Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Gloucestershire bike night at the Pheasant Inn Toddington.

I’ve been looking forward to this for some time!  With Belstaff pockets loaded with plugs, spanners, a screwdriver and an AA card I took MH410 for a road run to Toddington.  I pump the tyres up to “road pressure” and head off up Cleeve Hill with the 410 “ringing” under load.  For variety I turn off and head down the Langley road into Winchcombe where again, the 410 echoes crisp off the Cotswold stone walls of the narrow streets.

I eventually reach Toddington around 1910 and it’s already packed.  I park up against a blue shoe recycling box (no side stand) and have a wander around.  There are all sorts of bikes around; everything you can think of.  The queue for the bar stretches to about 35 people long; and that’s OUTSIDE the pub.  Similarly, the food stall is equally popular.
Snapped leaving the Pheasant Inn, Toddington

I have a good look around and spot another 3 Matchless motorcycles one of which unsurprisingly, has left most of its oil on the car park tarmac.  I meet a lot of nice people and talk about bikes, especially trials bikes; my favourite subject.  Anyway, at about 2020 the sun is going down and I need to get home as I’ve no lights.  Again, I go via Winchcombe and Langley and it’s a very pleasant (but cold) ride home.  I arrive in time to catch the Apprentice!!

I wince when I see the damage the tarmac has done to my soft IRC tyre. Bollocks!!  I’ll have to turn that one around for the next trial!!

Looking forward to the next local GBN meet at the Apple Tree in Woodmancote.!

Zona 1 Tim Fry Land Rover charity trial at Piccadilly Farm.

Another very local trial located on Cleeve Hill.  There were 20 sections over 2 laps and due to a lack of observers the more difficult to get to sections were self observed.  Once again, Dave & I elected to ride the Sportsman route and we were joined by Heath Brindley who was riding Steve Saunders Scottish winning Trifield.  Steve Thompson turned up on his Ariel HT5 and elected to ride the Standard route (eventually finishing with a very credible 70-odd mark loss; Good ride Steve!).
Heath on Steve Saunders' Trifield

In testament to Steve Saunders, once again, it was pretty fair on the Sportsman route for the pre-65 machines.  Sub 1 – 6 were climbs on banks, sub 7 was twisty around tree, followed by some good stream sections and a couple of bomb holes which were fun.  The Exit to sub 12 was extremely difficult and I had to create my own exit after failing to get out of the section proper.

A painful set of starboard ribs as well as a total lack of energy for the last lap meant I was always going to finish well down the order but it was nevertheless, a very enjoyable ride. I eventually finished with 35 marks lost with Dave losing 48. 

Well done to Heath who wiped the floor with us seasoned Pre-65 riders on his first run out!!  You can’t beat talent!!  His 12 mark loss really was a very good effort for a man with a dodgy knee on his first Pre-65 win.
Exiting Sub 14 - Concentration required!

Next up: Tardebigge!!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Sam Cooper / Union Jack Trial – ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 1

It’s the first trial of the SM series and this one is always a belter.  Dave’s got a new Holt works tank on the Ariel and I turn out on the very shiny MH410 thanks to some heavy polishing on Saturday afternoon.  Signing on is a breeze and Ian Hannam (441 BSA outfit) informs me he’s read the Matchless Man blog! 

We have a chat with fellow Gloucestershire riders Ken Wallington (Matchless) and Class 1 champion Steve Allen (Matchless) while we tuck into a bacon sandwich and drink tea.

Despite the sun there’s a wind chill so it’s jackets and carrying waterproofs.  Thanks to good admin, Dave and I have an early start and depart immediately after the sidecars.  The first group of sections are less than a mile away and feature 6 rudimentary subs with plenty of room to get around.  Nevertheless, I lose concentration on sub 5 and have to take a dab to get back on course. 

We head out onto the road and the next group at Bridge’s are always tricky.  We try to get ahead of the sidecars and after a quick look at sub 7 I get going.  However, after a good start I catch sight of a gesticulating sidecar man, think I’ve gone the wrong way and thus incur a 5.  I’M LIVID – What an idiot I am!!  Next up is the special test and innovatively, the observer informs us, you get penalised for dabbing.  I gun it in second gear and get an immediate single dab – things are not going well and I’m increasingly irate.  Thankfully, I clean sub 9 and we head off to the next group.  Dave’s going well and he’s well on course to give me a pasting today!

Next up is Camp which comprises 3 subs featuring rocky climbs and gulleys; all of which, I clean.  This is followed by a long ride to Scarborough Farm and we meet Ken O’Brien and his sick Cotton on the way.  The first two subs are on a bank in a pine wood and thanks to the dry conditions are easily cleaned, including the exit of Sub 14; a high step through a gate!! Sub 15 an 16 are both rudimentary and we both go clean (it appears that not much thought has gone into these two sections – that is not a criticism, just a statement of fact).

There’s a 7.5 mile road run to Saintbury Quarry and by the time we get there I’m freezing.  The Quarry is bone dry but the multitude of loose, small rocks and crumbly earth make for tricky going if you’re not careful.  I clean sub 17 but have to take a dab in 18 as I can’t control the front end for some reason.  Sub 18 features a tricky turn on loose rocks at the bottom of a hillock and I have to dab as I straighten up to come up the bank – Not happy!!  I clean sub 19 which is wide but sub 20 is tight and twisty again, on loose, small rocks and I have to take a 3 which is poor form and I’m very disappointed.  I can’t understand why I’m not cleaning this stuff!!  Something’s wrong!!

We head off to “Garlic Wood” (aka Weston Wood) and I’m glad we are the first there.  The smell of Garlic is strong and I know that these subs are going to be the trickiest of the day.  Unfortunately, my bad form continues.  I clean Sub 21 but on Sub 22 I elect to use second gear for the long climb and have to take two dabs at the start.  My poor form continues to sub 23 where I take a single dab on what should have been a dead cert clean and after a long wait for an observer, I take 3 dabs on sub 24.

The next group of sections are at Tunnel and comprise 3 subs on a postage stamp of land.  Consequently, they are tight but I clean all 3, which reduces my ire somewhat until we meet up with our main rival Bob Greenough and he informs us he’s clean!

I’m fuming with my lack of performance as Dave and I head off to Totty’s for the last group of sections.  The B route does not feature a sub 29 so we do sub 28 and 30.  Sub 28 is a bit perplexing; I’ve never seen a sub like it in any trial and it appears to be an afterthought.  It’s very tight but I go around for a credible single dab and clean sub 30.

As we head back to the start it begins to rain heavily and I’m glad Dave and I got a wriggle on at the start and managed to get ahead of the sidecars before we hit the Garlic Wood.  As soon as the bikes are loaded and we’re changed, we grab another bacon sandwich and a cup of tea followed by a large slice of homemade cake.  This trial always has the best food wagon of the year bar none!!

Most people have had a good day and it’s clear that Dave has beaten me convincingly this round.  I reckon I got 18 dabs which will see me well down the field and struggling for vital points towards the end of the year.

It’s clear that I’m still suffering from the steroids and I need to overcome their debilitating effects if I’m to have any chance of securing the class 2 title in 2011.  Still, it’s not all bad news; I didn’t get leg cramp or arm pump this time so my work-outs must be helping.

I’m pleased for Dave; he rode well and deserved to beat me but with Bob going clean and Godfrey Hannam taking points off both of us we need to improve before the next round.

Verdict: Must do better!

Red Marley Trial

One of the best trials of the year!  Organised by the AJS/Matchless owners club with a lot of help from the BMCA, this is always a cracking trial.  Generally difficult but not dangerous and with a good spectator base, you really feel you’ve gone back in time to the hey day of trials in the late 50s / 60s.  Dave and I meet up with Teflon and Pete Collins who are both on Rigid AJS machines this time.  Dave has fitted a new BTH mag but as soon as he fires the big Ariel up it is misfiring.  He immediately takes it apart and with the help of Pete Collins gets it retimed in order to begin the trial at 1200.  Teflon and I add moral support!
Pete Collins, Teflon & Dave re-time the HT5!

It’s dry as a bone and therefore set out very tight.  There are 3 laps of 15 subs and the crowds are out in force.  It’s great to ride with some many spectators.  The Clubman route is quite challenging in places and I get a couple of dabs on sub 1 and a 1 on sub 2.  Sub 4 is very twisty and tight that ends with an exit over some tricky roots.  Amazingly, I go clean and take some stick from the lads…..something about my springer etc. etc. Sub 6 – 9 are in the streams and predictably difficult.  Sub 6 is in and out of the mud but despite a good showing I lose 3 on the slippery exit.  Sub 7 has a big stump at the exit and I have to help Pete Collins’ AJS over it when he gets stuck.  I do quite well over it but have a dab on the entrance.  Sub 8 has a difficult entry and on the last lap I drop the bike for a 5 out of sheer exhaustion.  Sub 10 is twisty and features an over-root exit but I clean it all the time.  Then it’s up to the wood section for more very twisty, tight work.  I nearly decapitate myself in Sub 11 on the last lap as my helmet gets caught in a tree however, I keep going and clean it all three times.  Sub 12 is seemingly impossible but Pete Collins records a clean which is an amazing feat on his rigid AJS.

I’m not feeling 100% but make a half decent fist of it.  The first lap I make a few mistakes and go around for 15 or so.  The second lap I’m feeling a bit tired and by lap 3 it’s all over.  Cramp in the hands is followed by arm-pump and eventually I’m so exhausted that I fall off between sections 13 and 14 and can’t lift the bike up on my own.  One of the other riders stops to help me and I get going.  Then I get right leg cramp and I’m glad it’s the end of the trial. Since I haven’t been riding regularly due to illness, fitness is now a problem and I need to get the push bike out tout-suite.

I reckon I’ve gone around for 30 or so which is a lot less than last years 77 over two laps however, there’s not going to be an award this year!!

The ever smiling Joe Owen is dishing out regs Tardebigge and I pick up a couple of sets for me and Dave and look forward to the next BMCA outing.

Sphinx trial Cheltenham Home Guard MCC

Dave and I enter Class 1 and there’s only 4 british riders.  It’s really a trial for the enduro boys as the distance takes its toll on the Classic machinery.  It’s a red hot day and as soon as we set off I get a bad feeling.  The top gear on NT410 is not high enough for road work and as we travel down the
Fosse Way
to Chedworth I’m beginning to regret riding it for this trial.  Still, we carry on and meet up with Leckhampton Pete on his Pampera (a rare outing for Pete!!). 
Dave and I at the start of the Sphinx 2011

My fears are founded and by the time we’re heading for section 4 I’ve already got the magneto cover off and the bike is sounding awful.  As always, Dave gets it running and we carry on but it’s clear the bikes not well.  By the time we get to Prestbury I’m really ready to call it a day but I just can’t bring myself to give up.  I go through nearly all my plugs on this trial, the bike is leaking oil out of every orifice and the hydraulic effect makes it a bugger to kick over.  Every section is “no inspection” which really takes the piss and adds to my general ire.

To compound matters, route marking is bloody diabolical; half marked, half not.  Anyway, we meet up with Andy Weddle on his Panther who shows us the quick route around the rest of the course and we cheer up a bit.  Both Dave and I run out of petrol (at different times) but again, thanks to Andy and Dave we make it to the finish for a Shandy and the best Ham sandwiches in the world!
NT410 and Dave's Ariel HT5 after the Sphinx

Verdict; Not a pre-65 trial and No inspection for the WHOLE trial takes the piss.  We won’t be riding this one again.

Prescott Bike Festival

I get up early, make sandwiches and take MH410 to Prescott for the Prescott bike festival.  I leave at 0830 and get to Gotherington by 0845 and park up, chaining MH410 to the fence.  I miss the track walk but head for the hair pin viewing area on the lower side of the road.  There’s some good action as inexperienced riders crash their pride and joy in the gravel traps or outbrake themselves into the gooseneck.

Easy does it!


I meet up with Steve & Nina and decide to take MH410 up the hill.  I pay £25, get a briefing and await my turn.  My first run the rider in front crashes and I get red flagged by the marshals.  They let me go up the hill and I use it as a practice.  I immediately go back down and queue again (lots of queuing).  My second run I give it a bit of throttle off the line and it’s exhilarating. I lean into the corners and remembering my brief don’t over do it into the first hairpin.  The run goes great and I feel like I’m flying.  Good momentum through the corners and I can’t stop smiling.

I Should 'ave taken up Road racing!


I go back down and chance my arm.  My first run was wasted and I want another go.  The marshals are excellent and I get a final go (as it’s the end of the day).  I go faster and smile wider.  I say to the starter “I think I’ll give this trials lark up – road racing is much more fun!”.  I have a great run and Nina and Steve take some photos for posterity.  I feel elated; a great feeling.  MH410 runs like a dream and I really get him cranked over even on knobbly tyres!!




Thanks must go to Allan Rhodes and Geoff Robinson for these pictures of the day!
By 'eck Chief!