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

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

09 Oct – WG & DF “Sidecargate” Trial at Mile End

A fairly local trial and with a lot of Gloucestershire Pre-unit riders turning out it was always going to be challenging.  I’m keen to see how the magneto and clutch handle another long trial and I elect to ride NT410.  My riding buddy Dave Arkell along with Godfrey Hannam, Pete Collins (all riding 500 Ariel), Ian Wixon (350 Triumph), Colin Hedges (350 AJS) and another AMC rider (350 AJS) turn up at the Foresters in Mile End and after we sign on grab a free cup of tea and bacon roll.  It’s not a full factory outing though as The Teflon Don is absent having played Golf the day before.
Kitted up at the start

The format was initially strange but with hindsight I really enjoyed it.  The premise is this; you ride as a group with a lead rider and tail end Charlie.  The lead rider takes us to the sections which are laid out in groups.  You ride the sections in turn but wait for the other riders to complete the group before you move on to the next group.  It seems weird but for a small group of riders it’s a brilliant concept.  There was a lot of friendly banter and whilst there was a definite air of competition the emphasis was on fun.

Exiting Sub 20
We get away bang on 1000 and leave as a group.  The first group features 7 Subs in a massive wood.  The lack of rain makes the going slightly easier although the plotters did find the odd mud slot to use.  The morning Groups and Subs are set out for the Clubman but do catch a few riders out as the roots and loose rocks take marks off the unwary.  I keep a clean sheet throughout the morning and am firmly in the lead as we get to the tea stop at Ian Wixon’s farm around 1330.
Sub 16 just before a maximum!

Following tea, the terrain changes markedly; Sub 16, is a stinker and nobody goes clean.  My rivals do a fantastic job to get a 3 while I come away with a maximum after beaching NT410 on the sump pan.  I clean the rocky stream of Sub 17 by aggressive riding but have to foot my way through Sub 18.  I’m now on 8 marks lost and have to control the losses if I’m to win.  A brilliant, aggressive ride on the long, uphill rocky stream of Sub 19 for a clean is just what I needed however; I have to take three dabs early on in Sub 20 which lifts my total lost to 11.  The vultures are circling and whilst the opposition have to take a dab in the tight Sub 21 I rally and coax the big Matchless around for a clean.  Godfrey and I are now on 11 marks apiece so the pressure is on not to drop anymore.  Fortunately, I go clean over the remaining groups and subs but  so does he.

We finally get back to the start after seven hours of hard riding.  The Clerk of the Course adds up the marks and it’s clear there’s a tie and a difficult decision has to be made.  Godfrey and I have been battling all day but with me being “furthest clean” and having recorded the “most cleans” I'm subsequently declared the Pre-65 winner.  Whilst I take the Pre-65 honours and coveted Bush Shield it's Keith Wells who takes the overall win losing just 8 marks on his Honda XL 185.

Thanks to all at the WG&DF MCC for an innovative trial that must have taken an enormous amount of work to put together.  Thanks also to Ian Wixon and Mrs. Wixon for their hospitality at the tea stop.  I hope Stan's wrist gets better and he can take part next year.

Thanks also to Colin Jones for kind use of his photographs.  To read Colin's report visit the WG&DF MCC weblink here:

Next up: Zona1 MCC Club trial at Nettleton Quarry.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

02 Oct - ACU South Midland Classic championship Rd 1

Another early start; I’m on the road by 0730 this time heading to the Plashes
Farm venue in Hertfordshire for a the South Midland Classic championship. This series will be run over four rounds with different clubs in the South Midland centre taking turns to host a round.

Dave Priestner joins me with his SATNAV and it’s at least as long a journey as yesterday’s trip to Devon for SM Rd 5. The weather remains hot and by the time we reach the venue it’s already at 18C.  I enter in advance so signing on is simple and pleasingly the club have the next two rounds regs available to take away.

I’m a bit embarrassed that NT410 is still dirty from yesterday but it’s not the muckiest bike there.  I grab a bacon roll and tea, refuel the bike and get away promptly.  Not knowing how this club sets its trials out I elect to ride the Clubman route as I know that Oxford Ixion will set out a stinker of an expert route for the third round.  The sections are set out reasonably tight but given that the ground is bone dry it’s not a problem.

I start at Sub 12 and pleased to record a clean straight off.  The clubman route is very fair for big bikes and riders of all abilities would find something interesting in the sections.  The path through the vast woodland is clearly marked and the organisers should take credit for that.

The first lap (of three) is crucial and I make a couple of mistakes.  I’m disappointed to take a couple of dabs on Sub 1 and my “innovative” route for Sub 6 is a complete disaster resulting in a maximum on the first lap.  Sub 8 features what appears to be a rudimentary downhill tight turn near the exit however, I mess it up on lap 2 and 3 gaining another maximum and a three.  

I finish on 16 marks lost and by virtue of being lumped in with all the Red route riders, my sixteen mark loss is not good enough to gain even a single point.  I’m pretty disappointed with my ride; it was a cleanable course but I made some bad decisions that cost me dear.  It’s now pointless riding any other rounds in this championship and it’s a real body blow to go crashing out in the first round.  

The Plashes Farm venue coupled with the organisation that went into the trial was outstanding and the team involved deserve much credit for their efforts.

Next up: WG & DF “Sidecargate” Trial near Coleford.

Monday, 3 October 2011

1 Oct - ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 5 – Peter Keen Trophy Trial

Ready at the start
A 0415 start is not the best start for a National trial but due to work commitments I have to travel on the day.  We travel down the M5 in convoy meeting up with Ariel Dave on the Somerset levels.  The journey down is uneventful and we’re the first at the venue along with the Burger van so pick good parking spots for a quick getaway.  It’s pleasing to see toilets and a hot food van on site and after a hassle free sign on we tuck into bacon rolls washed down with tea.  I decide to turn out on NT410 with the new mag fitted and clutch problem sorted.
Getting some face time with "the Man"

Sammy Miller turns up to send us on our way and we get away bang on time at 0948.  It’s a short ride to the first group of Subs (1-7) at the aptly named Paradise where after a gently start it’s into the granite boulder laden stream beds.  With little rain the level is down but the algae and moss make it tricky going for the unwary.  A dab in the stream on Sub 5 leads to a pair of threes in Sub 6 and Sub 7; What looked like a rudimentary entrance to 6 is anything but and the deep mud of Sub 7 is nigh on impossible to power through since it’s located in a tight turn. 

The next group of subs at The Grove (8-17) feature the same type of ground but I find the going a little easier.  I get a dab on the entrance to Sub 8 but when Sammy Miller arrives on his BSA I’m determined to show I can ride a bit.  All goes well until sub 14 when I have to take a couple of steadying dabs.  Sub 15 is a daunting stream section but I carefully pick my line and come away with a clean.  The last two subs are tight and twisty affairs but I get through unscathed.
You have to concentrate in this terrain

We get back out onto the road for the long ride to Bickington.  NT410 is sounding very rough and I begin to lose power as the exhaust tappet works its way loose.  We arrive at the next group, Hadrian’s Wall, for three Subs (18-20) that feature some loose going.  Sub 20 is a long twisty uphill ride that I take in second and with the new mag performing well I get up there fine.  We refuel before heading off to the next group located at Rentor (21-23).  NT410 is even worse here but I nurse it through all the sections with no penalties.  Dave decides it’s best to get the exhaust tappet done before heading on the long run to the next group and with a pair of adjustable spanners cures the problem.
Is that mudguard bent?

The long ride from Bickington takes us to Mill Wood for three Subs (24-26) and having seen Dave take two dabs in Sub 26 I elect to use the clutch which immediately pays dividends in the tight, rocky section and I record a clean sheet in this group.  A short road ride past Bag Tor sees us at the next group located at Ruby Rocks (27-31).  This is a great location; lots of rocks embedded in the soft grass land with a rocky stream running through the centre.  Sub 30 is a cracker;  I ride the rocky stream well, electing to ride a massive rock in the centre which takes me over most of the marbles.  I’m on the right line and negotiate the exit for a single dab and get some heartening comments from the onlookers.  Sub 31 is easily cleanable and I take care not to over do it on the penultimate section.

We ride back to the start via the last section entitled Ripon Tor Splash.  There’s a good crowd gathered around and even a herd of Black Angus cattle sheltering under woodland canopy away from the oppressive heat.  I negotiate the tight turn two and ride the deep, rock strewn stream for a final clean.

It’s only a short ride up the track to the finish and I’m pleased to complete the course on what was a really hot day.  Thanks to Dave Arkell and his magic with the spanners I finish on a bike that’s running well and there’s not sign of clutch problems either.
Happy to have finished &
next to Sammy's van!

I finish with an 11 mark loss, taking a convincing win and now lead Class 2 of the Championship by 24 points.  However, in motorsport nothing can be taken for granted and I’ll have to ride well in the remaining rounds to retain the Class 2 trophy.

It was a smashing trial; totally different sections in some places interspersed with some familiar hazards.  Thanks to all at the WEMC for putting on another great national trial.  Hopefully, next year it won’t be so hot.

Thank you to the WEMC photographer for kind use of his action photos.

Next up: South Midland Classic championship Rd 1 at Plashes Farm, Hertfordshire