Monday, 28 February 2011

27 Feb 11 - The Gordon Francis Trophy Trial

I’m half asleep when I leave home and unbeknownst to me I’ve left my riding clothing at home!  Dave, Mary and I hop in the Sprinter and head down the M5.  We stop at a Costa and thanks to a tired (but benevolent) cashier I get 50% Police discount vice the 20% Forces discount!
Dave, Pete & The Teflon Don

We arrive early and meet up with The Teflon Don (Nigel Townsend) and Pete Collins who rather amusingly, is sporting brown overalls for a change.  The ground is sodden and we have a good look at Subs 8-10 and Subs 1-2.  It’s marked out tight and I rue not cutting the stops off MH410; this is going to be tight & tricky.  We elect for the expert route and after getting changed (good job I packed the waterproofs) it’s off to Sub 1. 

Before the Trial

I have another quick look and eager to get going before the ground gets worse, I line up and await my turn swapping pleasantries with West Country Trials legend Colin Dommett.  There are riders walking all over the section but they give me just enough room and I clean it; good start!  Sub 2 consists of very tight turns and some climbs and I get two dabs.  Sub 3 is another tight affair but it’s another clean.  Sub 4-7 feature water and climbs but it’s all pretty fair although Sub 7 has a tricky left hand turn and I get a 5 each time.  Sub 8 has tricky turn over a root and I come a cropper the first time.  Sub 9 – 10 continue the twisty theme with 10 having a very steep descent in the middle of it but it’s fairly rudimentary.

Chris's Mum & the Matchless

Exiting Sub 5

Lap 2 and 3 go well and I’m improving however, the big Matchless and two weeks off are taking their toll and I have a rubbish last lap even 5-ing Sub 1.  We meet some great people at the Trial including Chris Francis and his Mum who took a shine to the Matchless and was amused to see the cutting edge Kickstart retaining device (an elastic band).

As if to prove his innate non-stick abilities Teflon's kit remains relatively clean compared to the rest of us and being a Sunday, I suspect he could go straight from the trial to church and nobody would bat an eyelid.   

Teflon (350 AJS) and I

Thanks to Jon Cull's son and Chris Francis for these pictures

26 Feb 11 - Bike maintenance

Dave informs me we’re off to Somerton classic tomorrow for the Gordon Francis Trophy trial.  We haven’t ridden for two weeks and the bikes need some attention so I spend all morning getting the 350 Matchless ready and sort out the sticky front brake, check levels and lubricate absolutely everything.  This is followed by a quick trip up the road to ensure everything is correct.  As ever, the 350 runs like a dream!

My G3LC 350 at the Bike bonaza
I have some time before I’m due at Dave’s so I get the Maurice Hocking 410 (MH410) going and it’s sounding sweet.  What to do?  I flip a coin and the decision’s made; 410 it is (although I can’t believe I’m going to get it dirty!).  I load MH410 onto the trailer and put my boots, helmet and kit box into the Landy (which will save me time on Sunday morning).

I arrive in Stroud late afternoon and Dave’s surprised to see me with the MH410 on the trailer.  I set about polishing the engine and gearbox of the Townsend 410 ready for when the frame comes back from the powder coaters.  I’m polishing away like mad and it’s cold in the garage.  Adrian Moss turns up to have a chat with Dave and informs me that polished engines get hotter quicker.  Pah!! What does he know!!  It’s laborious, repetitive and precise work but it’s worth it when I’m finished.  I get back home around 1900.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

6 Feb 11 – The Jack Englefield Cup

Mortimer Classic MCC, near Theale.

This is the last run out for the Townsend 410 before it gets stripped down for powder coating and polishing!!  I meet up with Dave in Birdlip for 0815 (Woo Hoo; a lie in!!)
Thankfully, it is dry or the course would have been impossible.  This is obviously a club of experts and it’s set out for dry weather and tight.  I get conned into riding the Clubman route but any mistake will ruin the day as there’s a few handy riders about. 

The weather looks threatening so Dave and I crack on at a belting pace; fortunately, no rain materialises.  The Clerk of the course indicates it’s 2 laps of 20 sections.  The standard route was called the clubman/easy route and the white route was for the experts.
There are some very tight sections and not many riders on pre-units elect for the hard route. 

Unbelievably, and much to the annoyance of many riders, the Clerk of the Course changes the routes for subs 1-10 on the second lap without telling the riders.  This is extremely bad form and it catches a few out.  Luckily, I re-walk Sub 1 and realise what’s gone on.  Too late for Dave as he’s jumped ahead of me and gets a 5 for his trouble.  I had two genuine dabs in silly places but also gain a 5 for missing a marker (which the observer had great delight in telling me).  Due to the top class field I got 7 which effectively takes me out of the running.

To add insult the scorer adds another mark (8) and I am nowhere.  Still, the 410 keeps going and is looking like a winner.  Off to the powder coaters this week!

Result: It was poor form to change the route on the second lap without telling the riders.  I feel a bit seen off!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

2 Feb – SM Billet hub

The Sammy Miller front alloy hub arrives AND it’s free delivery!!  It comes polished and with all the parts needed.  I put the entire box and contents on the scale – 1.995Kg – Kerching!!



30 Jan 11 - The TALMAG trophy trial

AAARRGGHH!!! up at 0430, drive to Cheltenham, meet Dave at Birdlip just after 0700 for the drive to the TALMAG!! I forgot the auto-route but I’m too tired to care and rely on organic RAM.  I got very little sleep last night; Northampton town centre on a Saturday is like Dodge City. 

It’s cold but a wonderful sunny day and there are lots of spectators around.  Dave and I get scrutineered, sign on then go do a spot of socialising.  I’m out on the Matchless 410 again and I’m pleased to see John Bartrum there.  He made the frame and is interested to see what Teflon has done to the bike.  He takes it for a spin and is complimentary; taking a few photos for his website. 
Check the link; There's a few pictures of the 410 on there plus a great video of Teflon on the speed section riding Dave's HT5 Ariel!

I decide to name the bike “The Townsend Matchless” in Teflon’s honour.  Rather than give Teflon cash, I buy him a Bartrum frame.  I’m on the Clubman route but on the new 410 it is a tad on the easy side.  Still, I lose concentration and get a 5 for going the wrong way plus a genuine dab.  That’s my day ruined – too many good riders out today and any penalties put you way down the results.  Still, I’m happy to finish and have met some great people.  I’m looking forward to my bed tonight!!

Result: A great trial with lots of spectators

29 Jan 11 – The ACU awards dinner

As the 2010 ACU Sammy Miller products trials Champion (Class 2) I get an invite to the ACU Awards night dinner in Northampton.  Penny and I get dressed up however, I save money by wearing my Mess Kit.  With so many civilians in the joint I feel it’s a mistake as nobody knows whether I’ve come in fancy dress or if I’m a real serviceman.  Unbelievably, whilst having a pre-dinner cigarette, I step aside for a family making their way along the pavement and get thanked by the young lad with curt but polite “Thank you, Sir!” obviously, a fellow serviceman, which makes me feel better.

I’m pretty nervous and it’s like a “who’s who” of British motorcycle sport.  I wish I’d brought an autograph book.  I spot some of the guys I ride in the Sammy Miller (SM) championship with so naturally gravitate towards them and feel a little calmer.  I look at the seating plan and nearly pass out!  We’re not only on Sammy Miller’s table, Penny is sat next to him!!

We’re joined by Russ Jones and Steve Allen for what is a great night and it’s fun watching Steve Allen pop in and out for a cigarette without his Mum knowing.  The trials riders get presented with their awards penultimately by the great man himself, Sammy Miller.  It’s well worth the wait.  I pick up the Class 2 award and Sammy gives me lots of signed memorabilia from the night (Thank you Sammy!).

Around 2230, I notice the Trials riders are going for an early night.  It’s the TALMAG Trophy trial tomorrow in Aldershot and I suddenly realise I’ve got to be up at 0430 to meet Dave at Birlip!  Time for bed!

Result:  A great night in the close company of a legend of Motorcycle sport.  I’m truly honoured.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

23 Jan 11 - VMCC Club Trial at Chedworth

Another bitterly cold day and this would prove Dave’s theory about the oil or not.  We sign on in the Farm shop where it is warm and the riders are enthusiastically tucking into Bacon butties, sausage sarnies washed down with strong tea. 

It looks like someone else is having a go at running the trial this time and I don’t recognise the “officials” however, the old guard are still out in numbers.  Still numb from Saturday night’s Weston’s I sign on for the hard route but forget to put an envelope in for the results. 

This is the second run out for the new 410.  It performs brilliantly; better than I could ever have imagined.  There’s plenty of grip up the steep banks, superb steering, and very manageable over the rocks.  It really is a joy to ride.  The headstock angle makes the bike feel so light that it’s easy to get carried away.  Sub 4 is a toughie; steep drop down a bank towards a tree, then sharp right to run along the camber of the bank.  Flip the bike and body to the left then 90 degrees left down the bank before firing it back up the bank you just came down.  I clean it twice, dab once and then on the last lap as I flip the bike left, I catch the tree and take a massive tumble down the bank.  The bike follows me but thankfully, I don’t break it or dent the tank. 

I came away with 8 marks dropped. Which is OK considering I took a tumble and was riding the hard route.  There were some great sections today and these new lads clearly know how to set out a trial.  I thank them before I leg it off back to Dave's to clean the bikes off. 

Mike Yiend turned up and took some top photos of me and the bike!! Here I am exiting Sub 4.

Bonus, Dave sells my old Norton to a guy from Coventry (a big lad) and seems much happier with some cash in his pocket.  Roll on the ACU presentation dinner and the TALMAG trial next week.  Better get some sleep in this week.

Result:  Lots of Fun - but definitlely second fiddle to Rob Halliday who went around for 1 dab.  Well done Rob.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

New practice land

15 Jan 11
1030. Went with Pete Le Plain (PLP) to check out some new practice land at T Hill.  It turns out to be a very good little venue and the work that the farmer has done means that access is no problem.  This should be a winner and is exactly what I'm after.  Varied terrain with roots, rocks, climbs and cambers.  I now need to get some wires and markers and we’re on!  This should be good for Dave as he needs to practice hard in the run up to the Scottish 2 dayer.

PM – spent some time composing a list of all the trials I would like to ride this year.  Phew, it’s a lot.  I’m thinking about sponsorship, but who is going to shell out for me to represent them at national level?  As if to compound my pain, I notice from Trials Central that Barbour have made an advert for the 75th anniversary of their products featuring Alexz Wigg and his cronies, all riding old British stuff (click the link and look for the biking adventure film). 

I hope they don’t turn up at a pre-65 trial I’m rding in; one lad makes his Matchless G3LC do stuff I can only dream of!  Oh well, better pay for stuff myself I guess.

The Hawks AGM

12 Jan 11

Hawks AGM at the Plough Inn, Prestbury.  Penny and I get there early but there is massive disappointment as the landlady tells us there's no Addlestones.  Bummer! 
The usual gang turn up Glyn Jones, Pete Le Plain, Tony Ferryman, James Ferryman, Penny and myself.  Disappointingly, there's no new faces again this year. 

There's lots of heated discussion on various trials topics and I get the Press Secretary job (again) however, that should tie in nicely with the predicted trials tempo this year.  In order to improve my overall riding prowess I ask Dave Pritchett for some practice land.  He duly obliges and we come to a very reasonable arrangement.  I offer to seal the deal with a pint but he’s driving and declines; very sensible.  Pete Le Plain (PLP) will take me there on Saturday for a nose around. 

What's the prognosis Doctor Townsend?

3 Jan 11
Good to his word, Dave has cleaned the bike off and by the time I arrive at the Teflon Don’s workshop they’ve got the 410 apart.  There’s oil everywhere; in the bore, covering the piston and in the crank cases.  Thankfully, there’s no sign of a mechanical problem and  Nige is confident it’s a an oil scavenging problem. 

Later that week
Following a lot of investigation, Dave is convinced it’s an oil problem.  It was too cold for that amount of oil which subsequently, had to travel a long way up the bike.  This was not helped by me leaving it running against a tree which topped up the port side rockers.  When I got it back on an even keel the oil ran straight down into the sump and couldn’t all be scavenged. 

We add some lighter oil and it runs very sweetly.  I only need to test it now!  Roll on the weekend but the weather looks bad and I don’t want to get it dirty.  The Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC) Cotswold section trial is at Chedworth in a couple of weeks (23 Jan).  Hopefully, I can do the Jack Englefield Cup on it too?!  Dave is anxious to get it stripped down and powder coated.

Back to work and I order a Miller billet front hub for the 410.  It comes with everything needed and all I need to do is tell them the spindle size.  It cost is £300 which is very reasonable

The Start of the Year

2 Jan 11

It’s off to the first trial of 2011 at the Ledbury Classic MCC (LCMCC) trial at Clyro (Wales) with the new 410.  Dave comes over from Stroud in the sprinter to pick me up in Cheltenham and I ride SATNAV to him and Mary as we plot the quickest route to the venue.  There’s the obligatory stop for Coffee and food before we arrive nice and early in the car park of the Clyro Court Hotel.  This is much more like it; no fighting over parking in the wood and the inevitable squabbles that can go on to ruin your day.  We sign on in an old hospitality trailer and get the bikes out. 

There’s a great showing from the Gloucestershire lads today.  Dave Arkell (500 Ariel), Peter Collins (500 Ariel), Alan Wear (aka Wink) (350 Norton), his lad Ben Wear (350 BSA), Nigel “The Teflon Don” Townsend (350 AJS) and me (410 Matchless). 

As with all sport in Wales there’s a few spectators around and the 410 is getting some attention from the crowd.  It’s a short stroked 410cc Matchless motor and Burman gearbox skilfully placed into a John Bartrum Ariel replica frame (all done by Dave Arkell and Nigel Townsend).  This is the first time I’ve had it at a Trial and it’s purely for testing purposes today.  The frame is not painted and it looks like a silver dream machine apart from the black exhaust pipe (which is definitely staying). 

It was freezing once again and the bare framed 410 took some starting.  The bike rode very well; plenty of grip and torque in the muddy climbs and great suspension in the rocks (Trials and speedway legend Keith Gardiner commented that “I’m riding it very well” – I hope that continues for the rest of the season!).

It’s a top trial once again; the first section is a tight but steady climb up a pine needle composted bank and as I thread my way up there for a clean the bike is feeling great.  Nevertheless, the front hub is poor and I have a sticky brake – it’s got to go!!  Perhaps Nige will have it for his springer? (must order one of those shiny Miller ones when I get home!)

Dave Arkell blows a plug in the muddy number 8 and I go to help him out, leaving the bike running and propped against a tree trunk.  When I get back 6 minutes later there’s lots of smoke and oil pouring out of the exhaust.  This could be bad, but I rev the bike up to clear it, ignore the smoke screen behind me and carry on to Sub 9 and 10.  Following sub 10, Nige Townsend (aka The Teflon Don, on account of his never getting dirty despite the obvious mud) says “it’s terminal Jai, better get it back to the van!”  Bitterly, disappointed,  I fire it up and ride the smoking beast slowly back to the start and get changed in the van.  I leave it out for people to admire (which they do) and take a measured view of the outcome despite some obvious disappointment. 

The Gloucestershire Gang finish the trial and when they get back the 410 gets fired up and a rough diagnosis is performed.  Oil is returning to the frame but not enough is being scavenged out of the crank cases.  Blast!!

Still, it’s a good first outing for the bike.  Teflon says he’ll have a look at it during the week and it goes back to his workshop in Dave’s van. 

Result: DNF