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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 ?