Held as usual after Christmas on the 30th December, this trial lived up to its usual high standards. Organised by GRA member Martin Kemp in memory of his father, incidentally, also a GRA member and Leading Link scribe), the event is held on the same army land as the Talmag at Hungry Hill, Aldershot.
Being sandy terrain, rain is not usually too much of a problem although some parts can be pretty sticky whatever the weather so it seems! As it happened although the weather had been quite wet before Christmas, immediately before the trial, the rain held off and the ground was in (mostly!) prime condition. What amazes me most about this type of land is its miraculous recovery / self-healing properties. For example, the section that is ‘Hungry Hill’ gets so torn up in the Talmag as too be very difficult but in this trial, it had recovered over the year to near ‘main road’ characteristics.
This year, we had a total of three GRA members riding that I am aware of. These were Dick Faggetter, Mick Salsbury and Martin’s brother, Rupert. Jack Chalk came along to add his support and a merry little GRA gang set forth on the day’s entertainment. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing saga of my shoulder injury, I could not ride. However, Dick let me have a go on his Anglian and it held up a treat (my shoulder that is, not his Anglian!), my first ride on a bike for 8 weeks so perhaps I’ll be OK(ish) before too much longer.
Martin began the event with a cat herding exercise, sorry, rider’s briefing. Riders were to start at the section corresponding to the last digit of their riding number to avoid queues and it seemed to work although with 130 riders and a fairly short lap distance, some queuing did occur but it didn’t seem to be a big issue.
The sections were fairly open with not too many twists and turns. Being Hungry Hill, there were plenty of ups and downs instead! Dick had not ridden for a long time and despite consuming about 6 boxes of mince pies over Christmas, soon got back into the swing of things, He realised that he was out of practice and had managed to psyche himself up to just have a fun ride and not attempt anything dodgy! As the day went on, his riding improved no end and I am very pleased to report that not only did he finish the day with a smile on his face, he let me have another go on his bike so that I could go off in search of Mick!
I rather think it may have been me that persuaded Mick to enter! Now, Mick is an enthusiastic but not over-experienced trials rider. We go back a long way back to our racing days at Brands Hatch where Mick was a good rider. However, racers don’t normally stand on the footrests and this is where the problem lay – getting Mick to stand up on the footrests and stay standing! In the end, we thought about removing Mick’s saddle and replacing it with a 6 inch nail or two! However, despite a couple of ‘offs’ he started improving and there should be a picture somewhere here of him actually standing on the footrests!
In all fairness, Mick’s TDS could do with a couple of mods. To begin with, the original footrests could do with replacing and moving and also, the throttle could do with changing to a proper trials type. As any trials rider knows, riding position and controls are everything but this is all a ‘work-in-progress’ and it is coming along nicely.
I eventually found Mick on the last lap and all went well until section 10! This consisted of a downhill left hand loop followed by an up and then over and back down incorporating a right turn on a bank. Now as trials riders know, the up and over right turn needs the rider standing on the footrests together with a little bit of speed. Mick had neither of these two essential requisites! He started off quite well and was coming up the bank when, in usual style he flopped back onto the seat. This was not looking good and despite my ‘encouragement’ to stand up again he didn’t and on reaching the right-hand turn at less than walking pace, flopped over the bank with the throttle jammed wide. As I said, Mick is learning and here he learned what happens when you try to pick up a revving bike still in gear! Yes, it tried to get away except that we were both in the way, including my bad shoulder which took quite a thump, luckily with no apparent further damage. That made me realise why I was not taking part having been banned on medical advice. It also made me realise I probably shouldn’t be anywhere near a trial as spectating seems more dangerous, especially if Mick is riding! It was usually Dick who took me out with his tricks of derring do but this time around, it seems Dick has handed over the reins to Mick!
Anyway we add value not to mention amusement to the spectators day out even if somewhat painfully! Upon trying to start the bike, it would appear that the over-revving has loosened the flywheel again. Luckily, we were close to the start, the only problem being that we were at the bottom of the hill between us and the car park. A hefty shove down and around the hill and we were able to freewheel back down to the van. Phew! Dick was still smiling from ear to ear about having a good day as the 3 battered objects (1 rider, 1 spectator and 1 TDS) ground to a halt! All in all, despite the minor problems we all had a good time including Mick who certainly learnt a good deal. With more experience and a few (intentional!) mods to the bike, he will certainly enjoy himself even more! Thanks Martin, a great day out!