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Ash clouds and weddings

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Jennie Gow | 17:06 UK time, Friday, 23 April 2010

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight
Red sky in morning, shepherd's warning

That's how the old saying goes, but what would shepherds make of a slightly yellowish sky? Not even farming folk have heard the one about the giant ash cloud over Northern Europe, leaving a trail of chaos and costly disruption in its wake.

One race into the season and the skies became a giant no-fly zone, prompting Dorna, the organisers of MotoGP, to decide it was impossible to go ahead with the Japanese GP. All of a sudden, every member of the BBC team - and every other media and GP team across the world - were left twiddling our thumbs and wondering what to do for the next few weeks ahead of Jerez and Le Mans in May.

Well, for some of the riders, like Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, the unplanned break has come at the perfect time.

Rossi, the seven-time MotoGP World Champion, was kicking around at home when he took a tumble from a motocross bike and bruised his right shoulder. Lorenzo has struggled all pre-season with a damaged hand, which, like Rossi, he broke coming off a motocross bike. As for Honda's Dani Pedrosa, some time away from the suspension system on his bike, which seems to be causing him so many problems this year, may well stop him from throwing his helmet at someone in his team!

Problem is, I don't have a niggling injury, I haven't taken a tumble from a motocross bike - or any other bike for that matter - and my suspension was absolutely fine the last time I checked. In fact, I was chomping at the bit to get to Japan so I could get stuck into my second race.

I found out the race was cancelled when I got a text message from our director, Matt Griffiths, while I was watching the F1 Grand Prix in China on Sunday morning. "Nooooooooooo!" were my exact thoughts. "We can't let the season come to a halt before it has really got under way." But some things are just not meant to be.

Given the chance, I probably would have swum the Channel and trekked across Europe to make it to Japan for the race, but there's not much point of me busting a gut to get to Motegi if the rest of the paddock couldn't make it.

So whilst others recover and rethink their team tactics, for me it's back to the homework and revision. Over the past few weeks, I have watched more than 100 hours of MotoGP footage, featuring classic riders like Mick Doohan and Barry Sheene to the recent battles between the sport's top riders. I have relived every twist and turn of last season and have a pile of biographies to read.

Barry Sheene in actionThe legendary Barry Sheene in action. Photo: Getty Images

And whilst I'm loving learning all this amazing theory about the greatest sport in the world, there is nothing like the smell of petrol and the roar of a four-stroke, 800cc bike.

Sadly, the postponement of the Japanese GP represented a double disappointment for me. Not only will I have to wait until 3 October for the re-arranged race, I'm also unable to go to the next one in Jerez on 2 May. It may be one of the best races of the season - so I'm reliably informed by every photographer, journalist and rider that I speak to - but I will be on the other side of the world at a family wedding in Canada.

I did suggest that I wasn't that important to proceedings in Toronto but the bride looked like she might burst into tears (or punch me) so I promptly agreed to fly there, wear a frilly dress and sit at the top table with a big smile on my face.

But there's a high probability I shall be wearing a nice big hat slung jauntily to one side to disguise the fact I'll be listening to all the action in Jerez via the wonders of the internet. Then as soon as I get back, I shall watch it on the BBC iPlayer.

So enjoy Jerez. I'll be thinking of you all watching the action as I toast the bride and groom with a glass of champagne. I'll be back for Le Mans on 24 May.


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