Monday, 31 December 2012

26 DEC 12 VMCC (Oxford) The Ron Amey Boxing Day Trial 2012

For Boxing day there really is only one trial for me and that is the Ron Amey Trial organised by the VMCC (Oxford section) which is held at Rockley Copse.  Despite the exceptionally wet weather the venue was just about viable so I made the short journey over to Besselsleigh.  Having won the Pre-65 Class riding the hard route last year I was rather disappointed not to have picked up any silverware at signing on this year. 
Steep banks and off camber turns
were the orderof the day!

Riding AS 500 I elected to ride the hard route again and it was immediately obvious that the slick going and steep banks were going to be a challenge.  Nevertheless, the sections were fair but you had to get a move on as the ground quickly cut up and got progressively more slippery.  The steep bank of Sub 3 rode pretty well but I did take the run up to the absolute limit of the tapes.  Sub 4 was exceptionally tricky; the tight sinuous turns on the clay banks demanded lots of concentration.  The theme continued and the tight 90-degree right hand turn up a loose bank in Sub 5 caught all the Pre-65 field out at some stage.  A rather innocuous looking clay bank in Sub 6 proved anything but and I slipped back down for a maximum rueing my gear selection.
Determined not to make the same mistake on the steep, loose bank of Sub 7 I selected 2nd gear half way through the section and gunned AS500 up the bank, fighting it all the way; sometimes you have to ride downright aggressive!  I left the bike in 2nd gear for the last sections too as both Sub 9 and 10 really needed the extra grunt.  Sub 10 was a real killer but I was really pleased to have cleaned it on the first lap.

Unfortunately, and somewhat inevitably, the rain returned and an almighty downpour made the course too dangerous for the big 500.  I had a massive accident in Sub 10 on the second lap as AS500 suddenly found grip, the front end climbed and I had to bail off.  Regrettably, the bike then crashed back down heavily causing some front end damage and I was forced to retire.
Getting some air!

Nevertheless, the trial wasn’t over and it was a real struggle to get the van out of the sodden venue.  I would like to thank all those who helped push me out; if it wasn’t for their kindness the van would still be in Oxford!

Many thanks to Celia Walton, all the observers and the Oxford VMCC for staging the trial and hopefully, we'll have better weather next year.  My disappointment at signing on has been resolved; I'm pleased to report that Celia posted the 2011 Pre-65 Hard route trophy to me and I received it on Jan 2.  Thank you, once again, Celia!

Local photographer Gary Dowzall was in attendance at the trial and took some great shots of the day.  Why not take a look at Gary's efforts by clicking HERE and support you local photographer.  There are lots of formats available to suit all tastes.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

23 DEC 12, STOP PRESS, The Gordon Francis Trial is postponed

Dave Fisher from Somerton Classic MCC has been in touch to say that the Gordon Francis Memorial trial due to be run on 27th Dec has had to be postponed due to the adverse weather affecting the Lime Kiln venue.  This outstanding commemorative event will be re-run early in 2013. 

For more information you can contact Dave Fisher on 01458 252667.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

08 DEC 12, The Perce Simon, Downland Trophy & Zona1 MCC trials

It’s been a hectic few months with work and trialling so here's a round up of what's been happening to Matchless Man.  The weather was awful at the beginning of November so I decided to stay at home for the Guy Fawkes’ Trial at Bisley.  Dave, Pete and Teflon turned out for the factory and were joined by Pete Meeson and Gary from Devon but when they told me about the snow and deep mud I was happy I sat that one out (even if Mossy did get my £20 for nothing!).
Sub 1 of the Perce Simon Trial

Next up were the final two rounds of the 2012 ACU Sammy Miller products series which were held consecutively on the weekend of the 17th / 18th November.  First up was The Perce Simon Trial run by Ringwood and District MCC at the beautiful Somerley Estate on the South coast.  A particularly foggy morning gave way to beautiful sunny day which went some way to making this a great day out.  The organisation was slick and after signing on we had bacon rolls and tea from the hot food van.  Again, the going was slick so Dave and I got away quickly and maintained a good rhythm.  Section 1 was the worst of the lot; deep mud with a hidden double log caught out most of the field and I started with an instant maximum.  That was the only one of the day though and I finished in second place with a total of 8 marks lost.  Such was the pace that Dave and I finished before others had started their second lap.  Once again it was great not to have the long ride out to Godshill and we visited some new sections in the vast woodland of the estate.  Thanks to Ringwood for another cracking trial; Dave & I have this in our top three of the series.
Sub 5 at the Race Techniques trial
(by Heath Brindley)

The next day it was off to contest the final round, The Downland Trophy Trial run by North Berkshire MCC.  Always a long and hard trial it proved so again this year.  The weather ruled out a few of the old favourites this year which made for some new and interesting sections.  Once again, we made haste and by the time we left The Stadium group of sections we were at the vanguard of the entry.  The bitterly cold morning and the exertions of the previous day had obviously taken their toll and I had some slack dabs from the start.  I didn’t feel that I was riding poorly but a look at the results was sobering as I trailed in all but last in the class. 
This was a poor ending to what was a poor series for me.  The rule changes are unfair to those of us with big Pre-Unit bikes which did irk me somewhat.  On top of that I decided to take NT410 off the road and get the front end and both hubs sorted.  Looking back on it, that was a big mistake.  I bought Tony Sullivan’s beautiful G80C but struggled to tame the big long-stroke 500; furthermore, some personal issues have made riding a bit of a chore at times so I was really pleased to have finished in third place this year (and second of the Pre-Unit Heavyweight singles!).  Hopefully, next year will bring some better form and an improved NT410
Sub 8 approaching the step
(by Mike Yiend)

Next up was my ACU club’s meeting, The Race Techniques trial at Nettleton run by Zona 1 MCC.  It was a full factory outing with Dave (Ariel HT500), Pete Collins (Ariel HT500) and Teflon (Matchless 410) joining me and a couple of others in the Pre-65 Class.  I picked up a couple of trophies at signing on, got my new membership card (for previous wins) and had a warming breakfast bap and a cup of tea at Suzi’s hot food van.  There was a bumper entry of over 120 riders with every type of trials machinery being ridden; from Pre-65 through to twinshock; mono through to electric – the latter being quite novel!

Despite being monoshock biased Zona1 MCC know how to lay out sections for Pre-65s and it was a good challenging trial.  As the hard frost started to ease the thick clay soil made for some tricky going especially over the rocks of the quarry.  I had a cracking ride for the most part.  Sub 3 was a real cracker for us with a tight right hand placed immediately after a steep climb.  This caught a few out but I managed to go clean on all four laps.  The rock jumble that was Sub 5 was a real test for the old forks and I had to manhandle the bike to keep it on line. 
That blasted climb in Sub 8!
(by Mike Yiend)
The double Subs of 6 and 7 were similar and on the first lap I had to take a three in Sub 7 as I lost the front end on some loose rocks.  My real downfall was Sub 8 and I remember being told at the rider briefing that it was a tricky exit.  How right they were; the steep exit climb over greasy rock slabs was too much for me and I took a maximum at each attempt.  Nevertheless, the rest of the factory managed to scrabble their way through with Pete Collins actually cleaning the section on his big Ariel to hearty applause from the rest of us. 
As it happened the results were close but Sub 8 was the difference.  Pete Collins topped the field ahead of Teflon on the most cleans rule; both finishing with 18 marks lost.  Dave was third on 20 marks lost and I was fourth with 23 marks lost.  It was a cracking trial made all the better for being a factory outing.  Thanks to all at Zona1 MCC for a brilliant day’s trialling and to the observers who braved the extremely cold conditions; without you, we couldn’t do it. 
Another view of Sub 8
and another maximum!
Local photographer Mike Yiend was on hand to capture all the day's action.  As you can see he certainly knows which sections to pick for maximum action!  If you want to see Mike's pictures of the day please visit Mike's webpage HERE or use the link in the sidebar opposite.  Why not treat yourself for Christmas and support your local photographer.
Sub 10 at Zona1 MCC

Next up: BMCA at Bedlam


Sunday, 25 November 2012

25 NOV 12 - STOP PRESS!!

Managing Director of Sammy Miller Products Ltd, Richard Jordan, has been in contact to say that as from 2013 Sammy Miller Products Ltd will not be involved with the ACU National series.  He has stated that Sammy Miller alone will be the sole sponsor of the series presumably, entitled the 2013 ACU Sammy Miller Trials series.  There is no word yet on classes but I will post anything I hear from the ACU.

I’ve been quite busy of late so reports from the final two rounds of the 2012 ACU Sammy Miller Products series will appear in this blog next week. 
The championship results have been issued and I attained a third place in Class 2 this year.  Considering I had a bad run of form and was getting used to a completely new bike, finishing in third place is a fair result.  At least I won’t have to get up at 0400 and drive from Northampton to compete in the TALMAG this year; Bargain!!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

21 OCT 12 2012 ACU Sammy Miller products series Rd 6, The Greensmith Memorial Trial

A particularly thick fog greeted Penny and I as we headed North on the M5 towards Burwarton, Shropshire, for Rd 6 of the ACU Sammy Miller series.  The Greensmith Trial, organised by South Birmingham MCC, is always a challenge and with predominantly wet weather the preceding two weeks the course, which is predominantly plotted over greasy, rooty banks and through rocky steams, was always going to be difficult.  Nevertheless, the weather was with us and as the fog burned off there was not a cloud in the sky.
Sammy Miller MBE gets me underway

There was a bumper entry for Class 2 and having ridden pretty poorly since Round 3 I was again apprehensive about my chances.  With NT410 still off the road I elected to persevere with AS 500 as the ground clearance and solid pulling power would prove very handy in this traditional trial.  With so many riders booked on there was a real chance of not scoring any championship points which added further pressure.  I met up with Dave at the start and I was glad to see Gary Kinsman and Pete Meeson had made the long journey up from Devon.  In addition, it was pleasing to see a lot of BMCA experts and intermediates at the event although why they elected to ride the Clubman route is perplexing!  Signing on was a breeze and the complimentary bacon roll and tea were greatly appreciated.  After a quick chat with fellow competitor Jes Flower I got changed and queued up at the start.

Apprehensive at the start!

It was particularly special to see Sammy Miller MBE at the start and he waved us away under the starter’s direction.  I got away bang on time for the five mile ride to the first group of three Subs at Upper Earnstrey.  Actually getting to the first Sub was a challenge as the ground was sodden and it was clear that this section would be tricky therefore, I decided to have a cursory look and then ride it.  I selected 2nd gear and having negotiated the tricky mud-slot entry, I gunned the Matchless up the first greasy slope before shutting it down and dipping into the stream.  Unfortunately, this bank was trickier and I needed a three to reach the exit.  With too much air in the back tyre I had to take a maximum on the bank of Sub 2 which was a school boy error.  Having let some air out I went across the road to Sub 3 where the hardest part was trying to get to the start cards across the sodden field!

Next up we rode to Earnstrey Barn for five Subs and I was pleased to go clean at this group and the following group of three Subs at Lower Norncott 1.  I felt a bit better on the bike than I have of late and I really started to enjoy the ride (something that has been missing over the last six months!).  The single sub at Lower Norncott 2 necessitated a single dab which was annoying and could have been avoided. 
Sammy admiring AS 500 I think!

The Abdon group of sections consisted of seven Subs split between the rocky stream adjoining one field and the greasy banks and roots of the other field.  The most immediate problem was trying to get to the first Sub as the deep mud of the gateway caught me out and I was stuck for fifteen minutes (honestly!) trying to extricate the bike.  This was another key group of subs so I decided to ignore the fatigue and got cracking with a clean.  A single dab ensued in the next Sub as I put far too much throttle into the high mud step exit.  The following two stream sections were pretty tight and I was pleased to clean the first but had to take a steadying dab up the waterfall of the second.  The exit here was exceptionally tricky and even in 2nd gear I only just managed it!  We headed across the field to the next Sub but the steep greasy bank proved impossible and I incurred a maximum.  The final two Subs at Abdon consisted of a muddy, rooty climb but it rode reasonably and I cleaned both.

The two sections at Strandbrook proved eventful.  Both the entries and exits into the deep stream were treacherous.  Wary of entering the water too quickly I elected to go for 2nd gear in the stream but hit neutral and had to take a dab.  The exit was a wonderful however; I lined it up, opened up the big 500 and flew off a muddy step through the ends card!  Dave and I spotted a better entry to the last one here which paid off was we both went clean.

Hopton Brook followed which was very tricky.  Having watched Godfrey and many other Class 2 riders take the expert route (which looked easier) I decided to select 3rd gear and gunned AS500 up the steep, greasy bank which so many feared; this proved a decisive move however, I’m extremely grateful to the observer’s mate who stopped me and the bike falling 20ft into the stone gully when I lost traction.
Getting underway for The Greensmith Trial

Finally, we came towards the end and the famous Furlong/Brockleton Brook group which are Greensmith favourites.  There’s a double rock step in the first brook and I always elect to jump the bike up the waterfall here and this year was no exception.  Nevertheless, I misjudged the exit and had to take a steadying dab up the rooty climb.  The next double sub was particularly tricky and I was very pleased with my double clean here at the tricky cross over and through the deep mud.  Across the road at Brockelton the first sub featured a nasty 180-degree switchback over rock into the stream.  This caught many riders out but I elected to ride the bank, held my breath and dropped in exactly where I wanted to be.

A quick tally up at the end revealed that I’d finished with 20 marks lost and I beat second place man Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT5) by 6 marks to cut his lead just ever so slightly.  However, Ian Wixon (Triumph 5TA) fresh from his MotoBrittanica title, took the big bike win on the furthest clean rule (which made me rue that jump in the brook!).  Once again, I finished in ninth place however, with Godfrey finishing behind me,I remain in third place in the Class 2 Championship standings with two rounds still to go.
Dave, Me, Gary & Pete at the start

It was a brilliant day out despite me running out of fuel on the way back to the start.  Dave saved me having to push the big Matchless back by donating some fuel so Thank You for that Dave (or I'd still be there!).

My thanks go to all at South Birmingham MCC including Tim and Ann Fairbrother for their outstanding work in putting on this brilliant traditional trial.  Once again, they got the pub just right (The Boyne Arms is well worth a visit!) as well as the sections and course.  It was great to see Sammy Miller in attendance again and with so many local riders at the event it felt like a club trial.

Next up:  The Western Classic MCC, Guy Fawkes Trial at Bisley

Saturday, 20 October 2012

19 OCT 12 A look ahead to Rd 6 of the 2012 ACU Sammy Miller products series, The Greensmith Memorial Trial

It’s been almost two months between Sammy Miller rounds and with only two trials left in the 2012 series each performance will be key.  The Greensmith Memorial trial is run by South Birmingham Motor Club and this year begins from the Boyne Arms in Burwarton, Shropshire (WV16 6QH).  Clerk-of-the-Course, Tim Fairbrother and Ken Garfield have been hard at work over the last two weeks putting together 30 sections comprising rocky streams, muddy banks & roots that typify the Clee Hills area for the 80-plus riders who have signed on.

Class 1 (Pre-Unit Rigid) is always hotly contested and it’s tight at the top.  Mike Holloway (AJS 400) and Graham Howes (BSA Goldstar) both share the lead on 69 points apiece with factory stalwart (and all round good egg!) Peter Collins in third place on 61 points.  Looking at the programme, only Mike is scheduled to ride and barring some late entries, with only a couple of rounds to go, 20 points should see him take the Class 1 title this time out.
AS500 ready for Rd 6

Class 2 (British Pre-70 Units/pre-units/2 stroke) has a healthy 23 entries listed.  Class 2 leader Jon Bliss (BSA C15) is way out in front and seems to have the title sewn up; Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT5) remains in second place on 74 points and I’m in third spot on 54 points.  However, with some stiff competition and still trying to get used to the big Matchless G80C, I’ll have to ride out of the top drawer to remain there!  The BMCA boys will be out in force on their lightweight machinery and with a good knowledge of the sections they’ll be very hard to beat on home ground.  Pete Meeson (Francis Barnett 250) and Gary Kinsman (Ariel HT5) make the long journey up from Devon for their first Greensmith Trial and with the streams having some big rocks and steps in them they’re sure to be at home!

The closely fought Side car class (Class 4) has the notable omission of Ian Hannam/Deborah Smith and I can only guess that Ian is still carrying an injury from his last outing.  Class leaders Lee Granby/Rupert Kimber are due to ride however, Paul Fishlock is teamed with Chris Kimber vice Debbie Merrell this time out.  Ali and Amelia Haigh (BSA C15) make a return to the series at this round.
Fingers crossed for the weather; Tim has said that the streams are already considerably deeper than normal and riders should take care when navigating between sections!  The course comprises nine groups of sections over an approximate 23 mile lap of the Shropshire countryside.  The first group of three subs are located five miles from the start at Upper Earnstrey followed by a short ride to Earsntrey Barn then Lower Nortcott 1 and 2.  After 10 miles it’s Abdon for 7 subs of mud, streams and roots.  Strandbrook leads into Furlong and just across the road we finish with 2 subs at Brockleton Brook before heading back to the start at the Boyne Arms.

Having still not gotten used to the G80C I remain reluctant to ride it but I have just got to persevere.  The lack of practice in the run up to this event hasn’t helped either and with a lot of class riders booked on it’s going to be difficult to come away with a meaningful points tally.  Still, the title’s gone and it’s just about bolstering third place for the rest of the series.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

15 Sep 12, A friend in need……

Some friends of ours, Nina and Steve, decided to move a bit further into the Forest of Dean so Penny and I lent them a hand to move house.  Unfortunately, Nina had sustained an injury a while back so couldn’t ride her Ducati (Marco) to the new house.  So, being the good Samaritan and relishing a chance to ride a proper road bike I donned a full-face helmet, grabbed my trials gloves and hit the road, following Steve who was riding his massive cruiser.
Checking out the non-British controls!

It was great fun!  The little Ducati was the perfect height for me and the power made a welcome change from the trials Matchless.  I love the sound of these bikes and the after-market cans only made for a better sound.  If I could get a pair of straight bars put on a 748/749 I’d probably have a Ducati!!
Off we go!!

Friday, 21 September 2012

16 SEP 12, Hawks Club Trial at Colgate Farm

With several trials scheduled over the weekend I decided to stay local and visited Hawks, Cheltenham Spa, club trial at the Colgate farm venue on Ham Hill.  The predominantly dry weather made for generally good going however, the course plotters still managed to find some tricky mud slots to get the bikes dirty.

It was pleasing to see a bumper turn out of riders at the venue and after signing on with Dave Stephens, I had a cup of tea and bacon roll at Suzi's hot food van before getting changed.  The short rider briefing was conducted by James Ferryman who informed us that it was four laps of ten sections.  Due to the large number of riders and to reduce queuing we got away in groups.
A hefty dab is incurred!

I began at Sub 7 which was located on the slopes of Bluebell copse.  Despite the dry going it was a real test particularly, the off-camber, uphill first turn which took marks off most of the entry.  The going got a bit trickier in Sub 8 as the loose shale on the steep top bank hampered grip.  A tight turn half way up led to a big root step which was awkward however, I finally mastered it on the third and last laps.  Subs 9 and 10 were fairly rudimentary off camber twists and turns plotted on the steep banks above the main track.

Sub 1 was real cracker and had everything; a climb led to a loose, off camber run which turned into a steep descent and a 90 left before tight turns through the trees ending with a mini rock section!  So there was something for everyone.  Sub 2 and 3 continued this theme but on the the lower bank adjacent to the main track.  Speed was the key to overcoming the long off-camber run across the bank of Sub 3, but called for strong resolve as the steep downhill exit snaked over roots and between trees.
After a long run to the middle copse the mud sections began.  An early number was critical here but by the time I arrived water that had been tracked up the clay slope made for some tricky going and I took a maximum on the first lap.  As more riders went through it was possible but I still had to take a dab each time.  Sub 5 was a great section but was particularly infuriating.  The exit involved a sharp turn back up a wet clay bank which proved impossible (for me) although some big bikes did surmount it. 
Eyeing up another
 mud slot!

The last section, Sub 6 was diabolical.  It comprised a long wide mud slot in which lay the fallen trunks of three Ash trees.  It was particularly difficult to get over them whilst negotiating the mud and I had to take a three and three maximums. 

I must confess to feeling a bit cheated by the Clerk of the Course here.  The sections down the bottom had all been used before and no real thought had been put into them.  Sub 5 and Sub 6 particularly, attracted some severe criticism the last time I rode here however; they were once again on the menu.  Given that Sub 7 through Sub 3 were brilliant, challenging sections it was very disappointing to see the same old dross sections used in the bottom copse. 

1. Rob Halliday (RE 400)           33 
2. Alex Ross (RE 350)               36
3. John Jacka (Matchless 500)   54

The next trial at this venue will be run by Zona 1 MCC and it will be interesting to contrast the two courses especially as 10-times British Trials Champion Steve Saunders will be setting the Zona 1 sections out.
It was good to see photographer Mike Yiend at the venue and he picked the real action sections in which to ply his trade.  If you want to see your action photogrpahs please visit Mike's website HERE or click on the link in the sidebar.  Please support your local photographer.
STOP PRESS - Mike is investigating moving his content over to zenfolio which is a much more search friendly photo browser.  I'll post Mike's new site address and any further information when I have it.

The SWCTA Dartmoor 2 Day Classic Trial

With Dave absent due to family commitments, The Teflon Don in Spain, Master Chef in Gloucester Royal Infirmary after getting up close and personal with a boundary rope during a scramble and Mr. Collins on babysitting duty it was never going to be the factory meeting I dreamt of.  Having left it far too late to get into my dream accommodation at the Rock Inn and with the meeting due to start at 1230, I left Cheltenham early on Saturday morning with AS 500 in the back of the van.

The thick overnight fog eventually gave way to a lovely warm afternoon high up on Dartmoor.  Having entered way in advance signing on was a breeze and I had a cup of tea at the food van.  Being on my own I was glad to see so many familiar faces at the event and spying Pete Meeson as I drove into the venue made me feel right at home.  After a quick chat with multiple Dartmoor competitors such as Keith Gardener and Mike Holloway I hurried back to the van, got changed and went to the start.  With Tony Sullivan so well known in the West County I met quite a few new faces who were surprised to see me riding AS 500.

After a quick rider briefing from Mike Naish we began bang on time for two laps of 13 sections in the aptly named Paradise Wood.  This venue is a dead cert for the Vic Ashford trial (used during the ACU Sammy Miller products series) so some of the sections were familiar.  As this was my first Dartmoor 2 Day event, I elected to ride the clubman route and began at Sub 1 which was a rocky stream entry leading to sinuous turns and a climb plotted between the natural vegetation.  Realising that water tracked out of the stream could be a problem, I didn't wait around too long and got away right behind Mike Holloway beginning with a clean.
The view from the back of the Van!

Sub 2 was another sinuous uphill affair on some loose dry marbles but it rode well.  Sub 3 looked fine but a tricky, muddy step that lead to a stream cut out quite badly and what I cleaned on the first lap I had to take a dab on the second lap.  After a short ride we came to a Vic Ashford Trial staple section.  The thick mud in Sub 4 necessitated a dab which turned into a three as I struggled to get AS 500 out of the section.  A soft dab as I entered the stream at Sub 5 was annoying particularly, as I did the same in the Miller event!  This section got quite chewed up and was a pig on the second lap. 

Sub 6 was quite a test and I had to take a dab to get out of deep gully however, on the second lap I lost the front end on the steep entry and recorded a maximum.  Sub 7 was particularly tight but it rode well and was a real tester but I had to take a dab each time as I struggled to get AS500 straightened up and through a tight gate.  After a short ride it was back to some good old Vic Ashford stream sections which rode well and gave me some confidence as I went clean.  The stream theme continued through Subs 10 - 12

which were although Sub 11 was something and nothing on the clubman route.  Sub 13 featured a tight, uphill turn that narrowed, leading to a run along a ridge adjacent to the stream.  Unlike the Miller rounds I couldn't quite get this right and had to take a dab on each occasion.

I finished day one with a total of 13 marks lost which, in the overall scheme of things, was poor and totally consistent with my bad run of form lately.  The sections were spot on and the course plotters did an outstanding job laying out a trial that was perfect for both the big Pre-Unit bikes and twin-shocks.  The “Ride of the day” surely had to go to Bath Classic stalwart Jon Cull who, riding the ex-Teflon Don rigid AJS Model 16, had a superb ride losing a paltry 5 marks.  I must say that having watched Jon in a few sections he did look totally at one with the bike and I heard several people mention that he could be a strong contender to challenge Steve Allen's dominance in Class 1 of the ACU Sammy Miller products series. 

Having thanked Robin Hoare, Gary Kinsman, Pete Meeson and Mike Naish, I took advantage of the food van before heading off on the long journey to St. Erth for a night on the town with Father.

Day two started even earlier for me (0620!) as I high-tailed it out of Cornwall and headed back to Halsanger.  I arrived in plenty of time and by the look of it I wasn't the only one who had a salubrious Saturday evening!  There was no need to sign on again so after a quick rider briefing from Mike Naish we headed to a different wood for some sections laid out by Robin Hoare, Gary Kinsman and Pete Meeson.  With an observer short, Clive Causer opted to observe rather than muscle the lovely big Triumph around.

This wood was another Vic Ashford location however, there were some completely new sections laid on.  For day two we had fourteen sections to be ridden over two laps.  I began at Sub 1 and again, elected to get away early which, as it turned out was a good move.  Sub 1 was an overflow tributary of the main river however, the boulder strewn and root-laden stream bed was bone dry and despite it looking pretty tough, it rode well.  Sub 2 featured a really tight turn into the boulders of the main river and I saw lots of riders come to grief here.  I let AS 500 run on idle until I could straighten up then applied some throttle but had to take a dab to get on line before a rock step.  This was quite fearsome however, in testament to the course plotters it rode well.  After a short ride we came across Sub 3, of which the hardest part, was trying to get into the section.  Sub 4 was a classic Dartmoor section; rooty, wet, off-camber twists and turns into and out of a gentle stream kept you constantly on guard.  Midway through, a wet root embedded in a steep bank caught out the unwary and I incurred a dab but had to take a three on the second lap as the ground deteriorated. 

The long climb up a granite boulder “road” of Sub 5 was fun and it was great to  select second gear, open the throttle and guide AS500 to the top of the climb.  This was the theme for the next couple too.  Then came the Killer!!  Sub 8; I just couldn't get it right.  A steep drop-off into the deep stream, coupled with huge boulders and my short legs saw me submerge AS500 and thankfully, John Pym helped me get the bike out of the stream. 

After a tentative kick I realised that the engine was full of water so removed the plug and began kicking.  What ensued resembled a submarine snorting at periscope depth as water spewed out of the barrel with each kick.  I decided to lay the bike over and lift it from the sump plate which seemed to help.  I kept this routine up until no water appeared when I operated the kickstart, replaced the plug and kicked gently.  To my amazement, AS500 fired straight up and eventually the vapour coming out of the carburettor air intake stopped!  I let AS500 warm up slowly and rode gently to Sub 9 thankful that I was still going and didn't have to give Robin Hoare a shout for a tow back to the pits!

Subs 9 -11 were stream and bank sections used in the Miller rounds and having made my mistakes before, I was wary of the obstacles but did have to take a dab on the last lap as tiredness crept in.  Thankfully, Robin Hoare adopted an idea from the Euro-Cup and provided a drinks stop which was greatly appreciated by the entire entry.  The final Subs were well thought out sections but fatigue got the better of me on the second lap and I dropped a few silly dabs.

Overall, the second day was the more difficult course however, having submerged the bike in Sub 8, I was thankful to have finished under my own steam.  I ended up losing 18 marks on Day 2 with a total of 31 marks lost on the weekend finishing in fifth place on the Clubman route which was rather disappointing however, I guess the consistent theme is that I'm struggling to get to grips with the long stroke 500 Matchless.  I know it's a cracking bike; Tony has had much success on it over the years so I must continue to persevere.

Once again, Jon Cull put in another strong performance and took the Rigid Class win on the ex-Teflon Don AJS losing just 13 marks.  Hopefully, we'll see Jon in the Miller rounds next year; he'd be a welcome competitor who, in current form, could take the title.

I was off up the road tired but happy by 1500 and got home before the threatening rain.  The Dartmoor two day Classic trial was a brilliant weekend and I will look to ride it again next year hopefully, with a few more of the factory riders for company.

Thanks to Mike Naish and all at the SWCTA for an outstanding weekend.  The course plotters from WEMC did well to mark out a trial that was suitable for big Pre-Units and twin-shocks alike which is not an easy task. 

Thanks to the land owners Colin Bowden and Brian Valance who allowed us to ride in the brilliant Paradise wood. 
Check out the results and awards on the SWCTA website HERE

Friday, 7 September 2012

07 SEP 12 Busy, busy, busy!!!

Well, I certainly made the most of my leave this week and with some quality time available I got stuck into the repairs for AS 500.  Firstly, I fitted a new throttle cable as the “hasty repair” finally gave up the ghost.  Still, it got me through to the finish and was only meant to be temporary.  With two broken spokes on the rear wheel and lots of loose ones I got the rear wheel rebuilt at short notice (and took the missus for a holiday to the Peak District at the same time!). 
AS500 undergoing repairs
Whilst in the Peak District I visited my hubs which are awaiting some TR rims to arrive from Spain.  Unfortunately, this is taking some considerable time but I think it’ll be worth the wait.  The Alan Whitton yokes have been completed as have the brake plates, arms and fasteners.  Hopefully, I’ll be back out on NT410 before the end of the ACU Sammy Miller products series and clawing some points back off Godfrey and Jon Bliss.
The new Alan Whitton hubs for NT410!

Whilst I had the wheel apart I fitted new brake shoes and adjusted the geometry so that they are “full floating” but had to adjust the brake arm and fittings to make it fit.  It was a bit fiddly but not too much hassle and I replaced the brake arm securing bolt too.  I must confess to being rather disconcerted when I took a hack saw to the shoes.  Still, it worked fine and I have good brakes for now so I’ll see how they fair in the streams of Dartmoor this weekend.

I finished just in time to go to this week’s Gloucestershire Bikers night at Bishops Cleeve.  I took MH410 along as AS 500 wasn’t exactly finished and I didn’t want to shred the IRC tyre.  With good weather it was extremely well attended and there must have been a thousand bikes there.  With sunset at 1945 I had to high-tail it out of there and I got back just before it got completely dark!
MH410 outside LIDL in Bishops Cleeve

Putting the IRC tyre onto AS 500 rim was extremely difficult once again!  I can’t work out if it’s the tyre or the rim but it’s by far the most hassle I’ve encountered with a tyre/rim combination.  I decided to just turn it around rather than fit a new one.  With Dartmoor coming up it’ll only get shredded in the rocky streams. 

I had the Carburettor apart again this week.  As the float bowl halves are not the same it was a real ball ache but I got all the information I needed and I’ll be buying a new one next week from Surrey Cycles as the one that’s currently on there is fairly shot.

Much to The Teflon Don’s delight my pressure washer blew up this week necessitating the purchase of a new one!  I'm glad to report that the Rockshock rebuild continues to pay dividends.  There are no leaks and the performance remains good which bodes well for Dartmoor!

So, as I write it’s late on Friday night and the van’s loaded for the long drive to Devon for tomorrow’s SWCTA Dartmoor 2 Day Classic Trial.  This will be my first attempt but I note from the programme that this is the 25th running of the event.  I hope it’s similar to the Vic Ashford Trial as that has some great sections in Halshanger.  Anyway, it’s time for bed and I’ll let you know who the two day trial goes next week.
Before re-spoking!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

18 Aug 12, ACU Sammy Miller Products Rd 5 The Frank Jones Trial

Once again it was an extremely early start for the trip over to Wales for Rd 5 of the ACU Sammy Miller products championship, The Frank Jones trial organised by Builth Wells MCC.  Having picked up an intermittent wrist injury I didn’t know if I’d be able to ride however, it felt OK in the morning so off we went via McDonald’s.   

The Class 1 entry featured the main protagonists and factory rider Peter Collins favoured his Rigid AJS over the big 500 Ariel.  As usual Dave and I contested Class 2 which once again featured a very healthy entry.  Peter Meeson and Gary Kinsman (Ariel 500) made the trip up from Devon and it was good to see Colin Hedges (350 Matchless) there.  In fact, the only notable omission was The Teflon Don who had a prior engagement.  After arriving early, Penny and I headed for the pub and while I signed on she ordered the tea and bacon rolls.  After getting changed we were waved away bang on time. 
Getting underway!

Heavy rain the previous week coupled with a torrential downpour overnight made for tricky going; indeed, the first two sections were omitted as the stream was in full spate.  Starting at sub 3 the whole entry seemed reluctant to start but those few riders that blasted their way through the tricky mudslots and streams had the best of the going all day.  Dave and I procrastinated and by the time we finished these two subs we were way down the field.  At Cilfodeg I broke the throttle cable and lost more time while I fitted a solderless nipple.  Each group got progressively harder as first the sidecars, and then the solos chewed up the ground.  What was cleanable as an early number was a three or a five by the time we got there. 

The beautiful rocky stream sections at Aberanell were a real torrent this year and made for some particularly tough going.  The first sub was particularly deep and for Ian Bullock, who lost control of his machine, it proved disastrous.  He lost his footing and his beautiful Sprite sank to the bottom of the stream!  Fortunately, Dave, Pete and I faired slightly better although I gained a three and a pair of dabs which was not my finest hour.  Nevertheless, time spent refurbishing the Rockshock units on AS500 was not wasted and they got a real work out.  Pleasingly, there were no leaks and I was really pleased with their improved performance. 
Dave (12) & I (11) at the start
Pete Meeson in the background

Once again, it was a brilliant trial however, some of the Clubman sections turned out to be more demanding than the experts particularly, where we had to exit or enter streams up or down muddy banks.  Nevertheless, it was a great trial and thanks must go to the Clerk-of-the-Course and the observers who were absolutely mustard and after all there’s not much you can do about the British weather.  Thanks to all at Builth Wells MC for another cracking Sammy Miller round.  Next up in the series it's off to the Midlands for Rd 6 at South Birmingham MCC and The Greensmith Trial.

Addendum:  Whilst washing the bike off I discovered another broken spoke!! 

Next up: The South West Classic Trials Association (SWCTA) Dartmoor Two Day classic trial!!
Godfrey gives AS 500 the once over with Gary
Kinsman in the background


Thursday, 16 August 2012

16 AUG 12, Gloucestershire Biker's Night at the Queen's Hotel

As a trials rider I don’t get to ride on the road that often; unless it’s a road trial like the ACU Sammy Miller products championship, PJ1 Northern championship or a blast into work on a Friday I tend to avoid the road.  Well, with IRC soft tyres going for over £80 a pop it doesn’t make sense to chew them up on the road.  I became a fan of the Gloucestershire Biker’s nights since I went to my first one last year.  They’re a real friendly bunch and it’s great to meet similar minded people, talk about bikes and pick up some mechanical hints and tips. 
Who needs a sidestand anyway?
(Thanks to Garry Morris for this photo)

All bikers are welcome on all machines and it’s not unusual to see everything from Mopeds through to sports bikes, custom choppers, café racers and of course some Old British Iron!  It’s not a club so there’s no membership you simply give a donation when you attend towards the Midlands Air Ambulance charity.  During 2011 these events raised £3327.31 and since the events began in 2002, the total amount raised is over £18300!  Check them out on Facebook under Gloucestershire Bikers Nite (you can check out the MatchlessMan page too!!)

After work I dived into the garage and finished rebuilding the rear suspension units on AS500 (report to follow) ready for this weekend’s ACU Sammy Miller products National trial over in Wales.  With both units refitted to AS500 I did think about giving him a run out but decided to save the IRC tyres for competition. 
Just like being at a Pre-65 Trial!
(Thanks to Nick Kelly for this photo of MH410)

I decided to ride my 1956 Matchless G3LC (affectionately known as MH410) and by the time I got there, there was a good spread of bikes.  With no side stand (extra weight you don’t need in trials!) I picked a stout looking tree outside the Queen’s Hotel and leant MH410 against it.  With so many bikes on show I did a few circuits interrupted by a trip to the bar for a coke.  I saw a lovely Honda 750 Café racer, a beautiful Z1000 custom and several of my favourite Ducati and MV Agusta models however, my favourite had to be a simply stunning Benelli Sei parked on the pavement by MH410.  You seldom see bikes like this so it was a real treat.  With the light fading and no lights, I left for home having met some great people and seen some wonderful bikes.  If you want to come along and experience it for yourself log onto the Facebook page and click events.  Hopefully, I’ll see you at the Bishop’s Cleeve event in September but this time I’ll bring AS500!!
Setting off for home!
(Thanks to Nick Kelly for this photo)
For those that are not regular readers, MH410 is a short-stroke 350cc motor that has been bored out to 410cc; which is ideal for the type of trials sections we have to ride these days!!  The bike was built by the late Maurice Hocking (hence MH410) and is a genuine Maurice Hocking bike.  I bought it to use in the ACU National Trials Championship so it does get regularly used/abused and secured the 2011 ACU Sammy Miller products Class 2 National title with it (You can see the dents in the tank!!).