Beta Alp 4.0

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

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lands End Trial 2007

The classic trial took place a week ago but it since then I've had a bit of holiday and done a few jobs. This year Easter, and thus the trial, fell late in the year so we were blessed with relatively long daylight hours. Moreover it has been an incredibly dry month across most of the country and so the sections were firm. However I'm getting ahead of myself a bit...

Before the trial I didn't have time to do much fettling of the Alp due to work commitments. I checked the oil, squirted external moving parts with WD40, inflated the tyres to road pressures and placed the route in the roller. The battery is connected to an Optimate charger so that would be OK. On visual inspection everything looked fine, so that marked the end of bike preparation.

At the sign on there was the usual array of interesting machinery, in addition to the common Serows and Alps.

A rather shiney Laverda

I don't think that the BMW did the trial!

The cafe at Plusha has reopened under new management after being closed in 2006 so we had a good base for signing on. As usual we had 3 hours scheduled for the journey to Somerset for what I always call 'the real start'; but I hoped to complete it in just over 2 hours, within daylight hours. I didn't quite manage to do this but enjoyed the clear roads wherever possible.

This year's facilities at Bridgewater Rugby Club were more restful than those we are used to at Graham's Truckstop but moving on does feel to be the end of an era. One of the scrutineers suggested that my rear tyre was a little bald; nowhere near the legal limit but perhaps lacking in bite for the sections. I can't afford fresh tyres for each trial and don't do enough miles to wear a tyre out between events.

The first 2 sections are always straightforward, even for me and so I reduced tyre pressures at Bridgewater to around 12psi (cold). The ride across the moors to the County Inn was pleasant and illuminated by a soft pink moon. In previous years I've had rain and fog, as well as dry cool nights, so the break was welcome, but not essential this year! After letting a bit more air out the tyres towards 8psi (cold) I continued some distance to the first of 2 new sections, 'Rodney's Revenge' which was in forestry and replaced a very rutted section. From the start it was hard to judge the section, there was a sharp bend 30 metres or so into it, but what happened after that? Not a lot as it happened, no motorcycles footed on it although it did stop a couple of cars.

Another few sections were dispensed without difficulty although the restarts needed a little attention. Then we had a restart that needed to be approached carefully. There were some small rock steps and some loose areas. I managed to get the front wheel just over a little step and with a gentle clutch off I went, making use of a foot for a metre or so. Tricky and a fail point for a number of riders, some of whom I know to be quite competent. The next section that I was thinking of can be very slick as the residents like to put clay on the hill and run water down it. This year it had a few small ruts and a couple of areas that tugged on the wheel but by keeping the engine spinning, and with soft tyres, I made it up with just a few slips of the rear wheel. If the mud had been a little softer or deeper I'm sure I would have dabbed, probably unnecessarily.

During the early morning the motorcycles reached a long hill. If you keep your bottle it's easy, but this year's restart added a little trick as it removed a chance to gather momentum. Halfway up is a track that speedy riders almost jump; but this year the exit was smooth rock (the restart point for the special cars) which would have been very slick in the wet. As it was only damp it made a nice flat area to run into the second part of the hill. I'm sure second gear would be worth a try next year, the engine was revving a bit.

The second special test was the usual 'around the cones' exercise. I took it slowly to ensure no faults. Having achieved that I knew I was in line for my first Land's End Trial medal as there were only 2 sections remaining. What a great feeling. OK, so the next 2 sections are my most feared ones, but I'm ahead anyway.

The trial always ends on the Bluehills tin mine. The first section involves a restart on wet cobbles, only this year they looked almost dry. Anyway I wasn't going to take a chance so let a bit more air out of the rear tyre, now down to about 7psi (hot). I managed to stop low down the restart box, which opinion suggested is the best spot. And off I went, taking a strategic dab, within the 3 metres of grace, on the inside to steady the turn out of the box and then off to the end. I reckon I cleared that; another first. The final section is long, steep stony and with an awkward Z-turn near the top. A few cars have rolled in previous years at that point and I've gone close to the (safe) side of the track so this year there was a restart just on the bend. A few of us had discussed that this might just be a help, by dividing the hill into two parts. I hoped to hold that in my head. So off to the box, it was a bit rough but nothing unmanageable, then a little pause. As I pulled away there was a little rear wheel spin and the front settled in the gravel just a spot and then off I went. I thought I'd cleared it but would the restart marshal think so? I was elated and took a few minutes breather.

At the finish I claimed my first ever Gold; no sections failed, and expected that if I could achieve it then so would many others. As it happened, there were only 9 Golds awarded out of the 49 Class B starters. Likewise only 9 finishers without an award, so really it had been a good year for medals. The results showed a similar pattern for the cars, and half the Class O entry gained a Tin medal (which is apparently the most costly medal to the club).

So for 2007 the dry spring, good weather on the night, 3 days holiday before the trial, lower tyre pressures and a spot of good luck all combined to make me a happy medalist. Now I hope to take the knowledge that the sections can be cleared onto future years to improve my confidence even if it's a little wetter.


At 7:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks adrian, as usual very informative, and some great advice,
always luck forword to your new posts.
cheers louis

At 6:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Adrian, sometime ago I completed a few Lands End Trials on Serow's (no awards!) and have just purchased a 2004 Beta Alp 4.0. Your review is very reassuring. Who knows I could have your bike W004?


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