Saturday, 23 February 2013

17 Feb 13 Stroud Valley MCC The Bill Peters Trial

At last, some beautiful weather for trials riding and good conditions in which to test out a newly refurbished NT410.  The eagle eyed reader my see that I got rid of the old REH rear hub/Sammy Miller alloy front hub and replaced the alloy fork yokes with Alan Whitton ones.  I extended the fork damper rod by an inch or so in order to take up the sag on the front end.  Having waited some considerable time I was very much looking forward to getting back on NT410.  It was another full factory day out with Dave (Ariel HT5), Pete Collins (Ariel HT5), Teflon (410 Matchless G3LC) and Master Chef (350 Matchless) so there was a distinct element of competition.  After a quick rider briefing, we got away bang on time for 3 laps of 12 sections of which, 6 were on the rocks of the quarry while 6 were on the steep, greasy banks of the lower slopes.
Rock strewn gully of Sub 10

Being dry, the quarry sections rode really well however, you had to concentrate as the loose Cotswold stone scree could easily force a dab or two. I did take a dab on the steep, loose climb of sub seven on the final lap and also slack dabs in sub nine and ten.  The killer for me was the slippery sub six; the greasy, tight exit over exposed tree roots was tricky and I found it difficult to get any traction. A dab on the first lap was OK but I was harshly judged for a five on the second lap before finally going clean on the last lap.  It wasn’t a day for the big bikes and the top runners were all on tiddlers.  Best Pre-65 went to Tony Sullivan (250 BSA) who having sorted his gear box problems out is having some excellent rides lately. 

Pre-65 results (Sportsman route)

Tony Sullivan      250 BSA                      2
Ian Wathan         250 BSA                      4
Alex Ross            350 Royal Enfield         9 (33 cleans)
Jai Jacka             410 Matchless G3LC     9 (31 cleans)
Dave Arkell         500 Ariel HT5              16
Nige Townsend    410 Matchless G3LC     23
Pete Collins         500 Ariel HT5              25

Master Chef had to depart early for a family lunch engagement so only did one lap of practice.

A banked turn in Sub 8
Unfortunately, NT410 was leaking a lot of oil and the newly installed oil gauge indicated that I’d lost a lot somewhere.  After much speculation, Teflon decided that the only way to be sure what was happening was to take it back to the factory workshop for investigation.  It turns out that the oil pump guide-way has a score in it which allows more oil into the system than the scavenge pump can deal with hence the vast amount of smoke and oil coming out of all orifices.  The prognosis is good however, but once again NT410 will be off the road while I source a right-hand-side engine case (preferably with the cam followers in it!).  The upshot is that I’ll be back on AS500 for the March Hare Trial in two weeks time.  Fingers crossed I’ll be able to compete in the Vic Ashford trial on NT410 but I’m not holding my breath.

Thanks to all at the Stroud club for their efforts and of course, all the observers.
Full results can be found at the club website HERE
NT410 in its latest guise before the trial

Saturday, 16 February 2013

10 Feb 13, ZONA1 MCC The Les Davis Trial

Despite the bitter cold, rain and biting wind it was a full factory day out for the Zona1 MCC Les Davis Trial.  Despite being a predominantly modern trials club, the organisers do cater for Pre-65 bikes so Dave (Ariel HT5), Teflon (410 Matchless), Pete Collins (500 Ariel), Master Chef (350 Matchless) and I (500 Matchless G80C) signed up for the Sportsman route as indicated in the regulations.  Having entered in advance signing on was simple however, there were still numerous on-the-day entries struggling with numb fingers, damp paper and pens that didn't write!  Teflon was pleased to finally pick up a trophy for a Class win back in 2010 and I must say it was a real beauty!  Well done Nige!!
Wrapped up for the conditions!

The incessant rain and bitter easterly wind were quite hostile so I closed all the doors and got changed in the van only opening them when I flashed up the stove to make a welcome cup of tea.  My little MSR stove and ally kettle were cracking purchases and a hot drink really does make a difference.  I was thankful for my Belstaff bottoms; despite their age they were both water and windproof and definite plus on the day.  Another good purchase was my snood; tucked deep into my shirt and pulled up into my helmet it was perfect for keeping my neck warm.

After a rider briefing we got away bang on time for four laps of ten sections. 
The organisers clearly had the weather in mind and the course was slightly easier than the last outing here.  Nevertheless, marks were easily lost for those who failed to concentrate and the cold damp conditions sapped strength of mind as well as spirit.  As the weather worsened the organisers had no option but to reduce the contest to three laps.

Sub 1 and 2 were twisty undulating sections using the steep banks at the top of the venue.  Despite looking quite slippery they rode fine although you had to ride with confidence in order not to break traction.  The water of Sub 3 was a little trickier than it first appeared as some hazards were invisible in the brackish lake.  Sub 4 was quite difficult and took marks off all the factory except Dave Arkell who rode the tight turns and steep, loose bank perfectly on all three laps.  I incurred my only dab at this section as I steadied myself before the steep climb.
Steady does it on the
Sub 5 was perched high on a bank and queuing was torture as the easterly wind stung your face.  A steep off camber muddy drop led to a long and slippery muddy bank but I selected 2nd gear and gunned the big 500 up the bank each time for a clean.  Master Chef was not so lucky and he had to take a maximum on the first lap as his lack of speed cost him traction on the bank.  Sub 6 was an undulating, twisty affair over loose Cotswold stone but it rode better than it looked.  Unfortunately, Pete Collins encountered a bike problem and had to retire the big Ariel here; taking an early bath.  Sub 7 was a mixture of tight turns in mud and loose stone; the exit caught a few riders out; a mud hole led to a steep step with a tree directly in front which firmly ruled out gunning the bike.  However, it was an optical illusion as when you got there, a quick blip of the throttle took you over it and around the tree with ease.  Sub 8 and 9 were plotted on the bank and between the trees at the top of the venue and if you rode with care all were cleanable.  To end with, Sub 10 was a fairly rudimentary climb up a rock strewn bank with some tight turns.

As you can imagine, there were a good deal of retirements as conditions deteriorated and riders got cold.  I saw lots of younger riders without waterproofs, shaking uncontrollably as they fell victim to the awful conditions.  Perhaps a set of waterproofs would help?

Factory results (Sportsman route)

Jai Jacka             500 Matchless G80C             1       Best Pre-65
Dave Arkell         500 Ariel Ht5                        7
Nige Townsend    410 Matchless G3LC             12
Ken Wallington    350 Matchless G3LC             20
Peter Collins        500 Ariel HT5                      DNF

In summary, it was a tough day with a good deal of attrition.  The weather was atrocious and the organisers deserve much credit for setting out a course suitable for all types of motorcycles/abilities and having the presence of mind to shorten the trial to three laps.  I'd like to say a huge Thank You to all the observers who braved the abysmal weather to make the day a great success.
One of Mike Yiend's pictures from the day
Many more are available on his website
Local photographer Mike Yiend braved the awful conditions to record the event and as far as I can tell he was the only photographer at the venue.  Mike is a stalwart of the Gloucestershire trials scene so why not support him by purchasing some of his fantastic work HERE.  Mike has recently improved his outstanding service by using Zenfolio; ordering your shots or downloads, which are perfect for Blogs, Facebook or Twitter is fast and simple.  Let’s support Mike as he supports us!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

27 JAN 13 The TALMAG Trophy Trial 2013

Heavy overnight rain gave way to a bright sunny day and a bumper turn out of over 140 solo riders and 25 sidecars were joined by a large crowd of spectators.  Such is the popularity of this event that the vast car park was completely full with many people forced to find other innovative spots.

As is normal for an historic and traditional trial such as the TALMAG organisation is spot on and once again, Pat Gaines and the team did a sterling job.  After scrutineering I signed on and headed off to get changed.  Unfortunately, having been delayed by the Fleet parking wardens for incorrect parking outside McDonald’s I was rather late and got away way behind the rest of the Gloucestershire contingent for the obligatory two laps of fifteen sections.
Approaching the climb in Sub 2 (note the deep sand)
Thanks to Robin Hoare for this image.

Despite the unprecedented levels of rainfall the sandy terrain of the Hungry Hill venue was just about rideable and an early number was the order of the day.  Nevertheless, the going was extremely tricky in places and no clean sheets were recorded.  Sub 1 looked relatively simple and Dave rode it brilliantly however, I paid the price for not getting the wheels in line and the steep greasy climb caught me out for an immediate three.  Sub 2 rode slightly better but concentration was needed for the deep loose earth in the gulley; this led to a steep uphill exit where second gear was called for.

Similarly, Sub 3 was a real stinker; deep mud, roots, climbs and an off camber turn in a single section.  Many riders came to grief here and I was lucky to escape with a single dab on the first lap; by the time I got around for the second lap the ground was horrendous and I was pleased with a three.  Sub 4 was another second gear meander up and down the steep sandy banks.  Fortunately, it was fairly rudimentary and I cleaned this on both occasions.  The steep sandy bank of Sub 5 was really tricky; with no real room to get a run up and with deep sand all the way up many came to grief here.  On lap one, the bike climbed on me right at the end of the hill and I took out a rather lovely looking foreign lady with the front wheel before recovering and moving on.  The second lap went perfectly and I cleaned the hill to some applause.
Gary Kinsman (Ariel HT5) in action
on Sub 2

Sub 6 was the real killer; the final climb was devoid of traction and if you pinched some of the course you still had the slippery roots to contend with.  Most of the marks for the whole trial were lost here and I was happy with a paddle three and a maximum on the last lap.  Sub 7 was blissfully easy and most welcome after the strain of the previous section.  Sub 8 was the first of the Hungry Hill subs and was a sinuous uphill climb over loose sand and I was pleased with two cleans here as the going was tricky.  Sub 9 was the obligatory, third gear run up the hill where the hardest thing is trying not to over-cook it showing off to the vast crowd.  Sub 10 was by far the trickiest climb I’ve done at this venue.  There was just no grip to be had and everybody three’d or five’d it.  I selected third gear opened the big 500 Matchless up and was pleased to have bagged a brace of threes on both occasions.  A tight and twisty theme ensued with Subs 11 and 12 but they were fairly rudimentary compared to previous sections and incurred no further losses.
As always, the TALMAG “special test” was on the menu and this year comprised what can best be described as a scramble over an undulating sandy course.  Pete Collins was absolutely mustard and wrestled the big Ariel around for an amazing 22.2 second time.  Given that Len recordd a 20.2 second time this was pretty amazing.  Never one to gun my bikes I took it as fast as I dared to record a paltry 26.3 second time.  Master Chef (Ken Wallington), still showing signs of anxiety following his massive crash and subsequent hospitalisation, also took it easy with a 33.3 second lap.

In summary, it was another grand day out at the TALMAG.  This event is a rare glimpse of what big bike trials used to be like and is firmly on my list of annual trials.  Whilst I didn’t go clean this year I did record a solid 6th place which given my form on AS500 of late, was quite encouraging.  Nevertheless, I finished at the top of the factory standings which was a nice bonus.

It was a definite second and third gear day on the tricky sand and in the greasy mud.  In retrospect, I’m glad I rode the big 500 Matchless as I don’t think my standard long-stroke 350 would’ve coped very well with the flat-out climbs.

John Jacka          500 Matchless     27
Dave Arkell         Ariel HT5             40
Pete Collins         Ariel HT5             41
Ken Wallington    500 Matchless     51
Gary Kinsman      Ariel HT5            53
Nigel Townsend    410 Matchless    58

The TALMAG is always a good social event where you can catch up with fellow competitors however; with so many entries you can miss some people.  Tewkesbury rider Dave Eeles was there on his Triumph but I never saw him on the day.  It was good to catch up with West Country riders too including Gary Kinsman (Ariel HT5), Robin Hoare (who was recovering from a knee operation) and Pete Meeson.  Hopefully, we’ll catch up with these guys at the opening round of the Sammy Miller series in March.
Some video of The TALMAG featuring Gloucestershire ace Steve Allen on his 350 tele-rigid Matchless.