Typical bank holiday weekend

Did manage to get out to the Forest Trophy Trial on Sunday, but the rest of the weekend was bit of write off on the outdoor front. Therefore spent some shed time working on putting the Cota together.

I’ve failed once again to get the engine running correctly on the SWM TLNW project, so decided to switch to the Montesa.

The frame had come back from Redditch Shotblasting who did an excellent job on a fairly corroded frame. Silver is the colour for 1972 bikes, which the frame number indicate [[The dating letter also came through from Roy Bacon to confirm the year]]
So spent some time working on the bike, whilst listening to PlanetRock and the cricket from Manchester, where it wasn’t raining.

-14h00 after ferrying of kids and others around got to the shed around 2 o’clock. Saffron came down also, with overalls, to help. Started by assembling all the bits in the workshop and put the frame on the stand. Checked the engine oil and cleaned it up a bit. The head and barrel really needs blasting and spraying so will get that done at somepoint.
– 15h00 Saffron’s up for some spraying, so painted the exhaust front pipe, the rear brake pedal, as well as the side stand and footpegs. Put the steering head bearings back in the frame. Plenty of grease to hold the ball bearings in place (wonder if there is a taper rolling bearing set for the bike) and put the yokes together. The pressed top yoke looks rather friable.
– 16h30 Front forks into place, which are not exactly massive either, reminds me of the Honda TL125 front end. Not really expecting too much from this bike. It does look rather small.
– 17h30 Need to get back in the van to pick up Tamara, but manage to clean up the ignition coil and connect it in place. No spark, no surprise there so need to spend some time with that later.
– 19h00 Need to prep the Beta ready for tomorrow’s trial, so leave the Cota till tomorrow. Looking good though

Forest Trophy Trial

– 08h30: Its pissing down and blowing a gale, so off down to the shed and start work on the bike. Gavin pays a visit and notices straight away that I’d put the head on back-to-front (I would have noticed when it came to put the exhaust on). No spark from the electrics, so check the earthing and get the meter out of the tool chest.
– 11h30: back from a conference call and a shopping trip. Further debuging of the electrics including trying a couple of alternative coils / plugs etc. Check the connecters and think about removing the flywheel nut; doesn’t want to come off.
– 13h30: back from lunch and continued to look at the electrics. Heated the flywheel nut, but still not keen on coming off, so need to think on another plan. The contact gap was completely out. The listings on Montesaweb indicate a 0.40mm points gap, so set and adjusted them. Also cleaned the faces. The meter shows around 2.5v peaks from the plug gap, but need a little more than that.
– 14h30: still no joy with the flywheel nut; going to need another pair of hands, or an airgun (or both). Decided to fit the exhaust, which is of an interesting design (?) and with a pea-shooter exit pipe. Maybe not getting enough oomph from flywheel, so hence the need to extract it.
– 15h45: England have won the 2nd test at Old Trafford, after a large 1st innings deficit. Still no joy with the electrics, but the rest of the bike is together and now looking the part. Just need to make it run. The stand is a little short (designed for the original 20/17″ wheels) but works. The clutch cable was ok and runs underneath the engine, though is not a one figure pull. Cup of tea and think further about the electrics.
– 18h30 Ended up making dinner. Back to shed, thinking perhaps is an anti-clockwise thread on the flywheel bolt. The bolt itself is only half-way on which seems a little weird. Yep, quick Google [Good reason to have Internet access in your shed]] and it is [clockwise to loosen . Could be a problem with the condensor, handily placed (like SWMs, behind the flywheel).
– 19h08 Flywheel nut off. Now for the flywheel. Not sure about pulling it with a leg-puller, so need to see if I can find right puller (male, right hand thread, 27mm)

Forest Trophy Trial: 25th May 2008

If I thought last years weather was unseasonal for this event (rain and strong winds) then I was wrong. The weather this year was even worse. Great event though organised by the Llanfyllin club

No pictures I am afraid as my camera decided no to work, so will keep the report short.

About a 15 minute drive up forest roads and tracks from the A458 to the start. 40 sections, 25 miles (all offroad) and 220 entries makes for a good trial. After riding ok last year on the easy route, decided to tackle the middle (yellow) route on the Beta TR240 .

Stu and Mervyn from the Wye Valley club were also riding and also saw Kevin briefly at the start. 3 riders away at 1 minute intervals meant some queueing at the 1st section (for about 30 minutes) and at some later (longer) subs, but that (with the weather) the only complaint of the day. Fived the first two sections (both stupid) but then settled down to a run on cleans and ones on the first set of sections. Streams and rocks the order of the day in the first group of 14 sections, but still took a while to get into the groove.

Not too many pre-65’s and twinshocks as a lot of modern bike riders using the opportunity to ride a “proper” single lap trial. Lots of comments on the Beta, as find that usually its only one people have ever seen. Section 13 was cleaned, though it involved a couple of steep climbs and a off-camber slab which I managed to get right. Enjoyed that. Section14 I didn’t as I was off balance attempting the climbed and 5’d it and broke my front mudguard. Remembering the Downland Trial from last year, I taped the bottom half back on to keep the crap out of the electrics.

Second group started with a 5, where I couldn’t stop on the down-slope and therefore get lined up for the sharp uphill turn. Cleaned the next 3, including an enjoyable 3rd gear blast. Started riding with Chris Gasgoine on his James, who was going well. Some helpful tips etc from him (thanks), but back to the stream sections and picked up another 5 and some 3’s. Not so good and started to feel a bit knackered. 5’d the last section, but not too surprised as one of the harder ones on the day.

Back to the start, quick drink and out across the wind-lashed and rain-swept moor. Few cleans, but probably my first 5 as a result of being blown off the bike at the top of climb. Okay not enough pace from me, but normally would have made it.

Down into the forest for the last 6 sections and the bike cut out after going through some water. Cleaned the plug cap, and generally dispersed the water and eventually got it started. Managed another 3 sections and it cut out again. Decided it was time to beat a retreat back across the moor (a good 4 mile run) and headed back to the start, missing the last 4 sections. Got most of the way back, but needed a 1 mile push to get back to the van. Real pain but had done most of the trial.

Glad I rode the middle route, just right for me (probably dropped around 60 not including the last 4 subs) and it would be a great trial without the crappy weather :-). Started just after 10, back to the van at 17h30, so a good day out for sure.

Thanks especially to the observers; excellent stuff

Sam Cooper Union Jack Trial

Knew what to expect; not my favourite type of sections, but what a great day out. Weather was good and some great scenery. Maybe too much of it

After some pretty rubbish weather, Sunday dawned cold but sunny. Though Stu’s disposition wasn’t sunny when he arrived at my place at 07h30 after an interesting tank-slapper on his Blackbird on the way over. If he was shaking from that or with the thought of 30 sections and 45 miles of Cotswold countryside on the SWM 320 [[which I’ve just realised I’ve never written up, and was my 1st SWM]] is debatable. When round to pick up Gavin and headed off to Broadway.

First stop at Saintbury to drop off some fuel; 45 miles was going to be too far for those thirsty two stokes, especially the SWM. Over then to the start, via Moreton in Marsh. It seemed a long way in the van, let alone at the end of a trial. The start was busy and we arrived too late for the bacon rolls as they’d run out of rolls….just had the bacon then. The majority of the healthy full entry of 120 had beaten us to it.

Stu and the SWM TL320

Of the usual suspects, Kevin was missing though Stu had stepped in as a late substitute. I’d missed the trial last year because of a wedding, but had some vivid memories of a previously wet trial and the sections at Dovedale and Saintbury in particular….

The SWM was wheeled out for Stu’s usage and started first kick, though still seemed to limit his enthusiasm for all things twinshock. Typically, the Beta then refused to start. Lots of kicks and a new plug (more of which later) and then noticed the cable had pulled awat from the thottle whilst in transit. Slotted it back in and we were away. Late

To the start and then straight off. Heading up the road behind Stu, as the back-of-the-field carnival set off, it made me only too aware that though secure, the V-rubber back tyre wasn’t exactly sitting that well on the rim; its motion was more like the Waltzers than the Ferris Wheel.

Mark and Gavin at Thompson's Falls

First four groups had just the one section, though managed to drop one in the stream by the road early on, bit of a slack one that. Tried to do the Top of the World section in 1st, so the bike screamed round a little, but obviously not quite running right. Perhaps the last minute change of plug was having an effect.

Stu at Top of the World
Then to Weston Wood and the smell of the wild garlic. Some banks and turns round trees the order of the day, but the third section, watched over by Tim Fairbrother was the first tester for us at the back of the field. Tight turn and then up a steep slope, which both myself and Stu managed to get wrong and the bottom.

Weston Wood: smell the garlic !

The fourth section in the wood, was another turn followed by a longer steeper slope, which should have been straightforward. But alas didn’t get the drive from the bottom and had to foot out. All of us at the back-of-the-field had problems with this last section in the wood and Stu managed to get out the top and miss the end cards.

Gavin on the 3rd Weston sub

After refueling the two-strokes, we caught up with the fuel efficient four-stroke Honda’s and started on the Saintbury group of sections. The back of my brain is still thinking about the performance of the Beta, which seems to not be running correctly; maybe that B5ES (rather B6ES plug) is making a difference. Or is it the change to Motorex 2-stroke oil from Castrol TTS (the former designed for KTM enduros and motocross bikes).

First sub has an awkward slope up to a log; on the gas and blip it over, in my case for a dab. Mark takes 3, but Alan hits the log wrong and takes a 5. I get a 5 in the next straightforward section; wrong gear (2nd) and manage to stall it in the bottom turn; plonker. Time to look more closely at the plug, but shift into first and the next sub, which I get through with a hefty dab across the off-camber rocks at the end.

In the queue for the next section, a long sub with two climbs and turns, change back to the B6ES plug. The bike now idles and seems to pull slightly better in 2nd up the climbs, so its clean. Last sub in Saintbury has a climb and turn to exit; think about 2nd (I’ve only use 2nd rarely all year, but for this trial it seems to be an option for all sections !) I get a 5 in the next straightforward section; wrong gear (2nd) and manage to stall it in the bottom turn; plonker. Time to look more closely at the plug, but shift into first and the next sub, which I get through with a hefty dab across the off-camber rocks at the end.

Saintbury Quarry

In the queue for the next section, a long sub with two climbs and turns, change back to the B6ES plug. The bike now idles and seems to pull slightly better in 2nd up the climbs, so its clean. Last sub in Saintbury has a climb and turn to exit; think about 2nd (I’ve only use 2nd rarely all year, but for this trial it seems to be an option for all sections !), but do it in 1st and clean it. Very happy with that, so head to the snack van and a piece of cake. Excellent timing. Stu mentions about topping up the fuel…I think it should be ok. Erm

Scarborough Farm

Back on the road again and a long run down to Scarborough Farm, though with some excellent scenery on the way and some nice green lanes (which are nice on this trials, as are the cuts through fields etc). Two sections here which are fairly straightforward and then on to Camp. Always interesting.

First section is probably one of the harder tests of the day, with some tight turns on a slippery bank. Nice. Stu’s up first and makes an excellent job of the bottom section, but ends up footing out of the top. I take a three and Gavin cleans it. Good stuff. Stu is still smiling on the SWM (or is it a grimace) and is beginning to work out that direction ad steerting are all pretty randon compared to his Beta Rev3. You turn and you might go where you wanted to go.

Short trip up the road to Bridges. First up, mud. Short loop over a log, some muddy turns and then exit through a muddy slot. Got to the slot clean and anticipating a blast out, but alas footed 3 times. Most of the guys two 3’s here and it was the location of Steve Saunder’s dab of the day, on a new-style Beta Alp, especially stripped down for the day. Had actually chatted to another guy at Scarborough Farm on the way round; with seat still in place on his new Alp; a Suzuki lump but a far more nimble looking bike than the old model (more Scorpa Long Ride?). He was bemoaning the fact that there were no owner manuals yet, so he’d not been able to tune the bike before the trial.

Bridges: mud...

Next up the Special Test was at Bridges, and after Kevin’s motocross style approach from last year, reminders all round that its both timed and observed.

I managed a sub 30 second lap, focusing on stay feet up, as did Mark on the Kawasaki. Gavin then blitzed it and (we think) recorded the quickest time of the day. Stu also managed a good time, as did Alan, all feet up.

Another short piece of road work and its was into Dovedale. I’ve only done one
trial through here before (Sam Cooper in 2006) and we went through twice from
memory. Dropped shed loads then and this visit was no different.

Screwing up the first three sections (each for a 3) meant that it didn’t change me perception of the place. Gavin was going well and was still only in single figures. Git. I’m not sure if trials rider thrive off the misfortune of others, or infact do well when the guys you are riding with do well. There is something nice about cleaning something that people you watch don’t clean, but doesn’t really fit with the “individual against the section” approach of trials.

The next section saw a gleaming Wrighty and Peter Gaunt chain smoking, so good
indication that it wasn’t straightforward. Steep drop down a loose slope (which
saw a couple of trail bike strewn down it) then a tight turn up around a tree.
Watched Mick Grant clean it, followed by Peter Gaunt, all rather impressive.
Was hoping for a three, but picked up my second 5. Ah well. Another clean for
Gavin with an excellent ride and Stu got through for a 3. Watched Steve Allen
on his Matchless creep down the slope to maintain his clean sheet for the day.
Excellent stuff.

Dovedale: Steve Allen on his way to a clean round

Next sub not too bad, though took an unnecessary dab on it. The last of
Dovedale was a steepish climb up through trees, with a second slope higher up.
I just didn’t give it enough gas and momentum, so 3rd 5 of the day. Avoiding
5’s worked on the Harry Perrey trial and meant it keep my score in the low
20’s; no such luck today.
Across the road from Dovedale for a couple more sections at Warden’s. Managed
to clean both, which restored my confidence somewhat. Martin Willmore had just
fixed a puncture so was now at the back of the field. Heavy Ariel’s mean more
punctures I guess. Gavin inexplicably found neutral on the second sub and
dropped 3. Not happy and in the nature of things on the Sammy Miller series,
where low scoring meant that overall this dropped him from 10th down to 14th
or so.

Also made the mistake of giving Stu a go on his TLR250 Honda. Stu was then
convinced that actually giving him the SWM was some form of perverse
initiation ritual for people new to twinshock trials. I did have some
sympathy, especially as a quick go on Gav’s bike revealed a very light clutch,
lots of low down power and quick response. Still, not convinced by the need
for the second mortgage.

The long run back to Blackwell is a bit of pain and argueably, though it is a
good point to start, a bit away from the main sections. Anyway, Stu (or more
appropriately the SWM) run out of fuel a couple of miles from the finish. By
this time, we were solidly at the back of the field, accompanied by Richard
Gill urging us on. Luckily we managed to procure a couple of litres of fuel
from a woman (we think?) at the cottage nearby, complete with pre-mixed
strimmer oil.

Another Finish Photo
Off to the last section, which was a stream with a by now
slippery and muddy exit. Caught up with Steve Allen and his Matchless, who was
still clean. As he gunned it up the exit slope, he lost grip, but by performing a series of traverses of the slope (not necessarily intentional) he got out for the clean, and completely feetup trial.

I managed to complete the section clean using the same approach, which Gav
used his trade made blast it approach, which seemed to work really well. Short
ride back to the finish, as usual at the back of the field. Woody keen to head
to the pub after another miserly use of the boots (dropping 4), whilst Steve
Bisby had dropped 2.

My only consilation on the day was that I’d cleaned the
section (at Saintbury) where he’d dabbed. Lets forget the other 29 sections, eh ?

Smallmead to Smallbrook

After a gap of 30 years (my estimate) a return to Smallmead Stadium for Speedway had a bigger impact than I though it would….

I have some memory of going to watch Speedway at Smallmead at some point in the 1970’s, so it was time to return.

An attempt to recruit a team of people from the office resulted in 3 of us (myself, Roger and Annabel) going over from Farnborough to Reading by bike.

A warm evening at Smallmead

A warm evening had brought out a good crowd and it was nice to see that nothing at Smallmead had changed since I was last there (though the surrounding area had seen some significant amount of development).

The evening turned out to be a revelation; sounds, smells, taste and just a great feeling of finding something unspoilt by the hype and crap associated with too many sports….

Four-stroke bikes make a great sound when flying off the start; the smell of Castrol R is great and the burgers are what you expect…..The compere for the evening had a sense humour for less complicated times with no political correctness in sight. [[Whist encouraging kids to come visit the mascot…”come on kids, come and grab some sweets from our new mascot, which we got from Ikea, and if your mum is less than 35 bring her down too..]]

The racing wasn’t close, as the Reading Racer’s beat the Sheffield Tigers 60-33, but it was a great atmosphere, with the heats great to watch.

Therefore, plenty of enthusiasm on the following morning back in the office as I was preaching to everyone about the joys of Speedway; I was a convert. Then, at around lunchtime it was decided we needed more Speedway so Roger and I decided as the weather was good, we’d head down to the Isle of Wight to watch the Islander’s match with Sheffield that night.

After an interesting developments with the KTM’s clutch and with Rog’s Honda XL600 going nicely , we found ourselves in Portsmouth waiting for the 17h30 ferry to Fishbourne.

Roger and the beast

A nice relaxed crossing, still great weather and a short ride to Ryde…used the force to find the hotel all rather easily. A quick discussion saw Roger ending up with an enormous room and myself with a seaview and a four poster bed.

Ryde Castle Hotel

Off to the Smallbrook Stadium for the Speedway, a great stadium on the outskirts of Ryde surrounded by fields; great atmosphere as the locals were ‘up for cup’; they needed to beat Sheffield by 14 points to go through to the next round.


Grabbed a seat in the stand along with a cup of tea and a burger…Heat 2 was awesome and set the tone for some great racing. The locals were knowledgable, friendly and somewhat partisan. Excellent atmosphere with a sense of competition which culimanated in the exciting heat 14 ( full report here ) and another [youtube clip ->

Heat 15: attempted starts

The Islanders won by 16 points on the night and went through 92-90 overall, much to the joy of the home fans

Smallbrook Stadium: the main stand

The impact on a sport I knew little about has been tremendous; you’ve got great racing action, a social event with your mates and the idea that something uncomplicated, straightforward and as-you-see-it can give you lots on enjoyment. Excellent fun.

More Speedway please.

PlanetRock : playing with Linux

Getting PlanetRock playing with Linux

Took about 10 minutes to work it out, but should be fairly straightforward.

The PlanetRock stream in an .asx file, which mplayer supports directly. Therefore to get the best rock station in the UK (on DAB or Internet) some simple steps below:

1. You need to have the mplayer package install on your Linux distro (mine is Red Hat / Fedora). To install it “yum install mplayer” which should pull in any dependencies also.

2. From the Home page http://www.planetrock.co.uk click on the “Listen Now” button.

3. New pop-up page; you have a compatible player installed, so right click on the “Click Here” link and select “Copy Link Location”

4. Switch to a terminal / command line on your system (easiest way, honest) and type “mplayer -playlist “. You should be able to paste the URL but will have something like “mplayer -playlist http://mediaweb.musicradio.com/Playlist.asx?StreamID=23”.

5. You will get some messages but then the player will fill the buffer and depending on the speed of you connection, should then start playing.

I live in the wilderness and struggle to get a connection about 1Mbps, but have no problem listening to PlanetRock. Keeps me insane. Rock on