Malcolm Goes Drag Racing
We was in the local involving ourselves in the usual meaningless arguments regarding the superiority of British machinery, the stupidity of motorists, the iniquity of the law and other such motorcycle philosophies when Malcolm, as usual, began to extol the virtues of his latest bike, a tarted up but clapped out Ariel Arrow.
"You're all talk, Malcolm." said Grease. "How come we're never there when your 'owling Ariel is pulling the ton two up?"
"'Cause you can't keep up." boasted Malcolm rashly. "That bike is a match for any modern Jap bike of the same capacity - it could even give one of the famous Super Sixes a run for its money. If you want me to prove how good it is, I'll take on any 250 you care to put up against it!"
"And back it with ten quid?" I asked.
"If I had ten quid I would, Bogri." Malcolm squirmed.
"What about Sunday morning at dawn at the back of Pigs Lane. I'll bring a challenger and you two can drag it on the straight as far as the first bend." offered Grease.
"What you got in mind?" I asked.
"Roger the Bodger on his Honda. He fancies his chance too, and this is an opportunity to shut up one or the other." Grease reasoned.
Hilda the barmaid had been taking her usual bored interest. "Malcolm will go out and get his bike fixed special now he's being called to account."
"I don't need to put a finger on that bike, it's in perfect nick and if you like I'll leave it in the pub yard until the race." offered Malcolm magnanimously.
"That would be wise," I admitted, "after all it isn't taxed or insured and I'm sure that copper outside is waiting for you to blow up his balloons."
"Just as long as Hilda makes sure that nobody knobbles the bloody thing." agreed Malcolm.
Of course, leaving the bike at the pub gave me the opportunity of running a few spanners across the metalwork. The news got around about the race and Grease started a book. Even though Roger the Bodger had a piss poor reputation for tuning, the Honda was still favourite and Malcolm was very aggravated at the Ariel being quoted at 10 to 1 to come in second, 3 to 1 it wouldn't get to the end and 2 to 1 it wouldn't even start. There was a good chance of taking a few quid at those odds provided the full potential of the Ariel could be approached. In the time available I only had time to give it a surplus decoke, clean a bit off the parts and increase the compression ratio slightly by leaving out certain gaskets and making sure the surfaces were gas-tight. Apart from that all I could do in secret was make sure the carburettor and ignition settings were suitable for the dope that replaced the petrol. With a bit of luck Malcolm would not notice the difference 'til he opened the throttle. Hilda was the only other conspirator and was sworn to secrecy. She watched the operation with some approval and even cleaned the bike up a bit with a duster.
Malcolm was quite pleased with the appearance when he collected it in the early hours of Sunday morning. At Pigs Lane about a dozen local riders and punters had assembled. Lookouts were posted and the two bikes were brought under starters orders.
Malcolm was always exuberantly and ignorantly confident and, as the outsider, had the token support of most present. Roger the Bodger had their money behind him and as a result was a bit smug.
Malcolm had it all thought out. The Honda had five gears and for Roger to use them all to keep the revs on the boil would mean losing some time on the changes. Malcolm had decided to put it into third, slip the clutch (and the bald rear tyre) with the engine at full throttle and leave it in third all the way.
"Good Luck!" called Hilda as they moved to the line.
Grease was acting as starter and some other cronies were at the finish in case the result was not obvious.
"Right, I want a good clean race," said Grease, "No kicking, or baulking. Go when I drop the flag. Ok, start your bikes."
The Honda roared into life and a few spectators noted the blue smoke with some misgivings. Malcolm surprised everyone, including himself, by starting the Arrow first kick. The smoke was appalling and soon began to hide the scene.
"For gawd's sake get them away!" people began to shout so Grease dropped the flag.
Malcolm wound the throttle wide open and began to feed in the clutch and the Ariel jerked off so violently that Malcolm slid right to the back as the front wheel lifted off the ground. Very spectacular. The revs dropped and so did the front wheel taking the handlebars clean out of Malcolm's sweaty fingers. The Honda was a length and a half ahead but Roger missed a gear and the Ariel drew level. Malcolm, in sheer terror, saw it as his last chance to avoid being run over by the Honda and threw himself backwards off the charging Arrow whose throttle was still stuck wide open. The smoke was fog thick and we could hardly see what was happening. The Ariel lurched on at ever increasing speed, running much better without Malcolm on board to slow it down and misdirect it. Roger weighed up the situation instantly with the astute brain of a grand prix champion. All he had to do was ride down the road behind the Arrow until it fell over then ride past and win the race. But in the two-smoke fog he lost the road completely and rode into the ditch. The Arrow disappeared up the road and out of sight behind the smoke screen. Malcolm got up in a state of deep shock.
"Hey, Hilda!" he called, "What the hell did you do to that bike?"
"I only tickled it round with a duster." she explained.
"Well you better tickle Malcolm with the duster." I suggested. "He's got to catch the bloody thing."
Very funny story, well written, I was almost there, could smell the smoke plus I'm an Ariel rider myself.