Sunday, 28 October 2012

21 OCT 12 2012 ACU Sammy Miller products series Rd 6, The Greensmith Memorial Trial

A particularly thick fog greeted Penny and I as we headed North on the M5 towards Burwarton, Shropshire, for Rd 6 of the ACU Sammy Miller series.  The Greensmith Trial, organised by South Birmingham MCC, is always a challenge and with predominantly wet weather the preceding two weeks the course, which is predominantly plotted over greasy, rooty banks and through rocky steams, was always going to be difficult.  Nevertheless, the weather was with us and as the fog burned off there was not a cloud in the sky.
Sammy Miller MBE gets me underway

There was a bumper entry for Class 2 and having ridden pretty poorly since Round 3 I was again apprehensive about my chances.  With NT410 still off the road I elected to persevere with AS 500 as the ground clearance and solid pulling power would prove very handy in this traditional trial.  With so many riders booked on there was a real chance of not scoring any championship points which added further pressure.  I met up with Dave at the start and I was glad to see Gary Kinsman and Pete Meeson had made the long journey up from Devon.  In addition, it was pleasing to see a lot of BMCA experts and intermediates at the event although why they elected to ride the Clubman route is perplexing!  Signing on was a breeze and the complimentary bacon roll and tea were greatly appreciated.  After a quick chat with fellow competitor Jes Flower I got changed and queued up at the start.

Apprehensive at the start!

It was particularly special to see Sammy Miller MBE at the start and he waved us away under the starter’s direction.  I got away bang on time for the five mile ride to the first group of three Subs at Upper Earnstrey.  Actually getting to the first Sub was a challenge as the ground was sodden and it was clear that this section would be tricky therefore, I decided to have a cursory look and then ride it.  I selected 2nd gear and having negotiated the tricky mud-slot entry, I gunned the Matchless up the first greasy slope before shutting it down and dipping into the stream.  Unfortunately, this bank was trickier and I needed a three to reach the exit.  With too much air in the back tyre I had to take a maximum on the bank of Sub 2 which was a school boy error.  Having let some air out I went across the road to Sub 3 where the hardest part was trying to get to the start cards across the sodden field!

Next up we rode to Earnstrey Barn for five Subs and I was pleased to go clean at this group and the following group of three Subs at Lower Norncott 1.  I felt a bit better on the bike than I have of late and I really started to enjoy the ride (something that has been missing over the last six months!).  The single sub at Lower Norncott 2 necessitated a single dab which was annoying and could have been avoided. 
Sammy admiring AS 500 I think!

The Abdon group of sections consisted of seven Subs split between the rocky stream adjoining one field and the greasy banks and roots of the other field.  The most immediate problem was trying to get to the first Sub as the deep mud of the gateway caught me out and I was stuck for fifteen minutes (honestly!) trying to extricate the bike.  This was another key group of subs so I decided to ignore the fatigue and got cracking with a clean.  A single dab ensued in the next Sub as I put far too much throttle into the high mud step exit.  The following two stream sections were pretty tight and I was pleased to clean the first but had to take a steadying dab up the waterfall of the second.  The exit here was exceptionally tricky and even in 2nd gear I only just managed it!  We headed across the field to the next Sub but the steep greasy bank proved impossible and I incurred a maximum.  The final two Subs at Abdon consisted of a muddy, rooty climb but it rode reasonably and I cleaned both.

The two sections at Strandbrook proved eventful.  Both the entries and exits into the deep stream were treacherous.  Wary of entering the water too quickly I elected to go for 2nd gear in the stream but hit neutral and had to take a dab.  The exit was a wonderful however; I lined it up, opened up the big 500 and flew off a muddy step through the ends card!  Dave and I spotted a better entry to the last one here which paid off was we both went clean.

Hopton Brook followed which was very tricky.  Having watched Godfrey and many other Class 2 riders take the expert route (which looked easier) I decided to select 3rd gear and gunned AS500 up the steep, greasy bank which so many feared; this proved a decisive move however, I’m extremely grateful to the observer’s mate who stopped me and the bike falling 20ft into the stone gully when I lost traction.
Getting underway for The Greensmith Trial

Finally, we came towards the end and the famous Furlong/Brockleton Brook group which are Greensmith favourites.  There’s a double rock step in the first brook and I always elect to jump the bike up the waterfall here and this year was no exception.  Nevertheless, I misjudged the exit and had to take a steadying dab up the rooty climb.  The next double sub was particularly tricky and I was very pleased with my double clean here at the tricky cross over and through the deep mud.  Across the road at Brockelton the first sub featured a nasty 180-degree switchback over rock into the stream.  This caught many riders out but I elected to ride the bank, held my breath and dropped in exactly where I wanted to be.

A quick tally up at the end revealed that I’d finished with 20 marks lost and I beat second place man Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT5) by 6 marks to cut his lead just ever so slightly.  However, Ian Wixon (Triumph 5TA) fresh from his MotoBrittanica title, took the big bike win on the furthest clean rule (which made me rue that jump in the brook!).  Once again, I finished in ninth place however, with Godfrey finishing behind me,I remain in third place in the Class 2 Championship standings with two rounds still to go.
Dave, Me, Gary & Pete at the start

It was a brilliant day out despite me running out of fuel on the way back to the start.  Dave saved me having to push the big Matchless back by donating some fuel so Thank You for that Dave (or I'd still be there!).

My thanks go to all at South Birmingham MCC including Tim and Ann Fairbrother for their outstanding work in putting on this brilliant traditional trial.  Once again, they got the pub just right (The Boyne Arms is well worth a visit!) as well as the sections and course.  It was great to see Sammy Miller in attendance again and with so many local riders at the event it felt like a club trial.

Next up:  The Western Classic MCC, Guy Fawkes Trial at Bisley

Saturday, 20 October 2012

19 OCT 12 A look ahead to Rd 6 of the 2012 ACU Sammy Miller products series, The Greensmith Memorial Trial

It’s been almost two months between Sammy Miller rounds and with only two trials left in the 2012 series each performance will be key.  The Greensmith Memorial trial is run by South Birmingham Motor Club and this year begins from the Boyne Arms in Burwarton, Shropshire (WV16 6QH).  Clerk-of-the-Course, Tim Fairbrother and Ken Garfield have been hard at work over the last two weeks putting together 30 sections comprising rocky streams, muddy banks & roots that typify the Clee Hills area for the 80-plus riders who have signed on.

Class 1 (Pre-Unit Rigid) is always hotly contested and it’s tight at the top.  Mike Holloway (AJS 400) and Graham Howes (BSA Goldstar) both share the lead on 69 points apiece with factory stalwart (and all round good egg!) Peter Collins in third place on 61 points.  Looking at the programme, only Mike is scheduled to ride and barring some late entries, with only a couple of rounds to go, 20 points should see him take the Class 1 title this time out.
AS500 ready for Rd 6

Class 2 (British Pre-70 Units/pre-units/2 stroke) has a healthy 23 entries listed.  Class 2 leader Jon Bliss (BSA C15) is way out in front and seems to have the title sewn up; Godfrey Hannam (Ariel HT5) remains in second place on 74 points and I’m in third spot on 54 points.  However, with some stiff competition and still trying to get used to the big Matchless G80C, I’ll have to ride out of the top drawer to remain there!  The BMCA boys will be out in force on their lightweight machinery and with a good knowledge of the sections they’ll be very hard to beat on home ground.  Pete Meeson (Francis Barnett 250) and Gary Kinsman (Ariel HT5) make the long journey up from Devon for their first Greensmith Trial and with the streams having some big rocks and steps in them they’re sure to be at home!

The closely fought Side car class (Class 4) has the notable omission of Ian Hannam/Deborah Smith and I can only guess that Ian is still carrying an injury from his last outing.  Class leaders Lee Granby/Rupert Kimber are due to ride however, Paul Fishlock is teamed with Chris Kimber vice Debbie Merrell this time out.  Ali and Amelia Haigh (BSA C15) make a return to the series at this round.
Fingers crossed for the weather; Tim has said that the streams are already considerably deeper than normal and riders should take care when navigating between sections!  The course comprises nine groups of sections over an approximate 23 mile lap of the Shropshire countryside.  The first group of three subs are located five miles from the start at Upper Earnstrey followed by a short ride to Earsntrey Barn then Lower Nortcott 1 and 2.  After 10 miles it’s Abdon for 7 subs of mud, streams and roots.  Strandbrook leads into Furlong and just across the road we finish with 2 subs at Brockleton Brook before heading back to the start at the Boyne Arms.

Having still not gotten used to the G80C I remain reluctant to ride it but I have just got to persevere.  The lack of practice in the run up to this event hasn’t helped either and with a lot of class riders booked on it’s going to be difficult to come away with a meaningful points tally.  Still, the title’s gone and it’s just about bolstering third place for the rest of the series.