We’ve been to our sponsored NBBC round in the North East and a twinshock MX in Chester… where have you been?
Once upon a time all trials riders rode their bikes to the event… yes I know it’s hard to believe in these days of vans and motorhomes but that is what happened in days of yore when four-strokes were king and two-strokes an ignorable anomaly. Trials would generally cover 30, 40 or 50 miles or more, include a lunch stop and be marshalled by the older club members. In those far off days, trials tyres were made of concrete and would last the life of the bike or longer, everyone wore waxed cotton riding suits, ex-dr or Naval sea boots and a flat cap and maintaining forward motion was the prime directive of the feet-up brigade. Under the eagle eye of the observer, super stars, up-and-coming hopefuls, talented clubmen and newcomers all rode the same sections and should forward motion be halted for the briefest of periods – a period so brief as to be unable to be measured by sophisticated timing equipment – then a ‘five’ was marked on the score sheet.
Those days are long gone and with time travel possible only in science fiction, the closest link to the past is the pre-65 movement. These days though, most pre-65 bikes are far tricker than even the works machines of the British industry as they take advantage of modern tyre, ignition and design technology. But still there is a hankering for the old-school type of event, one with a few miles of roadwork, some long trails and sections which are possible, in short an event which gives value for money.
By all accounts the Stanhope Classic Trial – part of the NBBC series delivered on all counts. At 37 and a bit miles this traditional one-lapper stuck to the old values and even the rain held off until almost everyone made it back to the finish.
This sixth round of the series, on September 10, saw riders head to the picturesque Weardale Valley, Co Durham, for the most northern event of the contest and despite coming hot on the wheels of the Manx Classic Two-day, still had a decent entry. Riders left the start area at Rogerley Quarry between Stanhope and Wolsingham at one minute intervals, ahead of them 30 sections, the first four a few hundred yards away in the quarry itself. From there, the entry made its way along the road to take in several more sections before meeting up with us camera wielders at Bedburn on the way to Hamsterley Forest. Toughest section here was reserved for the expert classes and took the form of a vicious stream which needed few section flags as once riders
were in it there was no way or even reason to come out of the stream bed until the rock steps had been negotiated and the ends cards passed, but even then the exit – up onto an old bridge – caught a few out, though those with a determined effort made it look easy.
While the riders took a short road stretch, then a longer off-road ride, spectators and officials hurried – within the speed limits – to Butsfield Quarry where the trial’s connection with the trade supported events of the past awaited. A section by the roadside known as The Travers Section, as it was used in the national Travers Trophy Trial as far back as the Twenties, proved tricky enough as it needed just enough speed to keep on line but not too much speed that a bike would bounce off the gulley sides.
Under darkening skies which promised to uphold the weather forecasters’ predictions, the entry headed back to the start with only the final few sections in Rogerley Quarry to finish them off. As rider after rider came in with smiles, grins and calls of ‘great trial’ and ‘wow what a ride round’ the organisers could allow themselves a metaphorical pat on the back for a job well done.
Catching up with a few riders at the finish we found Pre Unit Expert Class winner Tim Hartshorne had suffered complete electrical failure and only managed to get going again by rebuilding the wiring inside the PAL magneto with the safety wire from the handlebar grips. South Shields lad Ken Oates needed a little more than safety wire when his front engine bolt vanished on the road and he gingerly made his way back to the start with little option but to retire. A couple of riders managed the perfect score for their class and club secretary Ossy Byers just knew his result would be scrutinised in depth by the rest of the club, but in the end it was acknowledged the Dot rider had done the club proud in winning the Clubman Class on zero. Top of the unit expert class was John Charlton, out for the first time on his newly-built Triumph twin and what a debut… clean all the way. The entry now look to the final round – The Waterside in Lancashire – where the series will be decided.
Ready for the off andwith it all to ride for are (left to right) Stuart Armstrong (Wassell Bantam), Rob Goodwin (Francis-barnett), John Sowerby (Bantam), Gary Bloodworth (Triumph) androbert Atkinson (Drayton Bantam). Below: Castleside Club member Jimmy Mckeown feet up on the fourth section.
It’s all in the mouth action… Robert Atkinson exits the tricky Bedburn Gulley. He’s a good right to smile, John Charlton was feet up all the way. A two- stroke twinmay not be everyone’s choice of bike, but Harry Stanistreet likes his and rides it well.