Black Mountains MBO : Govilon 12/June 2016

After a lapse moment I’d entered a Mountain Bike Orienteering event run by Black Mountain MBO starting at Govilon. Some research prior to the event and it seemed you have to visit as many control points during the 3.5 hours time limit and that different control points are worth different values, from 10 to 30 and that there are a maximum of 500 points.


You need to plan to cover the best routes between check points, distance, ascent and trail are all factors.  You get a preview of the map area and you’ll get an idea of the structure and layout from it. It also helps to know the terrain where you are going, making sure you are not going up too many stupid hills.


Not been on the bike for a while, so spent some time of Saturday going through it and cleaning it. Bit of play in the rear wheel bearing but gears all selecting and brakes all in good order. Plenty of heavy rain on the Sunday morning so did contemplate staying in bed, but stopped around 07h30, so up for breakfast and headed over to Govilon and signing on, due to open at 09h00. A few people around and got chatting to a few people for tips and advice for the first time rider. Couple of things I found out:

  • you get the map with the control points after the start time, so good plan to work out the first few control points and get a general idea of where you are going to end up. I made my mind up to tackle the first 3 checkpoints before taking the route up Gilwern Hill via the road, rather than the steep track. I’d then do a circuit of the Blorenge check points before working out how many more I could do before heading back on the canal via Llanfoist.  I spent the first 5 minutes doing a more detailed look at the route (and debated taking my glasses for the map)
  • you get a description of where the control points are located and they are marked with black/yellow tape. The electronic control points are small and slightly hidden and its more geocaching than normal orienteering. Hiding means they don’t get nicked and the electronic system means that the token holds the timings.
  • you can start at any time between 09h30 and 10h15 and you have 3h30 to complete the route, with time penalties. You obviously want control points with the higher values, but these are sometimes harder to get to and further away.


First control point was 01, and then I went for 03, before 02 (most people did it the other way round) and then I headed up the tarmac road as planned. Probably the longer way round, but easier and no pushing required. I did 04, but took a few minutes to find it and overshot. Most people were coming up the other way and then followed a group up to checkpoint 12. Rather going over the top to Blaenavon, I headed up to the radio masts on the Blorenge before doing the circuit round.  Some great tracks and the weather stayed fair, with no further rain. The descent down from the Blorenge was great and managed another 4 controls. I decided to not take in a last control with 50 minutes and headed back on the canal for the final 3, but ended up back in Golivon with 20 minutes to spare. Bit of a misjudgement and should have done the last one for an additional 20 points.


Checked in on the final control and then downloaded the controls and times from the SI Dibber and got my results printed, and it went straight into the overall results. I’d managed 14 controls and scored 285 points. Shame I’d missed the last CP as would have scored over 300. There were a few scores over 400 and the leading score was 485, which requires some pretty serious fitness and good navigation.  I’d taken the last hour relatively easily, partly as there weren’t too many options for last minute controls.  Ended up 25th in the the final results, which was okay for 1st time out.

The bike survived, though I did have two broken spokes which was a testament to some of the rough terrain and possibly the poor maintenance on my bike.  A thoroughly recommended event to do, though fitness is a strong part of it.  Something different and good fun. Getting fitter and smarter on the bike is a good idea though !

Not on the bike, or in the shed ?

Little Faust and Big Halsy (1970)

Robert Redford does some classic dirtbikes from the ‘On Any Sunday’ era. Plenty of RT and early DT Yamaha’s.


On Any Sunday (1971)

No comment needed, absolutely superb. Malcolm Smith is just great, and Harvey Mushman is just a bit part.


Viva Knieval (1977)

Okay, haven’t seen this year, but need to revisit this classic; even just for Lauren Hutton.

Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
Arizona road cop movie for you Harley fans. It’s an eclectic one and must admit not my favourite.

Freebie and the Bean (1974)

Okay for only the one scene really, but probably the highlight for any Montesa Cota 247 fans out there. James Caan also don’s a Viva Montesa t-shirt.


Silver Dream Racer (1980)

Not in the 70’s and not on dirt, but a film I enjoyed when at school, but one that’s not really stood the test of time.

I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle(1990)

Still on the hunt for a copy of this, but from the people who brought you endless Boon on ITV in the 80’s and along with Crossroads condemned the Midlands to the second (or third) tier of regional TV.


Girl on a Motorcycle(1968)

Also, not seen this for a while, so apart from vivid images in my memory of Marianne Faithful in one piece leathers, it’s a bit of a blank in terms of the plot.

The Great Escape(1965)
You may not to watch the whole film again. Not to worry best bits on youtube.

The Wild One (1953))

Obvious biking classic.

…And then there is youtube

The Steve McQueen Honda Elsinore Advert. He got $1m for it, (it seems) and residual values of Elsinores have been higher ever since.

A superb moment of 1973 history, BBC does the Hell’s Angels….

Cycle World Yamaha MX360 Review


It’s a brilliant find and though some of the reviews appear online from time to time, its nice to have a print copy. Reviews include mainly US only bikes, but a lot of these are now found over here. A good comparison of the YZ250A and Honda CR250 Elsinore, and a look at the Thorsten Hallmann motocross initiatives. Also interesting thoughts on making your 1973 YZ250 ‘superlight’ and competitve.

The MX360 article is here and can always forward scans of some of the other articles.


Wansview Wireless IP Camera

Some research showed up a number of options for WiFI cameras, but this it was the cheaper option on Amazon and one that provides a pretty good solution.

The Wansview IP Camera, with motion detection etc, came from Amazon and at GBP 40.00 seems to be too cheap. However, if you some techie skills with your home network etc

You’ll need:
• a DSL or cable wired or wireless router, ideally something that does IP forwarded. I’m using a Netgear N300 router currently.
• some basic network knowledge
• you’ll need power near to where the camera is located and either wireless coverage from your router or wired ethernet (there are number of ways of doing this).
• if you are a Windows user, there is a supplied CD on installing etc
• if you are a Linux user (like me!) then no problems, it’s more manual but actually straightforward to configure.

I use Linode to host a Linux image which I use for my email etc, so configuring and testing things is straightforward.

Some key things to watch:
• the documentation with the camera is okay, but along with the online FAQ’s there are a bit basic
• the default static IP address for the camera is Although this may be good for people with a subnet at home (a lot of DSL routers default to this) it isn’t always the case. Some notes on setting this below
• when setting up either the email or ftp alarms, put in your values, submit them, then test. If you test before submitting, it will fail as it clears the values you’ve entered. It does say this on the form.
• the camera does support uPnP which is an easy way to configure the IP Forwarding, however it’s potentially a bit of a security compromise so I tend to turn it off.

Accessing the camera and configuration

Like most routers, the Camera runs a small webserver which gives you access to the picture and configuration. Default is, with user name of ‘admin’ and password of ‘123456’. Best to change the password asap.

The admin pages are pretty straightforward, but check through the settings carefully as the messages from the tests and diagnostics are not brilliant.

Network Configuration

You’ll probably want to change either the network IP address ( default) or the port (1025). You will also probably want to get the wireless working. Two ways of configuring the device, either directly connecting your PC or laptop directly into the camera with the supplied CatV patch cable, or (better) connect the camera into your router (the Netgear’s usually have 1-4 slots on the back). This makes configuring the wireless easier, as you’ll have to enter the SSID for you home network as well as the right security type and passphrase. It’s not that intelligent and you’ll need to know what security you are using on your router.

You’ll probably want to go for a static address (ie not obtained automatically), as this makes Port Forwarding a lot easier later. The Netgear instructions are pretty straightforward, but if you do change the port for 1025, don’t use 8080, as this is port the admin interface uses if you have made it externally accessible.

Emails and Alerts


Some of the latest images should be [ here : -> ]; these are uploaded every 5 minutes over FTP.

If its not speeding; its parking ??

If it’s not Notices of Intended Prosecution (NIPs) then its parking tickets. Today’s was for parking the bike ‘not in a designated bay’ in Broad Street in Hereford. Nice sunny day and a quick trip into town to go to the bank.

Okay, by the definition I can see they have a point, except that:
– there were three other bikes further up Broad Street, outside of the library, parked on a hashed area, but without tickets
– the small bike parking area in West Street was full, it nearly always is on a weekday
– the overall lack of bike parking spaces; there is one in St Martin’s Street car park and I think there are spaces in the bus station

What can i say, except ah well, another round of emails coming up.

Parking on Broad Stree

Also parking on hashed lines...

West Street bike parking

Police forces strapped for cash ?

These have been all whilst driving the van:
– doing 60 mph on the A40 dualed section near Brecon, charged with excess speed for class of vehicle. My van is classed as diesel car, so wrote to Dyfed Powys Police’s nominated ‘safety’ unit (in South Wales) to point this out. They withdrew the NIP and said the matter would be taken no further.
– 34 mph in a 30 mph zone in Lea, Herefordshire and I have now the opportunity of attending a ‘safety’ session run by TTC, rather than paying the £60.00 fine. However, the course for West Mercia Police costs £81.00 (its only £61.00 for West Midlands Police ?). They also state on the notice that the courses are held in Hereford, however this seems somewhere between Ledbury and Bromyard and only 2 possible days in the next two months. I’m now doing the course on 23Feb in Ludlow, but thinking about writing to West Mercia as well. I’ve not done one of these courses, but hopefully it will be useful.
– Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (ie Sussex Police) have also sent me a NIP for speeding in a 40 mph; again a static camera but on a road I’ve never driven before (and unlikely to again). Could actually be points this time, but I want to look at the potential details for prosecution before writing to them again.

Whilst this could be money making, I’m not sure the £80 would cover the cost of the processing and admin, but its interesting that suddenly I’m a speeding lunatic (I’ve actually slowed down to save fuel) and I’ve not even been on the bike.

Haynes Internal Combustion Engine Model Kit

I’d bought here a model engine via Amazon , one which came with good reviews and subsequent to purchase an endorsement from Top Gear. There is an Airfix which doesn’t get quite the same reviews. The Haynes model comes with its own Haynes manual (of course) which apart from the addendum to cover some mistakes with the distributer / cylinder number seems pretty accurate.

Cylinder head

Whilst I don’t think that anyone will have a problem with the kit, even engine novices, it may be harder for those who don’t know the difference between their camshafts and crankshafts.

The model is a good size, the plastic quality is good and it is assembled using good (metal) self-tapping screws. There is a screwdriver provided but its a bit small, so having a smaller cross-head screwdriver will allow you to get some of the screws in further and better seated. You’ll also want to have a good DIY or model knife (like a stanley knife) to cut the pieces from the sprags and tidy them up. My 10 year-old daughter kept me in line and ensure that I read the instructions.

Engine Block

It took me around 2.5 hours to build, which wasn’t bad and I didn’t rush. Daughter attention span was variable due to the Wii being used in the other room. Its a good model and seems to run and work well and does provide an insight to the uninitiated on the workings of a 4-stroke petrol engine. Shame most of the stuff in the shed is 2-stroke !

Completed model

Couple of things to watch for:
– there are spare screws and getting them to start as self tappers can be fiddly. The supplied screwdriver is magnetic but not that beefy. There are no spare springs
– when assembling the lower cylinder head, make sure the two plates are located correctly otherwise you’ll find the valve stems don’t line up correctly and will not run freely.
– the two metal rods are of different lengths. The shorter one is for the rockers and the longer one, with the flat on it, is for the cam / camshaft.

Really enjoyable fun to build and is pretty representative. Now to get down the shed and fix the real things.

Gone in 10 seconds

Well, apart from a minor off on the Rotterdam ring road in 2009, it was my first road bike accident. A guy in a Mazda RX8 (never liked them) came out of the sliproad from the M5 to the A417 east of Gloucester, crossed two lanes and didn’t see me.

Bike on the hard shoulder

He hit the bike side on, putting me down the road and the bike into the central reservation (at least it wasn’t the other way round). You can remember the feeling of ‘dread’ (in the Kierkegaardian sense) and then in my case the hard shoulder with a couple of people picking up the bike. The bit in between is a little vague.

Extent of injuries

That I managed to get up and then walk across the road seems to indicate that it was my lucky day. Apart from a cut thumb, I’d got no obvious injuries at the time. My Alpinestars waterproof top was in shreds, but the one-piece leathers seem to have taken most of the impact and done a very good job. The Bell Moto7 helmet, though a lightweight model also stood up well, with the peak being smashed, the integrity of the helmet was good.

The bike lost its front wheel, I think when it hit the central reservation, as the bottom of the forks broke away. The main impact was at the front and bike went down the road on its left hand side. The pannier on this side broke off, and the fuel tank, fairing was badly scraped, but no fuel leaks.

The driver stopped and was a bit shocked, but at least he admitted to me (and another witness) that it was entirely his fault (not sure it could have been anything else). I must have been a bit in shock, as it took me 3 or 4 attempts to get through to the Carole Nash breakdown recovery people and he stayed around. Also grateful for another motorcyclist stopping, as well as to the witnesses who left details.

The KTM at AMS motorcycles

Lessons learnt:
– that despite Jamie Theakston’s attempt to persuade everyone who watches police documentaries that all bikers are twats, that it is car drivers who make biking dangerous for the sane majority of us
– that the KTM is a well built bike, including when its going down the road sideways. There is something to be said for having pannier on a bike also
– spending £500 quid of a set of leathers is worth every penny. My single-piece Alpinestar Monza leathers did the job they were intended for. I’ll be wincing everytime I see someone riding in jeans. Without wish to be morbid, or wishing for a repeat, I wonder whether my textile jacket and trousers would have had the same resistance to impact and abrasion. The latter I think not.

And now for the acknowledgements;
– to Andy Janes on his brand-new GS1200 who stopped and hung around until SOS recovery turned up
– to SOS recovery for a really quick arrival time (about 20 minutes)
– to AMS Motorcycles for taking the bike and doing the repair estimate
– to Carole Nash who seem (so far) to be really on the ball and I phoned through my quote whilst on the way to AMS
– to Helen, for picking me up from Tewkesbury

Christmas Quiz 2009

A 2009 Christmas Quiz; submissions by 12pm Dec 23rd and the winner to receive a t-shirt when i get them printed in the new year.

For each of the 12 images, 1 mark for the make/model of the bike. 1 mark for the year of manufacture, 1 optional mark for any other useful.useless information on the rider, the bikeand obscure facts

Some are easy, some not and all from my own camera, so it narrows it down a bit

Have fun. Email your answers to

|image-1.jpg| Image 1|
|image-2.jpg| Image 2|
|image-3.jpg| Image 3|
|image-4.jpg| Image 4|
|image-5.jpg| Image 5|
|image-6.jpg| Image 6|
|image-7.jpg| Image 7|
|image-8.jpg| Image 8|
|image-9.jpg| Image 9|
|image-10.jpg| Image 10|
|image-11.jpg| Image 11|
|image-12.jpg| Image 12|

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.