It was a nice sunny morning, until I hit Newbridge on the A470 and the skies opened and it was with a backdrop of foreboding clouds that I entered Rhayader for the start of the Classic Experts. Though I’d entered for the clubman route (like for the previous 3 years, see the previous reports for 2006, 2007 & 2008) there are some places where there’s not much room for a deviation.
Was a bit later than planned and with an early start number (in my case the earliest possible this year) for the clubman for slime cleaning duties didn’t get much of a chance for a chat.
Andy and Dan from the Wye Valley Club were there and I did manage to chat to David Brick and his newly acquired Beta twinshock. He’d picked it up from the Twinshock Shop guys in Devon [[They’d had a Beta TR240 for sale a year or so ago, but it had been standard]]. It looked pretty standard in terms on engine and frame, with RockShock’s and a Honda fuel tank. Front forks also looked stock.
A link to the Youtube video or the embedded version below. Got clips from most of the groups and demostrations of prowess and determination.
Flagged away first by the Mayor as is now customary and then off down to Bwlch, a favourite group of sections.
Luckily the usual rock step above a deep pool wasn’t included and the sections avoided some of the really boggy bits. The water in the first section was above the boots so decided no to delay the inevitable and got my feet wet here. Shaky but clean and a dab on the first double subsection (a usual ploy for Rhayader trials to allow for the usual lack of observers) and then a dab on a slippery exit from the stream in Section 3. Jon Bliss was also riding the clubman route on his Cotswold and also didn’t give it enough out of here. The slope wasn’t going to get any easier.
The final double sub was fairly straightforward and I managed to clean both subs. Mark had a wobble dropping into the stream and took a couple. The Beta was running on, but difficult to start, a symptom it picked up during the Wye Valley Trevor Hunt Trophy trial. A carb strip hadn’t solved it so need to look at further options.
A bit of a road trip across to Boulder Alley and remember coming over here a couple of years ago. A double sub in a gulley, but with a slimy exit out right at the end. Still at the front on the field and first through here. Dropped 2 in the first sub (unnecessary) but then took a 3 in the second, after changing up to 2nd to tackle the exit. Nice muddy bit before the end cards. Jon, who was suprisingly for him, just behind us took a 5, after getting it wrong on the exit and Mark took a fighting 3.
A favourite location. Stream with slimy rocks followed by a slippery exit and some deep mud.
The firs sub contained the slippery rocks, and it was again down to me to go through first, which involved a 1 and clean, which was okay by me. Jon took 3 and then Mark, tackling the section at speed (possibly due to the burgeoning classic motocross career). Alas, whether it be the Capra or the KT250 he came a cropper.
It was my turn in the next sub and despite telling myself (from experience) to avoid the slot that made up the exit from the screen, I ended up getting jammed and took the first 5 of the day. Mark and Jon both got up but ended up wallowing through the mud to the end cards.
This was going to get easier as the day went on, with a slot beginning to form and the bottom being found by bike wheels. Needless to say, it was long way down. Mark and I copped out of the difficult exit back to the road and dived backed the first section to avoid the swamp and slippery exit. We took a break in an attempt to slip down the field slightly, and also to watch the misery of others in the mud. We also managed to rescue Harry Stanistreet, located in the bog with his leg pinned underneath his rigid James.
Short bit of road work back towards the A470 and the Ashfield group. Been caught up by Colin and Alan on their Honda’s after watching them attack the Cefnllyn mud.
I dropped some fuel at Ashfield on the way by and noticed that the water levels here didn’t seem to be as high as in previous years. The first section still looked slimy and interesting and we joined in the merry throng walking the section. Lots of discussion and analysis of the best course of action, as well as comments from knowledgeable locals about how Sammy Miller cleaned this section on GOV 132 (which was probably 45-50 years ago).
More conversation, kicking of rocks and still no-one taking the plunge (so to speak). Looking round could see the unusually shy Jon Bliss hiding behind a tree. So, infront of an audience not much smaller than one one due to watch Wales lose to the All Blacks later in the afternoon, off I went. Rather than disappearing in a cloud of steam like the previous year I managed to negotiate it for 2 and 2. Quite pleased with that given the audience.
The second double subber, involved the first half in more of the stream, followed by a leafy bank with rocks. Whilst the experts had to contend with a moss covered slab (and a hairy drop and another climb), the clubman route was straightforward if you could find grip.
Not a good performance and despite taking a wider line exiting the stream (to avoid turning in the stream itself), still didn’t get the clean up the bank. Jon followed my line and cleaned it for a good ride. Mark hit a step in the stream and knocked off his chain.
Final double at Ashfield was out of the stream and over some rocks. Mark and I were now taking our time and decided to watch a few people here. After watching Colin Leese take a five on the previous sub (the final climb didn’t look easy), saw him take another over the rock step in the final section.
Lost a couple of marks over the greasy slab, after dithering over gear selection (its always the way, if you’re undecided, you lose marks), before cleaning the second half, which was straightforward.
Back down to the road, and some refueling. Also took some time to watch the Experts tackle the first sub in the stream, including a good ride from Dan Sanders on his Fantic. Plenty of people also showed how hard it was, especially on different lines. Even though you get the choice of the whole stream, there’s usually only one good line. Neil Gaunt also rode a really nice clean, producing more GOV 132 comments from the locals (found this nice web site on the hunt for Ariel info).
Just a short ride through Llanwrthwl and across to Cryn Fryn. Not been here before but something different and no water.
Slimy rocks and trees for a change and also that usual challenge of route finding. Manage two cleans on the first double sub, but it all went a bit wonky on the 3 and 4 th sections here and went a little off line in places. Good for variety though.
Nothing unexpected at Doliago, but four difficult sections, though maybe not as much water as there had been in the past. From the start of the first section, its pretty unrelenting all the way up and avoiding a five was the order of the day.
Again, as we arrived, despite not being first to the group no-one had gone through. First up this time was Jon Bliss, who took the zig-zag line up the first couple of subs, which was the best line. Some energy was required to keep the bike on track and also to ensure you got more than 5 ft in from the ‘Start’ cards.
I hit the first rocks about right, but needed a dab to straighten things up, but then took three more dabs before entering the second half of the section. Then took another 3 here just to ensure i got to the ends. Watched Colin Leese clean the first half before hitting a rock further up (as did Neil Gaunt later, see video).
The second double here was no easier and remember hauling the Jumbo out of here last year. Not so bad this time, and managed to keep the bike going for a couple of 3′ here.
There’s a sense of relief when you get out to the field at the top and for us to take a few minutes watching others come up through the gully. Lots of riders struggling up through the second sub and certainly no chance for you if you wandered off the ridable line.
After 15 minutes of so, decided to head off, up the A470 to the last group at Hillgate.
Good crowd here, though a van parked on the road nearly resulted in a pile-up, after some heavy breaking to avoid a lorry coming the other-way; all very exciting.,
The first sub here contains the infamous ‘Dave Thorpe’ step and although the Clubman route went round the side of it, we watched three 5’s just at the start with a smaller rock taking people out. A route to the left avoided this and managed to take only 1 on the first half, but took a slack couple in the second half.
The water used to flow down this section, but it now had changed course and was flowing at speed down the last double sub of the day. Despite there now being 20 or so riders in front of us, only a couple of people, including Colin Leese had given it a go. Perhaps his 5 & 3 was the main reason.as the bottom smooth stream bed was steep and slimy.
Sat and watched a couple of more people take 5’s and struggle to extricate themselves and their bikes up to the start of the second half. The second half looked more doable (well for a 3 anyway). Mark revved up the KT and again bringing those motocross skills to bear, shot up the stream and managed to get through both for a clean.
Following, I took a 5 as I couldn’t make the last couple of feet to the ends, then restarting got out the final sub for a 3, but only after lots of grunt and pushing to make it.
Another excellent Classic Experts completed. Time for chat and to watch more attempts at the slippery stream before heading the short distance back to Smithfields and the start.
After only riding a few trials this year, really glad I’d made the effort for this one and good way to get the enthusiasm back. The Beta made it round, despite a blowing exhaust and the starting problem.
Lots of thanks to Malcolm Bates and all the others involved in setting up and running the trial; its now a firm favourite on the calendar with around 90 entries this year.