It had seemed an eternity since Callum and I had been to a race. Our last action had been the Post TT meeting in Billown. Sadly we had missed Skerries, Cork and Walderstown so we were looking forward to Armoy. This would be our third visit to the north Antrim village about an hours journey from home.
We sat off around lunch time on Friday. Callum took his car with tent, food, sleeping bags and beer whilst I rode the Fazer. We left Carrickfergus in fine weather but got caught up in the middle of a torrential downpour near Clough. Within a very short time the road became flooded and visibility very poor. I decided to get off the road and wait for conditions to improve. Even at very low speed I could feel the back end of the 600 Yamaha becoming very light in the water. I spied a farm lane on the left and indicated to pull in. As I touched the brakes as I approached the lane I felt like someone had simply cut the brake lines. I had nothing. Without too much of a panic I simply rolled out into the grass verge and kept us both upright. Lucky I suppose that there wasn’t a ditch hiding beneath the undergrowth. I hid under a tree for 10 minutes or so until the rain ceased and flooding improved. There must have been half a dozen car drivers who had the same idea to sit out the weather although they didn’t join me in the verge. The remainder of the ride to Armoy was uneventful thankfully.
We parked up at Armoy Rugby Club a little south of the village centre and spent a short time deciding where to pitch up and how to avoid copius amounts of water.
We heard the roads closing and the first sessions getting under way. Too late for me to get signed on so we decided to crack open a few cold ones as we walked into the village and then out to Turnarobert. The weather had improved dramatically and it was perfect racing weather. We found a smashing spot on a small hill where we could lie down and watch the riders speeding away from us.
As we ran out of wee stumpies we decided to head back into the village where we could get hold of a couple of pints. There was an excellent crowd of folk in the village and we were treated to several parade laps by Tim Reeves. My it would be class to see sidecars race round here 🙂
Walter and the boys joined us for the last couple of practice sessions before the weather turned nasty and the last 4 postponed until Saturday morning. Dodgy chicken burger and bed. Not a lot of sleep I must say as some of the campers made a real night of it. Nonetheless I slept well enough to get up at daybreak and get a brew into me before heading out on the bike. I managed 6 laps of the circuit before riding to The Dark Hedges.
As folk started to gather I nipped by to the tent to shake Callum out of his scratcher and got the bacon baps done. Marvellous. I signed on to marshal in the village and was at the same spot as last year just before the tunnel leaving the village. The sun was splitting the trees – unlike last years torrential storms. We got the first 4 practice sessions out of the way before the racing started in earnest. Every race was competitive and there were some excellent battles. Michael and William excelled at their local track. Guy did well but must have made a hash of his start in the big race. He passed us in 9th on the first lap but had made up to 4th by the time the checkered flag was out. Robert McCrum was awesome in the Senior Classic. Jeremy McWilliams kept on the tail of Jamie for the whole of the supertwin race but just couldn’t pip him. The large crowds all round the track enjoyed an absolute cracker of a day in fine weather. Congratulations to all the riders and organisers.
Walter and his lads gave us a hand getting the tent down before we all headed home. Still waiting for the Indian that a certain Matthew Millar promised. If you haven’t been racing at Armoy – get yourself there next year 🙂