Sport­ing world

We’ve been to our spon­sored NBBC round in the North East and a twin­shock MX in Ch­ester… where have you been?

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents - Words &Pics: Tim Brit­ton.

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.

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