Aberdare Park Road Races

On Sunday 27 July 2008 I decided to get on my bike and go and watch some racing at the Aberdare Park Road Races as there was no Moto GP or WSB racing to watch on the TV.

The journey did not start well, as I pulled up to a traffic light a rider, on a very nice KTM Super Moto, oposite me gave me the thumbs down signal. Initially I thought it might be something wrong on my bike, which is not that far a stretch after the issues I have had with it in the past few months. A nasty smell seemed to confirm this so I slowed down a bit to check. As I looked up I noticed a speed camera van parked up in a spot where I have never seen one before. It was at that point I remembered what the thumbs down signal is for. I hope I did not get pinged since I was doing an indicated 33 mph as I went past the van.

After a long, boring motorway journey I eventually found my way to the park. Finding parking proved quite difficult and most bikers were just abandoning their bikes on the pavements. I decided to look for something more legitimate as there seemed to be quite a few bored looking cops around.

Aberdare Map

Aerial shot of Aberdare Park

The racing itself was on a single carriage way road within the bounds of a city park, the circuit is 0.9 miles long and the lap record is 39 seconds giving an average speed of 83mph between trees, park benches, and flower gardens.

Racing amoung trees

Racing between trees and park benches

There were a number of different classes, everything from 125cc two stroke GP bikes, Super Motos, 400cc, 600cc to my favourite class which seemed to consist of old TZ250 two strokes against british engined specials (BSA, Manx Norton) and a classic MV Augusta.

Classic grid

Classic bikes against almost modern classics

The atmosphere was really family orientated, and it looked like many of the fans travelled by car so they could bring their wives and kids along. The playground in the park was very busy, but for some reason they closed the swimming pool on the day. The races were also very short, most heats were six to eight laps long while finals were 15 laps long and there wasn't a very long gap between races. The marshals were also very relaxed, at one corner they were eating ice cream and one said he's not picking any riders up till he finished!

Laid back marshals

Marshals enjoying ice-creams while the racing goes on

Probably my favourite rider of the day was Bill Swallow, the only rider to have a section of the track named after him. He seemed to know the track very well because he won most races he entered on his Manx Norton, only Ian Lougher could stick with him on a 400cc. Talking with a guy in the crowd apparently he was in his late fifties, and he wasn't the only one a few of the riders were even in their sixties and one had just had a hip replacement operation.

Bill Swallow

Bill Swallow on the grid on his Manx Norton

I only saw one accident while I was there, one guy went straight on at a corner but fortunately he missed all of the trees. While I was there I was sure I spotted a Morgan, well the family resemblance was just too stark not to notice. He was sleeping off a few too many beers while bikes were screaming past a few feet away!

A Morgan?

A Morgan? Looks like it to me!

I stayed at the track until 3pm and then decided to ride up through the Brecon, which is where I saw my second speed camera van on the A470, which is a very popular bike route. So I used the thumbs down signal to all the bikers coming the other way. I guess I'll have to wait for two weeks to see if I was over the limit, I hope not.