Tuesday, 23 August 2011

21 Aug 11 - ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 4 - The Frank Jones Trial

Unbelievably, I’m up at 0445 to be at Dave’s at 0600 for the long drive to Builth Wells in Wales.  We meet up with Teflon and Pete Collins on the A40 and travel in convoy.  With only a minor detour we arrive early and sign on in the pub.

Teflon, Bob, Pete, Me & Dave

Whilst the entry appears to be less than last year there’s a good showing of pre-Unit Clubmen (Class 2) ready to take points off me if I ride badly.  Bob Greenhough (BSA Goldie), Pete Collins (Ariel HT5), The Teflon Don (410 AJS), Dave (Ariel HT5), Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT5) and Colin Hedges (350 Matchless) are no slouches on the big bikes.  I elect to ride NT410 this time as I don’t want to risk destroying MH410 on the rocks!

We get away promptly at 1007 and it’s immediately apparent that NT410 is not happy on the road and there’s a lot of popping and farting.  The first two subs are just off the road and by the time we get there they’ve had the surface taken off them by some sidecars.  Nevertheless, I focus the mind and start the day off with a pair of cleans.  Happily, NT410 runs great in the sections.

The club have selected a lot of new sections this year and some of the streams are particularly slippery which take marks off the unwary.  Sub 9 looks innocuous enough; a long ride along a rocky stream bed but it takes marks off all of us and I incur my first dab here.  There was a killer rock step in the contentious Sub 11 followed by a very slippery exit and when I walk it it’s got “3” written all over it.  However, I ride aggressively and finish with a dab which puts me ahead of my class.  The aggressive riding pays off in Sub 14; where the rest are taking “3s” and “5s”, I change into second gear mid-section, gas it up and launch the Matchless into the air.  This way I sail over the mud and when I look around I’m greeted by applause (which is always nice to hear).

L to R: BSA ZB34A, AJS 410, Ariel HT5 x 2
and my Matchless 410
The streams take their toll and this trial really is a war of attrition on bike and body.  The bike conks out on sub 22 and I’m very kindly pushed out by Dave Dawson and Russ Jones; Thank you!!  The clutch is slipping so much that there’s not enough oomph to turn the fly wheels over.  We bump it and “viola”, NT410 fires up.  However, I have to keep the bike running for the rest of the trial or risk not being able to start it again.

A five at Sub 22!
Russ Jones & Dave Dawson look on!!
One of the final subs is a jagged waterfall that looks impossible but I’m over the moon to get through it with a single dab.  With a bike that’s rapidly failing I’m relieved to get through to Sub 30, finishing with a 13 mark loss.  It was a long day in the saddle; starting at 1007 and finishing at 1730!!  Nevertheless, it’s easily been the best trial of the year and the Builth club richly deserve praise for such an outstanding day.  The sections, whilst daunting in places, were just right and nobody finished with a clean!

My 13 mark loss is good enough to take the Class 2 win and 20 valuable points.  Colin Hedges rode superbly (19 marks lost) to take 2nd place and Dave Arkell rounds the podium out with a 26 mark loss. 

I’m pleased with my performance; it was aggressive at times but that paid dividends.  NT410 needs some more TLC and I think it’d benefit from a BT-H magneto in the near future. Now, where's that wallet ?.......... 
Pete Collins and his Rolls Royce overalls
"you get a set free with the car!"

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Cheltenham Spa scramble club charity trial at Wainlodes

Me, Dave, Teflon & Pete at Wainlodes

Dave Arkell, Pete Collins & The Teflon Don have already signed on by the time I get there. 

Despite the threat of rain none actually materialises which is good because this venue is slippery enough.  The course comprises 14 sections on a long, steep bank that is predominantly clay.  Difficult to ride in the dry because the ground turns into little marbles, it’s nigh on impossible to ride in the wet on a big pre-unit single.

We all elect to ride the Clubman Plus (green route) and head off to sub 1 which is a steep downhill section which flattens before an off camber uphill climb.  The lady in front of me comes a cropper on her Scorpa however, despite my reservations it’s no problem.  The Theme continues and subs 2,3 and 4 consist of tight, twisty off camber marbles with a penalty of going down the bank if you get it wrong! 

Pete & Dave (Ariel HT5)
take a breather at sub 14

The organisers, having lulled us into a false sense of security, then up the ante in sub 5 which begins with a hop over a log immediately followed by a tight right hand uphill turn around a tree, a steep down hill run with a 90 degree right off camber (on marbles) turn back up the bank.  It looks impossible but Pete Collins and his Ariel ride it like a main road for an impressive 2 dabs, while Dave and his Ariel take 3 dabs.  Teflon and I tuck the front under for a maximum apiece.  I eventually get the hang of it and go around for a single dab on the last lap; a feat only matched by Pete Collins.  Even the steady Dave Jones on his Triumph twin can’t match that.

Sub 5 entry over a log

Sub 6 is nigh on impossible for the big bikes and we all incur penalties on the exceptionally tight and twisty uphill section.  Sub 7, 8 are tight and twisty on off camber marbles which are pretty rudimentary however, I get offline in Sub 7 on lap 2 and incur a maximum as I get friendly with Hawthorn tree.  Sub 9 has a hazardous low exit, but we all go clean while the tight entrance to Sub 10 forces a dab out of me when I rush and neglect to get lined up on the last lap.

Sub 11 and 12 are tight, twisty affairs while 13 is a real challenge featuring a tight entrance followed by a steep climb which I get wrong, incurring 3 dabs on lap 2.  The last sub, Sub 14 is pretty rudimentary and despite the tight exit we all go clean.
Finally getting it right at Sub 5

It’s been a great trial and the bikes are only covered in a light coating of baked clay dust.  Thanks to Brian Bridson and the gang at Cheltenham Scrambles Club for a great day.

Dave Jones (Triumph twin) 18,  Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5)  20, Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) 20,
Jai Jacka (Matchless G3LC) 31,  Nige Townsend (AJS 16M) 35.

Sub 5 on lap 2
 Next up:  ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 4 at Builth Wells

Thanks to Mike Yiend for these photgraphs. Click on the link to find Mike's Trials photgraphs which are for sale and support your local photographer!

Sub 5 on lap 1 incurs a
hefty dab!!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Aug 13 Cheltenham Auto Jumble

It’s not raining and I fancy taking the 350 for a spin.  Where better than the Cheltenham Auto Jumble.  I’m pleased to report that THB events do discounts for servicemen and it’s well worth the £3 entry fee.  I leave home around 1030 and ride the bike inside leaning it against an electricity distribution box on arrival.  I have a wander around and pick up a selection of second hand AF spanners out of a box and get some new vinyl numbers (only to discover I’ve got lots of spare vinyl numbers at home!).

The 350 Matchless gets a run out

There’s lots of people about including a fair smattering of foreign visitors and I notice a Dutch gentleman buying a stack of old Motorcycle magazines from Bob Greenhough.  Teflon and Pete Collins are in attendance and they both agree to have a go at sorting the front brake out on NT410 which is a great relief.

It’s good to see Tony Sullivan at the autojumble; amongst some Montesa twin-shock bikes he’s got his lovely Triumph for sale.  It looks wonderful and I’m half tempted but decide on a chat with Tony instead.  Jim Pickering has some good news about the BMCA and following a committee meeting it appears that the BMCA will be easing things up a bit for the big Pre-Unit singles which means the Intermediate route should be viable for me.

Tony Sullivan's Triumph twin
It's for sale you know!!

After a couple of hours and a good trawl through I head home to get the 350 ready for the Cheltenham Scramble Club’s charity trial at Wainlodes in the morning.  Teflon, Pete & Dave will all be out on pre-units so I better have my wits about me!

Friday, 12 August 2011

31 Jul – ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 3 – Yorkshire Dales Trial

Ilkley & DMCC know how to set out a trial and with some great land which offers plenty of variety it’s well worth the long journey North.  I’m in the Sprinter with Dave P while Dave A drives the camper.  Setting off well into the afternoon we get to Pateley Bridge around 1830.  There’s a few lads around including Dave Dawson who has already set up camp and is well into the dessert course of his evening meal as we roll in.  We whip the awning out and head to the pub.
Dave P in the morning

Normally frequented by the travelling trials riders (which makes for a thoroughly good night out) this year, unfortunately, it’s full of very drunk middle aged women intent on bellowing profanities to one another.  It’s time like these I wish I was still a smoker; a cigarette filter placed into each ear canal would have helped alleviate the cacophony of noise.  Nevertheless, the food is acceptable and when our ears finally begin to bleed we head inside for some relative peace.  It perks up nicely and there’s a lad singing so Dave P and I stay late.

Following a good night’s sleep we head for scrutineering, sign on and book a lunchtime sandwich before heading back to the van to fuel up and get changed.  We return to the cattle market and start bang on time.
"What time are we off?" MH410 ready to go!!

As usual it’s a short ride to the first group of 4 subs at Watergate and predictably there’s a massive queue.  The first group are on a rocky hillside and with the dry conditions there’s nothing to worry about; in fact, this group are rather easier than last year.

We move onto Cock Hill Mine for four more subs.  Sub 5 is uphill across some loose material and despite looking pretty rudimentary Sub 6 has a tight right hand turn in it that makes you think.  Clubmen don’t ride the long, boulder strewn Sub 7 but criss-cross the stream bed which is a shame (although I’m not on a rigid!).  Sub 8 is a twisty, rocky affair and after this it’s back to the road for the long ride back to Pateley Bridge.

On the way to pine copse that is called West Wood I have a cat run out in front of me and a get chased by an ambulance!  Sub 9 is a slippery uphill muddy run followed by Sub 10 a twisty dry section in which I smack a tree and hurt my hand.  We head off for 3 subs at Rayner’s Field where the going is surprisingly easy this year.
Dave and his HT5 ready
to go!

Out on the road Dave and I miss the turning for Covill Farm and on arrival at West House Farm realise the mistake.  We compound the error by not going immediately back to the missed group favouring completion of this group first.  Still clean, we head back to Covill Farm and realise our error; The observers are packing up for their well deserved lunch.  Thankfully, they mark out the route however, in the rush I lose concentration and gain get 2 dabs in the rock stream of sub 15 and miss a gate on sub 16 incurring a maximum.  That’s the day over and as we head to the lunch stop I’m gutted.

Following a fantastic ham sandwich and a long, hard ride over the moors we arrive at High Ray Carr for 3 subs.  The ground is littered with large granite boulders which makes for some interesting going.  We do sub 21 first and I take a dab on a tricky uphill right hand turn rather than risk a maximum.  Sub 22 looks like a killer however, we all clean it.  On the way out we do the rudimentary sub 20 which we missed on the way in.

Next up it’s Winksley Moor for 4 subs in and out of a stream.  The first, Sub 23, into and out of a rocky stream is great but I have to take a dab and the next, sub 24 down a bouldered stream is a real test and I take an early dab.  Sub 25 is a killer and I wrestle the bike around for 3.  Looking at the results it’s hard to see how anyone could have clean this!!  The last sub here is a cracker;  downhill into a stream then a protracted climb up a boulder strewn ravine.  Dave looks completely at home, riding the rocks with ease; despite a rather laboured approach I go clean too.
MH410 in the climb on
Sub 5 at Cock Hill Mine

The last group at Kingstone Farm comprises five subs; I clean the first three but get knocked off line in sub 30, miss a gate and incur a maximum.  Similarly, in sub 31 I lose my way and the bike conks out on me for another maximum.

Not the way I wanted to finish and I’m disappointed with my performance as I ride back to Pateley Bridge.  I eventually get home at 2300, totally knackered and glad I’ve got a day’s leave booked.

It doesn’t cost me too dear THIS time and effectively I’ve only lost a point; being 12 points clear vice 13 in Class 2.

Next up is Wales and with a lot of pre-unit riders travelling over for this one I’m going to have to be on top form!!