For the third year in a row, Gavin and I headed to Devon to the series opener. The Tredegar Twinshock team had moved their focus to classic hare-and-hounds, so a smaller team than at last years event . That said, there was a full entry of 100, including 40 twinshocks
Ripon Tor rifle range was absolutely freezing and though sunny, the forecast was for wintry showers, which we got a plenty during the day. Plenty of interesting bikes on display including a lot of Ariel HT’s which seem to have come from somewhere (?)
Various tales of injuries with Neil Gaunt and Phil Wiffen not having ridden for a while, Neil’s as a result of a branch at the Eastern Thumper’s trial back in November. A displaced vertebrate from the impact had kept him out of work and riding trials.
Steve Allen was there and primed up for the retention of his Rigid title he’d won in the previous two years. Catching up with him at Hound Tor later, he’d was taking the time and effort required and ended up loosing half the marks of Godfrey Hannam, his nearest challenger.
Lots of Fantic’s and Honda’s made up the Twinshock line-up, though with a strong south-west entry there was also a lot of Yamaha’s there as well, in standard, Whitehawk and Majesty guises.
As in previous years, only two Bultaco’s, including the one owned from new by Malcolm Peberdy. Dave Wood was also meant to be on a Bulto, but with a missing gear as it emerged from the shed, the Kawasaki KT250 made the journey down the M5 (albeight in the back of the van). With Steve Sell’s Ossa and my Beta, that was it; no Montesa’s, SWM’s or Armstrongs on the main route. A couple of Suzuki’s on the easy roue and that was that. In all, having nearly 50 twinshocks in the entry of around of 100 is interesting; for my first Sammy Miller event in 2006, i think there was a total of 8 twinshocks.
Its also interesting to see the pedigree and quality of the riders in this SM round and to see how this compares to the ACU Traditional series.
Different route from previous years and no Ruby Rocks. For me it was a good solid start in the groups at Paradise and Tallicker. I only dropped 3 at the second group and enjoyed the first sub which i cleaned including a tight left hand turn around a tree.
However, despite plenty of shed time on the Beta, the throttle now was sticking open and also seemed to have a large amount of slack. The stickiness of the throttle was improved by the application of some oil borrowed from the back of a van, but the slack was there for the day and was a result of the plastic in the Domino item giving way. New one required.
My woes were slight though, as for some inexplicable reason Gavin hit a tree stump at the first section at Millwood, which caught on the rear brake arm which then imploded. No rear brake for the rest of the trial made a big impact of his results.
Things hotted up at Hound Tor and I picked up two 5’s. The third sub here was difficult, and the 5th had a sharp climb to exit without a clean run-in. The Beta was also now misfiring as it came off pilot and perhaps I should have spent more time on sorting out the carbueration.
The last section here was the hardest of the day, with no cleans recorded . A slippery drop down round a tree was followed by a slippery on-camber climb followed by a tight turn, before continuing down to a stream. Not straightforward though a 3 was the optimum score as you should have been able to paddle round.
Up to the snack van at Hound Tor for a welcome cup of tea though it was sunny a passing snow storm helped keep the temperature down.
A couple of cock-ups at Hedge Barton and this was probably my weakest set of sections of the day; all the subs were cleanable (and I’d clean one of them last year).
Pitton, was as usual muddy and struggled round the subs here. The 1st and 2nd subs were cleanable and the 3rd at a push. The last sub caught me for my 3rd and final 5 of the day, with a slippery climb from a tight turn from the finish.
Decoaker was the final group and had a good ride on the first two subs here and then managed to splutter through the mud on the third for a three. The last sub was long, twisty and also with a sting in the tail. A muddy slot at the end wasn’t straightforward, as Gavin found out. He ruined the sales pitch on his bike that i was attempting by coming off head-first and colliding with a rock. A bit shaken, but luckily the last section of the day.
The result sheet came through the door during the week after the trial and despite my attempt to avoid it by being in Holland it confirmed my concerns that I’d let things slip later on it the trial. Dropping only 11 in the first three groups, a total of 62 in the end was about 15-20 higher than it should have been. Confidence in the bike and myself at Hound Tor especially had been a key factor and though i’d finished ok at Decoaker, should have been better.
Always one to seek out some comfort from somewhere, the twinshock winner, Nic Draper, dropped 1 of his 6 marks at the first section at Decoaker, where I’d gone clean.
More work on the bike and ideally some practice before the next round in April, the Harry Perrey trial.