It was October 1997. I was young, free and single, and heading off wherever the fancy took me to do 'stuff'. It wasn't to last. I met this 'family' you see...
At the time, they were merely a work-mate's, girlfriend's neighbours... but when one of the kids told me how much they all liked bikes, I ended up offering to take them all to Weston for the Beach-Races, because I couldn't quite explain the mad-cap, run-what-y'brung, end of season bike killer it is.
Don't ask me what's going on, it was nearly fifteen years ago, and I probably didn't know THEN. But digging through the archives, I found the 'photo's so here they are.
I think '97 was about the last year it really WAS a complete free-for-all 'Run-What-Ya-Brung' with the quads and side-cars competing in the same race, at the same time, along with the solo bikes. I think when we went back a year or so later, the side-cars and quads had their own race on the Saturday, with the Solo's running on the Sunday, which made it a bigger, and safer event, but not quite the same.
It was also the swansong of the two-strokes, with looming emission controls being applied to anything with an infernal combustion engine, the all-out comper's card was marked, and this was probably one of the last occasions any-one got to hear a full bore stroker held at full chat down the mile plus long back-straight, one of Weston's delights.
Few off-road events have anywhere a bike can really be 'maxed out'. Actually few tarmac events can either, and certainly not in this country. The back-straight at Weston-Beach is possibly THE longest straight on any motor-race course in the UK
And with MX and Enduro bikes geared for the climbs and twists of short courses, and the dunes on the top of the track, here they were wound up to terminal velocity and held there, with the riders hoping that the engines wouldn't blow up, with sand-clogged radiators!
Riding off into the sunset! Dramatic Isn't it. Poor chap here's 'nipped-up' on that long straight, I think.
Pell-Mell into the top section of tight twisty turns and dunes, rooster tails of sand spraying everywhere. Riders actually run into each other because they just cant see where they are going!
Its Chaos out there. The dunes are built up for the event, and they quickly get rutted from the bikes blasting up them, but they also get eroded in the middle, so the riders face a choice between risking getting stuck in the ruts, or trying to get up the steeper bit near the edges, but often the choice is simply, where to go to avoid running into some-one who's already got stuck!
These two pics was taken with a fish-eye lens. It distorts the foreground, so that it looks curved! Its also got water on it from the bike splashing past me. One thing about Weston, your up close and personal with the action!