I think it was Dong who suggested this escapade on an evening not too long ago during which a fair old drop of vino-mucho-collapso might have been imbibed."Why don't we have a bash at go karting?" he laconically dropped into the conversation.
"Erm - because I can't see properly?" should have been the appropriate response, but what the hell. Simon Pauley of Insight Radio has started referring to me on air as "our White Cane Adventurer", so I guess I'd better do some adventuring...
Dong duly went along to KartWorld near Liskeard and buttered them up a bit with talk of the prospective parliamentary candidate for this area (true) who also happens to be a radio presenter (well, sort of - it's a monthly chat piece) and might be a teensy bit unable to see but who would like a go on their track.
KartWorld, as represented by (presumably) the lady proprietor came up with an eminently practical idea; the KartWorld team are on site about an hour before Joe Public is allowed onto the circuit, so why didn't we turn up about 09:30ish on a Saturday morning. We'd have the circuit to ourselves and KartWorld would sort out the rest. Brilliant.
One confirmation telephone call later, and we're all set...so onwards to this very morning when I awoke in a state of some excitement (stop it, no sniggering at the back) and levered myself into the old biking leathers; goodness but it felt great to have them on again. As the adage goes, old bikers never die - their leathers just creak a lot. Here's me desperately sucking the old tummy in and trying to look comfortable in leathers that I bought when I was a tiny bit slimmer in the waist department:Dong and Shazzerooneypoos arrived outside to drive in convoy to our destined race; that is a grand prix between Dong and me. Dong was allowed on the circuit on the basis that he was well aware of my eyesight problems and it would be his own damned fault if he came a cropper. Here we are just before registering and signing chitties to the effect that if we hurt ourselves it wasn't KartWorld's fault (fair enough in my 'umble).In the reception area, there's a jolly interesting sign, which I felt it important to pose with (mainly because Mrs The Millbrooker and Shazzerooneypoos ordered me to):Scan, if you will, downwards to the fifth line from the bottom and read from there if you can't be arsed to read all the way through: After a short safety briefing, we were into the pits and ready for our "parade lap", a nice gentle and slow one to get an idea of the circuit before pressing pedal to metal and trying to go like the proverbial umbala off a shiny shovel. Driving one of these things is simplicity itself - foot on the right pedal makes it go, foot on the left pedal makes it stop. Here we are just before heading out of the pits for the first lap (Dong in the fetching blue boiler suit and me in the deeply sexy black leathers and Shoei skid-lid): The epic story of the race itself is, perhaps best told by video (thank you to Mrs The Millbrooker for patiently standing in the chill January wind with camera at the ready). This first one shows the end of the very sedate parade lap and, just at the end as we disappear from view, my early overtaking manoeuvre which caught Dong completely unawares. I believe he might have sworn a bit under his helmet.
Several laps later, though, he had his revenge in this slightly less shaky video:
And so it ended, Dong won overall by a fag paper over half a lap (I span off in my vain attempts to at least get onto his fast disappearing tail).
The top speeds don't look hugely impressive in the vids, but we're hitting about 38-40mph on the back straight, and our backsides are about 2cm from the ground; it feels very fast indeed.
We'd been racing for all of ten minutes; trust me - it's enough, we both ached from the exertion. It really is very hard physical work pushing one of these little jobbies to the best of your not-very-considerable abilities. My best lap time was 46.03 seconds for the 800 metre circuit; Dong's a tad quicker.It was, and I quote myself as we said cheerio to the lady in charge at reception, the best fun I've had with my clothes on for years.
The KartWorld people were great - helpful, friendly, efficient and obliging - I wish them every success, they deserve it. I owe them a huge thank you; if any readers want to have a go the contact details are below.
We felt in need of another treat, so off to Windy Ridge Diner we went for a hugely artery-clogging breakfast. Should you ever go there, do try the "American" : 2 eggs, 2 toast, 2 fried bread, 2 sausages, 2 bacon, beans, mushrooms, grilled tomato, onion rings, sauteed potatoes, 4oz rump. Yes, I bloody well did, and I'm not ashamed (just fat). I must also say thank you to Dong for having the idea and actually setting it all in motion, to Shazzerooneypoos for making sure he got there and to Mrs The Millbrooker for driving me to and fro, coz I'm not allowed on the public roads anymore - even in a Go Kart.
What a day.
***********KartWorld contact details, go on - you know you want to:
Menheniot Rail Station, Lower Clicker Road, Nr Liskeard, PL14 3PJ
(just off the A38 between Trerulefoot and Liskeard); well signposted.
Tel 01579 347229, under normal circumstances (like you can see and don't use a white cane, for example) you don't need to book - just turn up, pay the money and go.
Winter Opening (01 Oct - Easter) Sat and Sun only 10:00 until dusk.
Otherwise - 7 days a week incl bank holidays 10:00 until 18:00 (August until 19:00 except Sundays when they close at 18:00).