BACK TO TRIALS

BACK TO TRIALS

BACK TO TRIALS

 Joining the RAF in March 1964 I’m left in no uncertainty as to where Trials fits into the big picture.
Not an “Officer” sport and not while you are under training. OK, so after the Officer training was
over a few rides on the Greeves, mainly in the Wiltshire,  Glos area while going through flying
training with the odd sprint cross country to ride at my home club, Barham, in Kent. Happy
memories of loading up my Ford Prefect Ex Butchers Van and driving the 160 miles to make
“last orders” at my local of the Red Lion in Bridge. The Landlord was somewhat annoyed when I
announced I was enjoying, my first “legal” pint on my 18th, especially as I had been frequenting
the establishment for the last 4 years!

Flying training complete and my first posting is to Cyprus flying the Canberra. 3 years in the sun
and No Trials! Well the sun, fun and flying fill the need, especially as I’ve already been told its not
a R.A.F. recognized sport.

Imagine my surprize when one day I pick up the “RAF News” in the crewroom and flick to the back
page to be confronted with pictures of trials bikes and a full page report on all the happenings at
the recent trials camp at Weavers Down, Hants where Sammy Miller had been giving instruction………

The mind is made up, 2 months left to go then I’m going to be stationed at Boscombe Down just
outside Amesbury Wiltshire……. got to get another bike…….. but what? Another Greeves? but now
one of my hero’s Don Smith is now riding Montesa and the new design seems to be light years
ahead of anything else.

The Montesa does everything it should, lots of usable power, plenty of grip but as a real treat it
actually goes where you point it and, unlike the Greeves, which was always a constant battle to
control the front wheel. I join the RAFMSA and attend the next camp in late 1969. By now the
Montesa and I are doing pretty well in Open to Center events and I’m catching up on those
missing years.

1969 Trials Camp
For the observant, Phil Mellors on the right and Motor Cycle News Ralph Venables on the left

One of the good news deals for members of the Armed Forces was that under “Queen’s
Regulations” you were allowed official transport to take you to and from the event of your choice.
Also as a serviceman you could arrive at the start and get an entry under some obscure ACU ruling
….. So most weekends a driver and Van would arrive and I would load everything and off we
would go. I ride, driver sleeps, load up, I sleep, driver drives. Of course as most trials were on
Sunday and at Boscombe Down the drivers were civilian then they loved taking me as they were
on Double Pay!  The organization claimed it was costing them a fortune and there had to be a
cheaper way.

There was, and after showing what they would save they agreed and built me a trailer in station
workshops. The welder who would build this fine vehicle was Arthur Headland, himself an
accomplished trials rider, and the frame builder for “Wasp” who made some fantastic machines as
ridden by Geoff Chandler.

PipeLine Day 1 1970 SSDT

Now things are even better as I have been selected for the RAF team for the 1970 Scottish Six
Days and I now have the ultimate in custom designed trailers.

TONY DOWN

The rest of the 1970 Scottish is covered in an October Archives article
“Memories of the Scottish”…..worth a read!

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THE NASTIEST BIKE EVER

THE NASTIEST BIKE EVER

THE NASTIEST BIKE EVER

 From time to time we all get a bike that perhaps doesn’t suit us individually, but here is a machine
that defies anyone of a sane mind to say it is either pretty, functional or competitive! About as
much use as a Chocolate Tea Pot, maybe too much praise there as you could eat the chocolate.

1971 WELSH on The Montesa

It was 1971, I had ridden and finished my second Scottish Six Days on the Montesa Cota Mk II
and had also completed the Welsh 2 Day (See Oct Article “So you want to Ride ISDT?”) when our
masters in the Royal Air Force announce that we will be riding this fantastic offering in the 71 ISDT
in the Isle of Man.

Excitement builds as we impatiently await the arrival of the new “Scruggs/Acme Wonder Bike”
We are hoping for KTM’s of course but, CZ or Jawa would do or even the big Triumph Trophy,
which is after all why Triumph named it that as it was supposed to bring home the “Trophy” for
Great Britain.

…….. and so it was….?????????????

What is it   ???

Wow….or    YUK!

Sorry lads, this is the best we could do! The Air Force Board said “you” will ride British and like it.

……”but what happened to the KTM’s ?” ” No, no and a thousand times ney!”
“They are made in Austria!” “Very close to where a Mister Schicklegrubber was born”
“So,… NO, NO, a thousand times NO!”

“But, but…… this has an Italian engine?”

“Don’t be ungrateful!”

So here it is “Wondersteed”    THE 1971 170cc MINARELLI COTTON

We are introduced to the evil little brute and after firing it up gave it a test run and although I
don’t have the full test results on my desk at the time of writing I think I can remember the
general thread of the comments which I have listed in no particular order of merit:

AWFUL

GUTLESS

Wouldn’t pull the skin off a Rice Pudding

Are we getting a real engine?

A Jokes a Joke but……..

Can you get the front off the ground?

No, they are made that way!

Who designed this?

What did this exhaust come off?

The Proud Team and Their Mounts

…. And so it was, off to the I.O.M. we go and enter one of the World’s toughest motorcyccle
challenges. As luck would have it mine only lasted a couple of days and one did actually make
it to Thursday before it too expired.

I can honestly say that retiring from any event is one of life’s biggest annoyances but in this case
it was something of a relief.

How did I get ahead of 136 ?  …and why is the Marshall with the armband laughing?

The Tuesday run was, I believe, the reverse of Day 1, not that that made much difference as no
one I know can remember 180 miles of cross country and then reverse it. You can however
remember little bits…… “Wasn’t there a big hole along here?” …. usually a micro, or nano second
before you hit it.

As the day progressed and embarassment increased the machine got lighter and lighter. First
item to fall off was something down the back end which I didn’t notice until I pulled into the check
point. I had been coming down a hill with the Cotton doing all it’s nasty tricks, you always landed
on the front wheel if you went over a bump, most of the time you didn’t have enough speed to get
airborne, but to give you a sensation the back would hop into the air and slap you up the bum to
give you some encouragement! Top speed on the road was a wacky 45 mph, either laying on the
tank or sitting up which was the way we rode just waving to the crowd.

So coming down the hill I had been hearing a lot of Woink, Woink, Woink which I had assumed
was the rear shocks bottoming out but as it transpired was the rear mudguard fouling on the tire
and then when the noise ceased it was to herald the departure of said item. Closer inspection
revealed that the huge penny washer, nut and bolt, were all still in place and that the alloy had
vibrated itself into resonance and fatigued around the washer, what’s next?

I don’t have long to wait as rounding a corner on a road section there is a ping and clang as the
round airfilter decides to leave the sinking ship and departs into the crowd. A little later the whole
innards of the superbly tuned exhaust system breaks free of it’s welding and also lands in the road,
man o man, this thing is noisey! It would frighten a Harley!

Some time later on an uphill stretch there was a PHutttttttttTTT! which continued until the machine
came to a stop. The plug had blown out of the cyclinder head taking all alloy threading with it, but
I got to keep the plug as it was still in the melting plug cap.

Here Endeth the Lesson! Moral of the story, don’t ride crap, get the right bike for the job!

TONY DOWN   No 145 1971 ISDT

There are more ISDT stories in Oct Archives if that’s your bag.

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  • 12/2/2007 12:26 AM Steveo wrote:
    Well Tony, thanks you gave me a big smile,entertaining article,almost felt those bone-jarring rides on that ill-conceived machine.I sent you some e-mails though as I’m rather green on a computer,they must have not gotten to you.I’ve moved out of Alberta and am now living on a small island off the B C coast.Thanks for the visit and tour for myself and friend Norm last winter.Hopefully I’ll be down your way with my trusty 175 yet this winter,though I don’t have a clue as to CAT’s schedules.I’d hope too have the good fortune to cross trials with you.Still having dreams about the most aggressive-looking trials bike I’ve ever seen-your Cagiva,what a georgous beast! Happy trials Steveo
    Reply to this

    1. 12/2/2007 1:20 AM Tony Down wrote:
      Steve, many thanks for the comments, take a look at www.trialsphoto.com  for Wittman last year in the mud hole!
      This year we will be the AZ Cycle Park 10 Feb. Tony
      Reply to this
  • 12/4/2008 4:30 PM Brian Catt wrote:
    Tony,
    just found your website, and read about the Cotton. Was this the one I photoed just as it ditched you on the IoM? Do I remember timing the practise changing of front forks in the back bar of a hotel in Douglas???
    I’m hoping to have some stuff published on www.six-days.org once the webmaster gets to the stories of British makes and their successes in the ISDT….
    Regards, Brian Catt.
    Reply to this
  • 11/21/2013 5:50 PM Alan wrote:
    Could Tony Down please contact me on my e mail ad here in England as I was the owner of isdt cotton minarelli No 145 DJB^J former RAF team bike.. I bought it from Tom Arter.. more to tell and obviously ask Thank you
    Reply to this
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LAST RIDE FOR THE DEUCE

LAST RIDE FOR THE DEUCE

LAST RIDE FOR THE DEUCE

 Summer of 2006 and with no trials for a while it is time to take the Deuce up to Colorado and do
the “Ouray Loop” in both directions from our Cozy Comfort RV park in Dolores. We will take the
trailer and stay in our 1400 sq ft suite …… which I would add  is available for bikers during the
summer and skiers in the winter, sleeps 6.

www.cozycomfortrvpark.com

The Ouray Loop is about 250 miles and runs from our place in Dolores up to Telluride then down
to Placerville where the route takes you right and back over the Mountains into Ridgway, turning
right along 550 through Ouray, up and over the mountains with some spectacular views, some
with guardrails, a lot without! Down the mountain the other side and into the quaint little town
of Silverton with it’s steam railway and honkey-tonk piano playing bars.

From there, staying with 550 up the other mountain with all those gorgeous bends varying from
switchbacks in first or second to long mountain sweepers. Passing Purgatory ski resort only 20
miles downhill to Durrango, good for eating, and a great biker bar specializing in “Indians” there
is also a Harley dealership for yet another black tee shirt.

Take 160 towards Cortez with some nice wide uphill bends as you leave Durrango and then enjoy
the “One Man” Ski Resort at Hesperus! Wide sweeping bends all the way to Mancos then turn right
on 184 at the lights and enjoy 20 miles of freedom on a nice gentle fast sweeping run to Dolores.
Find the Hollywood Bar, and maybe “us” and relive the ride…… you will NOT be disappointed.

Don’t forget the Rain Gear, because at some stage it’s going to PISS down!

Top of the Lizzard and raingear on.

….and so it was, leaving Dolores all is well and we are through Rico  when it starts to spit with
rain so we stop at the top of Lizard Head Pass and get that super BMW rain gear on. Great photo
ops from here,but the mission must go on and we stay behind the rain until we start the uphill
section out of Placerville. Good place for selling trials bikes!! and also favored by Thomas Kinkade
for some of his famous paintings.

Coming into Placerville

Through the pleasant curves and then the downhill run into Ridgway and time for some gas at
the 550 junction.

Pit stop at Ridgway

The Road into Ouray

Straight road into Ouray, just be patient, you are in for a thrill !! out of Ouray and up the
switchbacks and hope you get a good run at this without any nut brains driving 18 wheelers.
Now a great ride along a mountain ledge with a massive drop off into …………

Scatter several slow speed touring groups (sorry) hope we didn’t scare you, and now try and
keep those “horns” in the helmet as this is real fun! Down the other side and into Silverton and
time for lunch while listening to the pianists belting out Scott Joplin. Another great mountain ride
and then down to Durrango and time to refuel again!

Your a stranger round these parts ain’t yer Stranger ?

Fun, Fun , FUN!

Ready to set off and 200 gone the passenger is less than keen to remount.  Convincing her that
we only have 50 to go, and there’s a bar at the end of the rainbow, we are soon off again. Leave
160 at Mancos and avoiding the stray animals we are soon back at Hollywood. The planned
reverse route for Day 2 gets the VETO as the passenger’s rear suspension has collapsed and
there is NO WAY she is getting on that THING.

…… and so it was that the Deuce, all 140 horses, Baisley heads, 1550 motor, big Mikuni, and
Vance and Hines 2/1 pipe had to go and become the 2006 Screaming Eagle VROD, with a bigger
seat and floor boards for her.

TONY DOWN with a SORE BRENDA who took the helmet cam shots.

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OTHER THINGS TO DO ON MOUNTAINS

OTHER THINGS TO DO ON MOUNTAINS

OTHER THINGS TO DO ON MOUNTAINS

God, I hated that stupid hat!

As a sickly little brat between the ages of 5-7, I must have had every dose of childrens’ sickness
there was to be had. Whooping Cough, Measles, German Measles, Mumps and the one that nearly
did for me…… Chicken Pox. Medication really wasn’t up to much back then and after about 5 weeks
of the Chicken Pox I was failing to thrive and the Doctors were giving up hope and now considered
me to be too ill to be moved as I had slipped into a coma and my breathing was very shallow.
Finally the Doctors gave my mother the news that, in their opinion, I would be unlikely to make it
through the night. Now I’m not an overly religious individual but the local Vicar is called and he duly
arrives and goes through “last rites” and that was supposedly the end of it ………. and ME!

Seems the Grim Reaper and I got to talking, and surprize, surprize when mother arrives in the
morning I’m sitting up in bed. However the 2 weeks in a coma had taken their toll and my rib cage
had become so weak that it had virtually collapsed. When I was strong enough it was time to go
to a major London hospital where the Doctors suggested that I needed prolonged exposure to
crisp mountain air. Consequently mother took a job and worked herself into the ground trying to
earn enough money to pay for the two of us to go to Switzerland for six weeks.

I pause here for a little aside as I just remembered that in my village of Bridge, 3 miles from
Canterbury we had a whole load of people who had names linked to their profession…… and the
reason I remember was the local Vicar, so here’s the batting order;

Vicar/Preist               Rev CHURCH     (Capt)

Baker                        Fred BAKER
Electrician                 Frank SHORTER
 ???                          Bob CARPENTER    …….(plumber)
Car repairs               Henry FORD         ……..(honest, as I live and breathe)
 Back to the story…… Its now January so across the Channel to Calais we go and onto the
overnight sleeper through Europe. In the early hours we are in Interlaken Switzerland and then
off into the mountains to a little village called Beattenberg. Same morning and I’m outfitted with
the skis of the day and the equally primitive boots. Lace up boots, with two sets of laces and skis
that were nearly twice my height. Crap to turn, but boy were they fast! No ski school here, so
only way to learn…… trial and error, and a lot of see like monkey, do like monkey.

These skis are longer than Bode Miller’s!

No lifts so as experience is gained just climb higher and higher up the hill then let her rip. No
turning just balls out until you came to a stop then turn round and start climbing. A couple of
weeks of this and it’s getting a bit boring especially as I’m on my own and there are very few
people in this remote area. The only thing here is a full blown ski jump. So one weekend there is
lots of bunting everywhere and suddenly the slopes are alive with people who are all crowding
the jump. Obviously Joe Dumbknuckle goes to watch…… and after lots of study I decide this is my
next adventure.

No lift you say ?

The following week I secretly start my training so as the Sun starts to go down I’m building the
prototype jump. Take several scoops of snow and build up a bit of a ramp, pat it down smooth off
and put it in the fridge overnight at -30. Following morning it’s rock hard. Now I’ve seen how “they”
did it so take these pole things and jam them in the snow and that will be the start gate. Obviously
the higher up I go the faster I will be when I get to the jump etc, etc. So from small beginings …….
soon the little bumps were growing on the hillside and like Donald Trump every project was bigger
than the last. I expect the local villagers had a good laugh watching the mad English child building
things in the snow…… “Oh yes my dear, he’s here for health reasons, poor boy!”

Up, up and …. Awaay

So with some very rare footage from the Kodak Box Brownie here I am in the early stages of the
ski jumping hobby. Years later I go skiing with the school and then having joined the RAF I am sent
on a Ski Instructor’s Course in the Lebanon of all places (more of that in another story)

Due to circumstances beyond my control my children never learned to ski so it was a real pleasure
to take them to Telluride last winter. They both took to it pretty well and finally my son shows a bit
of promise both on the snow and on some of my bikes…… yet another story.

Edward on Day 2

Tony Down

Ok,  so it’s back to bikes for a few articles, there are 56 now so read some of the early ones
you might have missed

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THE BAKER’S DOZEN

THE BAKER’S DOZEN

THE BAKER’S DOZEN

 I had always wanted one, never had one, the RAF wouldn’t let us ride them, but one day I knew
I would have one! The Mighty KTM! Having seen these beauties at Enduros and ISDT’s I just had
to have one. Only ever saw one KTM in trials spec in the hands of Walther Luft, but there again if
you are the Austrian Champion, and a Puch rider it comes as no surprize that you would ride
“The Baker’s Dozen”.

Why a Baker’s Dozen ? well what would you call it ? The owner was a motorcycle nut who owned
a bakery right outside the Austrian Puch factory gates. He was bike mad and decided he wanted
to make the best off road bike ever. He would source parts from all over the world and then get
others to design it almost regardless of cost. The first ones had British Reynolds 531 tubing for the
frame, front forks from Italy, rear shocks from the UK (that didn’t last long!) rims from Japan and
all controls by Magura. All good choices so far but what about a motor ? As all the Puch engineers
came to his coffee shop/bakery for their morning Danish it was really no surprize when the first
engines appeared with KTM badges where the familiar green of Puch had been.

I suppose we may as well throw in a few other bike names and what they mean

Yamaha          Piano/Organ Manufacturers
Kawasaki       Ship builders
BSA                Gun makers  Birmingham Small Arms
Royal Enfield  BIG gun makers
SWM              Speedy World Motorcycles  (yuk!)

So my first one is more a dual sport than enduro and is the LC400. It goes well and handles
nicely for a big heavy bike. In discussion over the lunch break at a local Central Arizona trials
event Jim persuades us to go for a ride in the Bradshaws taking in Cleator and eventually Crown
King.

We arrive at Jim’s place and when all that are coming arrive, 5 of us set out into the unknown
with Jim leading. Cross country from the 101 loop at 51 ave we claw our way through various
stretches of boondocks and arrive at the “Roadrunner” in New River for breakfast.

A Mine somewhere ?

Off we go again Jim, leading with Rich Palmer, Smack and A.N.Other (can’t remember his name)
and yours truly dutifully following. Up trails various to mines of varying safety levels and through
areas that would have made great one day sections. Very soon we are all running out of fuel so
we beat feet back to Rock Springs and just make it amid some wildarsed Harley riders doing
wheelies with passengers! Hey I thought we were the Wheelie Boys?

Refuel and off to other mines Jim says he knows, the riding is great, lots of narrow rocky trails,
river crossings and a fair bit of washsand riding with some tank slappers thrown in.

Hey where’s the Drink?

Lunch somewhere in the middle of nowhere and now our “cool” liquid is running out so time for
some WFO on the dirt track to Cleator (population 7) and some refreshing beverages and the final
ascent to Crown King. The refreshing beverages prove to good and it’s now getting late and
Crown King has slipped over the horizon during the story telling.

Yet Another River

Time to go, so Jim leads us off on a “short cut” he knows that will take us back to Black Canyon
City. Through scrub, rock and more rivers, I never knew existed, the famous 5 crash their way
until it is getting ridiculous and dark!

Getting Dark in the Bradshaws

I elect to leave the main party and make my way off the mountain to the relative safety of I 17
on a Sunday night.

The team make it into Black Canyon and rumor has it they left there in the early hours and finally
back to Jim’s by daybreak…… something to do with slow service at the restaurant apparently!!

Tony Down      Another Misadventure

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DO TRY THIS AT HOME

DO TRY THIS AT HOME

DO TRY THIS AT HOME

 It’s August 7th and a nice crisp 115 degrees, so how about a trial ? As part of my 60th birthday
those that made it through the “bash” on Saturday night were cordially invited to take part in a
“Handicap Trial” in the garden. So for all those would be trialsmasters here is the opportunity to
excel.

All you need is about 1/2 an acre, a few piles of rocks of various sizes, a museum with rock and
tree frontage and some awkward steps and a 6 foot balcony, a few piles of dirt for the fish pool
(as promised) some railroad ties, cactus of various sizes and thorns, a few low hanging Palo Verde
trees, a sprinkling of pie plates and a mile of red and blue ribbon.

The trial is laid out on the Intermediate/Advanced line and everyone rides that line. Handicapping
is as follows:

Expert/Champ                  +20
Sportsman/ExSports        +10
Advanced                            0
Intermediate                       0
Sen Novice/ Novice           -10
Twinshock/Vintage           -10
Beginer                             -20

Punch your own card, nails available everywhere!

There are nine sections and 3 loops, so drink plenty assuming you didn’t last night!

A quick review of the course for those not in attendance and for those that were here who didn’t
actually SEE the sections, this is what you SHOULD have ridden.

Mike exiting “Stables”

Section 1  “THE STABLES” initial start over jumble of concrete railroad ties before crashing into the
pile of broken tile, right turn into first pile of loose ABC, left turn into side of second ABC pile, over
pile, unrestricted turn in the stables to last high pile of ABC… section ENDS

Bruce coming to the 5 foot pile on “Rip-Rap”

Section 2 “RIP-RAP” 25 yards of loose rip-rap before tighish right turn under ironwood tree before
up and over 5 feet of piled rip-rap…..section ENDS

Mike in the lower half of “A Touch of Scotland” with Eagle Eye Jim

Section 3 & 4 (continuous) “A TOUCH OF SCOTLAND” a bounce through some huge boulders in a
gentle right turn before turning left into another footrest wide ditch of same, then turning left then
right to line up on the earth mounds, up and down the first into tight righthander into second
steeper climb, adverse downhill, into left turn through cacti, with step…..section ENDS

Don on the last climb of “Touch of Scotland”

Joe on the last hazard of “Touch of Scotland”

Jim working hard on “Ouch”

Section 5 “OUCH” uphill in rip-rap to left turn inside railroad ties, under Palo Verde, right turn in
deep rip-rap to uphill step, left turn into step, downhill in rip-rap to right uphill turn between 2
cactus….section ENDS

Section 6 & 7 with the tape of 8 in the background

Section 6 & 7 (continuous) “Museum” enter by house into rock step, right turn into left turn around
palm tree and museum window, left and right tight turns around fir tree in gravel, into 7 with right
turn into museum steps, around barrel, free left turn (no escape!) back down steps, right turn…..
section ENDS

Section 8 “The Barber’s Pole” a series of ridiculously tight left and right turns around the upright
poles of the carport,…… section ENDS

Section 9 “The See Saw” up the left side of rock infested mound into generous turn to line up on
builder’s plank over trencher tool and attractively laid out pile of railroad ties, over tire collection,
through goffers hole, up rock pile with left turn….. section ENDS

The exit of “Touch of Scotland” as it is today….. ‘king green party!

A view from “Ouch”  Sections 3,4, and 5 lost to developers

Riding was pretty intense with Mike and Jim in close competition, several cactus injuries, but in
an operation this size there are bound to be a few casualties!

There was also a cabaret act of Al trying to change a tire!!! Well this would have made Shade Tree
blush, and I must admit I didn’t think it was conceiveable that anyone would, or could, use a Metal
Saw to cut the tire in half!

Jim thinks the “Water Splash” and “The Black Lagoon” will make cracking sections next year.
Brenda is currently arranging for Jim to undergo treatment.

TONY DOWN  (1 year on)

Do check out some of the earlier articles from October and early November, and please feel
free to comment.

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WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN


1950 and Father on the Norton I believe

As a 7 year old I used to accompany father to all manner of motorcycle events and normally this
would be trials during the winter months and grass track racing during the summer. Every now and
then my Uncle Tom, of Arter AJS and Matchless fame, would let me and my cousin, Tom junior, go
to some of the closer road racing venues.

Daddy playing in the Kentish Mud  1949

At this tender age, on a cold November morning, father and I arrive at the start which is the village
playing field and the “sign in” is at the clubhouse/cricket pavillion. The Village green has now been
converted for soccer and the nets are up but no game today as the ground is frozen and all crispy
white apart from the wheel tracks from bikes and tow vehicles arriving at the start. So as you
stand there like a lemon as father and others swap stories of daring-do……. someone says
“Does your lad ride yet Frank?”………….

Within seconds I’m astride a mighty 197 Villiers Francis Barnett and struggling to reach the controls
(a bit like a modern day Harley rider) and then the most informative “how to lesson” …… give us
your hand here!…. you let go of this and give it a bit of this with the other hand. I nod sagely while
being supported by father and owner like a Knight in armour aboard his Warhorse, and so without
Lance and Sheild “this” is released and “this” is twisted!

I have little recollection of what transpired, but after several revolutions of the playing field yours
truly was getting into it and there was a fair bit of “twisting” going on albeit only in second gear.
Rounding the Pavillion turn on lap umptee ump the twisting is in play when I see I’m a bit further
out than last time and now there is a telegraph pole in my path and even worse there is this huge
supporting cable at 45 degrees going down into the ground and it’s looking as though the Knight
is going to lose his helmet, horse and all! Fortunately a slow speed turn gets me out of trouble
and then on the ensuing lap a lot of “Dad!  ….. DAD!!  DADDY!!!”  until they tell me how to stop.
A minor detail not covered in the initial breifing.

As all competitions of the day had an element of public road you had to be 16 and have a license
before you could compete…… but of course you could be an “observer” so many Sundays were
spent in the middle of nowhere with the big board in a plastic bag and a handfull of writing devices
to mark others progress, or lack of, as the rain poured down.

Meanwhile the Post Office BSA Bantam 123cc 3 speed was out in the woods every night when I
was allowed out and as some skills developed the home made sections tightened up. Pretty tough
when I think back with a gutless bike, road gearing and virtually no suspension.

Shortly before my “16th” the Bantam is dressed up with a new livery of paint, alloy guards and
some road tires and off I go to learn some road skills. A few weeks of 54 mph flat out or 56 mph
in road racing style and with the test behind me and the “L” plates gone I’m craving something
bigger better and Faster! This manifests itself as the Triumph Tiger Cub Bushman. The mind
boggles at the stupidity of youth! Neither one thing nor another. High level straight through
Burgess exhaust, trials tires, double seat and lights….. I had convinced myself that this was the
way to go as I could ride it on the road, do a few trials, and go out at Night and pursue another
NEW interest…I wonder what that was?

A few dismal attempts at trials on this “thing” soon had me convinced this was NOT the way to
go! Huuummm!
Well, when I’m 17 I can drive a car, that will cover the night time needs and if I had a “REAL”
trials bike I could do that as well. With a lot of pleading, begging and grovelling another ex Post
Office heap arrives in the drive in the shape of a 1945 Morris 8 Van, floor start, or hand crank after
tickling the carb, rear doors and about 20 miles to the pint!

……. and so it was that my trials riding career began and I’m off on my cousin Tom’s Greeves
Scottish 197 Villiers 9E, while he gets the new Greeves 24TES……. but I have a Van!

A “Centipede 3” on the 9E 1963

November 1963 and a memorable “Best Novice” at Folkestone and the game is on! Early 64 and
I get Tom’s cast off Greeves 24 TES while he moves on to the TFS.

1964 aboard the Greeves 24 TES

A few months later and I’m at RAF South Cerney undergoing Officer Training and trials riding
comes to an abrupt  stop…….but not for long!

TONY DOWN

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  • 12/2/2007 1:23 AM Steveo wrote:
    A toast to the glory days and all of the bikes.I beleive my old ’54 James and its Villiers motor ,to be the most bullet proof reliable and simple engine ever put in a motor-cycle!Its good to see an article paying homage to those wonderful steeds,thanks ,Steveo
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  • 12/3/2007 3:18 PM Outlaw Dave wrote:
    Tony – My first ride was also on a FB – and like you my buddy forgot to tell me how to stop it – so I kept going round & round in the Cul de Sac where we lived in Oswestry.
    Shropshire. – Can’t remember how I eventually got stopped, but I guess my first experience taught me good low speed control. – Great memories.
    Reply to this
  • 12/7/2007 10:54 PM Tim Fulcher wrote:
    I have a funny feeling feeling we may have met (Tony read your PM’s in TC). I think my dad rode the ISDT on the same vile instrument as Tony.

    Apart from that I see it’s the usual suspects.
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THE BULLDOZER FROM SPAIN

THE BULLDOZER FROM SPAIN

THE BULLDOZER FROM SPAIN

1975 “SERVICES TRIAL” Weavers Down Hants

When Mick Andrews won the Scottish Six Days three years in a row on this formidable beast
people really took notice. The 1970 version did not look much like the model we associate with the
classic “MAR” but from 1971 onwards there were very few changes to the machine. Like all bikes
of the era it had some “high’s and low’s”.

The engine was exceedingly reliable, would eat mud and water for breakfast, and very seldom
ever gave any problems. Solid state ignition, easy starting, big soft seat, tree trunk forks from
betor, exhaust neatly tucked away, and a massive flywheel that would keep it going and going like
the energiser bunny.

One of the downside were the brakes, or more precisely the lack of! Once wet that was it, you
had better hope you could steer, or the organizers had only little descents where you could look
smooth as you used the decompressor and everything else to try to slow down. The rear shocks
always looked as though they had collapsed but in truth that was one of the Ossa’s fortes. It had
the most amazing ability to find grip when everyone else was struggling. Maybe that combined with
the engines cabability of coming back from the dead resulted in “cleans”on lines that had never
been envisaged on the rider walk through. The swinging arm would often come loose, and to add
to the fun the rear wheel sprindle was soft and could easily bend! Ed
note: most Spanish steel of the era was soft!!

1975 SSDT Edramucky

I rode the OSSA MAR for the 1975 and 1976 seasons and I really enjoyed it as it suited my style
(big, strong and clumsy) but it did steer beautifully and throttle control and grip were phenominal.
Well suited to the rocks you could smash the bashplate into granite, crack the rock, then ride
through the gap! The width of the forks, prevented minor obstactles pulling you off line and when
trouble arrived close the throttle and the John Deere from Spain would just find the grip and away
you went as if you had planned it.

1976 SSDT Edramucky … Again

That soft motor and roadroller flywheel were a delight and you really needed to work pretty hard
to stall the engine. It did sometimes have a mind of it’s own and I have seen many surprised
riders discover that the motor is just as happy in reverse! Try and stall it on a big muddy climb, or
run it backwards in gear down hill trying to find somewhere to turn and start it up again…….. if
that motor sniffed a “rotation” in either direction it was going to fire! …. and suddenly you found
yourself in a “rewind” camera shot shooting downhill in third in REVERSE!

It could sometimes do the same if it kicked back on starting. All seems well, in the right gear,
Observer giving the “Right ho laddie” and with much enthusiasm you release the clutch and fire
up the Bulldozer’s boiler room only to see, and FEEL the tank, headstock and handlebars slip
backwards through your legs!

Well with all those memories it is no surprize I decide to find one and rebuild it for AHRMA
competition. Another E-bay delight is sourced and claims to be another “Strong runner”, fully
restored, with a lot of attention to detail??????

All that Glitters is……..

It duly arrives……… it has a kill switch on the bars, but no wiring?   a big double seat off a
Pioneer or Explorer, high level front mudguard,…… a lot of multi colored tape? and a different,
but pleasntly shaped fuel tank? Huumm!
Pull the front brake and compress the forks…… seals shot…….fully restored??… Front wheel
bearings OK, try the back…… clunk, clunk, look a little closer, no it’s the entire swinging arm…
swinging??

Further dismantling….. self tapping screws???   …… OH, OH! it’s got the ignition wires arse
backwards on the coil!

Usual shopping list, forks, yokes and engine cases for polish, footrests kicker and bits and bobs
for chroming. While that’s away new tank and a seat from Sammy Miller, chain and tires from
Cycle Gear, Bars and grips from Hardrock trials, new Mikuni kit and cables from BJ Racing,  along
with some new Falcon shocks, levers from E-bay, and also smaller front sprocket and a Renthall
alloy bashplate.

Remake the side panels out of hard plastic and my man at Advanced Grafix makes the
Turquoise/Gold/Black decals while I repaint the barrel to match.

It all goes together beautifully and is just as I remember them from the 70’s. It had it’s one and
only outing at Wittman in Feb 2006 and won quite convincingly.

TONY DOWN

There is more on the OSSA under “More from the SSDT”

and                                               “The OSSAMAHA”

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  • 12/2/2007 7:28 PM Steveo wrote:
    Another dandy article and my thanks.My last trials bike was the 1970 mar,sold it and moved to Alberta’s wild west for new experiences,regretted selling my Ossa for 35 years,never dreamed that I’d ever be a trials rider again.Still I drove those gravel roads with a trials eye and responses.Here I am,on the short side of 60 and loving being a born-again trials rider.It’s different now,besides being older and cautious,this is now my main serious passion.That and of course a mans baser instincts!.I’ll be a rider until my body prevents me.Its different here on Gambier island,about 200 souls,water taxi service so going to an event in Vancouver is a trial of several days before I’ve got me arse and bike back home.I’ll say one thing though the riding is absolutely unbelievable,a couple of mountains,and more totally virgin riding than I’ll ever see in my lifetime.once on the way up the mountain you’re surrounded by 1,000’s of sleeping giants,old moss covered trees 6-10 feet in diameter,anywhere you stop to look there’s section possibilities on both sides,very inspiring.I hosted several trials events in the past and the lads are all asking me to hold one here.Everthing in good time,first I’ve got to drum up some trials riders here,though I’ve the secret for getting club memberships up.After a good drunken agm,I found out the next day that I’d been elected president of an “old boys” club of 8 members,in two years of dilegence I was able to get the membership up to 46 riders and a full competition calander.The club is now on a healthy continuum.I know that you’re a busy man in your environs,good work on making the amhra’s circuit.If you ever want to do something out of your box,you are wellcome to come and check out this trials paradise,I’ve got a nice little guest cabin beside the trout pond and 3 bikes ,I use the services of the locals lads boats to haul things like my bike.One of my new prospect’s Gordy,he’s asked me if I’d like to run his barges for him.this would be a class-act way to haul the competitors and their bikes over here!I hope that my efforts will warrant a reply,thanks and keep up the fine work! Steveo
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    1. 12/2/2007 9:26 PM Tony Down wrote:
      Steve,

      Sounds pretty good up there, and when I retire…….. Well done on the promotion of the sport, 46 riders is very impressive in a relatively small area. Can’t say as I’m keen on barges, ferries or anything else that goes on water, you will see why in a article coming soon! If you are thinking of coming down for a few events let me know and I’ll give you the dates. May and Sep are very good this year with 5 events in one week! Don’t forget to look at Brenda’s web www.trialsphoto.com some good shots of you for sale going through that mud hole of section 2.  Tony
      Reply to this

      1. 12/5/2007 2:21 AM Steveo wrote:
        Thanks I’ve had the pleasure of seeing those great photos of us all playing in that lovely mud hole at Whittman.They made me laugh at all the fun we were having and the memories.I would have liked to thank the organizers,who laid out a fine challenging,fun and safe event.Having put on several events myself,I truly appreciate someone who “gets it right”.I believe that being the trials master,laying out sections for riders of many skill levels,Is much more challenging and difficult than simply riding an event.Its a treat to ride such a well laid out event,After hosting my own trial for 5 years now,I feel that I haven’t got it right yet.Though perhaps that doesn’t really matter,its really about 3 days of fun,campfires and playing on our trials toys!All events are great,if would be boring if they were to be all the same.Allways give thanks and praise to the organizers,we’re all doing our best for the sport that we love. Happy Trials all Steveo Ps I’m hopeing to be in Az sometime in Feb and /or March?
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  • 11/24/2008 3:06 AM Julian wrote:
    Nice site, Tony. I found it yesterday while looking for info on Mikuni jetting for spanish bikes.

    I also ride vintage trials here in Spain, and have my own website about classic spanish bikes. It all began trying to give some help about Montesas King Scorpions …

    I’m in trouble now. Two weeks ago I bought a Mikuni VM28 for a friend’s Cota 330. And I’m getting crazy trying to rejet it. I can’t find good info about Mikuni jets in Spain, because those carbs were not sold here. No idea about Amal / Mikuni values …

    Can you give me a hand?

    Thanks

    Julián
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  • 3/9/2013 1:35 PM Grant Humble wrote:
    Hello Tony
    Recently stumbled upon your site. Recently started in trials after racing motocross since 1973. Am having a blast. Riding a 74 TY 250 which I really like and just finished semi-restoring a 86 TY 350. Cant wait to try it out. Really enjoy reading your stories, have learned alot. You have built the nices bikes i’ve ever seen. Keep up the great work. Grant
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THE BUILDING OF TYZ

THE BUILDING OF TYZ

THE BUILDING OF TYZ

 With the departure of Mick Andrews from  the Yamaha trials program development was something
of a hit miss affair. The TY 250 and 350 of the 1980’s was a great workhorse and in the right hands
can still be fairly competitive, but up against a modern bike it shows it’s age.

It then seems that some sort of “gay” movement arrived in the Yamaha Development Team with
the introduction of the “Pinkey” with it’s less than macho color schemes! Not that I was riding trials
at that time but how do you hold your head up when asked “What do you ride?”
“I ride a ……..!”

So in 1991 Yamaha announce the TYZ, a 250 watercooled engine, alloy Delta frame, all the era’s
latest in suspension, perfect handling but with a color scheme and price tag that left a lot to be
desired. These machines were for Japan, Europe and Canada only and in the UK they retailed
at 3971.00 GBP, which at the time would have been around $6000.00, a crazy price for a trials bike
and for that money you could have had TWO of any of the other manufacturers machines.

The color scheme could hardly be described as a “classic” with white mudguards (fine) alloy frame,
(sounds good to me), annodised purple rims (fantastic! but I’m biased) PINK fork legs (Yuk!), PINK
chainguard (Yahrooch!) and a midish Blue tank cover (It doesn’t match anything!)

Although these machines enjoyed a lot of success in Nigel Birkett’s hands and are still rated by
many that have them as a “great bike” they never saw much response in the USA and I believe
there are only 3 here, all of which were imported from Canada.

I saw this one on E-Bay (where else?) and it struck me as an interesting proposition for a
rebuild project. Usual e-bay blather, strong runner, etc, etc, but it did have quite a few spares
in unused condition.

It arrives from California and of course the strong runner description is completely ficticious and
hasn’t run anywhere in years. Decision, complete strip, polish forks, yokes, frame, swinging arm
handlebars and exhaust system. Repaint chainguard and tank/seat unit, new fenders, tires and
get the motor running again. A little rechroming of footrests, maybe new sprockets and chain,
need a new chain tensioner roller and that should do it.

A lesson here from the memoirs of Shade Tree ” When working on a machine you are unfamiliar
with, and parts will be away for a while, it is a GOOD idea to take some photos as what is crystal
clear today will be a dim memory in 3 weeks time!”

Time to look at the motor, and on removal of the flywheel cover there is evidence of substantial
water as the inside is brown and I dread to think what is behind the flywheel. Other parts are
ordered from Nigel Birkett and while these are ‘ing expensive they are nothing compared to the
cost of the flywheel puller which apparently is encrusted in diamonds and can be used as a
pendant for m’lady when not in workshop use…. 225.00 GBP!!!

There has to be a cheaper way especially as this engine is the same one that is fitted to the
current 2 stroke Scorpa. Eventually buy a universal puller from Bob at BJ Racing for about $40
and off comes the nasty flywheel. A lot of cleaning to remove the rust but the stator looks
beyond help so another phone call to Nigel in the UK and we try the new stator with a back up
plan of just the coil.

True to form the Phillips screw heads prove difficult and one comes out using the double impact
technique. Take a square bladed Phillips screwdriver and attach a set of vise grips about 4 inches
from the tip. One sharp knock from the hammer on the end of the driver, then undo using
a swift turn to the vise grip. The other one shears off in situ!….. no matter we have a company
in Phoenix who specialize in this sort of thing and will usually do it while you wait. A sort of
reverse welding that melts the broken bolt but leaves the thread in the hole completely
undamaged.

The new Michelins are here from Cycle gear (hooray for MSF) but now I’m not happy with the
wheels as someone has scratched them doing whatever, either fixing flats with screwdrivers,
or some other unknown practice, no way they ever got this way from riding. Out with the flap
wheels and in no time I have the edges bright shiney alloy contrasting against the purple, dam
they look really sharp!

Back tire is tubeless so no point in struggling take it to the tire shop correctly half mounted
and one squirt from the gun and it’s on.

Some new decals from my man and the yellow/white/black retro look for the tank shroud and
now it looks better than NEW!… as if by chance a NEW sprocket comes on e-bay and I get it
for the starting price. New chain in gold from Cycle Gear and the back end is complete with
new tailpipe from the spares collection.

Another one of these came up on E-bay (USA) and was purchased by none other than my
No1 customer in Placerville CO. No doubt that one will be in the shop for refurbishment when
I finish the 320 SWM I still haven’t got round to yet.

Tony Down

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  • 12/1/2007 3:15 PM Outlaw Dave wrote:
    Hi Tony – Enjoying reading about your exploits – I was in Scotland in 92 and saw the new TYZ Prototype being ridden by a Japanese rider. – Mick had fitted one of my Outlaw X Bar pads to the factory bike which he thought was hilarious. I worked for Yamaha Canada from 73-84 and so am quite familiar with the bikes -I met Mick in 74 and we kept in touch for a number of years. Anyway the story about the TYZ was that it was (whenever I asked the Japs) maybe next year!! and of course when it did arrive in Scotland Mick was assured that the production bike would be “Slimmer” and the swing arm much narrower. – At this time having left Yamaha ( Gold clock intact)I was selling Trials stuff plus Yamaha Trials bikes, for a dealer in Calgary AB – We therefore ordered 5 of the new TYZ’s.- Imagine my surprise when I opened the first crate to find the bike exactly like the Proto – big and wide, plus it made this strange sucking sound when you twisted the throttle !!
    The worst was yet to come, as the bike would stall, without any warning ( much to the delight of the other riders)
    Fed up with this I called Mick who said
    ” Oh I know Dave everyone hates ’em over here” – We did improve the motor by retarding the timing, but after about three months I became a Beta/GasGas dealer ( Now just Beta/Sherco) – I still have TYZ Sprockets in stock if you need any CHEAP. Best Regards Dave
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BENDS AND THE BEEMER PART 3

BENDS AND THE BEEMER PART 3

BENDS AND THE BEEMER PART 3


 Having enjoyed the Red Rock Rendez-Vous so much in 2005 it is time to do it again and another
year and Safari has been sidelined to the 2001 Beaver Marquis wonder coach! This is RV’ing to a
level of decadence associated with the Orient Express. Step on board and if it’s not yours you are
going to be green with envy.

This year we leave on time and on Thursday morning. All’s well, the BMW has been fully secured
and there will be no repeat of last years disasters in the Haulmark. Houdini will have trouble
escaping from these lashings and sure enough we arrive in one piece with the Beemer upright.

“The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round”

Usual arrival sequence and now await the set up of the “micro brewery”. Lots of familiar faces from
last year and a whole load of “newbies” and over the statutory “few beers” we hear their life
stories and motorcycling experiences. It seems the “2” motorcycles of the 50 year old are either
the Harley or the Beemer, one being the choice of the motorcyclist and the other the “wannabee”
Having both, I leave you, the reader to identify which way you choose to go.

Motorcycling encompasses all lifestyles and income brackets, and money will not make you a
better rider but it will allow you to ride better machines in nicer surroundings. Or, you can scare
yourself more on a ridiculously expensive ill handling  toy.  Just because you can afford it doesn’t
make it the right bike for you. …… and equally if you can afford it you can afford the lessons to
ride it properly and safely. Still on my pet rants when you know 70% of all motorcycle fatalities are
head injuries how can anyone of a sane mind be so stupid as to ride with a doo-rag? When I
instruct I advise people to buy the most expensive helmet they can afford, my favorite being
ARAI, both for fit and comfort.  $100 head = S100 helmet,  $500 head = $500 helmet, Doo- rag =
brain dead! Just imagine the little stone that cracked your car’s windshield, that you never saw
coming……? what is that same stone going to do to your dental work when it smacks you in the
teeth?…….. a lot more damage than the cost of a full face helmet!

Back at the bar we meet new Beemer owner’s who are now into the camping thing and are fairly
gung-ho about the fun of sleeping on the “grassy knoll” despite owning luxury yatchs berthed at
San Diego…… well you do it your way………….

The following morning some grumpy faces in “tent city” or “Everest base camp”, as trying to be a
cuckooned moth overnight in a sleeping bag, while forgetting the ground sheet, and trying to
emerge as the brightest butterfly in the garden doesn’t quite crack it!  Glad my intercom is not
going to be filled with   “You ***************<    YOu never told me ************<     You***!!!!

Time for some riding, however, a quick note from Brenda, “It’s amazing how some women can  be
so friendly one evening, and wake up hating you the next morning because they slept on the
ground and you slept in your coach, especially when there is a motel just around the corner…..”

Same arch, different day

Today we are going for the 250 miler!…..    not poss on the HD, HA, FH, whatever you call them.
Through Bryce, up the Escalante Grand Staircase on to Torrey, then westbound and eventually
picking up “89” back to Panguitch.

Why do they shoot the signs ?

Fantastic ride, some superb bends and some that can take you by surprize so as always, be fast
where you can, slow when you don’t know, and above all be safe and smooth. Take a passenger
and talk…… see the difference it makes to your riding……..rabbit, rabbit= I know what I’m doing,
Oh sh*********************!= I have no idea, and I’m either trying too hard to impress you or
Me, or BOTH!

This is FUN !

Well the ride is over and the micro brew is in full swing again and more people have arrived,
including a couple who are also riding a K1200LT. He has done the MSF course, and now wants to
be an Instructor. The wife has given her blessing and sent him out to find the next steed as they
are now without the usual parental commitments and are looking for some fun. He comes back
from the motorcycle shops and presents his case for the defence and she says she “will take it
under advisement” and then tours the dealerships and renders her decision ……. BMW, take it, or
leave it! How many times in life do you get that lucky????    What an understanding wife????
Where do I get one of these????     BUT, I have one ALREADY!!!

Our new friends arrive on time (I like that)  for the poker run, which is almost the reverse of our
personal route from yesterday. Usual poker rules, go here, go there, what is?, get a picture etc,
etc.

…. get a picture with a State Trooper

Off on “89” and find our first bonus card “Utah State Trooper”  and then some gentle fast riding
65-95? no, no no, …… we never went over 70…… yeah right!!  Rules of today’s game, you want
to be an Instructor, just follow MY LINES, don’t get showy, I’m showing you! It’s not a race….
honest, ……… so I’m spending a lot of time in my mirrors as I watch rake’s progress….. yes the
boy can ride, but he is overbraking coming into the bend and apexing too early with the result
of a wide run out. Nothing dangerous but if we put the speed up we are going to get into a zone
that may be uncomfortable.

Free Wife ? must be a Mormon thing !

We stop for lunch and see the most ridiculous sign …. but this is UTAH! Debrief the morning ride
and now this afternoon we are going to put the speed up a bit, so remember, brake in a straight
line come deeper into the corner, brakes off, corner with either body weight or countersteer, apex
later, more power at the apex and hold the gear longer, NO short shifting, got it? Follow me.

Wow !

We now move up hill through some fabulous sweepers in the Aspens and “my boy” is super-
starring and I’m impressed. Higher up the mountain and the bends are getting tighter so its
about time for “Scotty” to “give it all it’s got Captain”….  so I start  double shifting and forward
and out, through these delightful bends. As we exit one WFO, (technical expression), I glance
in the mirrors and see “my Boy” on perfect line some 100 yards back, at the same time as I look
forward (and the headphones are screaming), I see a Deer, A  DOE,  a DEER , a female Deer, RAY
……….,  ME, a name …..FAR …. there is nowhere to RUN!  SO ……. A brake cable pulling thread…….
LA ……. a name that follows high-side…… TI …. a touch of ABS ……which will bring us back to…….
DOE… as the second of these wild arse animals jumps in the road which I can now swerve round
and bring us back to normality. (thanks to Mary Poppins and BMW for the ABS)

……… the ride continues uphill and as we round a bend at the summit we meet a cattle drive with,
cowboys, dogs, horses and about 300 head of cattle and all the excrement that they can create!
Didn’t need ABS this time but a cautious descent follows before the road is clear and we can
continue.

The Ski Jump

We ride the ridge and I’m lucky that I can remember some of it from yesterday including the
“Ski Jump” and some other weirdo bends. Later back in the bus I give my man credit for his skills
and I sincerely hope he did do the Instructor course as he certainly has a lot to offer.

Just REMEMBER, if YOU want to be an INSTRUCTOR, always REMEMBER, what was it like the first
TIME YOU tried it?

TONY DOWN, Brenda, the Beemer and some deers…. and Dave and Leslie

Don’t forget those October articles, this one is No 50!

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