Hoghton Tower Sprint

with Accrington and Rossendale College - 6th April 2014

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When I donated Gordon to the college it was the long term goal for the students to explore Gordon, see how he worked, strip and re-build him and at some point get out and about with him.


Whether it was racing or in this case sprint him; Dave Bradley who runs the college motorcycle dept. suggested that due to the red tape it might be too complicated to arrange for one of the students to compete so invited me to ride Gordon instead.


It didn't take me too long to think about it and we agreed to do the Hoghton Sprint near Blackburn.


Hoghton Tower is a charming house with a large estate that once a year has a motorcycle sprint along the driveway up towards the main house.

Set at one eighth of a mile it allows the competitors plenty of time to get their machines up and more importantly back down to speed before running out of road at the gates to the main house. What I didn't take into account was from the start it was up hill and quite steep too, with large steeply sided grass banks either side of the road which was great for spectators to view the event.

Arriving early in the morning the students had already set up camp and were waiting for me to arrive, and get Gordon through scruteneering. After signing on, technical inspection and a rider briefing the tannoy burst into life and started shouting for the first class for their initial practice.

We had two practice runs and three timed runs up the hill to set our best time. To add further interest Dave had also entered me on his CBR600 street fighter. Thankfully the bikes were in different classes, Gordon in a mixed class with 400s, SV650s, Singles and the Street fighter was in the Supersport class.


The way the organisers planned the day was each class would assemble at the top of the hill then all ride down to the start area, turn around in a holding area then one by one blast back up the hill and return to the paddock.


Gordon's class was called and we discovered our first problem of the day.

Gordon needs a starter to get going, and once fired up it was going to be impossible to keep him running while all the other bikes assembled either at the top or the bottom for their run back up the hill.

So we decided to keep the starter at the bottom of the hill, roll him down, and start Gordon while at the start line holding area. Thankfully it worked quite well and some of the guys were eagerly waiting for me at the start area, however it had been raining all morning and there was water running down the hill.

We really needed wet weather tyres, the intermediate ones we'd fitted were better than slicks but we couldn't use tyre warmers just a quick burn out to try and get some heat into the rear tyre before the start. The tyres struggled for grip on the starter but eventually Gordon bust into life and I did a burn out before rolling to the line, having never done a sprint before I really needed these two practice runs. Building revs, dumping the clutch, loads of wheel spin and off we roared up the hill. Quickest in my group so a good start to the day, the Street fighter wasn't running right and was only on three cylinders at low revs but we gave it a go anyway.

In this group there was loads of Yamaha R6s, ZXR6s etc so the pace was quick but with the weather being so poor it levelled out the competition a little and I was 6th quickest.


Practice two on both bikes went well, the college guys were getting the hang of being in the right place at the right time, starting Gordon and swapping over the bikes at the holding areas etc.


First run on Gordon and his engine died on the line, quickly rolling back to the starter and getting him running again then off the line the engine was holding back and seemed flat, up into third gear and he cut out completely rolling over the line to finish. The hill didn't help and I had to push the last 100 yards to get off the road - very knackering.


The street fighter was on fire and blasted, wheels spinning up the hill to record a 5th in class time, but our attention was now focused on finding out why Gordon's engine had stopped. This time we couldn't get him started at all.

Checking the basics first. Fuel was getting there, there was no obvious signs of damage to the wiring, but when we checked the battery voltage it was only 7.6 volts, that was the issue.


We didn't have a charger or time to get some volts into the battery anyway - but help was at hand in the form of one of the students own machines, a Honda CG125, it had the same size battery.


Quickly it was commandeered, pulled  from his machine and fitted to Gordon, he started immediately.


By now the rain was bouncing down and traction was terrible, everyone was struggling but lots of the riders had wets fitted so there was no way we could get our machines off the line like they could.

Both Gordon and the Streetfighter were wheel spinning in first, second and third gears and it was getting slightly scary as the road was only 10 feet wide and the bikes were wondering all over the place up the hill.

We finished off the rostrum in both classes but everyone had a great day, the students had fun running up and down with the starter and fiddling around getting the engine going after the battery issue.

The ironic thing was as soon as the last bike went up the hill the sun came out and it dried up in about half an hour, if only...

Big thanks to everyone for a super day, my first sprint and a chance to give Gordon a good blast out again.

Cheers, everyone - already looking forward to Leighton Hall Sprint 28th September.

Click the thumbnail above to read the results.

Click the thumbnail above to read the results.