• Sunday 17th October:
Witley 100 Long Distance Trial
Clerk of the Course: Ian George
MSUK Officer: Roger Brown
Secretary: Tristan Robinson
For the organisers and competitors alike the annual Witley MCC Long Distance Trial will mean leaving home in the dark.
With the daylight hours reducing, 100 miles to cover, 11 sections and a special test to fit in, it’s a very long day and for most that leaves just an hour's daylight at each end of their day's riding.
That has now become the norm for those who love taking part in this event, it’s a good day’s riding and great way to have fun with friends. With a varied entry from enduro and trials stalwarts to the “once a year just for this event" rider, we can now add the “Adventurists” to the list.
These are the riders of big 700cc-plus machines which have become popular in recent years, more at home on long wide gravel tracks than a four inch wide slot with bushes and thorns grabbing your handlebars on the byways of the UK. However, as we’re keen to encourage all bikes and riders we made a class for them this year. There were 8 in total with a big 1200GS BMW being the biggest bike we’ve ever had. For most of these Adventurists the event wasn’t enough, they ride there, ride the event, ride home. I know some of you out there will be reading this and thinking out loud “we used to do this every weekend and then ride to work on Monday, on the same bike!” Fortunately, most of us now have the luxury of a van or trailer to make life easier.
A quick shout out while I’m on this subject, and a call for superhero of the day, to Gordon Ayshford, part of the organising staff: up in the the dark, rode to the event start, rode to section 2, observed the whole entry, rode back to the special test, joined the timing marshals for the whole entry, helped clear up, rode home and probably rode to work in the morning too!
The superhero of the day on the riders' side was undoubtedly Andrzej Pinczynski as he rode from Dorking on his old BSA B40, rode the event and rode home. To quote Dave Kav: “Hard core”!
Quite often these superheroes go unrecognised. I’m naming these two for their very different outstanding contributions of the day. What they both had in common was the love of motorcycles which also in a true superhero fashion meant that they both wore helmets. Fortunately for us, they decided not to adopt the superhero requirement of wearing their pants on the outside...
In fact there were many more unsung heroes who are worth mentioning:
Special Awards would go to those that spent hours standing around in the woods waiting for the entry to show up, followed by a furious two hours of action, then off home or back to the start where it’s all deserted, packed up, finished, nothing to see. These are the observers without whose help, the event would just not exist.
Another goes to the course planner and administrative liaison with the authorities (of which there are many), a thankless task that requires endless correspondence and one that most just don’t know how it happens.
Then there’s the start team, this requires dealing with people that don’t even seem to know their own name, let alone their riding number or start time.
To those that rode the course putting out notices and checking the road book... but that’s fun, I hear you say... first time it’s OK, second time easier, third time it’s becoming a chore, fourth time, thankfully I won’t have to do this again (until next year).
More thanks to the test team spending a day setting the test out so the riders can spend at best 1min 51 seconds riding it and at worst 5 minutes (with rest stops). Then the best part of 4 hours saying the same thing, “I’ll count you down from 3, when you get to the end, stop in the box, three, two, one, go.” After an hour you think you’ve said it at least a hundred times each and there’s five of us, so that can’t be right but it still feels like it.
The unseen Secretary’s job that involved what seems like a mountain of paperwork and administration, all going on behind the scenes dealing with the entries and endless questions like: Can I ride with my mate? Can I change route? Can I change my bike? The web site was complicated! I didn’t read it so I just ticked the first box! How far is it? Is it signposted? Will there be arrow out? Do you provide fuel? Is there a lunch stop? Are there toilets on the way round? Where can my friend watch? Can you look after my keys? Do you provide a breakdown service? Aarrrgh!... Remember to take a deep breath because the same questions will be asked next year by the same people!
So what are the good bits then, why do we do it? I keep asking myself that too and essentially it’s about having fun with our friends, and it is fun, it must be or we wouldn’t do it. Perhaps the best way to explain this is to get you to come along and join us and see why, then you can try and explain it to someone else and get them to join in too and become part of the team, being old isn’t a requirement, it just allows you to be grumpy and get away with it (occasionally).
So to the event itself; as usual we reached our maximum entry and could have taken many many more, but had to work to the maximum of 180 for a road-based event. While not the first LDT ever run – the Witley event has been running for nearly 30 years now – it has never seen a dip in entries and has become one of the Club's premier events. I think its success has contributed to the recent surge in LDT events, setting an example of what riders want; and a quick scan through the ACU calendar could very nearly see you finding one a month to ride if that’s your thing.
Starting in one minute intervals didn’t stop the riders from bunching up further down the road as they waited for their mates. This led to the usual queues early on but after this the field began to separate which made it flow more evenly.
Some of the Adventurists fell by the wayside as their six inch rear tyres didn’t fit in the four inch ruts, most having had a reasonably good time before they decided to end their pain and call it a day with just enough energy left for the ride home.
The quick riders were a little too quick in places, unfortunately this was noticed and reported, but for most it was a day of seeing amazing views riding around some of the best lanes in the South, a hundred miles that takes all day but goes by in a flash. Country lanes, byways, some easy flat and flowing, others with deep ruts and overgrown bushes challenging the best of riders. All that with the sections too. These were set out to be more challenging this year as requested by quite a few of those that can. However, this is a fun ride too and many don’t want to be elevated to the realms of a hard competitive section, so we kept an easy route that catered for the those that enjoy the ride and the relaxed competition.
Being resident at the finish, I didn’t hear any complaints; many were shattered or exhausted but most were happy if they beat their mate's time on the Special Test. With the exception of the Superheroes, most rode off to their vans and trailers parked in the start field and for the second time that day got to load up their bikes with a drive in the dark to look forward to.
With the Superheroes also disappearing into the sunset (actually both went east so not actually true but why spoil a good line) the field became empty – all that is left is a few vehicle tracks waiting to be ploughed in. Soon after that a new crop will be sown, this will grow tall and ripen, the 2021 LDT will pass without trace, the crop will then be harvested, leaving absolutely no trace, until... Stubble Day 2022!
The list of LDT Heroes:
Witley and District Motor Cycle Club
🏍️ 2021 RESULTS SOON...