This is a beautiful part of the world — full of twisty country lanes, forests, great pubs, little fluffy bunny rabbits (“Pass me the Purdey
, Jeeves, the vermin are on the lawn again!”) and dewy-eyed Bambi lookalikes. While each of those contributes in its own way to creating memorable motorcycling experiences (that’s ‘memorable’, not necessarily ”great’ — no-one who’s just failed to outbrake a bouncing deer at midnight is likely to describe that experience as ‘great’), there are a couple of local places that makes it special for anyone with any appreciation of motor-racing history. One is the great banked circuit at Brooklands (remains of) and the other the Goodwood
race circuit and hill climb, set in the rolling countryside of West Sussex.
Goodwood was the Classic Gentleman’s racing circuit — attached to a stately home, converted in the 1940s from the wartime fighter airfield, and with the paddocks in the stables, it epitomised the immediate post-war racing clan — the sort of upper-class twit element that instantly and irresistably conjures Monty Python and Harry Enfield. After many years of genteel decay, the whole of Goodwood has been now been revitalised, spruced up and brought into the latter days of the twentieth century. It now hosts an annual Festival of Speed, one of the great opportunities to see racing cars and bikes of every era both close to and in action on the hill climb circuit that runs past Goodwood house itself.
Six weeks later and not only have I not fallen off, but have managed to put about 1500 miles on the thing, it’s had it’s first service and I’ve more or less worked out the difference between it’s capabilities and mine: A lot.