Tuesday, 19 June 2012

17 Jun 12, Hawks Cheltenham Spa, The Alan Saunders Memorial Trial

With a few trials happening this weekend I really couldn’t miss this one.  Those who have been reading this blog for a while will be aware that both Penny and I were long standing and stalwart members of Hawks, Cheltenham Spa MCC and therefore, knew Alan Saunders personally.  In addition, it was Alan that sold me my first Matchless, (a 1956 G3LC see picture below), after I badgered him for close on a year.  I always remember him saying that if the bike sat in the garage and didn’t get used he’d be round to see me!  I instantly got on with the bike and I have had some great success with it over the years; most notably, winning the Sammy Miller championship in 2010 and cleaning the TALMAG for a fourth place in 2012. 
I'm sure Alan Saunders would approve!
With NT410 still off the road I did a bit of maintenance to AS500 in preparation for this trial.  On Friday afternoon I got the bike MOTd at Roadrunner Motorcycles in Stroud and on the way back picked up a new IRC from BVM Moto.  The original rear tyre was on there for some time and I had to take it to Malvern Tyres in Cheltenham in order break the bead as it was stuck fast.  The helpful team at Malvern Tyres were brilliant and sorted me out instantly – Thank You.  It took a bit of fiddling and a pinched tube but I eventually got it sorted, greased the spindle, cleaned the hub and brake shoes and put it back together.

I got to Colgate Farm quite early and signed on with Dave Stephens and had a breakfast bap at Suzie’s Food Van.  It was pleasing to see Alan’s son, Mark and grandson, Greg both supporting the trial.  Hawks President, Pete LePlain gave a short valedictory before the start in memory of Alan which was a nice touch.  Dave (Ariel 500) and I both elected to ride the Pre-65 (Red) route and started at Sub 1 bang on 1030.

The first three subs were located on the loose, rocky banks and cambers at the top of the course.  Sub 1 and 2 were tight and twisty through the trees and did take a few marks from the unwary and Sub 3 was the traditional long run across a high, rooty camber before an adrenalin fuelled run down a rooty bank.  Next, we had a long run across the fields to Sub 4.  Located in the middle copse we dropped into a greasy gully, criss-crossing across the stream before giving it a handful on the long, greasy uphill exit.  It rode surprisingly well but I did take a dab on lap two as I got too friendly with a tree.
Concentrating hard as the 500 gets
some grip

Subs 5-7 were located in the bottom copse.  Sub 5 was a fairly rudimentary stream section with a few twists and turns however, with a good deal of water coursing through it there was plenty of grip.  Sub 6 looked quite tricky and was a downhill section on very soft mud which led to a tight gully.  I initially had to take a three but recovered on subsequent laps to clean it. 

Sub 7 was quite frankly ridiculous and caused lots of problems for all the Red route riders.  A long climb led to a greasy rooted entry through a pair of trees.  The root itself was huge and because of limited room you couldn’t get square on it.  This caused many a back wheel to slip away leaving the rider on the ground with his bike on top of him.  I had a very bad off here; I got thrown backwards into the root hitting it just below my left kidney.  I was instantly winded and knew I was in trouble.  I instinctively wiggled my toes and ankles that’s how much I feared the worse.  Dave was quickly on the scene and lifted the bike off me and I crawled away, badly shaken.  I was in a lot of pain and Dave fired the bike up and I rode it gingerly back to the start.  After Dave loaded it into the van I went home and Penny took me to A&E for a check up.  Fortunately, there was no spinal damage and no internal bleeding and as I write I’m in a lot of pain and off work. 

The final group of sections, Sub 8-10, were located on the tree laden banks of the North side of the track and were brilliant, testing, traditional trials sections.  The sinuous uphill off camber Sub 8 was a real tester; I incurred a maximum as the big 500 started to “climb” on me on the first lap.  Sub 9 had a tricky entry and tight, loose exit but rode well and was a real test.  Similarly, Sub 10 was another beauty.  A steep downhill entry across a loose camber led to a stony and rooty gap between the trees which took marks off all.  A cracking, but sensible section. 
In the climb on Sub 10!

It was very disappointing to have retired on Sub 7 but the truth is I’m surprised I was the only one who got injured here.  The Clerk-of-the-Course should never have allowed this section to go ahead  and I can only hope that the Clerk of the Course and the Club learn from this incident. 

As always, it was great to see Mike Yiend at the venue with his camera.  The pictures in this report were supplied by Mike and if you want to see your pictures log onto Mike’s collection here or click on the Mike Yiend Motorsports photography link on the right hand side.  Why not buy some of Mike’s great photos as a late Father’s Day present and support your local photographer!

You can check your results on the club website HERE

Next up:  Recovering from this injury ahead of the Bonanza Trial!


  1. Hi there do you know the new web address for the hawks?

  2. Sorry, I am no longer involved with the Hawks club. You could try ringing the Secretary of the Meeting, Mr. Dave Stephens on 01452 533907 who should be able to help you.