Beta Alp 4.0

A collection of information as it arises. There's not a lot out there!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Too bright!

I had made a new route roller with three improvements on my original.
  1. The VHS case is of a more transparent plastic and so the text is easier to read. That is sucessful except that the design of the box is less easy to adapt into a route roller.

  2. I have included a pulley system to reduce the unwinding that the paper rolls tend to do when left alone. Discs of aluminium were glued onto the shafys and joined with a thick elastic band. I tried to use Lumiweld for this but it was too hard to align the pieces. This is 90% sucessful, meaning that there's a little roll back but not enough to worry about.
  3. Thirdly I fitted 2 strips of white LEDs to give a brighter and more uniform backlight then the half dozen red LEDs had provided. This looked good in the garage but was far too bright outside at night. It caused a terrible glare in my visor. This needs to be modified.

    I have done a quick test and estimate that a series resistance of at least 300 ohms is reasonable, but less than 1 kohm. Perhaps a potentiometer is needed?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

83rd Edinburgh Trial

On Friday night I left home to compete in the MCC's trial, which would actually run during the early hours of saturday morning and into the afternoon. On the way to the start I was wondering if I was going to enjoy it and why hadn't I stayed at home in bed; it had been quite a busy week at work.

The facilities at the motorway services were disappointing as usual. No food, poor quality hot drinks and disinterested staff. Anyway they do give the club permission to use the car park for meeting and scrutineering and so we can't complain too much. After refueling I checked the lights and discovered a dead indicator bulb - that had to be replaced before scrutineering. I need to find an alternative to the wobbly ones I fitted as, on this bike, they seem to have a habit of rotting and destroying bulbs.

Once underway I became more committed to having a good trial and the 40 miles to Ashbourne passed rapidly. The roads are really quiet at 3am! I let the tyres down to 10psi in a laybay and cleared the first section easily. As we passed through Matlock Bath we gave the clubbers leaving for home something to look at as they waited for taxis. The second section is one of my favourite lanes but is also a place I've had problems in previous trials. It's a lovely hill but can be slippery and with a restart I knew I needed to be careful. No problems this year. Then it was on to a gravely but very easy hill, so easy I'm not really sue why they use it as i should think almost anyone can clear it on any machine. Years ago I took a BMW raod bike up it without any problems.

After a pleasant 10 mile ride I arrived at a section that I knew would be very slippery. The hill rises as a grass bank at the end of a valley and is a classic concave hill; becoming steeper towards the end. Of course this means that it must be entered with some speed if you're to exit cleanly. However this year my class had a 'restart' part way up. I watched a few riders struggle at one part or another of the hill and no-one cleared the restart. On my attempt I reached the
restart cleanly and felt I had a good chance at the rest of the hill. The rules permit 'footing' for 3m beyond the restart box so I gently opened the throttle trying to keep some weight on my feet, hoping to get a bite on the wet grass. No luck, the wheel spun furiously and I just could not make any headway. Oh well. After some shoving and assistance from a marshall I managed to turn the bike and take the escape route back down the hill.

There was another easy section before breakfast and I heard that few riders had been through. Already the trial was getting delayed, presumably by the wet hill. Breakfast was not great for a vegetarian and it seems odd hosting such an event and expecting everyone to take off muddy boots.

I had thought about the next section a fair bit. The hill is slippery limestone and with a restart it could have a sting in the tail, but the problem for me was likely to be the flat, but muddy and rutted approach. Luckily for me, over breakfast I'd been advisd to deflate my tyres a little more. On checking they were 12psi - the pressure had increased, due to the heat generated by flexure of the tyre carcase I assume. At 8psi the increased contact patch was clearly visible. Before entering the muddy strech I snicked into second and aimed to clear the rutted area gently but not too slowly. Within the ruts were small stone ridges but unlike the preceeding rider I managed to slip over each of them whilst maintaining my balance and then the ascent was in the bag. It seemed that my new soft tyres were on my side.

19 miles later I arrived at a section that is a bridleway and therefore normally off limits. It is an old pack horse track and was laid with rough setts in places but there are also areas of sloping stone slabs with small steps between them. The restart box encompassed some of these. The stone was ever so slimy and the start marshall commented that he'd had trouble walking up. Thanks for the encouragement. Anyway with a bit of care it seemed to go OK. I stopped early in the restart box to get a bit of speed before the exit step and on the side with the easiest step. Great. I did do a little dab but I'm sure I was well within the allowed 3m.

The we had a long stone and concrete ascent. This is pretty easy for solo motorcycles so long as you keep your nerve and maintain a fair, but not excessive speed. The concrete steps aren't bad and the loose stone that follows can be cleared. I understand that the hill is another matter for cars as the combination of steps and need for speed can damage chassis and steering components. Although I've implied it's an easy section I had a few 'moments' but that's just how I am. next up was one I knew that I'd fail. Other riders reckon it can be tough. There's a muddy start that even experienced riders can slide into and after a fair ascent the final 20 yards is rough and stony. This year the two were separated with a restart - OK that gives time to look at the rough bit but does that help? No, not really for me, I made it across but with lots of footing, but deep down I felt it could have been cleared. Another indication that fewer psi means fewer dabs as previously I've felt that I could never clear it.

As I rode to the next section I reviewed my performance. Two failed sections for sure, the very least I'd expected before the trial started, but nothing too taxing to come. Could I clear the remainder and gain a bronze award? It felt possible. At the hold point before the next section it was evident that riders were delayed as two of us were told to wait for a few more and then we could move on to the section. When no one else came after some minutes we were allowed on. The marshall cheerfully told me the section was a motorway and dead easy. But he wasn't under pressure to clear it, anyway it was easy.

After stopping at a village hill for lovely tea and cakes there was a section that I recalled as steep and stony. This time the start line gave a good view of the short hill and its restart box and thus an opportunity to plan an attack. Last year we were made to start on the road with an acute turn into the hill thus entering potentially off balance and certainly ignorant of the lumps and bumps. Once again I stopped just where I wanted in the box and avoided an exit over a stone step. Unluckily the engine that had cooled during the tea stop decided to stall in the box. Luckily it is electric start and I was off as the flag fell. I didn't roll back and I hope the marshall considered that I started within the permitted time.

I know the approach to the penultimate section is muddy, even in dry weather, and so I had fears for clearing it. However the start was on a relatively dry area, just as well as I slithered horribly reaching it. The Morgan car infront of me (How did he get to here? Everyone else is delayed...) got up the hill although there was a little tyre smoke at a sharp corner as he lost traction on the stones. Much to my surprise the hill was relatively dry and the restart straightforward. Had the start been placed 30m earlier I would have failed the section.

All that needed to be done was the special test. Now speed is not important here for me. What I needed was a clear. If you're after a class award then a short time is used as a sort of tie-breaker, but that wasn't an issue for me. As I stopped on line B I looked the marshall for a flag for the restart, no, there isn't one, get going! So next stop was 'line C'. Ok, so that should count as a clear, albeit a rather slow one. I don't think there's a limit on how long you can stand astride 'line B'.

With a 3mile ride to the finish point I reviewed all of the little faults and thought that subject to the marshalls' interpretation of the rules matching mine I would get a bronze award. A first for me. Anyway, even if they think I footed at 3.01m it is my best performance to date. How do I account for it? First it was undoubtedly due to the low tyre pressures and I'm very grateful to the riders I was with, or met at rest stops, who kept encouraging me to let more out. They do seem to inflate themselves! Second the weather was pleasant with only light showers. Third, I wonder if it was an easier trial than sometimes due to fewer sections and only 2 'killer sections'; which were perhaps bad enough to delay the whole trial.

When the results are published I'll see if I got my award and if my opinions on the trial are correct.

PS. I've deliberately not told you the names of the sections as they aren't all byways and I wouldn't like anyone to use them illegally.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

MOT time for a newish machine

This week I took the Alp for its first MoT test. As I'd expected there were no problems and I got my piece of paper. Nowadays the real data is on the Ministry's computer and the 'certificate' is little more than a receipt. This does mean that you can renew your tax disc online as they have MoT data and insurance data. There is now a database of vehicle insurance so the certificate of insurance isn't all that important either. Whether you see this as progress that saves a trip to the post office or a worrying development of 'Big Brother' is up to you.