A hundred years young, Annandale-Leichardt Motorcycle Club is Australia's premier sidecar club. ALMCC members race in all of the side car categories, Classic, Post Classic, Forgotten Era, Modern F1 and Modern F2 and compete in the Australian Sidecar Championship, various state titles and club rounds. Several members have also competed in International events such as the Isle of Mann.
To introduce potential competitors to the sport ALMCC hold a Side Car training day where punters for $100 receive a full day’s racing and induction training to the sport on the World Class Eastern Creek Race track. All one needs to do is rock up with a helmet and protective gear (jacket and suitable pants, boots) and they get to tear around the track with some of Australia’s best riders.
The day attracts a large amount of male attendees, but there are also plenty of women attendees. Club member Lisa West started her career seven years ago after a training day at Oran Park and then started racing with her father in law and now races with her husband. ‘’It’s terrifying at first and then you get the bug and it’s like a drug now’’. The club doesn’t discriminate and there were many elderly inductees and a blind man. Long time competitor and builder Bob Northey had this to say ‘’ There’s no age limit. No line to stop, you can just keep doing it till you can no more! There’s grandfathers and I’m a great grandfather.” Spectators can also attend, free of charge.
Neighbouring City of Penrith MC President Roy Gay helps out with coaching and orientation and several of their 200 members turn out with side cars and dirt side cars which are also offered up for training.
Ozbike’s own Biker in Charge “Skol’’ had always wanted to give it a go and when he heard ALMCC were having an open day was quick to throw his hand up to give it a go and loved it. ‘’That is one thing everyone needs to put on their bucket list to do before they die! Pretty amazing, you’re a hairs breath away from the ground and the thing lifts up as you go around a corner and you are hanging out there, trying to hold on for grim death for fear of falling off the bloody thing and the further you go the more tired you get, the harder it is to get across that bloody bike and it’s from one side to the other as you go around the corners. Just absolutely amazing!’’. Such was the number of volunteers and bikes the turnaround for rides was pretty much as you finished your three laps and returned to the pits there was another bike waiting for those keen for the challenge and what’s an old biker to do? ‘’Should have had a five minute break’’ Skol says ‘’I was kind of knackered when I went around on the first bike and I hopped off and went straight on another bike. The second bike was such a struggle to stay on, I got to my limit.’’
Another inductee was Carl Bacon ‘’incredible experience’’ he said ‘’ the amount of energy needed to hang onto these things, it’s a thrill of a lifetime and at first I was terrified but now I’m glad I’ve done it. I literally jumped off the machine looking for blood to blink my eyes. Usually I’m the mechanic and I have been riding since the age of four but I have never experienced anything like this, it was like flying on the ground and totally interactive.’’
The day is as full as you want it and as the day progressed participants were given instruction and as they grew in confidence the speed got quicker to their ability and you could see the riders getting more competitive, overtaking and winding through traffic and the difference from the dirt to say the F1 was quite evident by this time. I asked Skol what the differences between the bikes ‘’the dirt and classic bikes aren’t as fast but just as hard and not as comfortable set up and getting across one of those things is hard yakka. The faster bikes just go like the clappers and have that much power you just feel them pulling all the time and the rider would start off slow to assess the passengers capability and experience and then go faster and faster!’’
Skol regards himself a fairly fit bloke and the man walks his dog every day, rides his bike most every day and sails several times a week and to see him in the state he was in with plenty more riding left before days end, made me laugh but I also came to the realisation of the strength needed to compete in this style of racing. Straight off the bike and making a straight line for the chair and gasping for air Skol says ‘’I’m totally knacked! That last lap was the fastest I have had it. He was just overtaking bikes left, right and centre and then he would hit the brakes hard just before the corner and belt through them and I was hanging out, just inches from the ground. This thing just took off, just powered on, powered on and powered on, amazing!’’
Interested? Check out your local motorcycle club for up-coming events.
You can contact Annandale Leichardt Motorcycle Club through their website www.almcc.com.au