Friday, 27 September 2013

22 SEP 13, Bath Classic MCC at Ayford Farm, Marshfield

After spending my week's leave making 32 gallons of cider and getting some much needed DIY done, I was more than ready for the short drive down the M5 for Bath Classic MCC's club trial.  With Masterchef on holiday, the factory were a man down but Teflon (410 Matchless), Dave Arkell (500 Ariel) & Pete Collins (500 Ariel) joined me and a healthy turnout of over 80 riders on the outskirts of Bristol at the beautiful Ayford Farm venue near Marshfield.

Pete Collins, Me, Teflon & Dave at the start
I was grateful for a hearty breakfast available at Mr. Chips mobile catering van and took time to catch up with Clerk-of-the-Course, Jon Cull, who offered his advice on the course and the going.  Signing on was a breeze and given the dry conditions and advice from Jon, we all elected to ride the hard route which turned out to be a sage move.  Having never ridden at this venue before I was quite apprehensive but the traditional sections in the farm were in the minority as we generally used the massive wood on the escarpment which provided some quite varied natural terrain comprising rock, mud, roots and loose scree.

Approaching the turn in Sub 1

After a comprehensive briefing we got away bang on time for four laps of ten sections and it was a long ride to the nadir of the venue for section number one.  This was plotted on the slope of the field where animals had left some deep scars and the rock hard earth was somewhat of a struggle for the suspension of the older bikes.  Dave and Teflon instantly dropped marks as first the rear, then the front suspension bounced them off line.  I took time to pick my line and was pleased to get away on a good note with a clean.  Sub 2 was a little further down the field and apart a tricky entry the dry conditions meant it rode better than expected.  Despite looking a challenge the steep greasy exit generally rode well and surprisingly, there was quite a bit of traction.

After a short ride we arrived in the wood for sub 3.  A tight, sinuous affair with two mud slots and an off camber exit with roots it was a real challenge especially on later laps.  I was pleased to clean this on the first lap but the big Pre-Unit bikes don't float over mud very well and I had to take a three and single dabs on subsequent laps.

The Teflon Don concentrating hard!

Sub 4 looked quite innocuous but as the fatigue set in the rocky entry and tricky, off camber turn around a tree, took their toll and I must confess to being annoyed at having to take a dab in this section.  Sub 5, plotted on a cleared woodland bank featured a tight, off-camber turn high on a loose scree bank.  Jon warned us this would be a real test and as Dave took a pair, then Pete, I followed Teflon’s lead and was pleased to record a clean sheet here on all visits.  Sub 6 had a tricky rock entry but plenty of throttle ensured I flew up the steep bank without penalty. 

By far the most difficult and technical sections were those of Sub 7 and Sub 8.  The former featured an almost “cobbled” entry to a tight off-camber turn and I had to grip the tank with my knees to prevent a loose dab.  The steep climb was rock strewn and on lap two I hit a rock incorrectly and got “bounced” offline into a tree for a maximum.  It compressed the forks so much there was nothing I could do and the subsequent rebound was a real eye opener.  I recovered on subsequent laps but was disappointed to have got this wrong. Unfortunately for Dave he lost his clutch here and had to retire the Ariel.  We bump started him and he headed back to the van. 
Sub 8 was a horrible loose rock and root section on a steep bank.  Having watched Kevin Miller (250 Fantic) I followed a high line here and was exceptionally pleased with a dab on lap one but I had to take a maximum on lap two as once again, I was bounced offline.  Sub 9 and 10 were fairly rudimentary but I lost my head (following the maximum on Sub 8) and I took a ludicrous dab on lap two.
The first lap went well and I was pleased to incur a solitary dab on the tricky sub eight. However, as the ground got slicker and the rocks got displaced coupled with some rider fatigue I began the inevitable accrual of points.  The finish wasn’t that tight in the end and it was the venerable Bob Hill (500 Ariel) who won out ahead of myself, Teflon & Pete Collins.
Results for Pre-Unit Hard route

Bob Hill               Ariel 500                     16
Jai Jacka             Matchless 410              22
Nige Townsend    Matchless 410              25
Pete Collins         Ariel 500                     46
Dave Arkell         Ariel 500                     DNF  (Clutch problem)

Next up: Binegar Quarry for a Mick Andrews’ Trials School with Bath Classic!
I was lucky enough to try local legend Martin
Wilmore's Triumph Cub before the trial!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

1 SEP 13, Cheltenham Home Guard club trial at Langley Hill Farm

With work taking much of my time during August I never got the chance to sling my leg over a bike however, Cheltenham Home Guard came to the rescue, courtesy of Mr. Abbatt, with their non-expert trial just up the road at the wonderful Langley Hill Farm venue in Winchcombe.   Whilst predominantly a modern, mono-shock club many of the committee remain strong competitors on old iron and the club rightly welcome Pre-65 bikes.  The beautiful Langley Hill venue is only used per year and well worth the visit.  If the ground is wet then the going can be extremely hazardous for big Pre-Units however, with the dry spell continuing and only light rain the previous night I couldn’t resist getting some practice in.  Signing on was a breeze and I had time to catch up with many of the Western Centre luminaries including Ben and Tony Falconer as well as 10 times British Champion Steve Saunders who was at the venue with his family.  Clerk-of-the-Course, Dave Eeles, laid on twelve sections that were to be ridden over three laps with Pre-65 bikes riding the Sportsman route. 

Beginning at section one I was instantly glad of the fine weather as the steep descent, off camber turns and equally sharp ascent would have been rather tricky if there’d been any trace of moisture.  As it was, most of the sections were similar in nature to this.  Only Simon Wynne (observing for a change on Sub 3) and Roy Savery (Sub 4) had rocks with Sub 4 being the most testing.  Whilst the rocky ascent proved fine the tight, tricky exit caught a few riders out as they misjudged the preceding gulley and got off-line for the sharp exit turn.  I was pleased to have negotiated this well on each occasion.  Sub 11 was particularly testing; whilst it was similar in composition to Sub 1, loose earth on an off-camber turn demanded the utmost concentration and again, I was pleased to come away clean.

It’s always difficult to gauge how well you’re riding but I had the perfect marker at the venue in the venerable Tony Sullivan who was riding his immaculate BSA.  He remains an outstanding competitor and it was with some pride that I finally equalled his result and we both took the Best Pre-65 performance with clean sheets.

Thanks to the land owner Mr. Abbatt for his kind permission to use the land and all at CHG MCC for a good day’s trialling.  Experienced Clerk-of-the-Course, Dave Eeles did a cracking job on the course and thanks also to the observers without whom we wouldn’t have had such an enjoyable day.  They were; John Barrett, Ian Bradley, Simon Wynne, Roy Savery, Ben Williams, Geoff Eden, Brian Valder, Tony Noel, Ben Falconer, Jim Delahay, Judith Falconer and last but not least, Tony Falconer.

The next Cheltenham Home Guard Trial is the John Draper Trial on 27 Oct which will be a round of the Western Centre Trials Championship.  Details can be found on the Western Centre Diary HERE.

Next up: The Dartmoor 2 Day Classic Trial !!