After suggestions and persuasions from the Tredegar contingent and some planning aforethought it was time for my first scrambles event. The weather had been excellent for a couple of weeks and the day bode well as I drove up from Clyro on the road over to Newchurch. Nice spot, high on the hills, with some great views looking back to the Black Mountains.
Turned up early and about 5 minutes ahead of Alan and Mark. Quick chat and then off to walk the track, ie one big section. Some tight turns, some steep slopes and an off-camber straight down the back of the course. Looked fairly smooth and fairly fast.
Not have ridden any scramble or motocross before, it was all a bit of blur. Back for some tea and the arrival of Kevin in his new Series II Landrover at a top speed of 50 mph from Tredegar.
The Yamaha needed a bump start to get going and wasn’t running that well to start with, all a bit strange. Anyway, out for my first practice and going down to the start and then on the track was a bit of a nervous moment. Got going okay and didn’t seem too slow and didn’t drop the bike. Did 4-5 laps (I think) which was great fun and seemed to be in the groove. Not used to riding off-road with so much kit (armour, full-face lid etc) and also keeping the bike on-song and in the power band; quite easy in places, especially coming out of corners and up the slopes. Picking the line into corners was also something I needed to work out.
On the Twinshock side, the competition was warming up between Kevin and Mark, with Kevin having the CZ and the Beta to choose from, to face up to Mark’s Cappra. Dave’s TM400 Suzuki has also arrived and was looking pristine.
Graham arrived to spectate and provide moral support. It was needed, as trying to start the Yam for a second bit of practice, found there was no spark. Checked the dodgy connectors and the kill switch, still no spark. Graham moved into gear in his role as pit crew and tracked down the problem to a dodgy plug cap. No spare available, so bared back the cable and screwed the plug cap to lock it in place and then out with the lockwire pliers and electrical tape to finish the job.
Walking around, you notice that just like trials, there is plenty of money being thrown at bikes, including the pre74 and Twinshock machinery. Lots of trick kit and the accompanying discussions on the rules and regulations. As with my riding, the politics in the scrambles scene are also going to take a while to work out.
Not a bad start and gained a couple of places in the first corner, however then dropped it in the second corner ! Took a couple of kicks, but then at the back. Overtook a couple of other riders before the engine died on the second lap. This was the CDI connectors coming out (not for the first time) and a couple of attempts to put them in place meant I got the bike round for another lap. Not the best start.
In the Twinshock race, Mark managed to pip Kevin to the line in the last couple of corners, so 1-0 to Mark.
More bike fettling during the lunch break and I cable tied the electrical connectors together after electrical tape was wrapped round. Then reconnected the kill switch on the bike. Good to see lots of other people putting bikes back together after the first race.
Still had to bump start the bike, but away if went and up to the holding area prior to the start. Had a crap start away from the line with the engine bogging down. With the track cutting up a lot now, it was more challenging and still had issues getting the power down. Didn’t come last and didn’t get lapped, though again did stall the bike on the last off-camber corner. Good fun and a completed race with the bike performing well, even if the rider wasn’t
In the Twinshock race, this timeout on the Beta, Kevin managed to get well clear after Mark had a good start. Alan battled it out on the XL350, getting the better of a couple of Maico’s at the back of the field.
More fuel in the bike and then with only time to watch a couple of races, it was time for the next race.
Better start and made it through the first couple of corners unscathed until getting squeezed on the inside of turn 3. Back of the field again and with advice not to use the clutch so much, seemed to be getting a better pace and feel for the race. So were the other riders, and as the track was getting more cut-up it was clear their skill and lines were making a lot of difference. Plenty to learn on getting round the track.
Once again, Kevin got the better of Mark, though a bit closer this time round. Kevin staying with the Beta after changing the rear sprocket during lunch.
With a non-serviceable Tannoy, it was difficult to work out what was going on, but a couple of open races at the end, same me line up with the Tredegar Twinshock contingent. After a lap staying in touch with Alan, saw me lose ground and then go lapped by a speeding Maico on the final lap.
Once again, after some handlebar to handlebar racing, Kevin came out on top, leaving Mark rueing his chances on the Montesa.
All-in-all a really great day out; glorious weather. Maybe not the most competitive in terms of racing, but managed to make it round without being too dangerous.
In terms of the bike, it was a good shake-down, in particular exposing the paucity of the original electrics. These need a refresh, with new plug cap, poss coil and HT lead. Also may replace the connectors which aren’t the best.
There are some issues with the fueling as though the carb seemed to run okay when out on the track, it still doesn’t seem spot on. A lot of this may be my own style on the bike and in some cases I wasn’t quick enough through the gears (ie using the clutch) and also feathering the clutch in corners to keep the revs up.
Kitchen installation may come in the way of an early return to the track and it took about 3 cups of tea to get the dust out of the system. Excellent fun though.