Flash­back North

1968 Bem­rose

Classic Trial - - NEWS - Words: John Hulme • Pic­tures: Mal­colm Car­ling

With a date change from its usual month of March to Novem­ber, the weather that would have af­fected the event in spring came back to haunt the Pathfind­ers and Derby Mo­tor Club with its au­tum­nal mist and rain. Every­one, in­clud­ing my­self, was look­ing for­ward to a clash be­tween the pre­vi­ous year’s win­ner Sammy Miller on the Bul­taco and lo­cal rider Mick An­drews on the devel­op­ment Ossa. As it hap­pened, both rid­ers would be miss­ing from the event. In the case of Miller, he had suf­fered bro­ken ribs in a crash with a gate ear­lier in the month at the Perce Si­mon Trial, and after com­pet­ing in the Bri­tish Ex­perts, he had to take an en­forced rest to al­low to them to heal. An­drews was based in Barcelona in Spain, where he had spent the pre­vi­ous six months work­ing at the Ossa fac­tory as they con­tin­ued the devel­op­ment of their new off-road range of ma­chines. With on­go­ing work he would re­main at the fac­tory un­til De­cem­ber, forc­ing him to miss this event.

It was one of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries of a na­tional trial, which the Hulme fam­ily had looked for­ward to for weeks. My fa­ther Ron had been friends with Mick An­drews’ fa­ther Tom for a few years, and we would meet him at the trial, where he would apol­o­gise to us that his son would not be rid­ing. The trial started as it al­ways had done, on Satur­day on the Bux­tonto-Ash­bourne road from the Bull I’th’ Thorn Inn pub­lic house where we made the trip for a pro­gramme be­fore the ac­tion started in our trusty green Austin Mini es­tate car, reg­is­tra­tion num­ber OUT 835D; it’s strange what you re­mem­ber from your boy­hood years!

Fog and rain

With more than 30 haz­ards to ne­go­ti­ate in a time limit of four-and-a-half hours the en­try of more than 140 solo rid­ers and a small gath­er­ing of side­cars as­sem­bled for the start of this trade sup­ported event. The road ride to the first group of haz­ards at Chur­net would be un­com­fort­able, to say the least, as the heav­ens opened up and the rain came down to soak the rid­ers.

With its nat­u­ral rivers and steep climbs, the group of haz­ards proved very dif­fi­cult, and early signs of a new win­ner was on the cards as Mon­tesa rider Lawrence Telling on the new Cota 247 model cleaned all in front of him. Greeves team rider Derek Ad­sett also went clean, as did Gaunt Suzuki rid­ers Terry Wright and ma­chine builder Peter Gaunt. Other clean rides through this group would come from Belle Vue Aces speed­way rider Ken Eyre, and Dick Hearn on the Tri­umph Tiger Cub.

The mud at Heath­field, the next haz­ards, had be­come deep and dif­fi­cult, with the only clean ride com­ing from Greeves rider Mal­colm Rath­mell. His fast, ag­gres­sive ap­proach gave him the only clean ride mak­ing him a po­ten­tial win­ner in the early stages of the event.

Next, it was to the crowd-lined rocky gul­ley at Hollinsclough. This long, rock-strewn haz­ard takes no pris­on­ers, and with the rain mak­ing it even worse it turned into a skat­ing rink. Rider after rider were stopped in their tracks be­fore a full-on wide open throt­tle at­tempt from the younger of the two Wilkin­son broth­ers, Mick, stayed feet-up to claim the only clean ride, which was greeted by a good round of ap­plause from the pa­tient but very wet spec­ta­tors which in­cluded my good self!

The clock’s tick­ing

As any tri­als rider will tell you when the mist comes down the route mark­ing be­comes harder to fol­low. With very poor vis­i­bil­ity due to the fog and rain, the four-and-a-half-hour time limit was look­ing more and more dif­fi­cult to ad­here to.

Booth Farm and its lime­stone out­crop was in a very cruel mood and took marks from the en­tire en­try be­fore they made the ride to Cheeks Hill at the side of the Bux­ton-to-Leek road. A very tra­di­tional haz­ard with a long sport­ing his­tory of use in mo­tor­cy­cle tri­als, this haz­ard wit­nessed the wa­ter level rise as the rain con­tin­ued to fall.

Clean rides were hard fought for be­fore the trial moved to the iconic Hawk’s Nest. The red grit­stone turned to pro­vide a very slip­pery paste on all the rocks, and no end of rid­ers recorded five after five push­ing their scores higher and higher. At this late stage, the vic­tory had moved to­wards two rid­ers, even­tual win­ner Lawrence Telling and Greeves-mounted Gor­don Far­ley.

It was stay­ing on course up Cheeks Hill where Telling had taken the ad­van­tage away from Far­ley, which would prove cru­cial in the fi­nal re­sult. Know­ing they needed to be rid­ing at their very best only John Hem­ing­way, Derek Ad­sett, Far­ley and Steve Wil­son on the Tri­umph-pow­ered El­star spe­cial, along with Telling and Den­nis Jones, recorded clean rides.

Manor Steps, with its red iron-ore coloured river, had a new haz­ard away from the wa­ter in the woods, and these proved very test­ing. After the Sprite-mounted rid­ers of Hem­ing­way and Chris Leigh­field had cleaned them Den­nis Jones on the Suzuki made his push for vic­tory with also a clear ride.

As the rid­ers headed to the fi­nal group at Ramshaw Rocks it was ob­vi­ous so many would be late on time and in­cur penal­ties. It had been a very test­ing day on the Der­byshire, East Mid­lands and Stafford­shire bor­ders for all the en­try.

Lawrence Telling (250 Mon­tesa): Hawk’s Nest: Known as ‘Sparkie’, he was rid­ing one of the new 250 Mon­tesa Cota 247 mod­els. In­tro­duced ear­lier in the year this was one of the very first pro­duc­tion tri­als ma­chines from the Span­ish man­u­fac­turer that were sup­plied in kit form. Classed as a 1969 model it was priced at £285 and sup­plied in the UK from the of­fi­cial im­porters Mon­tala Mo­tors.

Gor­don Far­ley (250 Greeves): Cheeks Hill: You can al­most feel the wet and cold here as he at­tacks Cheeks Hill. Rid­ing the age­ing Vil­liers en­gined Greeves it’s ironic that the fac­tory’s per­son­nel were at their Puch fac­tory in Aus­tria look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive en­gine sup­plier for a new tri­als model the same week­end as the trial. Far­ley had al­ready signed a let­ter of in­tent to ride for Mon­tesa in 1969.

Peter Gaunt (128 Suzuki): Cheeks: Rid­ing the ma­chine he cre­ated and try­ing to keep the cig­a­rette in his mouth is ‘Geke’ as he was known by his good friend Barry Robin­son. As you can see the wa­ter is gush­ing down Cheeks Hill!

Ken Eyre (125 Sprite): Cheeks Hill: We apol­o­gise for the pic­ture qual­ity. A prom­i­nent mem­ber of the fa­mous Belle Vue Aces speed­way team, Ken oc­ca­sion­ally joined his brother Nor­man in lo­cal tri­als.

Mick Wilkin­son (250 Greeves): Hollinsclough: The crowd moves out to watch this sin­gle feet-up ride of the long rocky haz­ard from the en­tire en­try; yours truly, John Hulme, was in the crowd to wit­ness it!

Dave Thorpe (250 Ossa): Hawk’s Nest: Check out the body lean as ‘Thor­pey’ strives to keep the Ossa on line us­ing the full ef­fect of his tech­nique.

Eric Ad­cock (250 DOT): Hollinsclough: Keep­ing the DOT flag fly­ing, Eric pre­pares to aban­don ship on the slip­pery rocks made worse by the fall­ing rain.

Jeff Smith (250 BSA): Hollinsclough: 500cc World Mo­tocross Cham­pion, Scot­tish Six Days Trial win­ner, Scott Trial win­ner, Bri­tish Tri­als Cham­pion; what more can you say about the great ‘Smithy’? Such a bril­liant am­bas­sador for the once mighty BSA, with whom he had all his suc­cess.

Mal­colm Davis (250 AJS): Cheeks Hill: Much bet­ter known for his mo­tocross suc­cess, on this oc­ca­sion the younger of the two broth­ers beat Tony.

Nor­man Eyre (125 Sprite): Cheeks Hill: This haz­ard, as you can see here, is a lit­tle steeper than many pic­tures show. It has been a ma­jor part of Der­byshire-based tri­als for as long as most peo­ple can re­mem­ber. No doubt it tested the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the lit­tle 125cc Sachs en­gined Sprite to its limit. Wa­ter cool­ing was not needed!

Tony Davis (250 AJS): Cheeks Hill: This is the bot­tom part of the haz­ard and the ma­chine is the new 250cc Vil­liers en­gined AJS. Priced in kit form at £228 this was a last chance for the ail­ing mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer to keep the Span­ish ma­chines at bay; un­for­tu­nately it failed mis­er­ably.

Ray Sayer (Tri­umph): Hollinsclough: This pic­ture typ­i­fies the late 60s tri­als scene. As Ray ‘pad­dles’ up the haz­ard the crowd fol­lows his ev­ery move. De­spite Sammy Miller and Mick An­drews miss­ing from the en­try and the in­clement weather the crowds still turned out.

Alan More­wood (500 Ariel): With Phil Granby in the ‘chair’ the pair­ing took a good win in the tough con­di­tions.

Har­vey Lloyd (250 Bul­taco): Hollinsclough: As Har­vey takes a steady­ing ‘dab’ on the right you will see ‘Nick’s Pics’ man Nick Ni­cholls. His fan­tas­tic col­lec­tion of mo­tor­cy­cle pic­tures can be found in the Mor­tons Archive: www. mor­ton­sarchive.com

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