Pre-65 SSDT

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Pictures: Eric Kitchen and Yoomee

It was the af­ter­noon of April 30th, 2016, at the con­clu­sion of the Scot­tish Pre-65 Trial at Kin­lochleven, where I was chat­ting with my good tri­al­ing friend Tony Swiden­bank who had just com­pleted the trial on his Dray­ton Ban­tam. "It's your sev­en­ti­eth next year isn't it?" said Swinny, "you should be rid­ing this trial, so how about if you put in an en­try and you can ride my Cub as a birth­day present?" That seemed a pretty good idea, so come the fol­low­ing Oc­to­ber when the reg­u­la­tions and en­try forms be­came avail­able I slipped up to Ken­dal to take pictures of his very smart Cub and duly sent off my en­try form — only to learn that I failed to make it through the bal­lot. Twelve months later ex­actly the same sce­nario was played out, "It's your sev­enty-first next year, blah de blah de blah", but come Oc­to­ber, I thought can I re­ally be both­ered to go through all that palaver just to ride a trial? — and it is a palaver, what with all the spe­cial re­quire­ments needed to sim­ply send off an en­try. No other trial in the world de­mands such a per­for­mance, so I re­ally couldn't be both­ered.

Come a very late Novem­ber, when 'Swinny' says "have you en­tered it yet?", which pushed me into get­ting my act to­gether and I duly sent off the en­try with just a few days left be­fore en­tries closed. Con­vinced I would never make it through the bal­lot, I thought no more about it un­til I was driv­ing home from my last ACU Committee Meet­ing at Rugby when the phone rang just as I was at a ser­vice sta­tion hav­ing stopped for fuel. It was Tony, "I'm go­ing to have to get this Cub fet­tled for you now aren't I!" "What on earth are you on about?" says I, "Well now that you're in the Pre-65 you'll need to have a cou­ple of rides be­fore to get used to it" he said.


I have to say I was de­lighted with the news as I fin­ished my journey back home just a few days be­fore Christ­mas and less than three weeks be­fore my 71st birth­day.

So seven weeks be­fore the Pre-65 at Kin­lochleven was due to take place, I took de­liv­ery of Tony's very smart ma­chine and rode it in the Poacher's Bag Trial in Lin­colnshire. It's hardly the best venue of woods and tight turns to pre­pare for the big rocky streams of Scot­land, but hey, with 55 years of tri­alling ex­pe­ri­ence any ride is good enough to get the feel of a strange ma­chine! I didn't ride it well but did thor­oughly en­joy the event, and then just two weeks be­fore the trip up to Scot­land I rode again in a York­shire Clas­sic Big Bike Trial in which other Pre65 ma­chines could com­pete, and went round clean.

On to Scot­land, and here's where it all goes wrong. Scru­ti­neer­ing — no prob­lem. Rid­ers' pa­rade — no prob­lem. The first sec­tion, a big five, sim­ply out of touch with the ma­chine; but at least the first five is out of the way, and I fol­lowed it up with three very tidy cleans on what were quite dif­fi­cult sec­tions, which took me to the bot­tom of Pipe­line. I walk the hill, do­ing the usual bit of chit-chat, and re­turn to my bike to join the queue, then when it comes to my turn next to ride the ma­chine sim­ply will not start. Half an hour later, hav­ing ex­hausted ev­ery op­tion open to me on the hill, hav­ing been given lots of help by Paul Bad­de­ley, there was no other op­tion but to re­turn down the hill to the car park.

It's Dead

Back in the car park two Dutch guys of­fered help and en­cour­age­ment as we tried to lo­cate the rea­son for no spark. The tank was off, spark plugs were tried, plug cap re­moved, side case re­moved; but it was to­tally dead. Some­body sug­gested that I go and see Al­bert Ber­gada, who, I con­fess, I didn't know from Adam, but then I'm not a Pre-65 afi­cionado.

What a won­der­ful guy! He's a Span­ish en­thu­si­ast who ap­par­ently goes to all the big clas­sic tri­als with a van full of ev­ery­thing and any­thing that the Pre-65 scene rid­ers might need. He im­me­di­ately set to work on the ma­chine, check­ing and test­ing ev­ery­thing, only to de­clare it was dead. Yes, I know!

"So do you want me to make it go?" Al­bert dived into his van and pro­duced an en­tire PVL ig­ni­tion sys­tem for a Cub and pro­ceeded to re­move the old one and fit­ted the new. Ob­vi­ously the job took him some time, and all I could do was hang around like a spare *****, as my en­gi­neer­ing knowl­edge is, to say the least, lim­ited! How­ever, the Cub did even­tu­ally fire back into life and I was able to complete the sec­ond loop of the day, hav­ing had to forego the Black­wa­ter loop. Shame that!

At this point let me say that all was not yet over. Hot, sweaty, ag­i­tated, over­weight, un­fit — I was never go­ing to be a star that af­ter­noon. If there was a hole to fall into, I fell into it. If there was a slip­pery rock to take a dab on, I used it and took it. The new ig­ni­tion was too ad­vanced and to start it ev­ery time took dozens of kicks, which made my dodgy right knee look like a swollen melon — and as it was a bit like rid­ing a cruise mis­sile my abuse of the clutch, hold­ing it in check, over­heated it which re­sulted in me and the Tri­umph be­ing stranded down by the loch-side and hav­ing to push it to a stream to kick wa­ter over it to cool it down! Then the swing­ing arm nut ob­vi­ously took a dis­lik­ing to me, pre­fer­ring to spend the rest of its life nestling in the Scot­tish bracken some­where.

Time to Call it a Day

De­spite my well-known en­thu­si­asm for motorcycli­ng in gen­eral, and tri­als rid­ing in par­tic­u­lar, I have to say that I had ex­pe­ri­enced enough for my twelfth Pre-65 Scot­tish and re­luc­tantly de­cided to call it a day, pre­fer­ring in­stead to mount my e-bike on Satur­day morn­ing with friends and ride the Mamore Road to see the Callert sec­tions.

I sin­cerely thank Tony for the loan of his pre­cious steed and to Al­bert for his en­thu­si­asm, knowl­edge, abil­ity and van full of Pre-65 bits to en­able those of us who ride such events to be able to carry on when all else ap­pears to have failed. I know that I failed mis­er­ably and on re­flec­tion per­haps should have re­tarded the ig­ni­tion on Satur­day morn­ing, found a nut for the swing­ing arm and taken a gal­lop round Satur­day's much eas­ier course. But hey, it's only a trial, there's plenty more to come, but maybe not a Pre-65 in Scot­land. Get­ting through the bal­lot was the first step, which proved to be the easy bit!

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