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Peter Craven, Manchester

The first Monday of April, and Chris has a day off, well he did until the initial staging of the Peter Craven was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for today.

I like most was surprised he was not in the initial selection after being part of it for so many years, we had so many messages asking why – the simple answer is Chris wasn’t invited the first time round as BV were trying something different. The initial staging was rained off, and here we are in the re-arranged fixture with Chris racing by invitation.

A video from the BV press conference when they announced Chris in the re-arranged line-up was lovely to see, the cheer was a little unexpected, but shows the support Chris has in British Speedway.

The kids wanted to go and watch Daddy, so road trip it is …

We travelled to Belle Vue, what should take 2 hours, took just under 3 – never ideal with kids but luckily, the little ones had a nap. We arrived in the pits at 6pm, instantly the little ones wanted to help Daddy take his stuff to the pits & little Cruz wanted to see Dan Bed-dewly (Dan Bewley in Cruz’s words) as Dan is his 2nd favourite rider, after daddy of course.

I headed to the Peter Craven Suite for a meal I booked with the kids, and after a little drama with the table we were all set. I would like to say a huge thank you to Kevin (I know you read my blog) for his kindness & generosity – I obviously looked like I needed a drink and Kevin kindly got me a Jack Daniels and a drink for the little ones, and also a thank you to the lovely hospitality staff and of course to Mark Lemon.

We watched on from the behind the glass at the start finish line, Chris is on parade & the first thing we notice is Chris’s new bikes – they stand out a mile and look great, I had lots of messages saying how great they looked and how they stood out from the crowd. I know I am biased but they looked great.

The first race was not great, he came last - Cruz cried – bless him, it’s hard for little ones to understand at this age, especially when he believes that his daddy is the best ever.

2nd second race was no better he said the engine was sluggish, so finally he swaps bikes (Chris hates to do this as it means 2 bikes to wash ha ha).

It's always difficult watching Chris when he has a bad race, obviously because we always want him to do well, secondly because i know how frustrated Chris and the team will be as they work so hard on all the bikes, but mainly because of speedway fans who have to have their say 'He's had his day, he's passed it, oh he has another bike problem and so on and so on - these fans who don't know what really goes on from behind the scenes and how much dedication and guts it takes as well as financial investment. I mean Chris turned up to BV with 2 brand new bikes, and the same engines (serviced) that he used at BV the end of last season. No rider turns up wanting to lose, or break down - especially Chris. It's upsetting at times as well as frustrating, especially when the kids are with me.

But the change of tune when he goes out doing Bomber things, well that's one for another blog.

3rd race on his second bike, makes a blinder of a gate and he had a great battle with lambert, but he holds lambert off and takes the chequered flag with a win.

4th race drama, Hans goes through the tapes and Chris’s back chain comes off and wrecks his rear wheel – luckily he has just enough time to jump on his bike no 1 (the slow one) and is back at the tapes for the re-run – and what a race, he’s stone cold last at one point but somehow in true bomber style he finds something from somewhere and gets himself into 2nd place. His team messaged me after the race ‘How did he do that’ in all honesty I do not know how, he just doesn’t know when he’s beaten.

His 5th and final race, Chris retires halfway through the race, I stand firm that he made the right decision not risking himself with this one – the chain was moving, and he felt uncomfortable and wasn’t prepared to risk being catapulted off the bike.

The meeting was over, and we were loaded up and headed home, a 2-hour journey that ended up 3 ½ hours due to 4 road closures on the M6, and various roadworks. At one point we convinced ourselves we saw a UFO, well we were bored stuck in traffic looking at an object in the sky with various flashing lights through the clouds, a UFO sounded cooler than an aeroplane at 1am stuck on the motorway. Finally, we arrived home at 1.30am.

It is the morning after the night before, and Chris and the team are switching all the bikes back to Belt Drive after last nights issues with the chains. For the last couple of years Chris has used belt drives rather than chains, towards the end of last season they went back to chains and started off the season on them. Chris loves the belt drive, and it suits Chris, but not others – but he rides different to everyone else, so what will suit and work for Chris will not be the same for others.

Overall, an eventful trip to Manchester, I think next time I will watch at home on the TV. Anywhere involving the M6 is just not fun …

* All photos courtesy of Team Harris, unless stated otherwise

Manchester bound

Charging the new transponder on route

Helping Daddy

Helping Daddy

Daddy's two little helpers

Off to the pits they go

Peter Craven Suite

The damage from the rear chain

Photo from Twitter
Out front, heading for his race win

The M6 carpark

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