bruises and a severe dent to his observer reputation, Jim was OK, which was more than could be said for badly damaged Honda. The tractor was not scratched! An hour later, after much pidgin French, form filling and phone calls, we left Jim to await recovery and we set off led by Rob on his Guzzi with Dan as ‘tail-end Charlie’ on his VFR. This was my first experience of the drop-off system, which worked very well and suited the large single group with several towns and traffic lights to negotiate. (I later learned that you could play ‘snakes and ladders’, overtaking bikes (ladder) in the group until you reached the front when you were dropped-off to the back of the group (snake)). Safely into Arras, we paused for our first sample of café culture, warm sunshine and French coffee. Obviously, weather forecast was wrong and we were in for a warm dry trip. We arrived at hotel in St Quentin just in time to register with Eurotrax and sign away our lives on their disclaimer, including paying for fire engine and ambulance if required! We met up with Sam who had arrived some time earlier and looked relaxed and refreshed for the night. More café culture with ELAM guys before early night in preparation for 6.30am breakfast. Next morning, it was weatherman’s revenge with low cloud, steady rain and over suits for the rendezvous with another 25 bikes to be led by Rick to Folembray, about 25km away. Again the drop-off system was working well until an off at a country roundabout saw a Bandit 600 slide-off and grind through crankcase. The rider was OK but his bike was losing oil. Although it would get to the nearby track, it would not be fit for a day’s riding! We reached track late to hear that there had been another ‘off’ in another group. Check in at Folembray, another disclaimer, this time in French, and a detailed briefing on the format for the day and the mini-groups system from Chris Mitchell. Geoff, Sam and I were allocated to different groups based (I think) on our different machines and implied quickness on track. At last onto track with adrenalin pumping. A couple of sighting laps behind the observer showed a short, tight circuit with hair-pins, chicane, couple sweeping curves and short straights. Second gear and full rev range was sufficient for me especially given the standing water. The SAM Observer September 2010
The September 2010 edition of "The SAM Observer"