The first round of the 2008 Sammy Miller Championships was held in Devon and hosted by the the West of England Motor Club
With the forecast of impending storms, the 5 of us from Tredegar and Hereford headed down the M5 in sunny weather. The start was at the Rippon Tor firing range and the entry was around 60, of which 28 were in Class 8, Twinshocks (which was bigger than the 23 total for pre-65 classes).
We all had a fairly late start time, so even after the first section we all found ourselves at the back of the field like normal. Mark was on his faithful Kawasaki KT250, whilst I was now on the Beta TR240 on which I finished the previous season. Gavin, Alan and Kevin were now on Honda TLR250’s; Honda’s now seemed to make up the largest group of bikes. Other twinshock’s spotted were a couple of excellent late Bultaco’s, as well as Woody’s much earlier beast, a few Fantics (200,240 and 300’s), and a couple of mid-70’s Ossa’s.
After the Rippon Tor and Woodgate groups, arrived fresh and ready at Ruby Rocks, despite dropping the usual early slack marks. Only dropped 2 dabs in the 5 subs at Ruby Rocks which was not set out as hard as the previous year. All of us so far riding fairly well and bikes all running without any problems.
Down to Millwood for a couple of sub’s. The first was a tight turn and then the first use of 2nd gear up a climb to the end cards. The last section here (section 10) was a long section through and round the trees but was the first crux section the day. After watching Woody and Colin Leese both drop a mark, Colin on the awkward climb over roots, Gavin got up with a 3, but with Kevin, Alan and Mark all taking 5’s. Was very happy with my dab on the roots and then to clean the tight turns on the rest of the section.
Next was the fairly long road section to the Houndtor group, though as it wasn’t raining the ride across Dartmoor was excellent. Some good lanes to ride though and not too much traffic made it all nice and sensible.
I dropped a stupid couple of marks in the first two subs, though both Kevin and Mark had route finding problems here too. I almost made the same mistake so was quite happy to get away with a two.
Up to the sections in the rocks and whilst the first one was fairly straightforward, one of the sections gave the choice of a narrow slot between rock and trees, or going directly over the bike rock. Kevin was first up and manage to negotiate the slot, but then lost the front wheel after a stepping onto a slimy slab. I manage to take out part of the tree, and got across the slab to complete the section for a dab.
Gavin took on the rock, where the drop on the far side was bigger than it looked, cleaned it, but then dropped a dab near the end cards. Mark, whose radar was not functioning well, missed the route near the end, and finally Alan also got through for a careful dab.
The last couple of subs at Houndtor saw my first 5, a rather silly mistake in a straight-forward sub. All a bit annoying, but managed to get through the next section for a dab.
Over the moor road to HedgeBarton and was probably the hardest section of the day, a long double sub. I managed to pick up a 5 on the slope on the first sub, with the others picking up 3’s. 2nd gear was the right choice, but needed to keep it online up the slope.
Most of us then got 3’s on the section half. The next section involved a tricky corner that had caught us all out the previous year, but was this time round cleaned by all.
The last sub involved a short climb round a tree and exit through some rocks. Nice section to finish the group. Then off to Pitton, remember as a rather muddy, greasy group of sections. Not too be disappointed, all 5 sections were exactly that.
The first sub (section 24) was probably the most straightforward, with grip beneath the gloop and then a climb out over some rocks. A really silly couple of dabs here for me, but then did clean the the next section, which involved a number of twists and turns around trees. Section 26 was basically hard; mucky stream/rocks with a (by now) slipperly climb. Two 3’s didn’t seen too bad here.
Decoker was a nice group, with the first double sub having a stiff climb out, which Kevin and Alan failed to ascend. Gavin cleaned it in 1st by revving the pants off the TLR. Mark got up for a three and in a less hectic 2nd gear, I got up for a dab.
The last group, at Shinstone Rocks was slippery and tough going. Took 3’s on all 3 subs here, though on the 1st one here, there had been only 1 clean all day. The arrival of a sleet shower made it an enjoyable end to the day.
Then the short ride back to Rippon Tor, when the sun came out. It had taken us just over 5 hours to complete the sections and as usual we’d spent most of it near the back of the field.
Another excellent, well ordered trial from the West of England Club. Many thanks to the organisers and observers.