Thursday, January 10, 2013

Exeter Trial 2013

This post was planned as a blow by blow account of my successful Exeter Trial on my wonderfully prepared Royal Enfield Bullet accompanied by the equally intrepid Dan on his road-going Bullet and Matt on his Beta Alp. Instead it is a tale of mechanical woe and physical collapse. The only pictures I bring you are from the massed start at the Haynes Museum, Sparkford. Enjoy the pictures and read on below if you care to hear my sorry tale...

Some bikes entered for me can be truly classified as 'heroic'.
This BSA M21 and Steib combo is one such. There really is
no concession to off-roading bar the removal of the sidecar
seat and its replacement with a pad on the boot. This gives
better traction on hills but its most significant purpose must
surely be to drastically reduce passenger comfort.

Another heroic mount. Plunger BSA A7.

Home-made Citroen 2CV based three-wheeler.

Rather nice and purposeful Dellow.

Pair of Dellows waiting to be used for what they were made for.

Another valiant hero. Francis Barnett Falcon. In fact there are
a pair of them ride together.

A further pair to be saluted. There are two 1920's Trojan
two stroke cars normally enter. They are standard save for
upgraded lights and lowered gearing.
The Bullet made the trip from home in Dorset to the start at Cirencester via Matt's folks for dinner (thanks Bill and Lyn!), some ninety miles or so without trouble. We had a late start number at Cirencester and headed off just before nine pm. All was well until we got closer to the gathering point at Sparkford, another ninety miles on. The bike started to misfire slightly under load. High revs and steady running fine but increasing throttle openings gave trouble. I suspected spark plug problems. All the same we made Sparkford in nice time and had a good two and a half hours there to natter, check out machinery and take a break.

With time to spare the points were checked and the spark plug examined. All looked to be in Bristol fashion and starting and running seemed improved. I did the driving test at Sparkford. It went well but then the bike was hard to start after.

Riding on to Windwhistle Restart Test the misfire got work and the bike had to be revved or it would die. By this point I was wondering if my alternator was keeping up with draw from the lights but stopping the engine the battery was still up and the lights good. I wondered about a fuel blockage...

Hit the start line for the restart test and the bike died. Terminally. It was on a steep and narrow hill with a long queue behind. Matt and Dan went ahead as there was nowhere to wait. I kicked the bike aimlessly for ten odd minutes on the verge before giving up through exhaustion of body and spirit. There was nothing to do but push the bike back down the hill and as it happened back up the next until I could find somewhere to work on it. By this time it was somewhere around one am. Out came the headtorch and tools and on with a carb strip. Carb back together fitfteen minutes later and no improvement. Hmm... how about that sparkplug? I changed it and it was perfect. Should have gone with gut instinct straight away.

On with the show. Restart test no problem. Next section. Underdown II. Much queuing, Class O section was abandoned due to the extremely muddy conditions. I queued for a long time to get to the section. I was waved on past it. I did a circle and queued through again. This time I did the section and got up ok. Next Normans Hump. Gave Matt and Dan a call. Was catching up nicely. Normans Hump was rather difficult, very muddy and on a slightly overgeared and underpowered for purpose Brit bike it was hard work. With a lot of revving and wheel spinning to keep the motor in its sweet spot I made it to the restart box. Stopping at the restart was a mistake. No way could I get traction again. The clutch overheated and that was it. I had to manhandle the bike around and back down the hill. Next hill was Clinton and I got up ok but with a couple of footings.

Coming off the tracks from Clinton and back on to the road I realised I had a front puncture. Now four am. Nothing to do but have a crack at repairing it. Bike covered in mud. No centre stand. On a hill and in the dark. Still, got a new tube in, pumped it up and down it went again. Extreme exhaustion and a considerable degree of demoralisation followed. A pair of gents in a Dellow let me inflate from their airline and I resolved to try to make it to the closest service station before the tyre flattened once more.

I got to Tower Services in Seaton just as they were opening at six thirty am. Food and liquid restored me somewhat. Called up my recovery service and hoped they would come out and bring a tube. Two hours later nothing so I called. Apparently no fix, no help but a recovery lorry was on its way. A bit infuriating as by this time the local bike shop would have been open. I could have fixed the problem, skipped a few sections and carried on. Still, bed and a shower did seem appealling. The guys at the service station were fantastic as were numerous locals, interested in the bike, free coffee, a chair to sit on whilst waiting and one guy from up the road even brought me down a bacon sarnie.

So, that's the tale of woe. One of those, why do I do this? Never again days. But by Sunday I was plotting changes to the bike, rueing on my bad luck and thinking about the next one...

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