Monday, January 6, 2014

Exeter Trial 2014

A new departure this year. In an attempt to lift my Exeter curse my entry went in for Class O and fingers were crossed for third time lucky. This is the fourth year I've had an entry in: first was the year it was snowed off, second was on a recalcitrant Greeves Scottish that I threw the towel in with half way around and last year was the closest I have ever been to physical and mental breakdown with a motorcycle as the Bullet first gave strange electrical gremlins and then an unrepairable puncture reared its ugly head at three in the morning...

Class O is on a slightly different route to the regular classes and the sections are less demanding and designed for less specialised machinery. The remit is something like you should be able to use a regular road vehicle without great risk of damage. I entered with Dan on his regular Bullet and Matt on his Royal Enfield Crusader. Together we were a team, 'The Three Bulleteers' - granted one of the bikes isn't a Bullet but it is fairly close.

Personally one of the big advantages of Class O is the lack of the 'touring assembly' before the trial proper. This meant that instead of riding up to Cirencester mid afternoon for an evening start I was flagged off from the Haynes Museum in Sparkford just gone one in the morning. As Haynes is less than an hour away from home this meant committing half a day less to the endeavour and many less miles. Also nice is that leaving from Sparkford you get quickly in to the actual sections.

Mechanics are always more fun in the dark!
Dan's Bullet was a recalcitrant starter at Haynes, though ran down fine from Bristol. Such is the nature of elderly machinery.. A quick carb strip had it sorted and we left about forty minutes late.

Of course shortly after leaving the rains came down. And did they indeed come down. Cats and dogs, buckets, stairods and any other idiomatic description you can think of can all be applied. The severe weather warning was indeed correct. It didn't take long for feet and hands to become damp and then downright wet. Though wearing fully layered waterproofs after several hours of onslaught the dampness did eventually permeate right down to bare skin.

The Class O sections were all pitched at a decent level, most of them were a challenge, a couple were a doddle but we all got up. They seemed to be just about right, Matt and Dan on the standard road bikes made the top of all hills and footed on several. I felt slightly phoney on my heavily modified Bullet as I made all of them without too much effort feet up apart from one where I suffered sudden fuel starvation, came to a halt and had to kick and start off again. At least the modifications to the Bullet paid off. For the benefit of fellow Bullet nerds the gearing was about spot on with a wide ratio box, a thirteen tooth gearbox sprocket and standard rear sprocket. I hardly had to slip the clutch at all and cruising on the road was comfortable up to about 45mph.

The below clip is the ascent of Class O Fingle Woods.

All in, rain apart, this year's Exeter was a big success. We all finished. We stuck together for the whole trial and we all got up all the hills. Previous years and other trials the schedule has slipped back to three or four hours behind time. This time we finished just an hour late. Annoyingly we just missed Class O Simms. It had been shut by the Clerk of the Course just a minute or so before we arrived. In the main class if you start early and drop time you're not going to encounter shut sections as there are so many competitors behind you but as we found out Class O is a relatively small class and if you drop back, beware..

Arriving to the Trecarn Hotel in daylight we actually had time to get some shuteye before the AGM dinner and make the most of it. The ride home the following day was once again very damp. Just ten miles before home the swinging arm bush failed and the tial of the bike became very fexible. I limped it home grateful that it didn't go earlier. Finally my Exeter curse lifted!

TVR parked up at Islington village hall.

MZ at the Trecarn Hotel finish. One of several entered.

My Bullet at the top of French's.

MG PA at Islington.

Heavily modded MG J2 with MGB engine and supercharger
at Islington.

Matt and Dan at the top of French's.

Detail on a lovely HRG at Islington.

Another of that HRG. Being used as it was made to be.

Ford Model A at Islington.

Dan's Bullet at the end.

A good day's sport for a dog near to the top of French's. It
lay in wait behind a gate and dived out like a banshee at each
passer by!

Very purposefully modded late fifties 350 Bullet at the end.

A brace of Bantams at the Trecarn Hotel.

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