Tra­di­tional� Ar­but­not Trial

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Re­port: Andy Withers • Pic­tures: Aws­port­sphoto

In the reg­u­la­tions riders are in­structed:- 'The Ar­buth­not is not sup­posed to be a Sun­day af­ter­noon stroll, but a hard day's ride which will leave com­peti­tors tired but sat­is­fied that they have achieved a tough goal'.

The Ma­chin­ery

Rigid ma­chin­ery is given pri­or­ity of en­try, and this year 90 solo and side­car en­trants took on the en­joy­ment and chal­lenge of the event. Ma­chin­ery ranged from the 1929 250cc Ariel Colt of Paul 'Weasel' Bah­main to the 1966 solo 650cc Tri­umph Metisse of for­mer side­car ace Dick Ram­plee, with ev­ery Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer rep­re­sented in­clud­ing rare Sun­beam, Ex­cel­sior, Ariel, Pan­ther, Dot and Cot­ton ma­chines. Ma­chines are di­vided into ten dif­fer­ent classes, in­clud­ing sep­a­rate classes for ma­chines with Girder forks and those with tele forks, Pre-65 pre­unit four-stroke, Pre-65 two-stroke sprung frame ma­chines, Pre-75 twostroke and Pre 75 two-stroke sprung, and also side­cars. All ma­chines have to be Bri­tish, and they are scru­ti­neered prior to the event for au­then­tic­ity. Ma­chin­ery is pretty stan­dard with lit­tle of the 'trick' ma­chin­ery found in some clas­sic events.

The Course

Scru­ti­neer­ing is car­ried out in the pub car park at The Bar­ford Inn at Bar­ford St Martin, south of Sal­is­bury, with ba­con sand­wiches and cof­fee on tap.

Leav­ing the vil­lage, the 80 miles takes in a loop through Strat­ford Tony across Cran­borne Chase, fol­low­ing much of the Drover's Road down to Shaftes­bury. Sec­tions near Zigzag Hill and Cor Com­mon are fol­lowed by Whitesheet Hill and back over Comp­ton Downs back to the Bar­ford Inn.

Sec­tions are held in six dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, with two or three routes on each sec­tion: a 'com­pe­ti­tion' route for the more ex­pe­ri­enced riders us­ing com­pe­ti­tion ma­chin­ery and a 'colo­nial' route for less skilled riders or those on less mod­i­fied ma­chin­ery. Side­cars ei­ther have their own route or tackle the colo­nial route on some sec­tions.

The 2017 event

Mike Dol­lit­tle, a vet­eran of 20-plus Ar­buth­nots, was first away on his im­mac­u­late 1964 500cc Tri­umph T50 from his home vil­lage fol­lowed at minute in­ter­vals by other riders head­ing for the hills.

Com­peti­tors were faced with deep, rut­ted tracks with pud­dles of unknown depth and not all made it beyond the first few miles, in­clud­ing Jim Chad­wick's 1951 BSA B34 and Fred Clut­ter­buck's 1949 350cc AJS which suf­fered an early punc­ture that couldn't be re­paired. At the spec­tac­u­lar Strat­ford Tony Ford, the ex­pe­ri­enced com­peti­tors like Dolit­tle took a sweep­ing line through the wa­ter at a con­fi­dent pace.

Less ex­pe­ri­enced riders, or those who wanted an ex­tra thrill, took the short­est and deep­est The Ar­buth­not Trial: 'A trial from be­tween the wars run to­day'. What is it? The Ar­buth­not Trial was first held af­ter the First World War as a re­li­a­bil­ity trial for man and ma­chine. To­day it is billed as 'a trial from be­tween the wars, run likes those in the 1920s', and this her­itage is jeal­ously pro­tected by Sal­is­bury Mo­tor­cy­cle and Light Car Club. Riders are faced with a sin­gle lap of up to 80 miles of rid­ing on tracks and an­cient roads through the coun­try­side to the south of the Wilt­shire City of Sal­is­bury. The event was named af­ter a lo­cal mo­tor­cy­cle hero Ad­mi­ral Sir Robert Ar­buth­not, a TT rider from the early 1900s who fin­ished third in the TT on a Tri­umph in 1908. The tra­di­tional for­mat in­cludes ten sec­tions spread through­out the 80 miles, check­points en route which in­cur penal­ties if you miss them to stop course cut­ting, a reg­u­la­tory lunch stop at the Golf Club and a spe­cial timed stage to split the class win­ners in the event of a tie. Riders com­pete as in­di­vid­u­als and in ad­di­tion, can en­ter for the team com­pe­ti­tion of three riders who sub­mit a com­bined score at the end of the trial. Riders are ex­pected to wear cloth­ing in keep­ing with the time; Barbour and Bel­staff are 'aplenty' along with a few 'pud­ding basins'.

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