Monday, 15 August 2011
Oh, where to begin?
Back in the UK, we used to watch motorbike racing most weekends. This was a great social event, with there often being 20 of us larking around together. Here, it has been replaced with the matinals, but we still like the racing.
In Xativa today, there was a series of street races. They closed off the centre of town, and made a route around several streets, forming a circuit. In the centre, the pits were in the streets, and the start/finish straight was in the road below the Avenue.
Not knowing what the schedule was, we walked all around, both inside and outside of the circuit. It was possible to cross over between races/practices, but it was all very carefully supervised.
There were several categories, and we watched them all practicing, trying to work out what was going on. Finally we spotted some people with small brochures, but unfortunately there were none available when we got there. All of the cafes within the cordon were open, and even set out little stalls outside, selling a bocadillo and a drink for about €4. This saved having queues inside, and when they were running out, someone just made some more up. Even a bottle of water was €1. Still much more than it ought to be, but better than £1.50 which is normal in most places that have you trapped.
We saw everything as we walked around. For a while, we watched from next to the 'pit crews'. They were all frantic with stop watches, and shouting times to each other. One chap constantly genuflected and kissed the cross around his neck. At first, we thought it was as his rider completed each lap, but it was every few seconds. The poor chap was obviously frantic about somebody. Bless him. Literally.
When the actual racing finally stated (at about 12:30) it was amazing to see how quickly they drove through the streets. Ed thinks they were up to about 80/90mph in some places. All that protected the public was a bit of fencing, and all that protected the racers, was a pile of straw bales in strategic places. Great fun.
There was a race for classic bikers (or classic bikes?). When some of the riders took their helmets off, it was time to be impressed. I don't know if they were old spanish champions, but they certainly weren't spring chickens any more. Good for them.
The really odd thing, was the total lack of marshalls. There were yellow flag men on the corners, but that was it. If you fell off, I think you had to get yourself and your bike back up again! The lap counter, was a man with a big flip top yellow counter, who stood right in the track, moving out of the way if too many bikes came at once!
It may sound amateurish, but it was actually very well organised. I don't think anyone was hurt, and everyone had a really good time. Excellent. Bring on next year.