With the heavy rain overnight and the year’s first big storm predicted for Sunday night it seemed somewhat prophetic to head over to Bowley in Herefordshire to a venue called Waterfall. Having not ridden this venue for some years (on my old long-stroke G3LC) I was keen to revisit it on NT410 and entered the event way back in September. With Carol unusually absent I signed on for the Intermediate route with Pete Reed while Penny got a brew going. The large wood comprised a fair proportion of sweet chestnut trees and having got changed, I grabbed a bag and collected a good few pounds of the larger windfalls for a post trial treat.
|A trial with benefits!|
We got away bang on time and headed down the track to the first two subs which were plotted on the steep banks above the stream. Despite the rain the going was fairly easy and there was traction to be had. The Inters had to ride the expert route for Sub two and a steep, greasy bank leading to an off camber turn by a rabbit hole was a lot trickier than it looked however, I took notice of a few of my betters and was pleased to come away unscathed. After a short ride through wood we descended the bank for the first stream sections. Andy Pitt observed the double sub which surprisingly, had some traction. I elected to ride in second gear and gunned the big Matchy up the greasy climbs that followed the stream entry and recorded another clean sheet on all four laps here.
We meandered back down through the wood to the group of sections that makes this venue so unique. The river was in full spate and the eponymous cascade was spectacular. The going was particularly poor here and got progressively worse as the day wore on. The deep, claggy mud was treacherous and I saw a few riders come to grief trying to get between the sections. Sub 5 was quite technical and Inters had to ride the expert route. It comprised a twisty, rocky stream with a couple of nasty steps. I watched a few of the entry go through before I settled on my line. The last step was a double and the landing slab was really loose and wet however, it was cleanable if you stayed to the right hand side. I had to take a steadying on the first attempt but subsequent cleans were a real pleasure and I was glad I didn’t get too throttle-happy instead favouring a measured steady pace. Next up was a double sub (6 & 7) in the rocky stream below the waterfall. The fast flowing river was an added challenge and it was impossible to see the rocks underneath. I plotted what looked like a good line, steeled myself and went for it. Such was the nature of this section that you had to keep your wits about you at each visit and I was pleased to come away without troubling the observers on all occasions. Some were not so lucky and at least one bike turned into a submarine as the rider sank beneath the waves.
|I knew that Naval swimming test would pay off!|
Sub 8 was a real stinker and became almost impossible as the day wore on. A very slick entry led to a tight turn then a full power blast up the long, greasy bank to the track. Again, it was a second gear section and I was genuinely pleased to have held on for a clean first time around however, my second attempt saw me use third gear but NT410 found lots of grip and threw me off the back end! My third attempt was an almost inevitable maximum but I held on during the last attempt for a paddle three. I incurred thirteen of my seventeen mark loss here and it was the lighter bikes that had the advantage nevertheless, that shouldn’t detract from the class of those that went clean here; it was a pleasure to watch them demonstrate their talent.
|Flat out up the bank in Sub 8!|
Sub 9 was another expert section and it was a real tight and twisty affair which caught out many of the top BMCA regulars. I was therefore, quite pleased to have cleaned it on the first attempt however, I had to take a single dad on each subsequent visit. In hindsight, this was quite tricky for a big bike so I was reasonably pleased with my score but you can always do better. The final sub was a long run up a tricky gulley with a massive rock step and rooty bank at the end. I’m glad I walked this one first which resulted in a clean sheet here.
|The tricky Sub 9|
Overall, it was a grand day out and a pleasing return to this outstanding venue. Yes, it was typically greasy with some deep and fast flowing stream sections but that’s what makes it so special. My seventeen mark loss was enough to take third place on the Intermediate route which is a solid result in my book. This event, coupled with a Steve Saunders trials school next Saturday should be good practice for The Guy Fawkes trial next Sunday; hopefully, I can continue to build on a bit of form and move up the order a bit.
Grateful thanks to Jim Pickering, Ken Garfield and Andy Pitt for laying out the sections and to the observers who were: Sue Jones, Andy Pitt, Neil Roberton, Phil Gittins and Malcolm Holden.
Next up: A trials school with 10 times British Champion Steve Saunders
|The Captain of U-20 surfaces to recharge his batteries!|
|Andy Hunt in good form exiting Sub 6 shows how it's done|