Waltham Chase Trial
Sunday 3rd October 2021
Our choice for this Sunday’s outing was Manor Farm, Langrish, or better know as the old school natural motocross track on the side of the hill near Petersfield.
In its time, it has held national motocross events and more recently the Ken Hall meeting until its unfortunate demise in the last decade. With the loss of the Ken Hall Trophy event, the track has sadly not been available for motocross; however, the Waltham Chase club have been able to use it as a trials venue.
It isn’t an obvious thought that a motocross track would have the scope to hold a trial, but tucked away in the extremities of the old track are small clusters of trees that at first glance don’t even register on the eye, and hidden in these small copses are a range of natural trials sections. Most of today’s layout made use of these slippery slopes encompassing off-camber up- and downhill turns, followed by steep banks and greasy down hills with more tight turns.
Set out in the torrential rain the day before, the Clerk of Course had made each section rideable without the need to “hop”. This made for a challenging but enjoyable day, especially for those of us that can’t do it!
Marks were easy to give away in the early laps, but as the trial progressed the strong wind battering the slopes was drying the ground quickly. Slippery turned to tacky and the grip improved to conditions found at the height of summer. However, the race was with the weather not the rapidly drying terrain. Those with an eye on such things had strongly suggested that the rain was due around 1:30pm. With bright sunshine and visibility available as far away as the south coast, it was difficult to imagine that in a few hours the amazing views of the South Downs would be obliterated by horizontal rain.
The trial flowed with very little queueing, and we found ourselves attacking section after section with little or no rest. Neil and Aiden Bowker joined the three of us electric-mounted riders, Rob-last-minute-dot-Carey, Colin and myself today. (Rob rang the SoM up this morning, he kindly opened the online system up so Rob could enter, an hour and a half before the start!!!!)
Neil and Aiden had ever improving laps with Aiden finishing his last lap for a loss of just 4 marks. Neil was steady as usual and will be at the top end of the score sheet, as will Colin (although Colin dropped a few 5’s in to make us all feel better), Rob and I had more dabs than an amateur painter, but enjoyed ourselves immensely.
We all finished around 1:30, when the black clouds had now taken the place of the earlier blue skies, and the usual post-mortem of the trial was cut short by the first heavy raindrops smashing into the ground. A frantic rush ensued with bikes being launched into vans and hatches being battened – it then hammered down relentlessly for 10 minutes! That volume of rain would have turned the trial into a endurance event, but fortunately we were sitting smugly in our vans and on our way home by then.
Once again most of you missed another great day; it would be great to see more Witley members out there with us. Hopefully we can inspire you to brush the dust off, clean the air filter and carbs, get those bikes out and come and join us. Perhaps a Trials WhatsApp group might help, let me know...
Phil Mellers Trial
Sunday 26th September 2021
This Sunday, the Farnham Club put on their annual Phil Mellers Trial at Headley.
The start for this event used to be at the Lithuanian Club, but this has sadly gone and is now under the developer's shovel. However, this year's start area is now immediately opposite and the only other thing that is sadly missed was opportunity to buy a bacon roll from the Lithuanian Club's kitchen before we started...
The trial is normally a Pre-65 affair, but in recent years it’s been open to the twin shock and air cooled mono classes.
My choice of steed was my Triumph Twin, its first outing since the last Talmag trial; other Witley entries included Ian Hayward on his immaculate Fantic, Paul Jay on an ex-Ian Hayward Honda Montesa twinshock, Terry Tidbury on his Scorpa (it’s a four-stroke, so it must fit into a class somewhere) and Colin Boniface on his EM (Electric Motion) stretching the air-cooled mono classification to the very limit and beyond.
The day was hot and humid, the ground being very dry and with loose sandy climbing turns. Those with the skill tackled the sections making them look easy, those of us without (mainly me) floundered around dropping marks everywhere. The Triumph felt heavy and after nine sections I was looking for a good excuse to stop – fortunately any excuse went out the window as the queue for section 10 was long enough to recover my strength for another lap. And so it went on, get though nine sections and rest in the queue of number 10.
I was away first, but Colin eventually caught me up and then, with a method perfected over many years, managed to jump the queue; this saw him finish about 20 people in front of me by the end!
Paul followed me round for the last two laps, with Terry close behind. Unusually, and probably for the only time this year, I finished in front of both Paul and Terry, this was mostly down to the queue at section 10 rather than my swift riding style.
I dropped high double figures, Paul and Terry probably only in the teens and Colin was grumbling about dropping one mark.
A good day all round, it was good to see a few of the Witley members out there, sorry if I missed anyone out in my report. If you see me, please come and say hello, it would be nice to get the Witley Trials scene back on the map...
Sunday 12th September 2021
It’s the second Sunday in the month, so that means it’s another TVTC round; this month Normandy MCC were running their “Brian Fowler Memorial Trial” at Faygate.
Four of us turned up to fly the Witley flag: Paul Jay, Terry Tidbury, Colin Boniface and myself.
The entry wasn’t large but just enough to satisfy this small piece of land, probably the type of event that wouldn’t be unusual to see Paul and Terry finishing the trial before most people have got their bikes started!
This proved to be correct as true to form their “no point in hanging about” motto saw them flying around the course in record time, probably/hopefully with little or no marks dropped either.
Colin and I employed the more traditional method but even that had us finishing within the same hour as Paul and Terry – this was largely due to the small entry and 5 laps of eight sections.
The sections were laid out well, mostly flowing with plenty of log hopping. It was dry, warm and grip wasn’t an issue.
Earlier on in the week I had joined the Witley Electric Team and bought a bike, the TVTC seemed a perfect opportunity to try it out, so with some apprehension I got on with it.
I switched it on, selected my “mode” (the least powerful) and gently twisted the throttle; with a small whine I started moving forward.
It is difficult to explain the ride, contradictory would be my best description, it’s the same but so different, it steers, moves and feels the same, after all it’s still a trials bike, but… it doesn’t stall, the power delivery can be very smooth, you don’t need the slip the clutch, in fact there are lots of advantages – some minor some major depending on your viewpoint.
However, when it goes wrong, it goes wrong very quickly, as I discovered twice during the day. Straight over the bars in true Superman style the first time (video clip here courtesy of my friend CB), while the second time saw the bike upside down and tangled up in a tree with me over the bars again!
My first impression was great, trying something new is always interesting, I wanted it to be good fun and I wasn’t disappointed, practice will always help and I need a lot of it.
A concern over how long it will last was dismissed too, any “battery anxiety” didn’t appear, it wasn’t a big loop and therefore not a concern. I don’t think “running out of battery“ will be an issue unless we start getting Trials back on the road doing 25 mile loops. Wouldn’t that be great?
We all generally had a good day. Colin rode his sixth trial after a lay-off of nearly 30 years; he rode the intermediate route and put in a performance that would have had most of us thinking that we’ve finally got it together. Colin. however, was mostly thinking about moving the footrests back and if the position of his bars could do with altering.
Paul and Terry were steady all day and as I mentioned before, marks lost will be single figures or zero. Best of all though, they were finished by lunch time!
It would be great to have more club members out at the TVTC rounds, it’s just great fun spending time on motorcycles and time with friends. It’s at Frensham Vale next month, come out and join us and the fun!
The Arbuthnot Trial
Sunday 5th September 2021
I’ve been out riding my 1941 Matchless G3L today in an historic motorcycle competition down in Salisbury.
The bike is an original WD bike of the day that entered service in 1942 and retired to the civilian world in 1956.
The Pegasus badge denotes Airborne, the 68 is the AoS number (Arm of Service), 68 being the number designated to the 10th Parachute Battalion at Arnhem.
While it is unlikely that any were landed specifically for the 10th, there were a few that were landed via Horsa glider for the Advanced Workshop Detachment Royal Engineers. They were on permanent attachment to the fighting units to service weapons and equipment. From the accounts I’ve read it is more likely the men were pressed straight into the fighting.
As I have no actual evidence that there were any of these bikes actually landed with the 10th Battalion's AoS number, the bike's insignia is more of a tribute than a reconstruction of the day.
The bike went well, lots of good comments, probably didn’t show as much “mechanical sympathy” as I should have! I got around the route OK and did reasonably well on the competition sections.
Team Witley today was made up of Tristan Robinson, Marc Green and Myself. Tristan was the pace setter for the day, with a max speed down the road of about 25mph due to the trials gearing on the Butler, Marc on his Triumph twin cruised around with ease all day while my WD bike was a toss up of a high-revving second gear or not quite fast enough for third.
Heat and dust were in abundance and our wish to “dress appropriately” in wax jackets was not a good choice. We all did OK, it was a good day out, we saw a few other Witley members past and present, including Ian Hayward who was clean all day and cheerful as ever.
In summary: anyone that has a pre-65 bike, put this on your things-to-do list. It’s just a great day out, an old traditional trial. Start at a pub with tea and a bacon sandwich, ride around simply stunning countryside with truly amazing views. Tackle non-dangerous sections set out in the style of the day. Meet old friends and make some new ones. Then finish back in the pub and discuss how you could have won but...