Wednesday, 25 April 2012

22 Apr 12 Prestcott Bike festival 2012

This was a fantastic event last year and when the opportunity arose to Run the Hill again in 2012 I quickly seized the initiative.  MH 410 was the obvious choice as it looks great and once in top gear it goes pretty well too.  Besides, with the tin-ware on the 350 still not sorted and with NT410 awaiting some new brake shoes it was the only choice.  I prayed for good weather and those prayers were answered, in part, as the day dawned bright and sunny.  Prestcott Hill Climb circuit is located only a few miles away from my house so I rode there on the bike.
You don't get this treatment at Trials!

Despite getting to the track early it was packed and the paddock quickly filled.  The marshals are brilliant at this event and I was directed to park my bike in accordance with my riding number.  However, due to lack of side stand I was allowed to utilise a flowering cherry tree in the paddock.  It’s very much a show day so I ensured I ran a cloth over MH410 and I must say he shined up very well.

I booked on and with nothing to do until the compulsory rider briefing at 1000, I decided to walk the track.  You never know who you’re going to see at these events and I was surprised to see lots of Gloucestershire trials riders wandering about including Ian Hannam and Deborah Smith who were giving a trials sidecar demonstration.  It was no surprise to see 10-times British Trials Champion Steve Saunders at the venue with the beautiful Jotagas machine which he rode up the hill after my run. 

Going for top gear on the start straight

There was loads to see and do and I must say it was an awesome experience standing next to a Ducati Desmosedici when it fired up; my whole body shook and the noise was beautiful but deafening.  After having a comprehensive briefing on the track and signing a disclaimer we were allowed to ride.  We had to queue up and it did take quite a time as some riders did unfortunately crash on the way up.  With Dave Priestner, Bing and a few friends watching I pulled up to the start line and had my photo taken with a nice young lady.  When indicated by the start marshall I opened MH410 up. 

The track was perfectly dry and I got up a good head of speed; I’m sure I heard some people cheer as I approached Ettores bend in top gear (not sure why!).  After missing the kitty litter I opened the throttle once more as I headed to the hairpin where the bike went round as if on rails.  The bike echoed off the ARMCO as I ascended further and by the time I got to the last corner, semi-circle, I was on cloud nine. 

The final corner comes all too quickly

It was a great run but alas, over all too quickly.  Unlike last year we only had one run in each session.  I had to wait until the afternoon for my second run but the weather changed and as I got to the line it bucketed down.  Nevertheless, I gunned the bike and posted another quick run; only taking care at the hairpin.  I was soaked but elated and after ascertaining that no further runs could be purchased, I rode home; Cold, damp but smiling.  Due to the rain, only a rinse was needed which makes a change from trials outings. 

MH410 went like a dream and this bike just gets better and better the more I ride it.  What a credit to the engineering skills of the great Maurice Hocking.  I hope he was watching his creation belting up the hill!

The afternoon run was decidely wet!
I can’t wait until next year and when OBM pops through the post I’ll be looking in the racing section for an interesting race bike; hopefully, I can ride it next year but one thing's for sure, I'll be riding MH410 too!!

I definitely enjoyed it!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

8 Apr 12 The Red Marley Trial

Red Marley is somewhat of a tradition.  Organised by the AJS & Matchless club in association with the BMCA, this trial is the pre-cursor to the famous Red Marley Hill climb held on Easter Monday.  It’s a full factory outing once again with Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5), The Teflon Don (Matchless 410), Pete Collins (BSA Bantam) and Teflon’s younger brother Richard “Le Creuset” Townsend (BSA C15). Le Creuset because he always get a cast-iron result.
Le Creuset, Dave, Teflon, Pete & Me
wtih Teflon's Matchless and NT410

The course consisted of 15 sections which were to be ridden over three laps. This year it was run in reverse with the first group being in small wood located at the zenith of the famous hill.  With the dry conditions it was particularly tight but the loose, dry earth and slick, wild garlic combined to make the going quite tricky at times.  The first group contained 2 Subs of which the second was particularly tight and I was forced off line recording a maximum on the first lap. 

After a short descent of the hill we entered a larger wood for the second group comprising Subs 3-6.  Sub 3 continued the theme and proved tricky; a tight uphill turn over big roots led to a double log “hop” however, it rode better than it looked and I did reasonably well here.  Sub 4 featured off camber loose turns but I shaved too much off one turn and paid the price by getting stuck in a massive badger hole to record another maximum on lap 1.  By this time I’d lost interest and my mind was not on the job.  Sub 5 featured another tricky log jump located in a tight turn that proved difficult to negotiate.  The final sub here, Sub 6, was rather rudimentary however, I messed it up on several occasions which was typical of my day out.
In Sub 10

After a short ride down the hill we entered the brook group of sections.  Sub 7 featured a run down a bank followed by a difficult uphill turn on loose earth which led to a steep rooty climb; this proved tricky to master and I only cleaned it once on the day.  Teflon, Pete and Dave were all mustard on this section and made it look very easy.
Uphill in Sub 13

Subs 8-10, were in the book and comprised deep, dark mud interspersed with rock.  The going was generally good and despite looking fearsome the greasy exit of sub 10 rode very well.  Sub 11 was another tight, twisty, rooty uphill section and I was pleased to record two cleans here.  Sub 12 criss-crossed the brook (see video) and whilst the opening part was rocky the end of the section was distinctly muddy where disappointingly, I recorded a three on the second lap. 

The final group were located in a pine wood where Sub 13 was a rudimentary climb, Sub 14 was down hill on very loose earth and on the last lap I got up close and personal with a pine tree that necessitated some hasty repairs to my front mudguard. Sub 15 was a rudimentary climb on loose earth interspersed with a few tight turns but rode well and along with 13 was my only “clean” section of the day.

A short video of Sub 10

Having done a lot of work on the bike prior to the event it was particularly disappointing to be way off form on the day.  Nevertheless, the Red Marley Trial was another brilliant and testing event.  Joe Owen, Pete Dawson and the BMCA crew can be rightly proud of their efforts.  I will definitely be back next year hopefully, in much better form!!

Results for the Factory:

Dave Arkell 29,  Pete Collins 30,  Jai Jacka 42,  Teflon 43,

Well Done Dave a cracking result!!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

25 Mar 12 ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 2 The Cotswold Cups Trial

Having had to get up at 0530 the previous week for Rd 1 it was a relief to have a lie in and take the short trip from Cheltenham to the Stirrup Cup in the Cotswold village of Bisley.  After parking at the village green I grabbed a cup of tea and bacon roll in the pub and chatted to Mark Parry-Norton (Ariel HT 500), Andy Bamford (500 AJS) and the Devon contingent of Robin Hoare (DOT) and Gary Kinsman (Ariel HT 500) before signing on with event secretary Julie Short. 

This round also incorporated a round of the British Bike Championship and there were over 130 riders signed on.  With the rule change this year, the Class 2 entry was 22 strong and I knew I would have to ride well to get points and build on my third place in Rd 1.  Ex-works rider Jon Bliss (BSA 250) and Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT 500) were both on form but in such a class field the challenge is ever present.  Dave (Ariel HT 500) has been riding well of late and I was wary of the lighter bikes.  Teflon was absent; favouring Golf over trialling and Peter Collins headed up the Class 1 entry on his rigid AJS.
Sub 15-16 action. Thanks to Pete Dawson for
this photo

It was a warm day and I knew that the 40 mile trip would be difficult.  The rear wheel spindle fabrication proved to be worth the effort of the previous week’s evenings and I would like to thank Pete Le Plain for turning one out at short notice.

First up was a group of 4 subs at Mackhouse.  We got underway on a steep but dry bank and then proceeded to a couple of mud slots.  The entry to sub 2 took a few marks but I watched Dave take the perfect line and I followed him.  Sub 3 looked to be getting progressively worse so after a cursory look and thanking the observer I rode it for a clean.  The final sub was located on a garlic strewn bank and I had to take care not to lose the front wheel but came away with a clean. 

We headed back on the road for the short trip to a double-sub at Knapp.  The long, steep climb up a boulder laden stream bed with big roots was the defining section of the trial.  The tricky entry to Sub 5, through two trees, consisted of roots and loose Cotswold stone which combined to take marks off many a rider.  Once past the entry you had to negotiate more roots and bigger rocks then line up for a rock step before heading into the gulley for the rest of the climb.  I took this one at speed in 2nd gear and managed to clean both subs; the only rider to do so throughout the day.  Apparently, there was applause but I was too busy picking my way up Sub 6 to notice.

After riding through Minchinhampton we arrived at the famous Weighbridge which was non-inspection (a tradition in this trial).  The following 5 subs consisted of muddy, root laden banks which criss-crossed into and out of the stream bed.  I had to take a steadying dab in sub 10 as I used too much throttle in negotiating the big root step and was going too fast on exit.  Sub 11 was really tricky; the tight turns and hidden tree stowells made the going treacherous but I went clean. 

Lodgemore followed and consisted of 4 double sub sections.  The first (13-14) consisted of a long climb up a loose steep bank then a twisty section around the trees.  We then progressed through the woods for sub 15-16 which featured a steep shingle bank and long descent with tight off camber turns.

After a short ride we headed into more water for another double sub (17-18) on some slick banks and through a stream.  The steep descent of 19 led to a tight off camber turn and I nearly lost the front end here.  Sub 20 followed and was a tight, twisty route through the trees.

Then it was off to Chavenage for three subs adjacent to Tetbury Quarry.  We have used these roadside sections before and this time the dry going and cutting out combined to make the going fairly rudimentary. 

The long ride back to Brownshill was quite pleasant in the warm afternoon sunshine.  There were four subs at St.Mary’s and I took a factory dab on last turn of sub 25 in order to get the bike lined up for Sub 26 which was a steep climb on loose, dry earth.  Sub 27 was fun and featured a massive rocky climb that demanded 2nd gear.  Dave and I took a short detour his house and refuelled prior to the long ride out the special test.

This traditional section was used to separate ties in the scoring.  Mindful that my rivals (Jon Bliss and Godfrey Hannam) are both mustard on speed tests I had to give it a real go and my 22 second effort was quite reasonable.  Regular readers will know that I never gas the bike up hence my 4th place in the TALMAG this year.

It was a very long ride to the final group of subs located at Pinsbury Park but what a worthwhile trip.  This was new land and featured a rocky stream which we criss-crossed into and out of, up the muddy banks.  The tight turns of sub 28 demanded concentration and the greasy climbs of sub 29 caught a few of the stalwarts out.  I decided to ride aggressive and it paid dividends as I flew past the end cards of the sub.  With two subs left the pressure was tangible and I was careful in the rocky stream bed of sub 30.  The final sub featured a tricky entry followed by a long greasy climb.  Godfrey Hannam had to take a three here and as he watched me approach, I knew I had to go clean.  The entry was key and in the end I sailed up the bank to finish on 2 marks lost.  A quality ride that I’m proud of as I had to surmount several problems during the week and spent a lot of time in the garage fettling the bike (perhaps I might do more of it!).

The results arrived on Thursday and I recorded a second place, losing out once again to the venerable Jon Bliss who now tops the Class 2 standings on 40 points with me and Godfrey Hannam tied in second place on 32 points.  Dave came in 8th with 13 marks lost after he missed the second sub at Knapp.

Class 2 results:
Jon Bliss (250 BSA) 1
John Jacka (410 Matchless G3LC) 2
Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT500) 4
Robin Hoare (DOT) 9

Congratulations to Peter Collins (350 AJS) who took the Class 1 win ahead of Mike Holloway (400 AJS) in second and local rider Steve O’Connor (Norton 500T) who was third.  With no appearance from Steve Allen yet this year the rigid class is wide open!!

Class 1 results:
Peter Collins (350 AJS) 13
Mike Holloway (400 AJS) 14
Steve O’Connor (500T Norton) 23

Thanks to all the observers and course plotters who made the trial possible and of course, Julie Short without whom the trials would not be possible.

I really enjoyed the day and it was great to ride around with a lot of fellow West Countrymen who made this National trial seem like a local trial.  Roll on Rd 3, The Sam Cooper trial at Bourton-on-the-Hill in May.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

1 Apr 12 BMCA Rd 28 Hunnington

Sub 2 just before the rock!
Thanks to Pete Dawson for this photograph
This is a great venue and despite the fuel shortage I’m determined to make it to Hunnington.  I get £40 worth of diesel which sees me right and head up the M5.  There’s a good crowd and I have a quick chat with Pete “Scoop” Dawson and Jes Flower before the start.  With NT410 off the road I elect to ride the 350 on the Intermediate route and having entered beforehand signing on is a breeze.
This time we use some of the rocky stream and banks to the North of the road way which I haven’t seen before.  The first sub goes well but in sub 2 I hit a large rock which bends the rear brake lever completely back on itself so that it touches the foot rest and the dented chain case is now rubbing against the cush drive and clutch basket.  I ride Sub 3 but have to take a dab over the large boulder in the centre of the stream and get beached on a rooty step in Sub 4.  As I ride out of this group it’s clear that I can’t carry on as I’ll damage the bike and I need it for Red Marley on the 8th April.  I retire the bike and bitterly disappointed, head off back home to begin repairs.
Damage to the cush drive &
clutch domes (note brake lever!)

Fortunately, the bike’s not too dirty and I quickly get it washed, dried and ready for maintenance.  I remove the primary drive outer cover and upon inspection, it’s clear that both domes have been damaged by the cush-drive and clutch pressure plate.  After a quick clean inside the primary drive I adjust the clutch to remove the slack in the cable and test it out until happy. 

Next up I take off the brake lever but it’s so damaged I think I’ll leave that one to Nige or Dave to fix during the week.  Whilst looking over the bike it’s clear that I’ve neglected some basic maintenance so I take off the chain guard, mudguard and remove the rear wheel to give the bike a “deep clean” and do some husbandry.  I file out the burrs in the chain guard and straighten it to avoid contact with the chain.  De-grease the left-hand side of the gearbox which has about a year of accumulated PJ1 Black Label stuck to it!!
Spot the problem?

Finally, I get the rear wheel apart and clean out the shoes and drum.  I think this wheel is actually a good deal lighter than NT410’s REH wheel.  Time is against me so I but the mudguard and chain guard back on and having put the rear wheel together place it in the swinging arm.

Looks like I’ll be spending evenings this week sorting out the tin-ware ready for Easter Sunday on the hill.
"Tea? I'd love one, Ta!"

Next up: The Red Marley Trial