Saturday, 31 December 2011

27 Dec 11 The Gordon Francis Memorial Trial – Somerton DMCC

There is a local trial on at Cowcombe in Chalford however, the Golden Valley Classic trial is so well attended that queuing is a major headache.  Now I have the van I’m able to go further afield so this year I elect to try something different.
Clean-ish before the start

Penny and I are up early for the long drive to Lime Kiln Quarry near Langport in Somerset for the Somerton Classic Club’s Gordon Francis Memorial trial.  Dave and I, along with Teflon and Pete Collins contested this trial in March but December is the normal running date; it having been delayed in December 2010 due to snow.
Approaching the tight turn in Sub 1

The heavy rain sees the venue sodden but we find a hard standing to park the van.  The Gordon Francis Trophy is contested by pre-unit bikes riding the A route however, following a quick look at the course before signing on, I elect to ride the B route again.  There are a few good riders down this way who can really do the business on heavyweight singles and it’s a joy to watch them on the tight and twisty course. 
In the turn on Sub 1

I start at Sub 1 and it’s straight into tight stuff; I get the initial tight turn correct but take a dab when I lose the front wheel in the rock strewn gully.  Sub 2 continues the theme but I go clean on all four laps.  Sub 3 is trickier; a steep climb takes you straight into a tight double “S” but despite an initial clean I have an altercation with a hawthorn tree to record a total of 4 marks lost here (and a badly cut shoulder and arm!).  Sub 4 has just enough room for me to get the bike around and I record four cleans.  Sub 5 is a mixture of water and greasy banks which I clean however, on lap 3 I encounter something lurking in the muddy water and have to take a steadying dab.
There was something
in the water here!

I must be half asleep as I go the wrong way on Sub 6 on the first lap and gain a maximum which is disappointing.  However, I rally and go clean for the other three laps.  Sub 7 is too rudimentary on the B route but there isn’t much scope for the Clerk of the Course to play with.  Sub 8 is a cracker; a watery entry leads to a steep climb into a tight gully and despite looking tricky I’m pleased to go clean.  The entry to Sub 9 is a joke; You have to limbo under a fallen tree trunk up a greasy bank to get into the section however, I manage to get under OK.  Finally, Sub 10 is a long, twisting, undulating section but I maintain concentration and go clean on all four laps.
Carefully does it in Sub 6

I take second spot in the Pre-Unit/Twins Class (B route); my eleven marks loss was not good enough to beat J Pym’s Triumph (9 marks lost) and I rue going the wrong way in Sub 6 as this would have ensured a class win. 

Thanks to Dave Fisher and the team at Somerton for a cracking trial; I really enjoyed it.  Despite being in Somerset I’m back home earlier than if I’d have gone to Cowcombe.

Chris & Jill spectating at Sub 10
It was good to catch up with Chris Francis and his Mum, Jill, whose late husband the trial is named after. 

Thanks to Lynda Metherell for kind use of these photographs.  Riders wanting photographs may email Lynda at quoting their riding number.

Next up: Herefordshire Classic Trial at Clyro
Final shot of 2011!

26 Dec 11 VMCC Oxford Ron Amey Trial

This smashing little trial is a Matchless Man tradition and having been unable to get there last year due to snow I am determined to make it this year. As I’m loading the bike on the van I notice the front engine mounting bolt is missing a nut so we stop at Norton legend Pete Le Plain’s house en route and he fixes me up with the requisite washers and a nut.
Sub 1

It’s only a short drive up the A40 to Besselsleigh and we arrive in plenty of time. I run around the course (on foot) and decide upon the hard route this year as I’m riding NT410 not the long-stroke 350. In 2009, I won the Rockley Plate here and I’m delighted that whilst signing on I am handed the silverware by the organiser, Celia Walton. It’s always nice to get a prize before the trial!

On the hard route we contest the Midwinter trophy and I’m happy to report that the sections are perfect for the day. Despite looking rather rudimentary in places the soft ground and festive atmosphere combine to ensure that marks can be lost by the unwary. I hang on in the twisty Sub 1 but sustain a single dab on Sub 2 by not giving NT410 enough throttle up a steep, sandy bank.

The steep, sandy climb of Sub 2

There’s a tricky bit in Sub 6 but I go clean on all four laps and am pleased to do the same in Sub 7 where a mud slot followed by sandy climb combine to keep the riders thinking. I’m disappointed to lose a dab in the soft mud on the entry to Sub 8 but I do well and keep a clean sheet on the climbs and banks of the final two subs. The special test this year comprises a sprint around some cones before stopping in a box; this has to be completed twice and never one to “rag the bike” I take care not to over cook it nevertheless, I record a faster time on the second run than the first.

This trial always draws a good crop of spectators and it’s rather nice when people want to know about the bikes and take some pictures.
The climb of Sub 7

There won’t be any silverware waiting for me next year as Rob Faulkner took the Midwinter trophy; his clean round on a Yamaha 175 was a solid ride.

My two dabs see me take the Best Pre-65 award.  I really enjoyed this trial and will be back again next year to see if I can add the Midwinter trophy to the Rockley Plate.
In the turn on Sub 8

Thanks to Celia Walton and the Oxford VMCC for another outstanding trial.

Next up: The Gordon Francis Memorial Trial

Exiting Sub 3

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

18 DEC 11 - The Mike Kemp Classic Trial Thames MCC

With the TALMAG trial only a month or so away it makes sense to get some practice in on the sandy soil and travel over to the famous Hungry Hill venue for Thames MCCs Mike Hunt Classic Trial for pre-67 and Twinshock motorcycles.  Fortunately, I entered way in advance as the entry was full before the close.
On the way to the start

Penny and I get up early, defrost the van and head up the M4 to Aldershot There’s a healthy mix of Classic and twinshock machines and I see Ken Wallington from Stroud with his immaculate Matchless G3LC.  I elect to ride the Pre-67A route along with twelve others but the cold weather seems to have put a few off as there are a few noticeable absentees.  The course comprises 12 sections to be ridden over 3 laps and thankfully, there’s a fantastic hot food wagon.
Now THAT'S a food Van!

I meet up with Ken and we get underway at Sub 1.  Pleasingly, the sections are rather long and comprise twisting turns up and down the sandy banks of the venue.  Sub 1 and 2 are fairly rudimentary however, Sub 3 is a little more difficult than it looks and I take an early pair of dabs steadying the bike as I lose the front end in some loose earth (where those with rear brakes have dragged the sand).  Sub 4 is a good test; a steep 2nd gear climb followed by a steep descent, tight twisting turns and a steep, sandy, off-camber exit.  I pay the price for an innovative approach to the exit and lose another dab.  Sub 5 continues the theme although a rather innocuous looking path after the section proves to be anything but; it is a near vertical drop and I spot a Honda rider crashed at the bottom of it.  Needless to say, I stay well to the left.  (Anecdotal evidence suggests the legend, Len Hutty, broke his frame here during the trial)

Sub 6 and 7 are both 2nd gear twisty climbs. For Sub 8 it’s back to the twisty, hilly stuff but I take care in the turns to record a clean.  Sub 9 is a real challenge.  A long steep climb followed by an immediate left, then right hand turn down a bank means I have to stay in first gear.  You double back on yourself and down the bank into a 90 right then fire it up a steep, loose sandy bank.  This causes lots of problems however, the Bartrum engineering proves a good buy and I sail up the bank taking a solitary dab just before the exit.  Sub 10 is a cracker; a root step followed by a 90 left down the bank looks challenging but rides really well.  Sub 11 is the real test; there’s a hell of a climb up a sheer bank and on the first lap I get NT410 vertical but hang on for a dab and some applause from the other riders (The rear mudguard went for a burton here so that’s how vertical the bike was!). 

Sub 12 is very icy and I really have to take care on the slippery grass and soft sandy banks.  There's a bit of discussion as to the route I take on the first lap however, I did ride the gates as marked by the Clerk of the Course and I'm pleased the observer is magnanimous enough to realise this.
Lap 2 goes well and I have do not incur any marks even cleaning the tricky Sub 9 and the challenging Sub 11.  Unfortunately, I have a poor last lap and with five marks lost on the first lap and nine from the last lap I go round for a total of 14 marks lost.  Not too bad however, up against class riders it sees me well down the field in 5th position.

Nevertheless, it was a great day out and I really enjoyed the long, flowing sections which were spot on for the big Pre-Unit singles.  I took a gamble to ride the higher route but I was rewarded with a challenging course. 

Well done to Thames MCC for a cracking trial and the Clerk of the Course, Martin Kemp, and section plotter, Simon Ward, for setting out some fantastic sections.  I'll definitely be riding this trial next year!!

Next up: VMCC Ron Amey Trial at Oxford on Boxing Day (weather permitting!)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

11 DEC 11 Provisional dates for the 2012 Sammy Miller championship

The ACU have published the provisional dates for the ACU Sammy Miller national trials championship in 2012 and it’s nice to see a local trial in there; The Cotswold Cups trial, which takes place in the Stroud area, has been added this year.  Unfortunately, there’s no trip to Cumbria this year for the Westmorland MCC Crabtree Cup trial (I must ask why as this is a brilliant trial) and once again, South Birmingham are not running The Harry Perry trial.  The provisional list is as follows:-

18 Mar 12     The Vic Ashford trial              WEMC
25 Mar 12     The Cotswold Cups trial         Golden Valley MCC
20 May 12     The Sam Cooper trial            Stratford upon Avon MCC
22 Jul 12       The Yorkshire Dales trial       Ilkley & DMC
18 Aug 12     The Frank Jones trial             Builth Wells
21 Oct 12      The Greensmith trial             South Birmingham MCC
17 Nov 12     The Perce Simon trial            Ringwood
18 Nov 12     The Downland Trophy trial     N Berks MCC

Shame about the Crabtree Cup; despite being a long ride to Cumbria both the scenery and the course are well worth the effort.  Hopefully, the Westmorland Club will look to put this trial back in for 2013 (fingers crossed)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

04 Dec 11 Zona1 MCC Race Techniques Trial

With no classic trials on I decide to have a well deserved lie-in and take the short trip to Nettleton Quarry for the Zona1 MCC Race Techniques Trial.  Dave (Ariel HT5), Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) and The Teflon Don (350 AJS) decide to join me and we have our own Pre-65 competition amongst the predominantly modern mono-shocks.  
The summit of Sub 4

We ride as a group and it’s not long before the banter begins when I take an early dab to open up the scoring.  Still, it’s a long trial so there’s time to get the points back.  Pete takes a wrong turn in sub 9 but he’s got some dirt on the observer and goes around again for a clean.  With the emphasis very much on fun there is a dearth of concentration.  After a quick chat with Bob Miles (of BVM fame) I promptly miss a gate in Sub 1 and gain a maximum and some stick from Teflon.
Taking it careful in
the mud!

To further bump up the scores we all elect to ride the Sportsman Plus route on the last lap where you do 5 Clubman sections and 5 Sportsman sections.  It’s a good test and with Pete well out in the lead it’s a chance for the rest of us to catch up.  It’s great fun but we all up the totals quite a bit and Dave gets 13 on his last lap.  The thick mud of Sub 5 turns my brain to treacle and I gain a maximum for missing a marker.  Pete rides superbly for a clean but it is Teflon who masters the tricky conditions to come out well ahead of the gang.

1. Nige Townsend (350 AJS) 11   2. Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) 18
3. Jai Jacka (410 Matchless) 18   4. Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5)  21

Thanks to Zona1 MCC for another excellent trial and to the Club Secretary, Kath Workman, for renewing my club membership and 2012 trials licence paperwork.  

Another slippery exit

Thank you to Mike Yiend for kind use of these pictures.  Please support your local photographer by visiting Mike’s web page here (or see the side bar to this blog).  What better than a professional picture of you on your trials bike for Christmas.

Mike Yiend Motor sports Photography

Monday, 28 November 2011

28 Nov 11 Back to back titles in the ACU Sammy Miller championship

Rd 3 at Pateley Bridge
The 2011 results are in and the points have been counted.  As stated in the competition rules all riders cumulative totals are minus one (lowest scoring) round over the series.  For me, I drop Round 1 (where I only scored 13 championship points) which brings my total down from 138 to 125 pts; a winning margin of just 11 points over second place Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5). 

Class 2 (Pre-Unit Clubman)
1. John Jacka           Matchless G3LC 410
2. Dave Arkell           Ariel HT5 
3. Bob Greenhough    BSA ZB34A

Congratulations to fellow Matchless rider Steve Allen who took the Class 1 (Rigid) win, Steve Thompson who won Class 4 (Pre-Unit expert), Russell Jones who took Class 5 (Two Stroke) and Keith Gardner who took Class 6 (Pre-Unit)  

The full class listings can be found on the ACU Sammy Miller products information page.

I'll do a round up of the SM series in due course!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

20 Nov 11 ACU Sammy Miller Rd8 - The Downland Trophy trial

Once again we’re up and on the road for 0700.  This time Penny and I are on the way to West Hagbourne in Oxfordshire for the final round of the 2011 ACU Sammy Miller products series, The Winston Grove Downland Trophy Trial.  The course is run over approximately a 22 mile lap of the South Oxfordshire and Berkshire Downs and comprises varying terrain of banks, cambers and mud along with the completely unique rocks of “The Stadium”.
Select 1st Gear and head
for the start!

Dave gets lost in the fog and arrives 15 minutes before the off but having already signed on and had a cup of tea I give him a hand to get ready.  We get away bang on 0913 and Sammy Miller is there to wave us off as we head to the first group of sections at Napper’s Lane.  After having worked late the previous evening I’m pleased to find that NT410 is running perfectly and I go clean over the three sinuous and muddy subs.  We have a short run to group 2 at The Moors which comprises two stream sections that have steep and very muddy entry/exit gates however, I pay attention and go clean here.

We hit the road for the totally unique setting of Seymour’s Arena.  This purpose built stadium section features big rocks and tight turns and always draws a big crowd.  I’m pleased to actually reach the arena as an ignorant BMW driver nearly ploughs me off the road but I calm down when I see how many people have turned up despite the fact it’s not even 1000 on a foggy, cold November morning.  These sections demand the utmost concentration and I’m pleased to go clean here particularly in the demanding Sub 10.  Sammy Miller turns up just as I begin the section and spurred on by his presence, I guide NT410 over the rocks, through the tight turns and steep drop offs to exit for a well deserved clean.  It really was a good ride as there was much talk of whether this section was suitable at all!
Dave and the Ariel exiting Sub 33

Buoyed with confidence we head out on the road for the Lollingdon Hill group of six Subs.  I’m glad we’re going along at a good pace as these sections comprise notoriously muddy banks which just get worse as the day goes on.  True to form the going is soft and the last Sub catches Dave out he exits through an uphill, tightening, right hand turn.  We head back to the road heading for two Subs at Aston pit where we refuel the small Ariel tanks for the rest of the trial.  This is followed by the chalk and grassy banks of the Pump House group and I’m pleased that I did the brakes last night as the descents are pretty fierce.  The theme continues at the next group, Air Raid Shelter, where the steep, off camber hill climbs and descents test man and machine.
In the turn on Sub 33

We now begin the long ride across the downland for which the trial was named.  We ride a sinuous course up and down a steep bank at a Sub in Bower Farm located at the entrance to the old Aldworth Scramble course before heading off for five subs on the wooded and greasy banks of Deer Lane.  The front end breaks away from me in Sub 28 but having gone clean so far I grip the bike and throttle my way out of trouble.  With only two sections left we head back across the downland to the aptly named Dickie’s Rocks.  The boulder laden section is quite a challenge but I guide NT410 around for another clean.  We head back to the start for the final section at Strange’s Gate which is a rock laden gulley/stream section, located beside the road near the start.  I concentrate extra hard and come away with a clean.

I’m pleased with my performance; my first recorded clean sheet at a Sammy Miller round is nothing to be sniffed at and it’s good enough to take the Class 2 win on the day.

It’s been a good weekend with a 3rd on Saturday at the Perce Simon Trial and a confirmed 1st in the Downland Trophy on Sunday.  NT410 went superbly throughout the day and doing the brakes on Saturday night was a wise choice.

This concludes the ACU Sammy Miller products National trials series for 2011 and subject to ACU confirmation, I believe I have retained the Class 2 title scoring a total of 138 points out of the 160 available (86%).  Watch this space!!

19 Nov 11 ACU Sammy Miller Rd7 - The Perce Simon trial

Having missed the Western Classic Guy Fawkes’ Trial at Bisley due to injury and having not ridden since the accident at the Talmag sidecar trial in October I was itching for this weekend’s double header.  First up was the Perce Simon Trial which has been run by the Ringwood club since the 1936. 
NT410 looking shiny before the

Penny and I are on the road for 0700 for the long drive to Lord Normanton’s beautiful Somerley Estate near Ringwood in Hampshire.  At signing on we’re told that the format is slightly different this year.  Instead of the long ride out to the God’s Hill group of sections this year, the trial comprises 20 subs located at Ashley Hollow (10 subs), Hamer Warren quarry (3 subs) and Hamer Warren Wood (7 subs) which have to be ridden over two laps.  This is a very welcome amendment and means we get to ride more of the excellent land at Ashley Hollow. 

The Climb in Sub 1

I elect to ride NT410 for this round as the soft, sandy soil and steep banks tend take a lot more riding on the 350 long stroke.  There’s a bumper turn out of riders and spectators and the first two sections go well however, NT410 is not sounding good; as I roll into Sub 3 it promptly conks-out at the bottom of a bank and I incur an early maximum.  I immediately change the plug but am not convinced.  Sub 4 has a tricky climb and “S” turn but I manage to go clean.  Enroute to Sub 5 the front brake snatches when I pull it and braking efficiency doesn’t come back.  This is most noticeable when negotiating a tight turn in Sub 6 but I manage to over come it.  However, in the tight and sinuous Sub 7 I overrun and have to take a dab to ensure I don’t miss the exit gate.  Sub 10 is a graded climb up a sandy hill which I take in second gear and NT410 flies up there for another clean. 
The entry to Sub 4

We head out of Somerley to Hamer Warren quarry via estate tracks and minor roads and get some more sand for Sub 11 however, it’s fairly rudimentary for the clubmen and I go clean.  Sub 12 is a steep, gravely bank that demands care.  The sidecar in front of me doesn’t even make it half way so I use second gear and gun in up for another clean.  Sub 13 is the last one here but again, it’s pretty rudimentary affair.  We catch up with the sidecars and overtake them enroute to Sub 14 as they lose their way in the dense bracken foliage of the wood which hasn’t been ridden since last year. 
A typical steep climb on
Sub 7

Sub 14 features a lot of tall grass and it’s not easy to see the hazards beneath.  I roll NT410 down the steep bank and negotiate the tight turn before winding my way back up the hill for a clean.  There’s a lot of mud in this group and the course plotters have figured it in.  On the first lap Sub 15 rides well as we’re the first ones through however, on the second lap I have to ride aggressively but come away with a clean and a nod of approval from the clubs Technical Officer (who also rides a Matchless!).  The next Subs are familiar fare and I take my time on “the Hill” to ensure that I don’t over do it on the throttle.  Sub 20 catches me out; instead of hitting the rooty step square on I go at it sideways and the front wheel glances off and I incur another maximum.  That’s 11 for the first lap.  With Dave on just 6 I’m well down the pecking order.

We head back to Ashley Hollow and refuel both man and machine before starting the second lap.  I’m still not happy with NT410 and I change the plug again for one with a wider gap (30 thou vice 20 thou).  This seems to do the trick but the front brake is still useless.  Dave gets a puncture on Sub 8 when his security bolt pinches the tube and the rear tyre instantly deflates.  This costs him a two-mark penalty on Sub 8 but as we’re so close to the start we go to the pits and whip the wheel out and bung a new tube in.
Popping out of the graded climb
ready to apply the non-existant brakes

It takes a while and we’re nearly last but that turns out to be an advantage.  Where we were first over the ground we’re now last and there are some clear lines to be had.  I ride well and get a clean lap second time around while Dave takes a tired 3 on Sub 20.  I finish on 11 marks lost while Dave takes the Class 2 win on the day with a six mark loss.

Thanks to Ringwood MCC for putting on another fantastic Perce Simon trial and the new format was a big hit with me; the long ride out (and back) to Godshill was unjustifiable given the acres of land available at Ashley Hollow.  Well done to the Clerk of the Course for taking the brave step to change the format.  It was spot on Sir!! 

The ding-dong battle in Class 1 between Steve Allen and Mike Holloway saw veteran Mike finally best Steve; his 2 mark loss was good enough to take the Class 1 win ahead of Steve’s 6.  Well done Mike!!

Results:  1. Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5) 6  2. Phil Jones (Ariel HT5) 9  3. John Jacka (Matchless G3LC 410) 11

I’m annoyed with the performance of NT410 and after the long drive home I get into the garage and have the front end apart to fix the brake problem.  I put a bigger air filter on too which I hope will help for the Downland Trophy in the morning.  I finally finish in the garage at 2100 and head off to bed ready for an 0600 start on Sunday.

Next up:  ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 8 The Downland Trophy trial

Monday, 31 October 2011

30 Oct 11 The TALMAG sidecar trial

My 1956 G3LC Long stroke
The Hungry Hill venue is rather expensive to use so the organising club allow Pre-65 and Twinshock solo riders to compete at the same event.  There are routes for Pre-65 A/B, Twinshock elite and sidecars.  Any trial at Hungry Hill is always well attended by both spectators and riders and I enter into the spirit of things by riding my 350 long stroke G3LC.

Penny and I are on the road for 0700 and it’s a relief to see a large catering van on site.  Having entered way in advance signing on is simple so I take some time to chat in the pits.  There’s a large contingent from Somerset there with Dave Fisher and a few Gloucestershire riders also.  This is how a Classic trial should be; the pits is full of big Pre-Unit singles as well as the lighter Cubs, BSAs and two-stroke Bantams & Dots.
Me, Dave & Ken at the start

We get away bang on time and head for Sub 5.  Having turned out on the 350 I ride the Pre-65 B route and whilst it is rudimentary in some areas the unique sandy soil and pine mulch ensures you can never let your guard down. 

The entry to Sub 9 is over a felled pine tree and into a downhill gulley.  It looks a bit fierce and Ken Wallington immediately takes a 3, paddling his way over the log and down the bank.  I go for a different line but as I open the throttle the bike coughs, the front wheel goes over but I lose it in the gulley.  The bike lands heavily on my left thigh and I’m trapped underneath it with petrol pouring out of the tank.  Fortunately, some very kind Gentlemen lift the bike off me and the observer elects to alter the beginning of the section.  Dave and I straighten the front end out and I ride back to the van to replenish petrol and change my fuel soaked trousers.  I’m pretty sore but manage to make it back to Sub 9 and clean it this time.
In Sub 1

The route through the vast woodland is great and the club have put on some very interesting sections to suit all standards of riders although I’d say the Pre-65A route would have been too tough for me on the 350 this time out.

Having ridden NT410 quite a lot recently, I am out of practice changing plugs and the unseasonably mild weather coupled with a lack of wind see me go through three plugs on the day.  I incur my only maximum on Sub 3 when the 350 runs out of sparks just as I negotiate a tight corner.  Having cleaned the rest of the trial and with a dead leg I’m glad to finally finish however, a 5 mark penalty in this field normally means you're well down the list.  This year however, it's good enough to take first place on the Pre-65 B route.  Yes it was rudimentary in places but I was not riding a trick bike & rode injured so that's fair enough by me.  Next time I'll take NT410 and ride the Pre-65 A route.  I must say congratulations to Len Hutty who rode his 410 Matchless to third spot on the twinshock elite course; what a fantastic effort from a fantastic rider (and thoroughly nice bloke).
In the turn on Sub 2

Thanks to Neil and the club for laying on another cracking trial.  Even though I got pretty banged up I can honestly say it was a brilliant day’s sport.  Roll on next year.

Thanks to Penny for photo duty.

Penny the photographer who patiently
waited on Sub 1!!

Next up:  The Western Classic Guy Fawkes’ Trial at Bisley.

A short video before the start

23 Oct 11 ACU Sammy Miller Rd6 The Greensmith Memorial trial

As normal we started from a Shropshire Pub and this year it was the Kremlin Inn located in the village of Clee Hill.  Complimentary Tea and Bacon/Sausage sandwiches got the day off to a flying start.

Dave picked me up on the way through but there were not many pre-unit riders out on the day. 

Unfortunately, the pre-unit entry was a little down on previous years.  Dave (Ariel HT 500) and I (riding Matchless NT410) are up against Colin Hedges (350 Matchless), Bob Greenhough (BSA 425) and Ken Wallington (Matchless 410).  It’s hard to understand why so few riders contested this trial as it really is one of the best circuits in the Sammy Miller championship.

The ground was generally dry however, the organisers made good use of the countless rocky streams that litter the area.  The first group at
Park Lane
consisted of 5 subs all in a rocky brook.  I start with a pair of cleans and am pleased to get through Sub 3 with a clean as the rock step located towards the end looked quite fearsome.

The next group at Beech Trees consisted of 3 subs.  Sub 6 was a lot trickier than it looked.  A winding and steep downhill entry into the muddy stream bed went fine however, when I applied power to get out the bike seriously bogged down and I couldn’t move.  Fortunately, I managed to extricate NT410 and collect my 5 from the observer.  The next pair were a double and whilst
I clean the smaller rocks of Sub 7 I have to take a couple of steadying ones on the next.

The route to Bedlam was poorly marked and we waste a lot of time before Dave decides to ride down a boulder laden gulley and picks up the route marking.  The next sub was aptly named.  The long run down a boulder strewn stream bed goes well and I’m pleased to collect a clean for my efforts.

We hit the road for a 3 mile ride to the next group and meet Ken Wallington going in the opposite direction.  We stop to speak to the fellow Gloucestershire rider and it’s clear that he’s had enough “rock action” for one trial and decided to call it a day.

Dave and I hit the next group of 4 subs at Furlong.  The big rock step in sub 9 is still a challenge and I do as I normally do, and jump NT410 over it off the preceding stones for a clean.  The next sub is a real challenge and I’m pleased
to successfully negotiate the boulder strewn stream for a clean but have to take a dab halfway through as some mud catches me out.  Not bad for a single dab.  The next one catches me for a dab too; the dry banks are getting slippery as water is tracked across them.  I gather myself for the last sub and go clean.

Next up it was Hopton Brook for 3 subs in a muddy streams; despite being tacking in places I clean this group.  It’s out on the road again as we head to Strandbrook for 5 subs.  I misjudge the exit of this fist sub, opting for the easier route up a rock step but this necessitates a pair of dabs as the turn up the bank is too tight to get the big 410 around.  The observer at the last sub in this group has a funny interpretation of the course marking however, we ride it his way and come away with a clean.

We head back to Brockleton Brook (opposite Furlong) for two subs in the rocky stream and I come away with a clean sheet here.  We’re on the home stretch now and it’s back to Bedlam for 3 subs.  I have a magnificent ride in sub 24 to record a clean but have to take two dabs at 26 as I get pushed off line.  The following double sub is very tricky and I am elated to go clean.  Sub 29 is a killer; it looks so simple but takes maximums off the entire Class 2 entry except me as, having done all the hard work, I take 3 dabs to get out of the tight exit.  The final sub is pretty rudimentary and I’m glad to see it.

The 21 mile circuit took a while to get around and we didn’t get back until 1720.  As with all stream sections, controlled aggression is the key and I’m pleased with how I rode overall.  Perhaps I could’ve concentrated a bit more on sub 26 but I had some good cleans on the day.  I finish second to Bob Greenhough but remain top of Class 2, extending my lead to 26 points with two rounds to go in the series.

Results:  Bob Greenhough (BSA ZB34A) 14,  John Jacka (Matchless G3LC 410) 17,  Dave Arkell (Ariel HT500) 31,  Colin Hedges (Matchless G3LC 350) 53,  Ken Wallington (Matchless G3LC) DNF.

Next up:  The TALMAG Sidecar Trial at Hungry Hill

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

16 OCT 11 After the Trial!

As I said in my trial report Heath has brought his camera and is keen to see NT410 airborne once more.  Ever obliging, I head over to Sub 6 and check out the take off and landing zones.

Take off!

“It can’t be done mate, You’ll never get that hulking great thing over the gap!” says the Observer as he packs up his section.

“He might have a point” I say to Heath “but it’s definitely doable” I continue. 

As they say in the cockpit "V1, Rotate!"

There’s a tree smack bang in the middle of the LZ but I think I can avoid it.  After a couple of practice run-ups I give it a go.  Unfortunately Heath doesn't have his camera ready first time around so I have to give it another go.

In testament to John Bartrum’s skill and craftsmanship the frame stays in one piece after three practice jumps!

I have a go at some of the log boxes too!
Just like Dougie Lampkin eh?!

Thanks to Heath Brindley for these photos.

16 Oct 11 Zona1 MCC John Workman Trial

Eyeing up the step in Sub 9

Being a Zona1 MCC member I decide to have a rare Sunday morning lie in and take the short drive to Nettleton quarry for the John Workman trial.  I phoned my entry in on Saturday and, having printed off the entry form, signing on is a piece of cake.  It’s a full factory outing and I’m joined by Dave Arkell (Ariel HT500), Nige Townsend (410 AJS), Pete Collins (350 AJS rigid) and Ken Wallington (410 Matchless).  We all elect to ride the Sportsman route which is designated for the Pre-65 entry.

The summit of Sub 2

Despite being a modern club Zona1 always welcome Pre-65 riders and with a wealth of experience and talent on hand, the sportsman sections are laid out perfectly for the big bikes once again.   

The sportsman route riders begin at Sub 6 and initially the Pre-65 riders stick together.  The deep, winding and rocky gulley ends with a short uphill run to the ends cards and we all begin with a clean.  Sub 7 features a man-made gully that is a bit tight for the wide crankcases of the pre-65 entry however, the sides are pretty soft so I gas NT410 up and power through for a clean.  The loose earth and banks of Sub 8 ride surprisingly well and the sinuous Sub 9, despite looking tricky rides fine. 

Sub 1 turns out to be the trickiest.  The tight twists and turns through a rocky gap which scratches and gouges crankcases and eats gear levers demands respect.  We all take a penalty here and I record a dab on lap 3 in order to avoid ripping my gear lever off.  Sub 3 was a little too easy but on reflection, I think we all may have misinterpreted the section incorrectly.  However, since we all rode the same route it doesn’t affect the outcome. 

In the turn at Sub 3

I ride pretty well and record a single dab for the day’s efforts and take the Pre-65 win, recording a rare victory over the rest of the factory.  Nige is getting used to his short-stroke AJS riding well to beat Dave Arkell.  Pete Collins rode extremely well on the big rigid and Ken continues to improve.

Pre-65 Results: John Jacka 1, Nige Townsend 10, Dave Arkell 13, Pete Collins 22, Ken Wallington 48

It’s clear that a lot of development work has gone into this venue and there are lots of big logs and newly arrived Cotswold stone available at the venue.  After the trial I tackle the logs and have a go at the “log box”; it’s internal dimensions are only a few inches bigger than the Matchless so it’s pretty difficult to get out but good fun nonetheless. 
Making use of the new
logs on site!

Heath Brindley has his camera on hand and we head over to sub 6 for a bit of airborne Tomfoolery.  After eyeing up the terrain and landing site I jump NT410 over the gulley a couple of times.  It’s great fun and a fitting end to a great run out.

Thank you to Andy Coulbourne for kind use of his picture of NT410 in Sub 9.

Thank you to Mike Yiend Motorsports photography for the rest of the pictures.  Why not support your local photographer and visit Mike's website; he took 145 photos on the day so you're bound to be in there somewhere.  Click the link below or use the link on the sidebar.

Mike Yiend:

Next up: ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 6 The Greensmith memorial trial