Jake’s hanging with Josh Coppins on the other side of the world as he puts the finishing touches to his pre-season prep…
Wow! This last month has gone quick – seems like five minutes ago I was hacking around the woods at home on the 150 and now I’m as far away from my beloved woods as possible. Weep. Not! Hope you’re all well and your start to 2011 has been enjoyable.
I’ve been flat-out since last time I wrote. We left for our first family holiday in three years along with my girlfriend Blu, dad’s bum buddy Pete and Tony and Jenni Marshall. We went in two cars down to Val d’isere in the French Alps for a week, staying in one of the nicest houses/chalets I’ve ever set foot in. It was unreal and there was a cook that came in every evening and made the best meals I’ve ever eaten (apart from mum’s roast).
We had an awesome time and it was by far the best holiday I’ve been on but I was so excited to get back and ride, especially when I read the write-ups on the SX. Man, how good have they been? If any of you haven’t watched them yet get on YouTube or I think they’re on Motors TV. Proper racing! I’ve got so much respect for the big four in the 450 class. All-out war and no fear on the track at all – inspirational or what! I’ve been watching them before I go to bed over here and all I want to do is ride or race and end up lying in bed stewing about it!
So anyway, we got back from France late on the Sunday night and that following Tuesday I was flying to NZ so I chilled at home and got some last-minute training in with the HK (Holeshot King) and felt strong. My Christmas present from my parents was a first class ticket to NZ which was sick and I slept a lot on the way which helped the jetlag situation a fair bit. I got some funny looks strolling in the first class lounges though – some grubby little herder in a lumberjack shirt and jeans with a backpack on. Not a common look in there apparently. All good though and I made the most of it and ate everything on offer two times over just to impress my fellow first class chums.
JC picked me up from the airport in his sick little Toyota van. It was good to see Josh again as our paths hadn’t crossed since the MXdN. We arrived at his place which is just outside of a nice quiet seaside town at the top of the South Island and what a cool set-up he’s got his self. I was very impressed as he gave me a tour, showing me his workshop/garage which I’m very confident would put most MX teams to shame. There’s a small kitchen and toilet in the middle and it’s where I’m going to be based so to say I’m living, sleeping and dreaming bikes would be so true as Josh’s 2005 Honda is right next to my bed. So cool, talk about no distractions!
The first day was spent lessening my jetslag, then we cracked on with some cycling. Over three days we covered heaps of miles and I got to see all of the local countryside which is beautiful, especially in the height of their summer. Then we drove to the local KTM dealer and picked up a spanking new 250F which has been so kindly lent to me for a month so a big thank you to KTM UK and KTM Oz for sorting that one out – I hope I can pay them back with a title this year!
My suspension and pipe didn’t turn up until yesterday so for over a week I have been riding a truly stock bike with just my 604 Fat Bars on it and to say I have been impressed is an understatement. I don’t want it to sound like a cheese ranger plug for KTM here but, honestly, I didn’t even touch the clickers on the suspension and it was really good. Obviously, for a big boy like me sometimes it was a bit too soft but a hell of a stock package I must say. I rode three days the first week then thought ‘bugger it’ and entered a race called the Woodville International up in Palmerston North on the North Island. Not exactly good timing for a race with just four-and-a-half hours in the bank but why not?
So JC’s dad drove the bikes up there and Josh, Mike Church and myself flew up just for a day as Josh was on call for the birth of their second baby and, you guessed it, little Elsie was born midday Sunday when we were racing.
The racing was fun even though my starts were around 10th every time. The first race I was sleeping for the first few laps but got right into it nearing the end of the 20-minute sprint and came in fifth, four seconds behind the winner Luke Burkhart, Cam Dillon, Darryl King and Kayne Lamont so that was all right. The track was crazy fast – quicker than Langrish in places I would say.
The second moto was mixed with 450s and I rode real good in this one as it was roughing up. I passed all the MX2 boys and chased the fourth 450 before dropping it with one lap to go and came seventh. Last race got restarted three times but we eventually got away and I was pushing for fifth on the opening lap but they had ripped/graded it which sucked a bit and I lost the front and dropped it. I was furious (understatement) when I got up but I bit my tongue and got going last. I rode a good race and kept an eye on the leaders to make sure I was going quicker which I was but they were riding very well. Tough to beat on their home ground I guess – just like us Brits. As Craig Dack (Josh’s Yamaha team boss and renowned ripper back in the day) informed me at the dinner table on Saturday night before the race, it was the toughest racing he has ever done when he lived in Luton and raced the Brit champs. I was so proud to hear him say that!
So we flew back Sunday night and Josh went straight off to see the new baba and Lisa. I enjoyed my first race a lot and all I could think about was racing again which I am this weekend, just a local race with some fast guys in it. It’s in Greymouth where those poor fellas got blown up in the mine!
My suspension turned up Monday so I spent nearly all day fitting that – ha ha, I don’t know why they haven’t got me writing a column about working on bikes, I really don’t. Riding’s real nice on the factory WP suspension from home – I can push real hard with that stuff. Mike and Paula Church are over here helping out with the baby and Myla – Josh and Lisa’s awesome little two-year-old girl – and also looking after me. They’ve been great company and great tea-drinking partners too. Even in 32 degrees heat I drink five cups a day – I love it!
Josh is riding a Yam 450 and looks really good at the minute – I think he’s gonna kill it in Oz this year. He won the MX1 at
Woodville and is looking strong so make sure you follow his attack Down Under on twitter @joshcoppins and why not get some updates on myself too through @JakeNicholls45.
Can’t thank Josh enough for letting me stay here and train with him, his track and facilities are awesome. We’re both working real hard and I feel good on the new bike. I am looking forward to riding when I get back home and getting in a bit of mud before the first round as I’m sure it will be moist! That’s all for now folks – thanks for reading.