Monday, 25 July 2011

The death of Alan Saunders

Alan Saunders, one of the founding members of the Hawks club passed away recently.  A stalwart of the trials and scramble scene in the Cotswolds he will be sorely missed by many in Gloucestershire. 
An Alan Saunders picture of me on his bike at
Colgate Farm in 2007

Back in 2005 he was kind enough to let me buy his long stroke 350cc Matchless.  This was my first ever Matchless and I instantly gelled with the machine.  Indeed, it is the bike on which I won Class 2 of the ACU Sammy Miller Championship in 2010. 

It was only after months of incessant pleading and badgering on my part coupled with Alan’s ill health that he finally agreed to sell it to me.  As I proudly put it on the trailer he reminded me that the bike was to be ridden in trials and NOT kept in the garage. 

I hope he was proud to see that his bike won the 2010 SM Championship and I hope he keeps an eye on me during this years campaign.  All the best Alan; you will be sorely missed and thanks once again for selling me that Matchless!!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

13 Jul 11

Gloucestershire Bike Night – Cheltenham Imperial Gardens

I’m very particular about my magnetos; after the bikes get washed the mag cover and slip ring are removed, any moisture dealt with and finally a bag full of silicon is taped over the points end to ensure it’ll be dry for the next ride.  Unfortunately, I didn’t go through this routine after I washed the bike off following Rd 2 of the Sammy Miller trial in Cumbria and as a result the bike won’t start – Zero sparks!

I arrived home late plus Dave is coming over on his bike which adds to the pressure.  I remove the mag cover to reveal rust and lots of water (bad sign!); this is going to take some time.  I clean and dry everything including the brush and pick up ring but it still won’t spark.
Perfect parking spot!

 As the missus heads out to a committee meeting for the Hawks Trials club I borrow her hairdryer to warm the mag.  After 90 minutes of drying, cleaning, and general praying I get a spark.  I pack out my jacket with 2 plugs, spanners, screwy & mag cover remover and it’s off we go to Imperial gardens.


MH410 sounds great going through
Cheltenham High street
and I get some admiring glances.  The venue is packed and there’s a veritable cornucopia of motorcycles on show once again.  I find a suitable spot to lean the MH410, switch off the petrol and head to the bar for a coke.  There’s a lovely Desmosedicci RR and a couple of beautiful RD350LCs.  There’s not too much old stuff on show but we do see a nice Vincent in oily rag condition, a couple of old Triumphs and a G80S Matchless (not leaking much oil!)

Who needs a side stand?


Once again, I have to leave about 2100 as the sun is coming down and I’ve no lights.  I see a jam sandwich at the traffic lights but they don’t give me any hassle.  “It was worth putting that bulb horn on then” I mutter to myself as I ride back home.

It’s been a great night out so thanks to all who make GBN possible.  I look forward to my next GBN outing at the Apple Tree in Woodmancote during September but rue the nights drawing in.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

10 Jul 11 Euro Cup Day 2




I arrive early and at sign on pick up the Pre-Unit trophy for Saturday’s win (nice!). 

Dave, Teflon and Pete Collins are riding today plus Halliday and Ross are out on the Enfield’s so its imperative to put in a good performance.  The sections are completely different to Saturday and somewhat more difficult.  I’m on the Clubman route (4 laps today) and ride with Dave, Teflon & Pete which should ensures some healthy rivalry and good banter during the proceedings.  Godfrey once again, elects to observe.

More heavy rain overnight makes the terrain more challenging and it’s definitely a 2nd gear day.  Even with a worn IRC rear NT410 finds plenty of grip in the slick conditions but the clutch problem is getting worse and I again offer prayers to the Trials Gods.

We start at Sub 6 and I elect to get underway quickly rather than goof and get behind.  This immediately pays dividends as sub 7 is a tricky mud slot however, I get cross rutted and have to take a dab before the end gate.  Sub 8 is a long, steep twisty climb which gets slicker over the day however, in 2nd gear NT410 flies up there.  Sub 9 and 10 are fairly rudimentary and no penalites are incurred. 
NT410 in the turn

Sub 1 is the killer; a very slick entry is followed by a pair of tricky banks which severely punish offline riding.  I’m pleased with two cleans and a pair of dabs.  Sub 2 is again quite tricky but NT410 grips well on the greasy climbs/tight turns and I go clean on all 4 laps.  Sub 3 features a steep climb over rock and big roots bu NT410 takes the strain each lap which results in 4 cleans.  Despite two plug changes, low fuel, a poorly clutch and very hot engine NT410 finishes the trial for a respectable 4 mark loss. 

At last; I’ve finally beaten Teflon, Dave & Pete!!

I hang around for the results; I’ve convincingly taken the Pre-Unit Clubman route however, it’s Rob Halliday who comes up trumps; his 40 mark loss on the hard route is good enough to take the Pre-Unit trophy today.  Fair play; I can’t complain at that.

Well done GVCMCC and the Euro Cup Team; a fantastic weekend's trialling.
Verdict: Two highly enjoyable local trials which resulted in two emphatic wins over some rateable opposition plus an unexpected trophy. 

Next up: Sammy Miller Rd 3 The Yorkshire Dales Trial

Monday, 11 July 2011

8 Jul 11 - The AJS Trophy

The AJ Stephens Trophy gets returned to the AJS & Matchless owners club (AMOC)

The AJS Trophy 2010
The AJS Trophy is awarded to the best Trials performance at the annual Jampot Rally.  In 2010 the trial was held on the BMCA ground at Hunnington where I was lucky enough to win it riding the long stroke 350.

9 Jul 11 - Euro Cup Trial

Euro Cup Trial  Day 1


This year GVCMCC use Cowcombe Wood; a vast woodland on the limestone escarpment above Chalford that is perfect for trials.  Tacky leaf mulch on top of clay with a fair smattering of loose Cotswold stone makes for an interesting track.  I get home late on Friday and don’t do the scheduled bike preparation.  I decide to ride NT410 but with a slipping clutch, no front brake and a dodgy oil system I make hefty offerings to the Trials Gods!


Dave P the camera man!

I elect to ride the Clubman route and there’s a good turnout of riders from across the country and continent.  Ken Wallington (350 Matchless), Dave Dawson (shiny, twinshock SWM thingy) and Martyn Wilmore (beefy trick Cub) are riding and fortunately Dave Priestner turns up to do camera duty.


It’s a punch card system with a different card exchanged for each lap which means you can gauge your progress through the event.  I start late and noticing the massive queue at sub 1 head for sub 7.  With inclement weather for much of the preceding week the going is slick however, the gates are pretty wide and there’s a definite continental feel to the marking out.
Sub 10

Sub 7 features a steep rooty  climb but NT410 copes well on the loose stuff.  Sub 8 has a wicked downhill off camber turn over some loose Cotswold stone which deserves some respect in order to avoid a dab.  Sub 9 is a cracker; an off camber, muddy turn into a stream bed followed by an immediate exit over a very slick clay bank; again, NT410 copes well but I have to take a dab on the last lap.  The rest are all pretty straightforward although sub 4 deserves a mention for the slick turn followed by a long off camber exit across loosed stone.  It catches me out on lap one but I go clean on lap 2 and 3.

NT410 behaves itself and there’s no sign of the aperiodic smoke screen.  The clutch problem doesn’t hamper things too much but I must get it fixed before the Trials Gods become angry.
Sub 3

With many of the top Pre-Unit riders either observing (Godfrey Hannam) or absent (Teflon, Pete Collins, Rob Halliday and Alex Ross) I take the Pre-Unit win with 5 marks lost.  I celebrate in the beer tent with Dave and Bing by downing 3 Cokes. 

To much amusement, Godfrey Hannam gets all Leonardo da Vinci and measures the fork angle of NT410 suing a Heath Robinson device!  A brilliant end to a great day.  Thank you Golden Valley Classic / Euro Cup Team.
Exit of sub 10

3 Jul 11 - ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 2 - Cumbria

The Crabtree Cup Trial


Penny & a local lad

Following a dismal performance in Rd 1 it was imperative to capitalise on the points available in Rd 2.  With Bob Greenhough and Dave not attending the door was open to increase the points tally.  Penny (the missus) and I hire a van and with MH410 and a hefty picnic onboard head to Cumbria on what was, it has to be said, a beautiful summer’s day.  We stay at the very well appointed Cavendish Arms in Cartmel and being with Penny, we do the Cartmel culture tour and eat ice cream.  It’s actually a very historic village that has a lot more to offer than just Sticky Toffee pudding.  After a shoby we do the “historic pubs of Cartmel” tour and meet up with some of the other early arrivals.


Me & a local enjoying Ale

Following an extensive breakfast at The Cavendish we check out and head to the racecourse.  The weather is great and signing on is easy.  The format is slightly different this year in being one lap of 35 subs vice two laps.  Having entered early and travelled so far it’s disappointing to have a late start time.  Sub 1 is in the racecourse and it’s an immediate clean which sets the day up nicely.
A cloudless Cumbrian morning!


We ply the usual route with its dense woodland and rocky moors and it’s not long before we’re up in the hills with extensive panoramic views across the Lakes’ peninsulas.  The first wood features the added obstacle of numerous horseflies; as I ride through I thank God for the hardy Northern observers!  I get my first dab on sub 9 as the back wheel gets kicked out by a tree stump.


I finally get to start!

Thankfully, the organisers have a water stop organised after the wood and I eagerly replenish lost fluid.  Once again we head up onto the hills for some distincltly rocky sections.  I rue letting so much air out of the front tyre and ride very cautiously over the rocks.  Despite the heat MH410 is going well and I don’t get any cramp/arm pump/fatigue which is great.


I finish on 4 marks lost and take the Class 2 win going top of the table by 13 points.  With Yorkshire and Wales on the horizon I know these points will be critical come the end of the season.  Bob and Dave will be back for Yorkshire/Wales and in addition to the plethora of local talent I know The Teflon Don, Pete Collins and Godfrey Hannam will be riding Wales so the pressure is very much on!
In action at sub 1

Verdict: A great trial but the drive back is a killer!! 

Next up:  Euro Cup!
That'll be a clean please Miss!

Please can I start now?