Monday, 23 February 2015

Gaz's Aughtertree Trial Day, Cumbria...

This is what Gaz found as he rode the trial that I had planned to do this last weekend in the Lakes, weather sounds atrocious!!

Aughtertree trial sponsored by MHB Motorcycles...
What a day yesterday was, phew. I arrived early with only a couple of cars/trailers parked up in the layby. This turned out to be a good plan as soon enough there were more cars than car park & a bit of parking mayhem ensued as folks got sorted. After  signing-On which was straight forward I sat in the car, sheltering from the weather which was cold as, and pretty windy.
At around 10.30 a bunch of riders headed off to the 1st section. So off I went after them. I'd put all my kit on (6 layers inc body armour) and was feelin pretty cold as I entered the section. Pretty easy, rolling twisty turf route through a pair of bomb hole craters. Blue & white flags only, same route for all, score 0. Encouraging.
Next was a transfer over the fells to find section two. These tranfers turned out to be an unexpected pleasure of the day. Time to relax (sort off) and think and just ride. At times the transfers themselves were challenging with lots of off-camber hillside crossings, rock steps and the inevitable stream crossings. All of which became more difficult as the day went on.
Section two caused a few problems. I couldnt work out the flags. It looked to me like the expert route (marked red/yellow) was easier than the easy route (blue white). But what do I know. I gave it a go anyhow. Dropped in, over some cobles, small step, tight turn, and now faced a big rock step up to a turf ledge, epic fail. Turns out that the sections had been marked out incorrectly for the whole day. Red/yellow normally indicating the expert route now actually became the easy novice route. A bit of heated discussion took place between organisers whilst everyone else stood around confused. Either way they gave me a second go at the section now following the easy route. I stuffed it up anyhow. It was a good interesting section, I just couldn't manage to get out the final gate, 5.
Next section was easy but fun so got a 0. But there was a cock up with the flags again, this time with their placement. Some moving around of flags and general chaos ensued. About now I was starting to get a bit pee'd off. All I wanted to do was blend into the background and get round without making a tit of myself. In hindsight I think that setting off as first of the novices made a me the test mule. I felt like the centre of attention and it rattled me a bit.
The next section was cool but was followed by what was to be my nemises for the day. It was a long section ( two sections together to make one big one). A rocky gully the that had me panting and paddling my way to the end. I was later to boycott this section for the last two rounds as it just took too much out of me.
The rest of the sections were cool and do-able but I made a meal of them. The reason why became more obvious as the day went on. The mud and loss of traction got me. Think about it, there you are sat at home, you loook out the window, ooo weather's nice, lets ride/practice. When we've ridden in mud its been just that mud and we've done ok. At the trial the combinatin of mud and therefore muddy/slimy rocks and stones was a new game. I managed most ok but it sure wasn't pretty.
On the out-lying sections I'd stopped at the end of each section to mark the next man through. I always thought this was trials etiquette but not everyone complys. Which meant that I was travelling slower than most others so I'm afraid I gave up too, as it became clear that I would not complete the four laps of the course if I didnt get a riggle on.
On the lea side of the fells it was pretty sheltered from the wind and I was getting overheated, reminding myself to get rid off a couple of layers as I got back to the car. As I crested the hillside for the return leg I got the full wrath of the Calbeck fells in February. Driving wind & rain. The kind that slaps you in the face and makes you unable to ride in a straight line. By the time I got back to the car I was freezing again and eager to keep moving, so just got on with the second lap. This was much more fun as now without the hassle of route-finding I could just get on with riding.
I re-fueled at the end of the second lap as the thought of getting stuck out on the fell didn't bear thinking about. The players are spread out by this time and I was aware that I was nearing the back of the fleat. I stopped to help a guy who's bike and exhaust had parted company. Whilst I was glad I could help I was aware that the clock was still running. I completed the last lap on my own and i think i was the last out on the course, I marked my own scores as I went, just about making the last section as the task of packing up had begun.
I'm sure to be dead last on the score card, but I did finish and I learnt a lot. Not least that rocks and mud in combination make for difficult riding. My bike served me well and never missed a beat all day long, It took a pasting but survived as did I.

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