Crabtree Cup: Westmoreland MC

The rain of June continued into July and it ensured a soaking on both of the two 15-mile, 20 section laps of the southern Lake District around Cartmel.

The Tredegar Twinshock contigent teamed up with Team Yellow Hungerstone for the trip north to the Westmoreland club’s Crabtree Cup Trial. After getting five bikes on the van and trailer, then getting a new tyre for the trailer, we left Hereford heading north to Cumbria for the farthest flung (for us) of the Sammy Miller trials series. None of us, myself, Gavin, Kevin or Mark, had ridden the trial before so it was bit of an unknown.

I’d arranged to meet a guy at Lymm services so that he could view, and I was hoping, buy my TL125. He proved to be a complete waste of time (“its the best I’ve seen, but can I think about it…. “etc ), though it did gives us a chance to get completly soaked (not for the first time during the weekend) and get a cup of tea, which as we were camping and that it cost £2 in the services, we brewed up ourselves.

Cartmel : camping on the racecourse

The van towed well, though I had to keep trying to remember not to use the outside lane and we arrived in Cartmel on schedule. Found the racecourse and other people staying up the night before the trial, though it seems no-one else was camping; it seems large motorhomes are not the preserve of motocross….

Tent: prior to ignoring the instructions

It took Gavin and myself around 5 minutes to erect our tents, which gave us plenty of time to watch Mark and Kevin battling with a tent procured that morning from the Catalogue Shop. It was finally erected 40 minutes later after another soaking and only by ignoring the instructions supplied. Then off to the pub. Quick pint (the King’s Head seemed to provide the best environment and beer), a quick Indian (yep, twee pleasant Cartmel not only has a Michelin star eatery but an excellent curry house) and then another pint before closing. More tea followed, pleasantly delivered in china crockery Mark had thoughtfully provided.

Needless to say it chucked it down during the night, but it seems it was only me who go wet in their tent. Up early (why did we get up at 06.50 ??), cook some breakfast and then generally got ready for the trial. The rain held off till the start and it looked like we may get a dry day; what were we thinking ?

Lap One

Start was next to the scout hut (who’s members hadn’t invitied us in out of the rain the previous night) with two riders away at minute intervals

Start: Gavin with Steve Bisby

Start: Malcolm with Chris Slack

The first section was right by the start and the only difficulty was trying not to be the only person not to drop a mark on it. Everyone had gone clean when I rode it, but just for a change, first section nerves didn’t effect my leg.

Mark and Kevin at the start

Section 2 was a different story. A sharp climb, then drop, in a woody hollow was followed by a sharp rooty climb to the exit. On the 1st lap, only Mark got out for a three, with me hitting a marker at the top of the first climb and Kevin and Gavin failing on the end climb. Some serious observing here, with the no-stop rules being firmly (and correctly) applied.

Section 2: Gavin on the tricky exit

Gavin went on with the big boys, whilst the rest of the party started gravitating towards its normal position at the back of the field. The next four sections were all on wet wooded slopes and I managed a clean, a dab and a couple of two’s, not too bad. After an easy section across some rubble in a farmers yard, an excellent blast up a steep track to the top of the fell. I’m never the best of hill-climbs and I’ve still not mastered Jumbo power, so needless to say managed to cock it up both laps. The next few sections were laid out on the fell and there were a couple of tight ones over the rocks, with some boggy mud and water thrown in.

Section 8: Malcolm making a meal of it

The last section was a double sub, up a small streamway, which was good fun. The lap was taking its time, but it was good to watch some other (better) riders make a good job of the sections.

As we started the road section, you had to pass through a flooded section, which Kevin attempted to wheelie through, promising a better performance on lap two. It then started to rain really heavily and with a long road section across the A590 by-pass it wasn’t too pleasant, especially as some of the markers were missing. Only plenty of checking with other riders and blind confidence that we should be going up a main road took us in the right direction.

The next group was on a sloping field (a piece of ground owned by the Club), with the first three sections laid up a stream. After cleaning the first, I made a complete cock of the second and third (a double sub) and in being annoyed managed to crash on the fourth, snapping my brake lever in the process. This was followed by Section 19, like Section 2, slightly harder than the others and representing the make or break sections for the main contenders. It was irrelevant to me, as still fuming after my crash I missed a marker. Most people were getting through for 3’s so not too much of a loss.

I managed to then cool off (in the rain of course) on the run back to Cartmel and the start. Final section was round by the start and despite having no front brake I managed to hang on to it down the slope and subsequent corner to go clean. Having been on around 20 prior to the penultimate group, I really managed to cock up four sections in a row. Kevin was going well, as was Gavin, who having been ahead was waiting by the van as I had the keys.

Lap 2

It had taken nearly four hours for the first lap, and we had two hours to complete the second, so after a quick pitstop for water, a cold sausage from breakfast and refuel (and repair brake cables in my case), we set off.

Section 2 saw us all failing in the same spot, as the climb to the exit had become increasingly dug out. It was now enduro pace along the woodland tracks and more ‘3’s than there should have been. Back on top of the fell and we are at the back of the pack, with only Steve Allen and his Matchless somewhere behind. After a day in the rain, the observers seemed rather keen to see us. At least one of us had a good ride on each section, Gavin cleaning the awkward short section across the bog, followed by three tight turns up a bank, whilst I cleaned the double-sub before the road. Kevin on his rebuilt TLR250 still looked like a man re-united with his favourite mount and was leading the group.

I did managed to capture Kevin wheelieing the flooded road, as well as some video footage elsewhere. This included Woody showing how to ride a Jumbo well, unlike myself. No real bike problems on the day, though my exhaust manifold was coming loose, reminding me that I do need to fix the thread in the barrel.

After getting soaked once again on the road section, I arrived at the penultimate group with a determination not to screw it up again. Couple of cleans, but two ‘3’s again on the top stream wasn’t too bad. Section 19 was conquered by all, but a 3 was the best score. With the Jumbo getting increasingly loud through the Cumbrian countryside, it reached a crescendo as I passed through the arch in Cartmel on the way to the final section at the start, which was cleaned by everyone. Our count had Kevin on 41, Gavin on 59, Mark on 68 and myself on 72, but we’ll wait for the official results. Needless to say Neil Gaunt was rumoured to have dropped 2 and Steve Bisby a miserly 5. …

Finish: Wet and knackered

We were one of the last to leave, with the rain still coming down as we headed over to the M6. Plenty of traffic, but with some nice diversions sitting in the jams. I asked another driver if they’d finished with their paper and they kindly obliged, handing over the tits and bums supplement as well. Nice. Lots of discussions about bikes, changing them and how we’d all ride better if we did. I need a change of brain in truth.

Long Journey Home

Stopped for brew north of Birmingham (the trip paid for itself, based on the money saved by making our own tea’s, coffee’s and breakfasts), with the final hitch (literally) realising that Kevin had misplaced the key for the trailer. Had to swap ball-hitches with trailer attached on my drive so that Mark and Kevin could continue the journey to South Wales. All-in-all an excellent weekend.