Anyway, A couple of weeks ago the excellent Wheels and Waves festival of stylish motorcycling took place in Biarritz. Every year the event has developed, introducing the Punks Peak hillclimb a few years ago, the Village dealer area and, for 2016, Vincent and the Southsiders wanted to introduce a flat track race. They contacted Sideburn to help make it happen.
The Wheels and Waves organisers employed Spanish motorsports promo company, Fly Group, to create the track and staff the event. Fly Group are more used to running international MX events and spectacles like Red Bull X Fighters, but both agreed they wanted some grassroots dirt track involvement and expertise and that's where Sideburn came in.
Wheels and Waves has expanded from a 2-3-day event into one that runs from Wednesday to Sunday. The El Rollo flat track race was set to open the event on Wednesday. I arrived in Biarritz on Tuesday evening. It was the first time I'd been back to Wheels and Waves since 2013 and there seemed to be more bikes in town on this Tuesday night than at the height of the 2013 event. It really has grown massively. That growth has led to the organisers using venues all over the basque region. This year more happened in Northern Spain than in Biarritz.
The El Rollo race was held on a brand new track formed within the middle of a mile-long horse track at San Sebastien's Hippodromo. On a good run the track was just 40 minutes on the autoroute from the centre of Biarritz, but the motorway often gets chewed up with lorries stuck in the toll booths and at the border. I had been loaned a fire-breathing BMW S1000XR for the couple of days I was in town. This is the unholy alliance of S1000RR superbike engine and R1200GS ergonomics. Wicked machine. I met up with UK DTRA regular Frank Chatokhine, his mate Treust and the Bike Shed's Ross Sharp who were all racing. I followed their van and we were the second racers to arrive at the track, shortly after 8am.
There were slightly too many cooks with Fly, various Southsiders and Sideburn all trying to make the right decisions and sometimes standing on each others toes, unintentionally, but for a first event, on a track that didn't exist two weeks previously, it went pretty smoothly. The classes could have been organised a little better, but the Southsiders had specific ideas on that and it was a fun race. Riders came from all over the world and seemed to enjoy themselves. Everyone deemed it a success and it was good to be a part of it.
Sideburn 21 cover bike, Olivier's 1949 WR racer.