Tuesday, 29 May 2012

27 May 12, Cheltenham Home Guard MCC, The Barrett Open Trial

The spindle problem was rectified this week when Teflon had one turned up and Dave fitted it to NT410 on Saturday afternoon (reshaping the swinging arm in the process!).  With a choice of two trials available and the Cheltenham Home Guard club laying on a Sportsman route, we elected to stay local and contest the Barrett Open Trial in Winchcombe rather than driving to Fry’s Bottom for the Bath Classic meeting.

Dave (Ariel 500) and I (NT410) were joined by Ken Wallington (Matchless G3LC) who is becoming a bit of a factory regular and in honour of his quite exquisite pre-trial bacon sandwiches (cooked up in the back of his Vito) he will henceforth be known as Ainsley.
The rock pile in Sub 2

It was a very hot day and with persistent good weather during the previous week, the Langley Hill venue was bone dry.  The trial consisted of 13 sections to be ridden over three laps and with lots of land to choose from there was plenty of distance between the sections to open the bike up.  The Sportsman route (which was spot-on for Pre-65 bikes) consisted of yellow deviations off the main route and all the sections were located in the numerous copses of the venue.  The going was generally loose and you had to take care on some of the tighter turns.
Action from Sub 3

Sub 8 was tight and took a few dabs whilst the loose, midpoint turn in Sub 13 also took a few marks from the unwary, myself included.  I lost my two marks on this very section.  The entrance to Sub 9 consisted of a log jump before a down hill run into a twisty, tight track through the trees.  Ainsley experienced a few problems here before he was forced to retire with gearbox problems late into lap 2.  Dave’s only penalty came on lap 2 in tight Sub 7 where incurred a maximum.

It was pleasing to note that the Cheltenham Home Guard club laid out a Sportsman route for Pre-65 bikes and I personally, hope this trend continues and becomes better supported by Pre-65 riders.  It’s not easy to mix Modern and Pre-65 routes but the club did well and much credit must go to Clerk of the Course.  Thanks also to the landowner Mr. Abbatt for kind use of this wonderful venue.  My two mark loss was good enough to scoop the Best Pre-65 award on the day
Approaching a tight turn in Sub 6

It was good to see Tony Sullivan out and going rather well on his lovely BSA.  Fortunately, he let me know his 500 Matchless was up for sale and I promptly added it to the Matchless Man stable. 

NT410 is going to be laid up for a month or so while Alan Whitton adjusts the fork sliders to take his hubs and brake torsion arm so I’ll need something to ride at Tardebigge and the Bonanza trial!!

The venerable Tony Sullivan
and his BSA

20 May 12, ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 3 The Sam Cooper/Union Jack Trial

Dave worked his magic and got the spindle back in.  The rear wheel ran smoothly so we decided to take the chance rather than disc cut it off straight away.  With trepidation, I slept poorly!  This really popular trial drew a full entry and there were twenty two riders entered in Class 2 which is the highest single entry since I started riding in this series in 2009.  It was another full factory outing; Dave picked up NT410 and along with Teflon and Ken Wallington, we headed up through Broadway to the start at Blockley.  After signing we had a hearty breakfast of bacon sandwiches washed down with tea and had a natter to our fellow competitors.  Peter Collins elected to ride Class 1 on his rigid AJS this time and capitalise on his points tally.  Once again, it was good to see Gary Kinsman (Ariel 500) and Robin Hoare (DOT) make the long journey up from Devon. It was bitterly cold at the start and with a threat of some rain, most riders opted for windproof/waterproof gear. 

This year the trial was run in the reverse direction this year so after being flagged off on time we had a long ride to the first group called Totty’s.  This innocuous looking double-subber caught me out and I had to take a dab on the steep bank to keep NT410 going which was disappointing.  Back on the road for a while we headed for the slick greasy going of Jones Bank for a couple of subs.  Sub 3 was a bit of a stinker and consisted of a pair of climbs/descents and a tight turn on loose ground before a steep climb up a greasy bank.  I opted for second gear and the NT410 sailed through.  Teflon, usually solid in the mud, took a maximum as his bike broke grip on the now treacherous bank.
Sub 4 was much the same however, I cleaned it but Dave took a maximum as the big Ariel came to a standstill in the loose leaf litter on the bank.

It was a short ride for a pair of subs at Tunnel 1.  The venerable Jon Bliss found a unique line through the mud in Sub 5 and I immediately followed him for a clean.  Sub 6 was a different matter; deep mud and a greasy bank saw me and most others, paddling through for a three however, Jon Bliss sailed through for a clean.  A pair of Subs at Tunnel 2 followed but these were slightly easier and I recorded a pair of cleans.  Much relieved, but knowing my dab on Sub 1 was going to cost me later, we headed to the notorious Weston Wood for five subs on the wild garlic and Cotswold stone banks.  The subs rode well this year and it was only the steep bank of sub 12 that caught a few riders out including Blisser and Teflon who each recorded a dab. 

From Weston Wood we headed up the hill to the stalwart sections of Saintbury.  Fortunately, it was dry under the trees so the going, over Cotswold stone chips and roots, was a little easier and I recorded a clean sheet.  Being adjacent to a golf course the place was littered with golf balls; most of which Dave and I launched at Teflon, Peter Collins and Ken Wallington.  There followed a long ride to Scarborough for a pair of subs then onto Camp for three more where I recorded a clean sheet.  Next up was a pair of subs at Bridges.  The deep mud of the first Sub, number 24, didn’t interest me and I elected to take a maximum rather than get knackered pulling the bike out of the deep mud.  Next up was the speed / observed test and unbelievably, I recorded one of the fastest times in my class but lost no marks. 

Finally, we arrived Dovedale Wood for the final five Subs.  This is where it went wrong.  Eager to make best use of the muddy climb in the first Sub, number 26, I rushed it and had to take a maximum.  The massive hill of Sub 27 was pretty rudimentary and I went clean.  Sub 28 was tricky; a muddy entry led to a greasy bank but NT410 found the grip.  As I approached the next part, a loose, off-camber turn I got a little off-line and just when I thought I’d cracked it, the bike broke grip and I took another maximum.  I did clean the final two subs but with a 10 in this group alone my total came to 19 marks lost which was only good enough for ninth place.

Godfrey Hannam took the win and the Sam Cooper Trophy with his 7 mark loss with Jon Bliss in second with a 9 mark loss.  Teflon finished in seventh on 16 marks lost while Dave was tenth on 20 penalties.

It was a good trial and thanks go to the Stratford club for their hard work in setting this trial out.  Whilst I had my best ride in the notorious Weston Wood this year a lack of concentration at the start and a dreadful performance at the finish, cost me dear.

Addendum: The rear wheel spindle had to be cut off on Monday night.  It had picked up on a wheel bearing and couldn’t be moved.  All the banging trying to get it out caused the swinging arm to be seven centimetres wider than it was originally.  Dave bent it back to shape but God knows what effect it’ll have on the handling of the bike.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

19 MAY 12, A look forward to ACU Sammy Miller products Rd 3 The Sam Cooper / Union Jack Trial

Looks like a bumper turn out for Rd 3 of the National ACU Sammy Miller products series, the Sam Cooper / Union Jack trial run by Stratford on Avon MCC this weekend.  A full entry of 120 is listed on the card with a good mix of classic bikes and top riders.

Class 1 (Rigid) will be interesting to watch.  Current Class leader Mike Holloway (400 AJS) is joined by second place man (and factory stalwart) Peter Collins (350 AJS) and Minchinhampton’s Steve O’Connor (500T Norton) in his first Miller series is third.  Graham Howes is currently fourth and Clive Causer makes the long trip up from Devon to see if he can improve on his current standing.  Finally, we see the mighty Steve Allen turning out on his Matchless.  The five times Class 1 Champion has been noticeably absent this year and he’ll be looking to stamp his authority on the entry.  Can he still win the title?  It’s going to be a good year in  Class 1!!!

Class 2 sees its biggest entry this year with 22 riders entered.  There’s a real possibility of me coming away with “nil point” from this one.  Class leader Jon Bliss and joint third place (with me!) man Godfrey Hannam are entered along with Dave Arkell and Teflon from the factory.  If it wasn’t going to be tough enough there’s a bumper entry of BMCA riders this year and it’s genuinely scary to see Expert riders Alex Crane (BSA), Dave Jones (Triumph) and Bob Greenhough (BSA) on this route.  Mick Ash opts for a James this year vice the big Ariel while Gary Kinsman and Robin Hoare travel up from Devon to round out what is, a class field.

Only two “big bikes” are entered on the Expert route; the evergreen Andy Bamford will be riding his immaculate AJS while Paul Edwards will be riding a 500 Ariel.

On Friday I did the front end on NT410, cleaned the brakes out and changed the front tyre for a new IRC as the old one had perished completely and was in danger of delaminating.  I made a new decompressor cable and tested it on Saturday morning, checked the clutch and primary side before doing the gearbox.  Looking at the entry list I decided to change the rear tyre but unfortunately, the rear wheel spindle became jammed in the wheel and I couldn’t remove it.  As I go to press Dave is on his way over from Stroud to see if it can be removed or needs to be disc cut off the bike.  This is a real blow and there’s a real possibility I may have to ride MH410 tomorrow which will make it doubly hard. 

Finger crossed ………..

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

13 May 12, Hawks Cheltenham Spa club, Founder’s trial

Desperate to try the new shocks I was up early!  The weather couldn’t have been better and the Colgate Farm venue located atop Ham Hill was the place to be.  With few other trials on there was a bumper turn out and it was pleasing to see a lot of British iron on display.  It was great to see a few BMCA riders in Gloucestershire and with the likes of Dave Jones (Triumph), Joe Owen (Matchless G3LC) and Andy Hunt (BSA) as well as local ace Rob Halliday (420 Royal Enfield), it was always going to be tough.

Exiting Sub 8; check the hip action!
Eager to get some practice in ahead of next week’s Sammy Miller round at Stratford, it was a full factory day out.  Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5), Teflon (Matchless G3LC) and fresh from the Scottish, Pete Collins (Ariel HT500) on a proper bike for a change.  After a quick rider brief from Clerk of the Course, Tony Ferryman, we headed off for 4 laps of 10 sections.

The first group consisted of three Subs on the steep banks at the top of the venue and despite previously wet conditions the going was dry.  As a result these Subs were too rudimentary and I suspect the Clerk of the course was erring on the side of caution; it was disappointing not to have used the wild garlic strewn banks which would have provided excellent practice for the Sam Cooper Union Jack Trial at Stratford (Rd 3 of the Sammy Miller championship).
It could however, have been that NT410’s back end tracked the Subs better making it feel easier.  Anyway, with the Maxton’s in place it was a pleasure to ride across the field and the lack of chatter from the back end gave me confidence.

Sub 6. You can tell
I've been off!!
The bottom copse was where the fun began!  Sub 4 was a beauty and comprised a really tricky off-camber turn located on a steep bank.  To compound the problem the ground after the turn was really loose and bumpy especially if you tried to “pinch” a bit of the turn.  However, the Maxton’s tracked the contours beautifully and I was lucky to only lose a single dab on the four laps.  Sub 5 was a notoriously greasy uphill climb however, due to a tight turn at the beginning no run up could be attempted.  I elected for second gear, brought the power in slowly and NT410 gripped exceptionally well on each lap to record no loss of marks.

Sub 6 was pretty tricky and this greasy downhill section got worse as the day went on.  Any errant handlebar input was severely punished and on lap two I attempted to correct my line but lost the front wheel and flew over the handle bars for a maximum.  Fortunately, local photographer Mike Yiend had his view obscured and could not record the incident.

Sub 7 consisted of a deep muddy bog and riders had to negotiate two fallen tree trunks which were a Pre-65 bike wheel-base apart.  If you got over the first trunk either the front wheel or back wheel would catch and I saw many riders coming to grief here.  This was followed by a tight couple of turns which were almost impossible.  With a wealth of land available in the copse, at the time, it was hard to understand why this section got on the card. 

Sub 8 continued the theme.  A steep, greasy downhill entry into a brook followed by a similarly steep exit and tight turn proved to be impossible as water from the brook got tracked up the bank.  Nevertheless, the dancing lessons paid dividends and thanks to some snake-hips I cleaned it on lap one, got a three on lap two, got a maximum on lap 3 and having seen Teflon and Pete go down on the last lap, I elected to take a maximum.  We should’ve legged it to the copse and done these sections first I think!  Lesson learnt!!
Cleaned and ready to work on
after the event!

Sub 9 and 10 were well thought out.  Sinuous twists and turns into the brook and out over slippery mud took some concentration however, there was nothing dangerous about them and if you did come to grief there were some easy exits.  Again, the bike seemed to ride well and I’m sure it was the new Maxton shocks which made the difference in the tricky conditions.  The decompressor wasn’t engaging during this trial making it very difficult to start NT410 and I must get that rectified before next week’s long distance trial.

Thanks to all at the Hawks, Cheltenham Spa club for putting on a cracking event and to the land owner, Dave Pritchett, who is a solid supporter of motorcycle trials.  It was a good trial with lots of banter between the factory and provided solid practice for next week’s Sammy Miller trial at Stratford.

Factory results:

Jai Jacka (410 Matchless G3LC)      27
Dave Arkell (Ariel HT5)                 31
Teflon (410 Matchless G3LC)         31
Peter Collins (Ariel HT5)               35
Ken Wallington (350 Matchless)     DNF

To find out how you did log onto the Hawks website here
The marshy Sub 7 - Those blasted logs!

Next up: ACU Sammy Miller products Rd3, The Sam Cooper/Union Jack Trial.


Don’t forget photos of the event are available from Mike Yiend Motorsports photography; simply click on the link in the sidebar or click here to go to Mike’s page of the event.  And remember, Please support you local photographer.

Monday, 14 May 2012

12 May 12 New rear shocks for NT410

I normally run Rock shocks on NT410 and have noticed that they’ve been underperforming for some time.  There are times when unless I’m riding particularly rocky streams the back end feels almost rigid.  It came to a head when I saw a video of myself in a stream at Red Marley; The front suspension worked a treat but the rear hardly moved and I bounced off the obstacles (see the Red Marley Trial post).  Unsure what to do I put up with it.
They certainly look the part!

Fortunately, Dave Dawson (classicrider444.com) decided to sell his Maxton shocks so I popped round to his place and put them on.  With a 16-position rebound setting we decided to go just a little over half way and headed for Dave’s test track.  After a quick test over some big rooty steps the results were amazing.  For the first time NT410 actually tracked the terrain and riding the bike was a little easier.

I think it's fair to say that Dave is a little taller than me (who isn't?) and had a lightweight bike whereas I have a heavyweight bike and am a little lighter.  It seemed to work out perfectly and the shocks could've been made for NT410.

Having handed over some cash and feeling really pleased, I went home and added some spacers to the bottom mounts to protect the units, fixings and swing arm cups.  Fortunately, the Hawks Club had a trial on at Colgate Farm so I resolved to test them out there.

Very shiny; shame about that
mudguard though!