Wednesday, 28 September 2011

25 Sep BMCA Rd 3 Earlswood

With rain forecast I don’t fancy the local trial at Hawks and elect to ride BMCA Rd 3 at Earlswood off J3 of the M42.  It’s a tiny piece of land consisting of two wooded bomb holes separated by a field.  You do five subs in one then move over to the next.  The ground has everything; bogs, water, steep climbs, cambers and a multitude of roots.  It’s a great venue and well worth the trip. 
Sub 3 after the big rooty entrance
AND feet up!!

With rain threatening most of us get off to a cracking start.  However, Sub 1 is nigh on impossible to get to.  A few of us move a massive, old log and bung it in the gully so that we can start the trial.  I ride the Intermediate route once again and thankfully Sub 1 is a clubman section.  A steep drop into a muddy hole with lots of tight and twisty turns before the exit.  Sub 2 is an expert section and the steep climb and twists really wakes me up.  Sub 3 has a tricky turn and massive rooty step located at the start but as the trial drags on I get more tired and the marks keep coming. 

In the second bomb hole Sub 6, 7, 8 and 10 designated for the intermediates to ride the expert route.  Sub 7 really tests your mettle and I’m pleased to get the bike up a steep bank, over the rooty base and down the other side on each occasion.  The entrance to sub 8 is tricky and I have to take a maximum here on the second lap as the 350 won’t go over the big step.  Disappointingly, I lose the front end twice on Sub 10 and get two maximums which puts me well out of the points.  The rain begins on my last lap so I incur more points on this lap than any other as the ground goes from good to downright slippery in the course of a few minutes.

Still, I finish in 6th instead of 8th this week but if I had been a little bit fitter I could have finished 3rd on the Intermediate route.  Thanks to Nathan Jones and Steve Hay for such an entertaining trial.  Unfortunately, the camera was playing up so only one picture this time. 

Next up: ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 5 The Peter Keen Trial in Devon on Saturday.

Monday, 26 September 2011

24 Sep Somerton & DMC Final Rd of club championship trial

Now I’ve got the van I fancy a Saturday afternoon run out and decide on the Somerton Club’s final round of the club championship at the Turn Hill venue near Langport.  With NT410 still off the road I load up the trusty long-stroke 350, pick up Dave Priestner (navigator & camera man) on the way and we arrive at the venue to be greeted by predominantly modern bikes.  I immediately fear I’ve made a big error but am pleased to see a “Pre-65” notation on the entry form.
Dave refuels on a Pasty
before camera duty!

The start of the climb in Sub 1

I elect to ride the Intermediate route (5 Clubman, 5 Expert sections) and get away on time.  Sub 1 is a rooty, up hill climb that is fairly rudimentary although the practice of using trees for markers vice markers themselves makes some gates rather tight for the Matchless. 

Sub 2 is tight & twisty with an exit over a tree stump.  It’s a section where the “factory dab” to haul the bike around is very effective however, I eventually get the hang of it and go clean on the last lap.  The entry to Sub 3 over some big roots is a real challenge; you can never know where you’re going to end up and I take a couple of steadying dabs here. 
Entry to Sub 3 over the roots followed by
a climb an twisty exit

Sub 4 catches me out on the first lap as the tightly packed trees fool me into thinking there’s little room for manoeuvre.  Sub 5 is a twisty, sinuous affair that rides well.  Sub 6 is a long, steep climb with a tight turn at the top.  I witness a lad get it wrong and keen not to see the 350 tumbling down the bank I take extra care here. 

Sub 7 is a mudslot that cuts out nicely as the day wears on and leads directly into Sub 8 which features a series of tight turns in the stream bed with a greasy exit. 

The beginning of Sub 8

 The entrance to Sub 9 is a hop over a large (for Pre-65 machines at least) lump of sandstone followed by a mudslot with a tricky, greasy, uphill exit.  I gas the 350 and I fly over the block which is pleasing and ride the slot with aggression which pays off in the end.  Sub 10 is a rudimentary affair which rides well in the dry weather. 

I finish on 23 marks lost taking 2nd on the Pre-65 Inter route (just two marks behind the winner who was on a C15).  I’m pleased with my ride and despite the almost total lack of pre-65 entries I would definitely ride with Somerton & DMC & LCC again.  The sections, whilst tight in places, were spot on however, I caution that had it rained, I would have had to revert to the Clubman route.
The tricky exit to Sub 9

Thanks to Somerton MC for a great afternoon’s trial; it was definitely worth the trip down the M5.   There was a hot food wagon on site too and a hot cup of tea at the end is well deserved. 

Who knows, I might ride the whole of their club championship next year!

Next up: BMCA Rd 3 at Earlswood

Monday, 19 September 2011

18 Sep 11 BMCA Rd 2 East Lodge Farm

With a choice of trials available I decided to opt for BMCA Rd 2 at East Lodge Farm off J5 of the M5.  I meet up with Ken Wallington from Stroud who’s there with his immaculate Matchless G3LS.  I elect to ride the intermediate route (5 clubman sections and 5 expert sections) and having printed out my regs before hand, signing on is breeze. 

With NT410 off the road with a persistent mystery clutch problem I turn out on the heavyweight 350 long-stroke G3LC.  It’s a bit of a gamble but if I can get this beast around I can have some confidence in my ability as a trials rider.

I get underway bang on time but am obviously half asleep as I go the wrong way in Sub 1 incurring an immediate 5 mark loss…..not a good start.  The twisty and root laden Sub 2 would have been tricky in the rain but is fairly rudimentary in the end. 

Sub 3 is a real tester on the 350.  A steep climb followed by a downhill section leads to an off-camber, uphill turn back on oneself to the exit.  The 350’s funereal pace and new IRC front tyre combine and I am relieved to only incur a single dab at this sub a feat only bettered by the class winner.
Heading to the tricky turn in Sub 3

Sub 4 was a very tight & twisty uphill climb which would have been impossible had the venue been wet.  Initially, I really struggle here but rally as the loose earth is kicked down the bank to reveal a hard surface and I finish with two cleans which is a good ride in my opinion.

Sub 5 was pretty rudimentary however, on lap two I touch a marker and incur a maximum.  Strange really, I didn’t think the observer had a Yorkshire accent!!  Anyway, Sub 6 was a cracker; a long section of tight, twisty turns followed by a mud slot and rooty exit.  A typical BMCA sub this one and I ride it well by slipping into 2nd gear and gunning it in the mud slot.  Sub 7 and 8 were deceptive and disappointingly, I take a dab on the expert route in sub 7.

The uphill Sub 9 featured a tricky exit and I nearly collect an unwary onlooker as I exit on the last lap.  Unfortunately, the over zealous observer perceived my foot coming off the peg but not touching the ground as a dab so I get a penalty however, I go clean on the sinuous Sub 10 over the four laps.
Eyeing up the exit to Sub 10

Thankfully, the predicted rain never materialised and as such the going was much easier than it could have been.  I finish in 8th spot again incurring a 24 mark loss but beat a BSA C15.  Nevertheless, I’m pretty annoyed with myself for going the wrong way in Sub 1 and rather disappointed with some harsh observing in Sub 5 and 9 but that’s trials.

It was a great venue and one to which I have never previously been.  Once again the course was set out very fair for big singles so credit to Pete Dawson and the BMCA team for that.  The next round is just off the M42 at Earlswood.

Thanks to Penny for taking the photos.
Lovely new Beta gloves from BVM in Stroud!

Monday, 12 September 2011

11 Sep 11 - BMCA Round 1 - Ullenwood

Man, van & bike on the verge

I load up my new van with NT410, the missus and a picnic and we head up the A46 for the first round of the BMCA season at Ullenhall.  This very friendly British only club has an impressive fixture list and has access to some great trials land throughout the Midlands.  The clientele tend to favour the light bikes such as Cubs, C15s, & Bantams and their trials are always a good challenge given the high standard of riders at the club. 

It's bound to be greasy so
better do a pressure check!

This season I have elected to move up to the Intermediate class in which competitors ride 5 Clubman route subs and 5 hard route subs at the course setter’s discretion.  I sign on with Pete Reed and get away bang on 1030.  I’ve never been to Ullenhall before so I’m delighted to see a beautiful wood with lots of climbs, cambers, roots and due to a lack of rain, only some mud.  It must be very difficult here in the rain.

NT410’s clutch is still temperamental and I have to nurse it throughout the trial.  Inadvertently, I’m one of the first through each section and it’s all going good until I incur a 5 on Sub 4 by running the starboard fork leg into a hidden tree stump.  Section 5 is the killer.  It’s sinuous tight turns, roots and loose peaty soil really is too much for me and I struggle to get the big 410 around incurring 72% of my final total on this section alone.

Getting under way!

Subs 6 and 7 are in perma-shade which on the subsequent laps catch me out particularly the exit of Sub 7 over a massive log.  With strong, consistent riders in the class these unnecessary dabs see me well down the field and I eventually finish with 25 marks lost which equates to 8th place on the Intermediate route.  Nevertheless, I do beat a C15 which is encouraging as I was the only “big bike” in the class. 

Still, it’s my first time on the Intermediate route and I’m reasonably pleased with my performance and that NT410 kept going.  Whilst the clutch is far from OK it did not cause me any real problem other than worry.  I’ll have to get this sorted in short order if I want to keep on riding the bike but with mechanical help and advice in short supply it’s going to be a challenge.

Approaching the tight turn in Sub 2

Well done to Dave Jones and Mick Hemmings for laying on a great trial.  I’m looking forward to my next outing with the BMCA at East Lodge Farm next week.

Thanks to Pete Dawson who kindly provided these photographs which were taken during the trial.

The entry to Sub 4