Photos & Musings: Early Days

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Maico MC125

After a year in the schoolboys, racing with the Severn Valley and Cotswold clubs in the senior class, I moved up into the experts for 1978 and raced a Maico 125.

There weren’t too many Maico 125s around in those days. This rare bike was unusual in that it was disc valve induction, rather than the usual piston port/reed valve arrangement, but after trying one out I felt that it handled well and suited me.

I raced mostly in the Midlands area in 1978, with clubs like Warley Wasps, Sandwell Heathens and West Midlands Schoolboys, at great tracks like Claverley, Wilden Lane and Heightington. In fact there were about four separate tracks at Heightington, all within sight of each other.

I started to do quite well in schoolboys that year, moving up to start winning expert races regularly.

Another unusual thing about the Maico, which you may be able to see in the photo, was that the gear lever shaft ran through the centre of the kickstart shaft. As a result the gear lever shaft was really thin and prone to snapping. This happened regularly and meant taking the right hand engine cover off and replacing the shaft. My Dad Ron, who was no mechanic, got quite good at fixing this problem, but it still took half an hour or so.

One day I was racing a two-day event at Claverley and the gear shaft snapped again. We rushed to fix it between races but just couldn’t get it done in time and the experts took off for the next race with me still in the pits. We got the bike running and I raced down to the line, joining the race as the first 6 or 7 experts were off on their second lap. Over the next 15 minutes I overtook all the leading riders, coming up behind the race leader on the last lap. I overtook the leader, thereby un-lapping myself on that last circuit. When I came around to the finish I received the last lap flag again! I can’t imagine that a situation like that can have happened many times before – receiving the last lap flag twice!

1978 Maico MC125 Enlarge image