Go­ing for the ton

Would you scram­ble for 100 miles? Could you scram­ble for 100 miles? John Mc­crink tells you why you should at least try.

Classic Dirtbike - - Sporting Action - Words: John Mc­crink. Pic­tures: Phil Jones.

In June this year a scram­bling pal, Barry Tow­nend from Shrews­bury, sug­gested that I should join him and a lad called Paul in a three-man team to take part in the Ch­ester Clas­sic Club’s pop­u­lar 100 Mile Team Scram­ble at a place called Ruabon near Wrex­ham in North Wales. He as­sured me the re­ally well or­gan­ised, laid-back event would be great fun and I would re­ally en­joy my­self. Be­ing the joker he is, I’m some­times in­clined to take what Barry says with a pinch of salt, how­ever, on this oc­ca­sion he was ab­so­lutely right on all counts and the ‘100 miler’ proved to be one of the most en­joy­able day’s scram­bling I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced. The weather was good, the track well laid out, the or­gan­i­sa­tion ex­cel­lent and ev­ery­body was most wel­com­ing. Older rid­ers and en­thu­si­asts will re­mem­ber the orig­i­nal and fa­mous Pir­bright 100 Mile Scram­ble from the Six­ties and in more re­cent years the now well es­tab­lished 100 Mile Team Scram­ble hosted by the ex­cel­lent Mor­timer MCC. The sug­ges­tion that the Ch­ester Clas­sic Club should run a ‘100 miler’ was first pro­posed by club stal­wart Richard Mclaren about nine years ago, but at the time wasn’t re­ceived with any great en­thu­si­asm by fel­low or­gan­is­ers. How­ever, four years ago, and in Richard’s words: “To stop me bang­ing on about it the club agreed that we would stage our first ever 100 Mile Clas­sic Team Scram­ble.”

It was de­cided that the event should be open to rid­ers of all abil­i­ties and on any twin­shock ma­chine with drum brakes. The en­tries quickly piled in and the Ch­ester Club’s first ‘100 miler’ was launched with rid­ers com­pet­ing on mo­tocrossers, en­duro bikes and even trailies, all with the sin­gle aim of hav­ing fun. They ob­vi­ously re­ally en­joyed them­selves be­cause long be­fore the end of the sea­son they were ask­ing about regs for next year’s ‘100 miler’!

So in June this year, 21 teams of three rid­ers en­tered the event, many with quirky and amus­ing names such as Team Big Din­ner, Bingo Wings and We am Yam Yams.

Our revered team man­ager and supremo Barry quick-wit­tedly de­cided that since I am Scot­tish and would be jour­ney­ing south of the bor­der to the event then our team should be called ’North of the Bor­der’. Who could ar­gue with such orig­i­nal think­ing?

On ar­rival at the track on the Satur­day, my wife Jean and my­self were greeted by Barry who cor­dially of­fered us some wel­come liq­uid re­fresh­ment. He then rather sheep­ishly in­formed me that due to un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances his mate Paul had to with­draw from our team. “Oh what a shame,” says I, “Who’s go­ing to re­place him?” Even more sheep­ishly Barry mum­bled a re­ply. “Er, well…. no­body.”. We were now a team of two.

The rules of the event are quite sim­ple. The first team to com­plete 100 laps of the mile-long course is de­clared the win­ner and the event is ended. Be­fore the start, team tac­tics are cun­ningly de­vised and de­ci­sions made on how many laps each rider would do be­fore hand­ing over to re­in­force­ments.

Be­ing re­duced to just the two of us, sim­ple arith­metic told me Barry and I would have to com­plete a mere 50 laps each. A dod­dle!

Barry reck­oned I should hit the track first on my wee Honda Elsi­nore, make some ground and af­ter half an hour I would be called into the pit lane by our doughty lap- scorer/time­keeper Jean and he would take over on his thun­der­ing 600cc Husky/yam. Ex­cel­lent, sorted.

Af­ter a massed ‘sight­ing-lap’ we were soon back at the start area and ready for the race. A Le Mans type start was the or­der of the day, so with Barry hold­ing my bike (he thought I’d en­joy the sprint), we lined up 10 yards op­po­site our trusty steeds and waited for the off. When the flag dropped, with steamedup gog­gles I belted across the track in the vague di­rec­tion of Barry and my bike. Hav­ing found the bike it fired up first kick and I was off. With gog­gles clear­ing I soon got a rhythm go­ing and be­gan to en­joy the flow­ing na­ture of the track. There were bikes all around and plenty folk to dice with. It was great fun.

Be­fore I knew it, Jean was sig­nalling me into the pit lane to hand over the ba­ton to Barry who was ap­par­ently champ­ing at the bit to join the fray. Only snag was he’d flooded the big thumper and couldn’t get it to ‘light-up’.

I was hur­riedly ush­ered back onto the track whilst Barry went off to look for a new spark plug. Two laps later I was reeled in, handed the team arm-band to Barry and he took off like a scalded cat show­er­ing ev­ery­one in the pit lane with muck and stones. Barry pro­ceeded to put in some quick laps and soon his half hour was up and suit­ably re­freshed I joined in once again. Our tac­tics seemed to work, team spirit was ex­cel­lent and be­fore we knew it a great day’s scram­bling was at an end. Team Trauma had taken the che­quered flag closely fol­lowed by the Ginger Nuts on 98 laps and team Tig­ger in third place on 97. A close-run thing in­deed. Barry and I didn’t ex­actly set the heather on fire but we didn’t dis­grace our­selves ei­ther. Given that we were re­duced to only two, our 84 laps com­pleted was re­spectable enough but more im­por­tantly we had en­joyed a fan­tas­tic day of pure fun and ex­cite­ment.

Huge thanks are due to the Ch­ester Clas­sic Club and all the hard work­ing mem­bers who give up their time to make such en­joy­able events pos­si­ble.

An ex­tra spe­cial vote of thanks must surely go to the lap scor­ers who spent a full five hours mak­ing sure ev­ery­one’s laps were ac­cu­rately recorded. What’s more they man­aged to keep smil­ing which was en­cour­ag­ing for us as we be­gan to flag a bit.

Fi­nally, we shouldn’t for­get ace photographer Phil ‘the photos’ Jones, who was there record­ing our an­tics and pro­vid­ing su­perb vis­ual mem­o­ries of a great day out.

If you’ve never con­sid­ered rid­ing a ‘100 miler’ then I can only say go for it. It was bril­liant and I will be back. 

Honda Elsi­nore at speed. d John Bar­ry­tow­nen­dan of made­u­pateam Mc­crink three by them­selves.

Fast and­fu­ri­ous as thedirt flies. John Mc­crink (8) on the­way to the start. A Le Mans start, some reckon that’s the hard­est bit. The rid­ers’ meet­ing is im­por­tant... pay at­ten­tion lads.

It's all about fun. No quar­ter given in the turns. John Mc­crink has­been scram­bling awhile.

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