B

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...



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