Saturday, 31 March 2012

Mad March!!

Well, March was certainly "mad" for me.  You will notice that the blog hasn’t been updated in a while for which I apologise; I simply have not had the time.  Golden Valley’s March Hare trial led into my first trip “abroad” for the Port of Jersey 2 Day Classic trial where I learnt a heck of a lot, met some fantastic people and thanks to Mike Ernst of Germany, I may be heading out to Mons in November with Steve Chandler to ride the oldest pre-65 trial on the continent!
Look, we're in Jersey, honest!

There was a good deal of attrition to NT410 in Jersey which led to several late nights and head scratching in the garage prior to the start of the national championships. 

The ACU Sammy Miller products national championship began in earnest on 18th March and both opening rounds were back-to-back.  I wasn’t happy with the hastily repaired rear wheel spindle and thanks to that great Norton rider of yesteryear, Pete Le Plain, I was able to get another spindle fabricated for the start of Rd 2. 
Yup, that's sea in the background!

Both rounds were top drawer Classic trials and I will post separate reports for both once I get sorted.  With the new rule changes big pre-units are competing against the lightweight bikes nevertheless, I gained a third place in WEMC's brilliant Vic Ashford Trial and a second in the Cotswold Cups trial on the 25 March.

Having had to ride around a few problems on NT410 I finally decided that I needed expert help to cure the brake problems and front end sag.  I drove to Sheffield during my leave and called in on Alan Whitton (AW Race Engineering) and after a productive meeting he will be supplying front and rear hubs, yokes and looking into the front end problems.
Drilling the new wheel

I finally got to the bottom of the rear brake problem.  On inspection, one of the shoes was fused to its retaining post and would not move when the cam operated.  I had to cut it off and am awaiting a replacement set of shoes from Martyn Bratby.  Hopefully, this will see some improvement in rear braking prior to the arrival of the Whitton rear hub.

Whilst I have been inspecting the rear end of NT410 I decided to weigh the wheel, spindle and spacers.  I was very surprised to note that it weighs a massive 28lb!!   Finally, I replaced the rear wheel bearings which were looking decidedly tired.  Fortunately, Mayday Seals in Cheltenham had a pair in stock and I did them the same day.

OK, that’s the latest news and look out for reports from Sammy Miller Rd 1 and Rd 2 in due course.  

Next up: BMCA Rd 28 at Hunnington!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

3 Mar 12 The March Hare long distance trial

This local long distance trial (run by the Golden Valley Classic MCC) is always a cracking day out and is well attended.  There was a bumper entry of 178 riders however, I entered early and got an early number which turned out to be a modest advantage.  The weather leading up to the event had been unseasonably dry but heavy overnight rain and persistent rain and snow on the day meant the going and sections were extremely tricky.

After the trial - Note the interesting
mudguard arrangement!
The start at Hunter’s Hall is a great venue and after I grab a hard standing for the van and sign on, I fuel up on tea and bacon sandwiches at the bar.  Dave and I get away bang on time at 0924 and meet up with The Teflon Don and Pete Collins who are both Rigid mounted for the day (AJS).  As normal, sub 1 and 2 are no inspection and fortunately, I go clean on both.  The steep, greasy exit of Sub 2 needed a second gear handful!  We meet up with emergent local legend Mike Ellis (500 Ariel) and ride around with him for a while and he really is on form considering he hasn’t been riding for a long while.  The weather gradually deteriorates and by the time we leave Uley woods the snow is falling hard making both the off road and on-road travelling particularly difficult.

Dave Priestner, who volunteered to carry our spare fuel, tubes and spanners is so cold he has to retire and as we load our packs up I do consider retiring.  The going between sections in the woods was particularly treacherous and we had to exercise the utmost caution on the greasy tracks.  Having been set out the week before, some sections were completely impossible especially the long twisting climbs; nevertheless, the rocky sections and streams remained unaffected. 

Eight dustpan fulls of earth alone
were taken off before I started washing it!
I’m not riding particularly well and apart from a handful of cleans I generally record threes and maximums during the day.  Pleasingly, I finish as I began with a clean on what turned out to be the final section (as the notoriously tricky Tinckley Lane sections were cancelled).  As we ride back the weather improves and my gloves are nearly dry as I reach Hunter’s Hall for a well deserved pint.  Fortunately, someone has lit the fire and I gradually warm up as I sip my pint. 

Predictably, the day went to the experts and it was Steve Allen (on his springer Royal Enfield) who took the win on the furthest clean rule over Nick Wooley and his immaculate 500 SERCO Ariel.  The ride of the day must go to Mike Ellis; his third place on a fairly stock HT5 really was a brilliant effort.  Well done Mike. 

Next up: The Port of Jersey 2 Day Classic Trial

Thursday, 1 March 2012

26 Feb 12 BMCA Rd 23 at Ullenhall

I haven’t ridden a bike since the TALMAG Trophy trial back in January and with some big trials coming up I need to get some practice in.  I hadn’t even cleaned the 350 since the TALMAG and rather than have to wash two bikes I decide to ride the 350. I give it a run on Saturday afternoon around the village and ride a couple of the gulley sections in Mill Lane,Noverton Lane
and pass through Fry’s Quarry.  The 350 runs like a dream so I load it into the van for the short trip up the A435. 
Ready for the off!

I first rode Ullenhall back in September 2011 and with a lot of dry weather in the preceding week I decided it would be worth going back.  The ground is particularly difficult here when it’s wet and there were still a few greasy patches on the steep banks to catch the unwary.  The unseasonably warm weather brought out some strange combinations and it was good to see Nathan Jones on a Royal Enfield vice his Triumph Cub for a change.    
Always watch where you're going!

Having printed off my entry, signing on is a breeze and thank Carol for sending me the entry form in advance by email.  I elected to ride the Intermediate route again this time.  Inters have to ride 5 Clubman sections coupled with 5 expert sections as decreed by the course plotters. 

The course itself was set in a beautiful wood and was plotted over 10 sections to be ridden over 4 laps.  Good use was made of the deep “bomb holes” and natural valleys to create flowing, sinuous routes over big logs and exposed roots.  By BMCA standards it was rather more lenient than normal however; the 350 had to be coaxed up some of the steep banks.  Subs 1 through 4 were in the furthest reaches of the wood and exploited the banks and exposed roots available.  Sub 2 featured a very damp and slippery downhill exit that demanded attention.  Sub 3 and 4 were in a muddy bomb hole and the exit of sub 3 (up a huge greasy bank) and sub 4 (over a huge log) took a few marks; I lost a dab in sub 4 on the first lap as the 350 struggled to get over.  A tight turn over a thick root in sub 5 accounted for another mark. 
Coming down on the front wheel
for a change

Sub 6 caught me out on the third lap as I mistimed a root which spat the bike off line for a maximum.  The twisty sub 7 caught me for two soft dabs which really were avoidable!  Nevertheless, I clean sub 8, 9 and 10 and it was particularly pleasing to clean 10 as the final climb which was preceded by a steep drop off and tight turn, was so steep, I didn’t think the bike would make it.  The video really doesn’t do it justice.

Many thanks to Dave Jones and Mick Hemming for laying out the sections.  Whilst the results suggest it was an easy day it really shows the high standard of all the top riders in the BMCA.  My nine mark loss was a disappointment but I feel I rode well and I enjoyed being back on the bike.  The BMCA really is a great club that caters for all standards of riders on all types of British bikes.  I can’t wait for Tardebigge in June!!

Next up: The March Hare long distance trial!!

Action from Sub 6
A short video of Sub 10 is at the end