Hard Luck at Wheels & Waves
By Ross Sharp - 07 Sep 18
This is James Smith, one of the loosest guys I race with. On track he's remarkably precise and cautious, it's everywhere else that he lets it all hang out. An ex-pro BMX Flatlander and tattoo shop co-owner James lives life to the fullest and never needs an excuse for to ride one of his home-brew Harley builds, whether it be across town to the 'Shed or much, much further afield. I missed this year's edition of Wheels & Waves but James looks to have had enough fun for the rest of of put together. And yes, the event was months ago but I liked the sound of the trip so thought it worth a share.
His plan was to share a van with Kingdom of Kicks founder James Jordan and our construction go-to Mark Amos (he built our mezzanine extension at our HQ). They'd take the ferry to Santander then the Jameses would ride to Biarritz to compete in the Punk's Peak hill climb and El Rollo flat track race. Well, sort of Biarrtiz, the actual race venues involved hundreds of extra miles. On route, admittedly not that far from the port, few mates had stopped in San Sebastian for a couple of beers but apparently "we partied a bit too hard and left the Maidstone Harley guy in our hotel room in morning, still asleep, which would have be fucking weird when he woke wondering how he'd got there!!"
Next up, the annual Punk's Peak race, held on a sketchy ribbon of tarmac in the misty Pyrenees. Barbed wire prevents a drop off the hillside to the right and small stream running across the track at the point you'd shift into 3rd keep things entertaining for the crowds. Smith was unfairly lined-up against Royal Enfield's tricked-out, nitrous powered drag bike - read more about that here - but says that he was surprisingly close to not being beaten.
The crew then headed back to Biarritz for another round of parties on the beach, entertained by fellow DTRA racer Hubert Bastie pulling 1 o'clock wheelies on James Jordan's Sportster. Flat track legend Dimitri Coste packed Mark, both Jameses and nine others in the back of his metallic brown Chevy Dayvan and headed to the Indian Motorcycles shindig. Stuff happened, most people can't remember what. It will have been good.
The El Rollo flat track event looked like it'd be a complete washout, the track is a hard packed and rutted fesh fesh at the best of times but it's like claggy ice when moist. Thankfully the Spanish (the race is held across the border) sun put its hat on and the afternoon was action packed. Both Jameses usually underestimate their ability and consistency, Smith recounted "I somehow qualified 3rd for the final and ended up finishing 5th, not bad".
Cause for celebration then! Back to Biarritz and more partying, but not everyone was on board. A bouncer at the casino wasn't digging James' grubby racewear and refused him entry, so he did the right thing and walked away with his tail between his legs.... then swapped it for his race bike and did a burnout on the fancy red carpet.
With banging heads and blurred vision Smith & Jordan limped the 200km to the ferry for a 24 hr detox cruise that'd feature green smoothies and bracing sea air. Of course it bloody didn't!
Fairly rubbish images (click on the galleries for larger, fuzzier versions) from clearly knackered iPhones, not usually the sort of thing we'd publish but I admire both James' commitment to simply riding as often as possible and having a good time doing it.