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