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!