Wednesday, 13 March 2019

So enough of all this World Domination rubbish....

So what's been happening in the rest of my world?

Yes how am I getting on with the Sixty by Sixty?

You can see if you check down the right hand side of the screen, except of course if you are viewing on the mobile version of the blog, when you won't see anything! You need to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “View Web Version” to see it.

Those in red are yet to be done, those in amber have been booked and those in green have been done; yes not that many are there?

The first to be completed was No. 26 Taking part in the Ride to the Wall back in October:

No 46 Going on a Spa day was ticked off soon afterwards, with a visit to the Y Spa at Wyboston

Then we had a short break in Paris and did No. 8 A visit to the fascinating Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

And No 51, Visit the Sacre-Coeur (something I had somehow managed to miss on all my previous visits). 

We had planned to do the original No.7 too, a visit to the Klimt exhibition at the Attelier Lumiere but unfortunately it was fully booked. There could have been a lot more in Paris but I’m reluctant to add ideas that just happen and to be honest a lot of the things we did were not my first time

A day out in London saw us taking a trip on the London Eye complete with Champagne reception (No.1) 

And then an Interactive experience on the Golden Hinde, which was of course drinking Rum Cocktails whilst dressed as a Pirate! (No. 50).

Another (admittedly last minute) trip to London saw us at the O2 to see Michael MacIntyre, No 49 done and dusted!

In January I ticked of the replacement No. 7, compete in a Long Distance Trial when I entered the Clee Hill Trial and then backed this up with an entry in the Launceston Classic Trial in February.

The last one to be completed was No 25. Learn to Snowboard, when I took part in a day long course at the Snozone in Milton Keynes, still some work to be done there but I’ve made a start. This was part of a long standing deal with Grainne, I agreed to learn to Snowboard if she got her motorbike licence, as she passed her test in September 2017, I was lagging behind a bit but I got there eventually.

Yeah of course I can do this already!

I had my second lesson the other day and whilst I made some progress I think I need at least one more before hitting the slopes. Three hours of fairly intensive training was extremely fatiguing and my myasthenia kicked in big time! At least when we go away I can choose to take a break whenever I want to!

That leads us into those that are booked, the snowboarding training is of course in preparation for our holiday in Bormio, Italy in March (No 45).

No 2, A Hot Air Balloon has been paid for as I bought a pair of tickets for Grainne’s birthday last year, we just need to decide when and where and make the booking.

And finally riding the UK leg of the Trans Europe Trail (No. 47), If I go back over my 40 years of trail riding in the UK, it turns out that I have ridden a large proportion of the route at various times, just not necessarily in the right order! So I've definitely started, the challenge will be to fill in the gaps.


Of course my 60 by 60 list was created before either my diagnosis with Myasthenia Gravis or my Heart Attack, so I am in the process of reviewing some of the list to see if they are still possible.

The ones involving climbing mountains will be challenging but not impossible, although Snaefell on the Isle of Man will be OK as it has a railway to the top (I never said I had to walk).

The Lands End Trial may be a challenge because the ACU (Auto Cycle Union) are putting some pretty onerous requirements on me before they will renew my race licence. These will involve having to take a medical and successfully complete a stress echocardiogram, which will cost me over £500 with no guarantee that I’ll be able to reach the required level of fitness. 

At the moment the trials events I’m entering are organised under the auspices of the AMCA (Amateur Moto Cross Association) who have no licence requirement and merely require me to sign to declare I am medically fit to compete on the individual entry forms. The Lands' End however is an ACU sanctioned event, I have decided that the cost is not worth the effort for a few UK Rallies so have asked if the same requirements apply if I only take out a "trials registration" rather than an enduro licence.... watch this space!

The Hellas Rally is not affected as I don’t need a race licence for the class i'd enter but to be honest, whether I am fit enough to compete in a seven day rally again remains to be seen.

And the Lands’ End to John O’Groats combined with the four points of the compass by motorcycle may have to be reconsidered as to do it in one trip is a 2,250 mile ride. It might have to be broken down into three separate trips: 
1. Ardnurmurchan Point, Dunnets Head and John O’Groats. 
2. Lowestoft Ness and 
3. Lands’ End and The Lizard (although I have previously visited the Lizard by motorbike).

And finally a parachute jump might be problematic too as the BPA (British Parachute Association) medical declaration form asks you to confirm amongst a variety of conditions:

1. I am not receiving any regular, repeat medication (I am) 
2. I have never received prolonged courses of steroids or high dose steroid treatment (I do)
3. I have never had fractured or broken bones (I have) 
4. I have not had torn tendons, ligaments or cartilages (yes again) 
5. I do not have any form of heart disease (well clearly I do)
6. I have never had a heart attack (of course I have)
7. I do not have raised blood pressure or hypertension (I do, although it is controlled - see 1 above)

So that’s me potentially buggered on seven separate counts! Whilst it says that many of these conditions may be allowed following a medical assessment, it states that "Ischemic Heart Disease is an unacceptable risk factor". It seems this is not because of the parachute jump itself but the potential effects of flying at up to 15,000 feet without oxygen. Oh well back to the drawing board!

Monday, 25 February 2019

Launceston Classic Trial

So the second round of the completely unofficial, Hertfordshire TRF Classic Trial Challenge Series took place on February 10th in the distant county of Devon, well it’s a bloody long way from Milton Keynes, let alone Hertfordshire!

We took advantage of the Travelodge Sale that was on and all booked  into the hotel at Sourton Cross near Okehampton, only about 15 minutes from the venue and all for the princely sum of £27. 

After driving down on Saturday afternoon/evening, we met up and immediately headed out to the nearest pub for dinner and were offered a demonstration of how a pub in a tourist area fails miserably to cope in the off season! In their defence they did have two groups to serve (yes that’s it just the two of us) to say that service was slow was the understatement of the century! Finally fed and watered we retired to the Travelodge to ready ourselves for the next day of competition and of course for me to finally realise my fiendish plan of world domination (but only the world of Classic Trials of course).

Bright and early we were up and headed off to Lewdown Woods, just down the road, this trial being a bit different as all the stages were contained within the same woodland, so no road work involved. As a side note, this involved passing on the way the B&B in Bridestowe that I stayed in two years ago whilst cycling the Devon Coast to Coast route.

The route into the woods to the start was interesting to say the least, almost a trials section in itself! Arriving at the “arena” we parked up, the van now much muddied, offloaded our bikes and headed off for scrutineering (that was even more cursory than at Clee Hill, “Trials tyres? Yes, Number plate? Yes, MOT? Oh it’s too new, oK that’ll do!” Yes it really was that quick. Then we signed on and went off to fit numbers and grab some breakfast from the burger van.

We were all starting together, Dave first, then Gary, me and Russ bringing up the rear, so at the allotted time we headed to the queue for the first section “Zak’s Track” that conveniently started from the arena. A short hill climb with a stop and restart, we watched all the riders in front successfully start, stop and restart again. It still didn’t calm the nerves much as you are of course thinking “I’ll bet I’m the first to fail” In the event nobody did, the hill wasn’t very steep, there was plenty of grip and the section only continued for another ten yards or so after the restart. All looking good then!

Section two “Raddon Rise” was a bit trickier, a longer, steeper climb through trees with plenty of mud and roots. The technique seemed to be to take it nice and steady, Dave and Gary both struggled early on picking up 11 penalty points (out of 12 remember), as did Russ on his run. I managed to get a lot further up until I lost forward progress scoring a respectable 5 points… the challenge was definitely on!

Until it all started to go wrong!

At the next section “The Short 1” Dave set off and lost grip in spectacular fashion, scoring an 8 but in the process bouncing off a tree and then hitting the ground hard! It was clear all was not well and indeed he subsequently discovered he had broken his collar bone. After making sure he was OK we agreed to come and get him back to the start once we had got back to the arena, as we were now well behind the rest of the bikes and the cars were starting to arrive. Gary had a good ride for 2 points and Russ got a 6, I on the other hand only managed a 7.

The observed test came next and Gary and I were well matched at 21.12 and 21.28 seconds respectively, Russ somehow managed to get scored as a “fail”, not sure what happened there?

The fourth section was unmanned, so resulted in a lot of searching around and after riding up to Section 5, where the marshals didn’t know what was happening, I rode back to 4, where the cars were arriving. It seems they had been told that Section 4 was not being used and we should have been told the same!

Back to Section 5 “Up and Back” and Gary managed an impressive 4, whereas Russ and I collected 8 points each. Stage 6 “Fallow Bank” followed. It looked quite innocuous but in the event was extremely tight and slippery, Gary and I got 10’s and Russ an 11, so not so good. 

Stage 7 “Eastcott down 1” was a doddle and we all got clean runs, as did Gary and I on the next stage “Eastcott down 2” I was lucky as very near the start I put a foot out for balance and managed to clip the bank with it which could have been counted as a “dab” but either the observer was being generous or he didn’t spot it. I suspect it was the latter as Russ discovered he wasn’t being at all generous when he stalled on the line and was refused a re-start, the observer insisting it counted as a maximum 12 penalty. What was even more galling was that he then cleaned the section with ease!

“Tunnel Run” came next and we managed that easily with 3’s all round, “Rip and Roar 1” followed and Gary and Russ both scored a 7, whereas I surprised myself with only a 3. The following stage 11, “Norman’s Stump” proved a struggle for all of us, Gary and I scoring 11 and Russ 12; definitely not our finest moments.

The final section of the first lap was No 12, “Stumps R Us” here Russ struggled and scored 11, Gary did better with a 5 but once again I surprised myself by cleaning the section for a 0.

Returning to the arena, we found Dave sat in the warmth of his van but complaining bitterly of the humiliation of having to get someone to help him get undressed out of his riding gear and back into normal clothes. His bike had been ridden back by a marshal but he had to walk back. The Medic on site examined him and advised him to go to hospital but needless to say, he was reluctant to do this so far from home. Deciding to wait it out and go back with the others at the end of the day and visit the hospital back home. Russ too was suffering having injured his back and took the decision to pull out at this stage.

So it was just me and Gary who set off on the next “short” lap that was for bikes only, actually not much shorter at all than the first lap but with only three sections to complete: 

Section B1 “The Bank” was straightforward and I cleaned it although Gary was unfortunate to get a 1. 

Section B2, “Are we nearly There yet” looked straightforward, although very long but was trickier than it looked, Gary picked up 6 and I got 4 penalty points. 

There followed a long ride to the far end of the woods and B3 “Only Way is up” this was looking very difficult, with the first part very rutted and slippery. We were informed that we would be allowed to dab without penalty as far as the 11 marker as a result, however it wasn’t a great deal of assistance as Gary managed a 9 and I got an 8. Although the guy in front of us fared a little better than us...

We then headed back to the arena for the lunch break but as the cars hadn’t needed to do the extra “short” lap there was a huge queue at the burger van. So we settled for a drink and snacks we had bought ourselves. Russ had now got changed and they loaded both his and Dave’s bikes in the van so as we set off on our final lap, they walked to some nearby sections to spectate.

The third lap consisted of nine sections and seemed to go quite quickly, most probably because we were now familiar with the route around the woods and conditions had dried out compared to the morning, although the sections themselves were still treacherous in places.

Section 13 was a repeat of Section 2 “Raddon Rise” we both rode this easily this time both getting clear runs with 0 scores. Section 14 was a repeat of B1 “The Bank” and this time we both got clear runs. Section 15 was a re-run of B2 ““Are we nearly There yet”, Gary managed to improve on his previous 6 with a 5 but I failed miserably to better my 4, this time being forced to dab at 10. 

A second run of the Observed test saw a reversal of our previous result with Gary getting 18.87 seconds and I got 17.02 seconds.

It was about now that fatigue was really starting to set in, my myasthenia deciding to rear it’s ugly head and it certainly started to show in my results.

That said, the next Section 16 “Eastcott Down 3” was a very straightforward climb that we both easily cleared. Section 17 “Eascott Down 4” was Eascott Down 2” with a variation at the end, a tricky deviation up a slippery bank and round a tree. Once again I managed to clip the bank but the observer definitely saw it this time and I scored an 11, I then failed on the deviation as did Gary but his effort got him a 4.

"Nigel's Nip" saw me get an 8 compared to Gary's clear run, then on "Rip and Roar 2" that contained a stop and restart, we both failed spectacularly to achieve any forward motion on the restart so were equal in gaining a 5.

My decline in performance continued when on "Nearly There" I ran into the bank right from the start, stopping dead for an 11. Gary managed to get a bit further up the very slippery stage for a 7. And finally we got to the last section of the day "Over and Across", I dabbed early for a 10 but Gary managed to clean the section for zero.

So at the end of the day Gary had 90 penalty points to my 115 and we took 10th and 11th places respectfully. So in our unofficial challenge I still lead by a narrow margin on the strength of a first and a second (out of our group) ahead of Gary with a fourth and a first, Dave is third with a Second and a DNF and Russ fourth with a third and a DNF.

Sadly it seems our number will be depleted for the next event, the Golden Valley MCC Match Hare Trial in Gloucestershire on the 3rd March. Dave is out for several weeks with his busted collarbone, Russ has decided to take early retirement from the world of classic trials and Gary has decided not to enter this. So it looks like a sure thing for a win in the Hertfordshire TRF Classic Trial Challenge for me as long as I last the course; maybe World Domination still awaits me?

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

World Domination... maybe next month?

So the day finally arrived for my fiendish plot of world domination and after a stupidly early 04:30 wake up I was on the road to Ludlow by 05:15. After arriving at the race HQ at the Squirrel Pub around 07:30, I signed on, then unloaded the bike and headed for scrutineering, only to find that unlike every other form of bike event I have ever entered, classic trials is different and you are supposed to go to scrutineering first, get a card signed and only then can you sign on! But hang on a second, I’d already signed on? It seems the early hour was affecting everyone! I managed to meet up with the other guys from the Herts TRF, Dave, Russ, Gary and Wayne. Wayne was particularly pleased as he was starting one minute behind me and aiming to follow, as by his own admission, navigation wasn’t his thing!

I ended up in a queue behind a load of cars that were taking forever to check, so had a quick word with the scrutineer and was allowed to jump the queue as my start time was fast approaching. The scrutineering itself was a bit strange as they never even touched the bike? It seemed to consist mainly of a checklist that judging by the number of “N/As” was designed for the cars. Anyway suitably completed I was able to now go and hand in my scrutineering card and sign on, only to cause more confusion as of course I’d already done that. This had all served to make me late, not helped after getting changed to find I had misplaced the van keys. I eventually found them and got to the start two minutes late, not that it made much difference other than there was no sign of Wayne. It later transpired he had decided to follow Russ.

So I got on with the business of getting to the first section, a 15 mile ride up the A49 in the mist and rain…. Great fun! Eventually arriving at the section near Church Stretton; Castle Hill, most of the other bikes seemed to be there waiting but no sign of the other Hertfordshire guys? 

We were queued up at the bottom of a muddy bridleway and I took the time to lower my tyre pressures having pumped them up for the initial road ride. Setting them at 10psi I still managed to spin my back wheel just moving up the queue, so one of the old hands advised me to drop them to 6 psi!!! I was to discover this makes very little difference and trials tyres simply don’t like mud.

You are not allowed to inspect the section so have to ride it blind, all I could see was a gently climbing, narrow track heading up round a bend, so rolled up to the line where I was told that as I was in class B2 I had to keep right when I got to the tree marked with red and white tape, sounds easy enough; if only I had known!

Flagged away, I headed up the relatively easy track and soon got to the tree, only to find the “keep right” actually meant, “leave the track, turn sharp right up a short, steep and very greasy bank around the aforementioned tree” of course I left it too late to get into position, had to turn straight up the slope and immediately lost all grip and came to a halt. I backed down to the main track and rode easily to the top of the section.

I should explain the scoring, in normal trials the aim is to get a “clean” i.e. zero penalty points, these are scored as follows: put one foot down (a “dab”) and you get one point, two dabs and it’s two points, three or more dabs and that’s three points so once you get to three, you can paddle away to your hearts content as you can’t get more than three. As long as you don’t stop at the same time or fall off as that scores the maximum five penalty points. Traditionally just stopping or going backwards was an automatic five but these days as long as you keep your feet up, you can stand still, bounce backwards and perform any manner of athletic maneuvers! I say “you” because I’m clearly incapable of any of this myself!

I was mistakenly believing this was the same in classic trials, so had just scored a maximum five but later in the day I learnt that Classic Trials are quite different. Each section is divided into twelve sectors, starting at twelve and going to zero at the top, these are marked on posts at the side of the section. The idea is that you have to ride feet up all the way to the top to score zero. If you put a foot down, stop, fall off or have to lean against a tree of any other part of the section, you score whatever is on the last number post you managed to pass. It doesn’t matter if you stop, fall off or just dab, once you do, that’s your score at that point. Although on that first stage the instructions said a fail automatically gets you a six but as that’s out of twelve, I guess it’s actually better than getting five out of five!

Until I realised this was how it worked, I was struggling to make it to the top of the sections but once I did, I also realised I could just leave the section or back down as soon as I scored my penalty; it certainly saved a lot of wasted effort.

Once I got to the top I continued up over the Long Mynd, which was cold, misty and with surprisingly large snow drifts all around to get to the next section, which was the “observed test” at Ratlinghope, a timed section designed as a tie breaker. A short rocky climb, with a stop half way up. You sit astride the start line and then when the flag drops you ride as fast as you can to the second line and stop astride it and place a foot on the floor, a marshal holds a flag in front of you, and then when he drops it you set off again and stop astride the finish line. I managed 18.1 seconds in total which turned out to be fortuitous as we shall see later.

The next section “Gatten’s Gamble” was a simple rocky hill climb that I was able to ride up “clean” with no penalty points; although so did nearly all the other bike competitors, so not that hard then!

On the way to the next section I met up with the other Hertfordshire riders and we stayed together for the next few sections that all followed the same pattern apart from one tricky one, Priors Holt 4 that included a stop and restart half way up. I stopped and immediately slid backwards as there was absolutely no grip, so that was a fail and seven points scored. This was the fate of most competitors although amongst our group, Dave managed to get up with only a two scored! I was able to clean the next two sections but thereafter I picked up penalties on all the remaining sections, the best results being a couple of fives, the worst a couple of tens.

There was also a lot of boring road work, with one nine mile stretch between sections that was particularly tedious as it was cold, wet and on trials tyres at 6 psi, restricted to around 40 mph. The final two sections were eventually completed and then another 15 mile road stretch back to Ludlow, by now it was freezing cold!

Arriving back, I signed in at the pub, got changed into clean, warm gear and washed the bike at the convenient jet wash at the garage next door, loaded it in the van and then retreated back to the pub for some food before heading back home, arriving at 7.00 that evening, so not too bad a day.

So did I achieve world domination? Well I guess not but despite the conditions, it was good fun and I was able to keep my myasthenia pretty much under control all day which was good news.

A few days later the results were out and at first I seemed to be 7th in class one place behind Dave in 6th but in front of Russ in 8th and Gary in 9th, Wayne having decided to retire at section seven and just rode round with the others after that.

However in the overall results, I was put ahead of Dave in 12th place, he being 13th, Russ 14th And Gary 15th… surely some mistake?

It transpired Dave and I both scored 60 penalty points but my 18.1 seconds on the Observed test beat Dave’s time of 22.6 seconds so there was clearly an error.

I also noticed a competitor ahead of all of us had entered the wrong class and should have been in Class B1, not B2 with us as he was on a smaller capacity bike. I queried this with the Clerk of the Course as it would we would mean we all move up one place in class. It was confirmed this was correct so the final result was:

Observed test
In Class

So I may not be dominating the world of classic trials just yet but I am maintaining a minor lead in the unofficial “Hertfordshire TRF Classic Trials Challenge”. The next round is the Launceston Trial in Cornwall on the 10th February, all four of us have all entered….  the challenge is on!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

World Domination; Not as easy as you'd think!

You’d think it would be easy wouldn’t you? I mean World Domination can’t be that hard? Especially as I’m limiting myself to the world of Classic Trials. I did decide that traditional Bond Villain style, total World Domination involving stolen nuclear submarines, laser firing satellites or deadly killer viruses might actually be quite tricky to pull off, so I decided to be selective….

So I get my entry in for the Clee Hill Trial on 20th January, acknowledgement email received and my name appeared on the entry list online, all well and good! Still only eight of us in my class, so that’s only seven people to beat (or at the very least I’m assured of eighth place if I manage to wobble all the way round) and as it seems I have been appointed official guide for the five other Hertfordshire TRF members who have entered, on the basis I actually know how to read a road book! I’m sure if necessary I could lose them somewhere in the wilds of Shropshire!

Then the bombshell, It seems my tyres are not allowed!

Some background is required; when KTM designed the Freeride, which is after all an Enduro/Trial Bike hybrid, they worked in conjunction with Maxxis tyres to produce a tyre specifically for the bike, the Trialmaxx. Now to me I just assumed this was a trials tyre, they certainly look like trials tyres and as I haven’t owned a bike with trials tyres since 1989, why would I think any different?

Maxxis Trialmaxx

Back then It was a Yamaha XT250 I owned that was shod with Taiwanese made Cheng Shin Trials Tyres, which despite the dodgy reputation of Chinese tyres back then (has that changed?) were actually really good tyres for trail riding and of course dirt cheap. And the funniest thing is Cheng Shin Tyres (CST) are still producing tyres today in Taiwan under the brand name of…..

Yes you guessed it…. Maxxis!

Anyway it turns out the Maxxis Trialmaxx is not “just a trials tyre” and in fact is also an enduro/trials hybrid. Mainly down to the fact that the tread blocks are spaced further apart than a “proper trials tyre” the specifications for which are laid down in the ACU regulations and this gives it a performance advantage, especially when muddy. If you look at the two photos above and below, you'll also see that the Maxxis has more prominent side blocks, that would offer better grip in mud. I had sniffed out a rumour that whilst this was a potential problem, everyone seemed to think it would be OK and most events allowed them to be used.

And then on the 3rd January I spot that the new Motorcycle Coordinator for the Association of Classic Trials Clubs  (ACTC) has clarified the regulations and absolutely, definitely declared the Trialmaxx as non-compliant. 

The advice being that anyone who presents with these tyres (or other non compliant tyre like an enduro or motocross tyre) at scrutineering (machine safety check) should be moved into “Class X” which basically means you are allowed to ride the event but don’t get scored and therefore don’t appear in the results… not exactly in line with the World domination plan.

It seems that the weapon of choice for classic trials or LDTs is the Pirelli MT43, itself not a traditional trials tyre, which to be honest are far too soft for long distance events involving lots of road work, the Pirelli has a harder rubber compound but importantly the block spacing and tread depth all still comply with the ACU regulations.

Pirelli MT43

But before admitting defeat and shelling out for new tyres, I contacted the Clerk of the Course for the Clee Hill Trial to clarify things, as the supplementary regulations seemed to imply some differences from ACTC regulations. It turns out I could turn up with the Trialmaxx’s and as a beginner I would most probably be allowed to ride but if my fellow competitors objected I would be moved into Class X. Not very satisfactory to turn up on the day before knowing my fate, so I decided to bite the bullet and change tyres.

I had also read that you only need a rear trials tyre so I asked this question too? The result is I have been allowed to stick with the front Trialmaxx as a compromise if I fit a “proper” trials tyre on the rear, so that has a least saved me £42, the cost of a front MT43.

So a Pirelli MT43 has been duly ordered; watch this space, World Domination is back on track....

So how is the Myasthenia coping with all this stress? Funnily enough apart from the ever present fatigue, which in itself has improved since my angioplasty, other symptoms seem to be pretty much under control at present. I just wish the same could be said for the side effects I get from the drugs... no fun at all!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Plans for World Domination...

So as things continue to improve health wise, I'm adjusting to my "new normality" and in discovering what I can achieve, thoughts naturally turn to motorcycle competition but what to do? 

Obviously we are not yet in the rally season, the first UK event traditionally being the Brechfa Rally in March. But am I yet up to the rigours of a two day rally or is there an alternative?

So I thought of competing in a Long Distance Trial or LDT, for the uninitiated these are essentially long trail rides on public rights of way following a “route card” which is generally another name for a road book. During the course of the route a number of “observed sections” are included, essential tests of skills over natural terrain. So all the essential ingredients are there; motorbikes, navigation by road book and trail riding but at a much slower pace than a rally and only one day’s duration, what’s not to like?

I had always wanted to compete in one of the Motor Cycling Club’s three Classic Trials, The Exeter, The Lands End or the Edinburgh. These all started in the first years of the 20thCentury in the early days of motorcycling and were originally dubbed “Reliability Trials” as simply completing the events was a real achievement for those early machines. The first of these the “Edinburgh” originally ran from London to Edinburgh, to be completed in under 24 hours, no mean feat in 1904! 

Still referred to as Classic Trials, not because they are for “classic bikes” although many do compete in them but because of the “classic” nature of the events. As the Exeter takes place next weekend, the Lands End, that takes place at Easter in the South West seemed a good target (The Edinburgh that actually takes place in the Peak District these days is in October). So the Land’s End duly went on the sixty by sixty list.

But of course that means nothing “do-able” on the calendar until April but then I spotted the Clee Hill Trial was running again on the 20thJanuary after a break last year. Another Classic Trial that runs in Shropshire, starting from Ludlow. Looks perfect!

So a bit of online research into the event and I conclude:

Whilst the KTM 1090 Adventure R is a candidate for the MCC events as after all they cover several hundred miles, it seems something smaller is desirable for this event which is only 90 miles long. Indeed, my only experience of a Long Distance Trial was doing the Whitley 100 back in 2012, with my friend Michael Messervey on which we foolishly decided our KTM 990 Adventures were suitable bikes…. they weren’t!

To use my rally bike, I would have to change the tyres (only trials tyres permitted), put it back on the road as it’s currently on a SORN, technically speaking the advertising on the fairing would have to be removed or taped over as it’s not permitted under the regulations (but I’m not sure how serious they are about that) and to be honest the rally fairing is likely to be a hindrance on the observed sections, so that rules it out.

So I request was duly submitted to Grainne to borrow “Kevin” as she calls her KTM Freeride 250F, for the day! The perfect bike for this type of event, part trail bike, part trials bike. And she said yes!

So all that remains is to prep Kevin for my extra height and weight, I was able to do this successfully when I borrowed it for a day surveying in the Peak District and requires sliding the forks down through the yokes to the standard height, winding a goodly proportion of preload onto the rear shock and adding ten clicks on both rebound and compression damping settings both front and rear. I will also consider fitting the slightly longer side stand we have too as it is a bit precarious in that set up otherwise (see picture above for evidence). 

Fitting my road book holder will be easy as I’ve already adapted it to mount to the handlebar via a Ram Mount as used on the 1090R when planning Adventure Cannonball Club road book routes.

On the day itself, the event starts from the Squirrel Pub at Ludlow, right next to the Travelodge on the A49. I've stayed there before when working on mountain bike races at Ludlow so finding it is no problem! I did consider booking in there but at £93 for the night it was a bit steep but as it’s only a two hour drive from Milton Keynes, I’ve decided to drive up first thing on the Sunday morning.

So far there’s only six bikes entered in the B2 class (Solo motorcycles over 225cc and up to 450cc) myself included, so unless I do something really stupid like get disqualified, I’m guaranteed at least sixth place in class, world domination of classic trials here we come!

Or of course I could slap some trials tyres on the Rally bike, tax it, strip off the navigation tower and fairing and replace the standard headlight and then truly dominate by doing even better as there's only one bike entered in the C class (Solo Motorcycles over 450cc) 

But on reading the rules I spotted that if there's less than three in a class, they will be combined with another class. So most probably not worth the effort.

It's a tricky business this World Domination lark!