Saturday, 31 December 2011

27 Dec 11 The Gordon Francis Memorial Trial – Somerton DMCC

There is a local trial on at Cowcombe in Chalford however, the Golden Valley Classic trial is so well attended that queuing is a major headache.  Now I have the van I’m able to go further afield so this year I elect to try something different.
Clean-ish before the start

Penny and I are up early for the long drive to Lime Kiln Quarry near Langport in Somerset for the Somerton Classic Club’s Gordon Francis Memorial trial.  Dave and I, along with Teflon and Pete Collins contested this trial in March but December is the normal running date; it having been delayed in December 2010 due to snow.
Approaching the tight turn in Sub 1

The heavy rain sees the venue sodden but we find a hard standing to park the van.  The Gordon Francis Trophy is contested by pre-unit bikes riding the A route however, following a quick look at the course before signing on, I elect to ride the B route again.  There are a few good riders down this way who can really do the business on heavyweight singles and it’s a joy to watch them on the tight and twisty course. 
In the turn on Sub 1

I start at Sub 1 and it’s straight into tight stuff; I get the initial tight turn correct but take a dab when I lose the front wheel in the rock strewn gully.  Sub 2 continues the theme but I go clean on all four laps.  Sub 3 is trickier; a steep climb takes you straight into a tight double “S” but despite an initial clean I have an altercation with a hawthorn tree to record a total of 4 marks lost here (and a badly cut shoulder and arm!).  Sub 4 has just enough room for me to get the bike around and I record four cleans.  Sub 5 is a mixture of water and greasy banks which I clean however, on lap 3 I encounter something lurking in the muddy water and have to take a steadying dab.
There was something
in the water here!

I must be half asleep as I go the wrong way on Sub 6 on the first lap and gain a maximum which is disappointing.  However, I rally and go clean for the other three laps.  Sub 7 is too rudimentary on the B route but there isn’t much scope for the Clerk of the Course to play with.  Sub 8 is a cracker; a watery entry leads to a steep climb into a tight gully and despite looking tricky I’m pleased to go clean.  The entry to Sub 9 is a joke; You have to limbo under a fallen tree trunk up a greasy bank to get into the section however, I manage to get under OK.  Finally, Sub 10 is a long, twisting, undulating section but I maintain concentration and go clean on all four laps.
Carefully does it in Sub 6

I take second spot in the Pre-Unit/Twins Class (B route); my eleven marks loss was not good enough to beat J Pym’s Triumph (9 marks lost) and I rue going the wrong way in Sub 6 as this would have ensured a class win. 

Thanks to Dave Fisher and the team at Somerton for a cracking trial; I really enjoyed it.  Despite being in Somerset I’m back home earlier than if I’d have gone to Cowcombe.

Chris & Jill spectating at Sub 10
It was good to catch up with Chris Francis and his Mum, Jill, whose late husband the trial is named after. 

Thanks to Lynda Metherell for kind use of these photographs.  Riders wanting photographs may email Lynda at quoting their riding number.

Next up: Herefordshire Classic Trial at Clyro
Final shot of 2011!

26 Dec 11 VMCC Oxford Ron Amey Trial

This smashing little trial is a Matchless Man tradition and having been unable to get there last year due to snow I am determined to make it this year. As I’m loading the bike on the van I notice the front engine mounting bolt is missing a nut so we stop at Norton legend Pete Le Plain’s house en route and he fixes me up with the requisite washers and a nut.
Sub 1

It’s only a short drive up the A40 to Besselsleigh and we arrive in plenty of time. I run around the course (on foot) and decide upon the hard route this year as I’m riding NT410 not the long-stroke 350. In 2009, I won the Rockley Plate here and I’m delighted that whilst signing on I am handed the silverware by the organiser, Celia Walton. It’s always nice to get a prize before the trial!

On the hard route we contest the Midwinter trophy and I’m happy to report that the sections are perfect for the day. Despite looking rather rudimentary in places the soft ground and festive atmosphere combine to ensure that marks can be lost by the unwary. I hang on in the twisty Sub 1 but sustain a single dab on Sub 2 by not giving NT410 enough throttle up a steep, sandy bank.

The steep, sandy climb of Sub 2

There’s a tricky bit in Sub 6 but I go clean on all four laps and am pleased to do the same in Sub 7 where a mud slot followed by sandy climb combine to keep the riders thinking. I’m disappointed to lose a dab in the soft mud on the entry to Sub 8 but I do well and keep a clean sheet on the climbs and banks of the final two subs. The special test this year comprises a sprint around some cones before stopping in a box; this has to be completed twice and never one to “rag the bike” I take care not to over cook it nevertheless, I record a faster time on the second run than the first.

This trial always draws a good crop of spectators and it’s rather nice when people want to know about the bikes and take some pictures.
The climb of Sub 7

There won’t be any silverware waiting for me next year as Rob Faulkner took the Midwinter trophy; his clean round on a Yamaha 175 was a solid ride.

My two dabs see me take the Best Pre-65 award.  I really enjoyed this trial and will be back again next year to see if I can add the Midwinter trophy to the Rockley Plate.
In the turn on Sub 8

Thanks to Celia Walton and the Oxford VMCC for another outstanding trial.

Next up: The Gordon Francis Memorial Trial

Exiting Sub 3

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

18 DEC 11 - The Mike Kemp Classic Trial Thames MCC

With the TALMAG trial only a month or so away it makes sense to get some practice in on the sandy soil and travel over to the famous Hungry Hill venue for Thames MCCs Mike Hunt Classic Trial for pre-67 and Twinshock motorcycles.  Fortunately, I entered way in advance as the entry was full before the close.
On the way to the start

Penny and I get up early, defrost the van and head up the M4 to Aldershot There’s a healthy mix of Classic and twinshock machines and I see Ken Wallington from Stroud with his immaculate Matchless G3LC.  I elect to ride the Pre-67A route along with twelve others but the cold weather seems to have put a few off as there are a few noticeable absentees.  The course comprises 12 sections to be ridden over 3 laps and thankfully, there’s a fantastic hot food wagon.
Now THAT'S a food Van!

I meet up with Ken and we get underway at Sub 1.  Pleasingly, the sections are rather long and comprise twisting turns up and down the sandy banks of the venue.  Sub 1 and 2 are fairly rudimentary however, Sub 3 is a little more difficult than it looks and I take an early pair of dabs steadying the bike as I lose the front end in some loose earth (where those with rear brakes have dragged the sand).  Sub 4 is a good test; a steep 2nd gear climb followed by a steep descent, tight twisting turns and a steep, sandy, off-camber exit.  I pay the price for an innovative approach to the exit and lose another dab.  Sub 5 continues the theme although a rather innocuous looking path after the section proves to be anything but; it is a near vertical drop and I spot a Honda rider crashed at the bottom of it.  Needless to say, I stay well to the left.  (Anecdotal evidence suggests the legend, Len Hutty, broke his frame here during the trial)

Sub 6 and 7 are both 2nd gear twisty climbs. For Sub 8 it’s back to the twisty, hilly stuff but I take care in the turns to record a clean.  Sub 9 is a real challenge.  A long steep climb followed by an immediate left, then right hand turn down a bank means I have to stay in first gear.  You double back on yourself and down the bank into a 90 right then fire it up a steep, loose sandy bank.  This causes lots of problems however, the Bartrum engineering proves a good buy and I sail up the bank taking a solitary dab just before the exit.  Sub 10 is a cracker; a root step followed by a 90 left down the bank looks challenging but rides really well.  Sub 11 is the real test; there’s a hell of a climb up a sheer bank and on the first lap I get NT410 vertical but hang on for a dab and some applause from the other riders (The rear mudguard went for a burton here so that’s how vertical the bike was!). 

Sub 12 is very icy and I really have to take care on the slippery grass and soft sandy banks.  There's a bit of discussion as to the route I take on the first lap however, I did ride the gates as marked by the Clerk of the Course and I'm pleased the observer is magnanimous enough to realise this.
Lap 2 goes well and I have do not incur any marks even cleaning the tricky Sub 9 and the challenging Sub 11.  Unfortunately, I have a poor last lap and with five marks lost on the first lap and nine from the last lap I go round for a total of 14 marks lost.  Not too bad however, up against class riders it sees me well down the field in 5th position.

Nevertheless, it was a great day out and I really enjoyed the long, flowing sections which were spot on for the big Pre-Unit singles.  I took a gamble to ride the higher route but I was rewarded with a challenging course. 

Well done to Thames MCC for a cracking trial and the Clerk of the Course, Martin Kemp, and section plotter, Simon Ward, for setting out some fantastic sections.  I'll definitely be riding this trial next year!!

Next up: VMCC Ron Amey Trial at Oxford on Boxing Day (weather permitting!)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

11 DEC 11 Provisional dates for the 2012 Sammy Miller championship

The ACU have published the provisional dates for the ACU Sammy Miller national trials championship in 2012 and it’s nice to see a local trial in there; The Cotswold Cups trial, which takes place in the Stroud area, has been added this year.  Unfortunately, there’s no trip to Cumbria this year for the Westmorland MCC Crabtree Cup trial (I must ask why as this is a brilliant trial) and once again, South Birmingham are not running The Harry Perry trial.  The provisional list is as follows:-

18 Mar 12     The Vic Ashford trial              WEMC
25 Mar 12     The Cotswold Cups trial         Golden Valley MCC
20 May 12     The Sam Cooper trial            Stratford upon Avon MCC
22 Jul 12       The Yorkshire Dales trial       Ilkley & DMC
18 Aug 12     The Frank Jones trial             Builth Wells
21 Oct 12      The Greensmith trial             South Birmingham MCC
17 Nov 12     The Perce Simon trial            Ringwood
18 Nov 12     The Downland Trophy trial     N Berks MCC

Shame about the Crabtree Cup; despite being a long ride to Cumbria both the scenery and the course are well worth the effort.  Hopefully, the Westmorland Club will look to put this trial back in for 2013 (fingers crossed)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

04 Dec 11 Zona1 MCC Race Techniques Trial

With no classic trials on I decide to have a well deserved lie-in and take the short trip to Nettleton Quarry for the Zona1 MCC Race Techniques Trial.  Dave (Ariel HT5), Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) and The Teflon Don (350 AJS) decide to join me and we have our own Pre-65 competition amongst the predominantly modern mono-shocks.  
The summit of Sub 4

We ride as a group and it’s not long before the banter begins when I take an early dab to open up the scoring.  Still, it’s a long trial so there’s time to get the points back.  Pete takes a wrong turn in sub 9 but he’s got some dirt on the observer and goes around again for a clean.  With the emphasis very much on fun there is a dearth of concentration.  After a quick chat with Bob Miles (of BVM fame) I promptly miss a gate in Sub 1 and gain a maximum and some stick from Teflon.
Taking it careful in
the mud!

To further bump up the scores we all elect to ride the Sportsman Plus route on the last lap where you do 5 Clubman sections and 5 Sportsman sections.  It’s a good test and with Pete well out in the lead it’s a chance for the rest of us to catch up.  It’s great fun but we all up the totals quite a bit and Dave gets 13 on his last lap.  The thick mud of Sub 5 turns my brain to treacle and I gain a maximum for missing a marker.  Pete rides superbly for a clean but it is Teflon who masters the tricky conditions to come out well ahead of the gang.

1. Nige Townsend (350 AJS) 11   2. Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) 18
3. Jai Jacka (410 Matchless) 18   4. Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5)  21

Thanks to Zona1 MCC for another excellent trial and to the Club Secretary, Kath Workman, for renewing my club membership and 2012 trials licence paperwork.  

Another slippery exit

Thank you to Mike Yiend for kind use of these pictures.  Please support your local photographer by visiting Mike’s web page here (or see the side bar to this blog).  What better than a professional picture of you on your trials bike for Christmas.

Mike Yiend Motor sports Photography