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The Wheels and Waves Punks Peak Race began in 2013 as a highly entertaining and occasionally heart-stopping, semi-legal road race that was such a big hit that it had to repeated albeit with some proper race organisation. The drag-style races still have a taste of the forbidden about them even though it is all so well marshalled these days, road racing is never of course without danger.
The banner above the start line this year featured Shinya Kimura’s ‘Faster Sons’ logo, a Yamaha Yard Built project for sure and yet it shows what a big deal it was to have him with us this year, of course he comes across as the most humble guy ever.
The first big ride out was to the ‘Punk’s Peak’ road race and thankfully the weather was on our side for the duration. I got a good vantage point up a tree from which to enjoy the spectacle, a really varied range of machines from as far away as the States and Japan, all being mercilessly thrashed up the hill, bikes like Olivier Prat’s Bosozuki faired Honda, in keeping with the Japanese theme and looking pretty cool, and Motokouture’s 142BHP take on the BMW NineT, a beautiful thing that I featured in my Paris Bike Shed piece, great to see these bikes out of an exhibition and burning rubber.
Legendary bike crafter Shinya Kimura was with us for the first time with a hastily built yet magnificent Bosozuku tailed Yamaha FZ-07, this being Wheels and Waves year of the Japanese. He won the first race but apparently underestimated the power of an Evo in his next race by letting it get a little ahead before going for his overtake before realising it wasn’t gonna happen like that, the track is short but most certainly has corners, particularly the second and if you miss the chance to overtake you don’t get another but that’s racing.
Despite carrying the enormous pressure of organising the event, Southsiders Vincent Pratt and Jerome Alle still found time to also race, Vincent on a Brough Superior Pendine Sands racer, Thierry meanwhile was content to handle the start line.
Racing a seriously fast Moto Guzzi were the quirky Hawaiian-shirted Young Guns out of, the pretty cool sounding, Rapperswil, Switzerland, using water bottles to deliver the race fuel, they were amongst the new generation best epitomising the Wheels and Waves spirit this year. The event has always been about being flamboyant, letting your hair down, doing crazy shit for a weekend, basically having fun with these machines that have been slaved over in a windowless workshop for months at a time and it obviously comes naturally to these boys; a devil may care attitude to regulations and ‘health and safety’ restrictions, although they all wear Davida helmets to safeguard the important bits. They are a diverse bunch bringing together many disciplines and skills and all obviously sharing a passion for classic motorcycles, they also clearly know what they’re doing in the workshop as their Guzzi was the most serious threat to the two fastest bikes of the day.
The ride up to the race venue on Jaizkibel mountain was an adventure in itself what with so many bikes on the road, Davida MD Fiddy was behind the Young Guns when when one of their exhaust cans fell off, he stopped to pick it up and presented it to them on the mountain much to their delight though not after Fiddy had blown the cooling system on his Huyabusa riding up the mountain with a blown thermostat (it got patched up). On the starting grid we met legendary classic motorcycle racers Tony and Sophie Smith who met at a race in Italy many years ago, Tony was looking the part in his bespoke Davida Classic carrying his own stylised a ‘Yorkshire Rose’ design.
Sam Lovegrove was racing a Norton Special and, given his preternatural skills with old machines, was always on hand to fettle the Royal Enfield he brought for Mark Upham to ride, Vincent’s Pendine racer and any other bikes that needed a bit off last minute fine tuning, all tackled with a calm, jovial manner, just the man you need at a race.
The races however were dominated by the Lucky Cat Garage BMW ‘Sprintbeemer’ built by Seb Lorentz and the Revival Cycles ‘Hardley’, that BMW goes as fast as you would hope it would when you first see it and sounds loader than a Motorhead concert. Time after time Vincent would drop the flag and turn to see the bikes roar up the road only to turn around almost immediately with a wry smile on his face as the Sprintbeemer had yet again effectively won the race within the first few metres. It performed perfectly every time, no mean feat for an old engine tuned and nitroused to that degree. It could have seemed a bit of an unfair fight for the rest of the competitors, particularly as Seb also works for BMW, though not if you’re Alan Stulberg whose tuned Harley proved to be only fractionally slower in the final, nevertheless Seb’s such a nice fella and like I say his work on that bike is so universally admired that their were huge cheers when he received his trophy and prize of a Davida Wheels and Waves helmet later that day.
The ride back to Biarritz from the prize giving at the beautiful Basque town of Hondarribia reintroduced us to the almost overwhelming downpours that can appear at any time in this part of the world, previous Wheels & Waves have almost completely been spared them, not this year though and it was a sign of things to come on Saturday when the big mountain ride-out traditionally takes place. The ride started out pretty well though with the usual disparate groups of riders attempting to coalesce into one group which it generally does at some point during the route. The rain though inevitably split the riders into smaller groups and sent many back to civilisation, much like my first Wheels and Waves when I was one of only seven or so bikes to complete the full ride. For this ride it wasn’t such a bad thing as attempting to keep such a huge group together, as was such last year, is quite a mission. When it wasn’t chucking it down however we were treated to some truly stunning misty vistas up in those mountains which are certainly one of my favourite parts of the world to ride. We were very glad we stuck with it, though the ride back into Biarritz was full on drenching time again and our apartment yet again became one big drying room, thank god for spare boots and dry socks.
So a great route for the ride-out yet again, it goes to show how spoilt the Southsiders are down their way that they keep finding new roads each year in the local environs that never disappoint, hunting for those roads is surely one of the pleasures of organising this event although they all seem to enjoy every element of it despite its growing size. Vincent, Valerie, Julien, Jérôme, Frédéric, Benoit, Thierry, Anik et al have shown that with the right mindset and dedication Wheels and Waves can transcend its humble origins without losing its original verve, well done to you all and particular personal thanks to Olivier of La Ruche Moderne in Anglet who sorted me a new chain for my bike on a Monday, when every bike place is closed, allowing me to make my ferry and I know there are many others you came to the rescue of tirelessly, you’re a legend.