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The Downland Trophy Trial, West Hagbourne, Oxon

Following from the Perce Simon trial the day before, this event was a step back in time and for all the right reasons. It began at the Plough & Harrow pub in West Hagbourne, featured a proper programme giving the location of the sections and had plenty of both riders and spectators. The sections were mostly of the traditional type, 33 of them being spread along the route which was mainly green lanes, including part of the Ridgeway.

Dick Faggetter and I were joined by Paul Casling on a TES and GRA member Jack Chalk brought along his TFS and followed the trial around with us. Flagged off from the pub car park, we were soon at the first section, a climb across a disused railway embankment. This was followed by some very muddy and rutted lanes still coated with frost which added to the fun. The next group of sections involved trips into and out of streams and after more muddy tracks, we arrived at ‘Seymour’s Arena’, a man-made group of sections consisting mostly of rocks, hollows and climbs. The sections were very well laid out and with a NAAFI wagon on site, it would have been churlish to have left without a sausage roll and cup of tea!

On to Lollington Hill and Dick began to quiver as it was here a few years ago that he argued with a beech tree much bigger than himself and broke his leg although he didn’t discover that until a couple of sections later! No such bad luck this year although the graded hill saw me firmly pinned by the legs under the Anglian! It was after this that Dick, not being one to disappoint, fell off on the frost (so he says!) between sections and went flying. The petrol filler opened, fuel poured out and I dived off to kill his revving engine and prevent any more fuel being lost, not to mention a fire. Jack came along to find two Anglians plus riders on the deck with one laughing hysterically (it wasn’t Dick!) – I think poor Jack wondered what he had let himself in for (despite our coaxing, we couldn’t get him to fall off all day!)

Group after group followed as we trundled around in the brilliant sunshine taking in the Ridgeway and passing the old Bower Farm scrambles course (home of the Berks Grand National amongst other past events). We eventually came to the aptly-named ‘Dickie’s Rocks’ group and then we were on the way to the final section, located at the finish. This was obviously provided for the benefit of the spectators and consisted of a drop into quite a deep stream and then up, round and out. As we watched, a chap on a trail bike got it very wrong right in front of me and went over the bars straight into the water! He couldn’t have done it better if he had tried to provide spectator value and luckily he found it as funny as we did!

That was it, back at the pub and both bikes had run perfectly. I found that I had really enjoyed riding the Greeves, much more than expected. The gearing (chosen on advice of a fellow Anglian rider) had proved just about perfect, no trouble with the clutch or starting and the handling and power characteristics all added to a perfect (2) days riding. All that remained to be done was to load the bike and round things off with a couple of pints of ‘Fireside Ale’!

Jack Tries to Take his TES Around the Course
Strapped to the Back of his 4X4!