Sunday, 19 February 2012

29 Jan 12 The TALMAG Trophy Trial 2012

With Sammy’s advice still ringing in my ears Penny and I defrost the van and head down the M1 from Northampton to Aldershot.  The SATNAV worked a treat and we arrive just before the Class 1 riders are due off.  I quickly unload the 350 G3LC and head to scrutineering where, thanks to a masking tape ball(end) on the decompressor lever, the bikes sails through and I get my ticket.  Signing on is a breeze which is testament to the organisation of the TALMAG club.  Fortunately, there are two hot food vans so I grab a tea and bacon roll whilst getting changed.
In the climb on Sub 15

There’s a bumper entry and I’m acutely aware that this event must be directly analogous to the original ‘50s event with every conceivable Pre-Unit bike on the start card; From Ariel to Sunbeam, Velocette to Matchless, they’re all there.  The event is so well supported and I’m certain that there are a lot more spectators this year than of late. 

It was another full factory outing and I meet up with Dave (Ariel), Teflon (350 Matchless) & Pete Collins who is back on the Ariel this week.  In order to avoid last year’s unsavoury comments about my bike (NT410 in the raw), I decide to turn out on my long-stroke 350 G3LC this year.  It’s not the most dynamic of bikes however, it’s more in keeping with the event and I could do without the opinions of armchair sportsmen! 

This year there were 15 sections over 2 laps and all the subs were long, traditional ones plotted over the notoriously sandy soil.  Despite some rain the going was fairly dry and even on the second lap, after the sidecars have gone through, it wasn’t too slippery.  It was tight and twisty going with some adverse camber work and any lapse of concentration meant marks would be lost.  Sub 6 was a tight twisty downhill section for a change and I had to take care on the loose soil of some tight drop offs.  Sub 8 and 9 are long blasts up Hungry Hill which is lined by spectators.  I take both subs in second gear with plenty of throttle however, I have to roll off the throttle in sub 9 to negotiate the tight exit.  With the crowd so close you know you’re at a special event.

After lap 1 we refuel both body and bike before setting off for lap two.  The sidecars have ripped out a good line but you have to watch out for the loose accumulated earth in corners.  This year’s special test was a cracker.  Located between sub 9 and 10 it consisted of a steep descent down a loose earth bank followed by a full throttle, twisting uphill climb to stop in a box at the top.  I never gun my bikes in these sections so record a 28.1sec attempt which is way behind Pete Collins who records a great 21 second effort on the massive Ariel.

I really enjoyed this event and the concentration paid off.  I went clean on the day; one of only 4 riders to do so on the Clubman route.  The special test is used to decide any ties and it’s my slow performance on the special test that sees me finish the day in fourth place.  Nevertheless, that’s a bloody good result and I’m pleased with my performance especially as I was riding a stock 350 G3LC that needs a lot of work doing to it.
Easy does it!

Once again the TALMAG club got it right and the event was all the better for not being set out to take marks off one (famous) rider. 

The factory team had a good day and the results for the Clubmen are as follows:-

4th Jai Jacka (Matchless G3LC) clean
10th Pete Collins (Ariel HT5) 3 marks lost
13th Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5) 3 marks lost
26th Nige Townsend (Matchless 350) 9 marks lost
36th Ken Wallington (Matchless 410) 16 marks lost

This is a unique Trial in many ways and I’d like to thank everyone at the TALMAG club and the observers for staging such a wonderful event.  I for one will be entering again next year.

No report from the TALMAG would be complete without featuring the great Len Hutty Jnr who won the TALMAG Trophy again this year.  A great, amiable gentleman and arguably, the king of the TALMAG!!

The great Len Hutty in action

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

28 Jan 12 - ACU Awards night dinner

Arguably, the most daunting aspect of the ACU Sammy Miller products trials series is attending the awards night dinner.  Despite attending last year I’m just as nervous this time around.  Everyone is in their finery (making them instantly unrecognisable) and whilst waiting to get served at the bar you can rub shoulders with the likes of Neil Tuxworth, Jack Sheppard and Scotty Nichols!!  as well as with your fellow SM series trials riders Ali Haigh, Lee Granby & Keith Gardner.

It was a great honour for Penny and I to share a table with the legend and series sponsor, Sammy Miller and his delightful wife, Rosemary.  I’m pleased that fellow Gloucestershire rider, Steve Allen and Nina are at our table plus young riders Sam Luscombe and Katherine Alford (who was celebrating her 18th birthday that night!).

The evening begins with the presentation of the Pinhard Trophy and is followed by the Motocross and National Rally awards.  Following the entrĂ©e the Trials awards begin and when it comes to our turn the evergreen Sammy gets up to present the silverware.  Steve Allen picks up the Class 1 (Pre-Unit Rigid) award for the fifth time consecutively while I pick up the Class 2 trophy (Pre-Unit Springer) and a 2011 ACU Champions medal.
Receiving the Class 2 Trophy from
Sammy Miller MBE

With the dinner and presentation ceremony complete my thoughts turn to the TALMAG Trial at Hungry Hill in the morning and as I look around many of the trials riders are getting away for an early night.  Steve and I ask multiple TALMAG trophy winner, Sammy, if he’s got some tips for us in the morning.  He looks wistfully at us both and says with a smile, “Keep your feet up boys!”
“Thanks Sammy!” and with that; we retire. 

Thanks to the ACU and especially the Trials and Enduro committee for all their hard work in making the night such a memorable occasion; I just hope I can do it all again next year!