Sunday, 13 July 2014

13 Jul 14 - Where have I been?...Working mostly!

Well, this new job is taking up a lot of my time and coupled with the travelling involved I find myself with very little time to ride or update the blog at the moment.  However, I will be keeping this site going so be sure to check back for Matchless Man updates. 
Rock riding with NT410

Rd 3 of the ACU Sammy Miller national championship, The Sam Cooper/Union Jack trial, went OK overall.  However, due to an organiser’s mistake, one section in Saintbury Wood was overly tricky but it was the same for everybody.  I over gassed the bike up a steep bank with a log at the top and the small landing area, which required an immediate left-hand turn down an equally steep bank, was covered in the eponymous garlic and I lost the front wheel for a maximum.  This cost me third place and some good points plus the coveted Sam Cooper Trophy.  On the up side it was a very well attended round with some great Cotswold sections and on the whole, the organisers got it spot on however, there was at least one observer who gave his mate another go instead of the maximum he incurred (no baulk was incurred).  In my opinion, this is not the way to conduct an ACU National trial and when you’re competing against lightweight bikes and Experts on the Clubman route it makes me wonder why I’m spending a hell of a lot of money trying to compete against the odds.  Anyway, thanks to everyone at the Stratford upon Avon club for putting on such a good event. 

I then changed jobs so I didn’t ride for three weeks so decided to go for some practice with my old friend Heath Brindley (JTG 300) at the Zona 1 ground in Nettleton.  When I got there, Heath had already mastered a series of big logs arranged in a hillside and was pretty confident I could get the Matchless up them too.  Anyway, it wasn’t long before Heath had the camera out but we decided to go at some rocks vice the logs as you can see in these pictures kindly provided by Heath.  I even had a go on the JTG 300 which is an amazing piece of kit.  The throttle response was razor sharp which, coupled with a generally light bike, made for some eye-opening manoeuvres and I found myself besting some even bigger rocks with ease although the log box still proved problematic!

Anyway, the next day I decided to contest day 2 of the North Berkshire MCC trial at my favourite postage stamp of land in Besselsleigh.  I normally only ride here with the VMCC on Boxing Day however, this predominantly Monoshock the club found some very interesting sections that I hadn’t seen before.  This made for a challenging but very enjoyable day and I was genuinely pleased with my performance.  Since changing the clutch cable I have had a few problems when the bike gets hot and I really had to nurse the bike around this course.  The terrain was a mixture of loose sand, mud, rocks and tight turns with a few rock slabs for added excitement.  I was glad Heath had me practicing heard the day before.  My rides in Sub 1 were the pick of the day; a really difficult section on a big bike that demanded mid-section gear changes but I rode the steep sandy banks and tight, off-camber turns well and was pleased with my efforts. Despite taking the Pre-65 win (and 20 championship points) I was second overall on the Sportsman route which was a great achievement considering the competition were all Monoshock mounted.  Check out the results and see what else is happening at this brilliant club at the North Berks MCC site HERE.

Giving NT410 a rest; Heath is a hard task-master!!
(photo courtesy of Heath Brindley)
Next up was Rd 4 of the ACU Sammy Miller national championship at Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire.  As I alluded to earlier I was having some problems with the clutch which made riding quite a challenge.  It was a hot day which didn’t help my cause nevertheless, I was going quite well.  The Cockhill Mines group were a lot trickier this year but a lot more enjoyable.  Despite a “committee” maximum, where the assembled riders & spectators told the observer what I scored, in the first section I rallied to clean the remainder in style.  However, NT410 started to sound quite rough and by the time we got to Rayner’s Field the bike was popping and banging.  Slow running was OK but when I demanded throttle NT410 was uncharacteristically out of sorts.  Gouthwaite reservoir saw me take a couple of maximums as I couldn’t get the power on due to the carburetion, or off due to the clutch.  I incurred a further two maximums at before the lunch stop and with my competition over I decided to retire the bike at the lunch stop in Lofthouse where Penny could pick me up in the van rather than risk breaking down on the Moors where it’s miles from the nearest metalled road.  I was bitterly disappointed but it was the right choice to retire.  Suffice to say, my 2014 National campaign is now over but I may turn out on MH410 to hopefully, take a few points off the leaders later in the year.  Once again, there were some observers letting their mates have another go vice incurring a maximum which, coupled with the “marking by committee” left an unsavoury note on the whole proceedings.  The ACU and organisers must get a grip of this unwarranted nepotism if the Sammy Miller series is to have any relevance or meaning.  Nevertheless, Nick Pullen and the Ilkley & District MCC did a fantastic job once again and I extend my thanks to all at the club for putting on a very well organised and competitive trial.


Following Pateley Bridge I conducted some analysis of NT410’s problems and have taken it off the road for a while to rectify and hopefully improve the bike.  I’ve already changed and re-jetted the carburettor and the Maxton rear end is being refurbished and re-sprung.  More upgrades are planned and I hope to keep you informed as the project progresses.  Anyway, I won’t be riding NT410 until I can get the upgrades done so it’s either the ex-Alan Saunders G3LC long-stroke 350 (AS 350), the Maurice Hocking 410 (MH410) or back to “El Diablo”, the ex-Tony Sullivan long-stroke G80C for the time being.  Hopefully, my workload will ease off and I can actually get back out on a bike!
All photographs are courtesy of Heath Brindley.

"El Diablo", AS500 & I in action at Nettleton
in December 2012