DON’T ASSUME, CHECK!

DON’T ASSUME, CHECK!

DON’T ASSUME, CHECK!

From an old RAF Flight Safety poster “Don’t assume Check”

Time has rocketted by and now the departure is imminent!  Final checking of articles and equipment
and now with the long range weather forecast at hand there are a few changes that need to be made
to ensure life is pleasant. The forecast is rain, rain, and then more rain all accompanied with a nice
crisp 20 mph wind!

Brenda has completed her survey of other hotels in the forlorn hope of finding a “smoking hotel” but
has failed to find anything so the original plan stands. Final booking of the hire car will be done today
and it looks like the cheapest is Hertz using my old age AARP card which knocks off a healthy chunk
and almost gives us an “uprade” to a nice Jag or Merc C180 for the same price as a Ford Mondeo.

One of these maybe ?


Or perhaps this one ?

As for clothes and riding gear there are going to be a few changes in view of the weather! Out goes
my multi colored riding jacket (which she doesn’t like anyway) and in comes the enduro BMW jacket
with all its pockets. All a bit like F1 with their tire changes so we won’t be taking “slicks” just
“intermediates” of old XC-ting pants and the Beemer jacket, and “full wets” with the BMW rain suit and
Spyder thermal ski jacket underneath. No change in the boot department with the old red Sidis and
the new sealskinz inside. Gloves are a nuisance as most get soaked and shrink and others are too
bulky for trials riding. I tend to ride most trials without gloves but might go for something intermediate
between the sections. …….. and almost forgot the old towel round the neck. As I wear sunglasses for
riding this might change with a set of clear goggles although I can suffer a few miles on the road with
stinging cold rain I’m sure. With all the kit out, it seems to fit, and now I’m going for 2 sets of everything!
No point in starting day 2 cold and with wet gear so pay a little extra for the airline bags and be
comfortable.

No point in going full throttle on the evening attire as space will be limited, no hair dryers etc for
Brenda, just use the in house stuff and I think my cordless razor will do a week. Boots are polished
(a gentleman never starts with dirty boots!) helmet has been washed and foam cleaned so we are
ready for final packing. This morning’s long range still shows rain but now mostly o’night so things
are looking up.

All the riding gear, now 2 sets of boots, went into my old RAF Aircrew holdall so just ordinary clothes
to go in the other 2 suitcases and I’m ready. Tube and tire/tyre changing kit all went into the
Camelback and the wet jacket went into the Outlaw belt. A selection of tools also went in the belt and
I’ll be down to borrowing an adjustable for the wheel nut when I see what size they are.

A few more looks at the weather and over Sunday it appeared to have gone from heavy o’night rain
and lightish rain during the day to almost pleasant and very acceptable with good weather and no rain
for the full SSDT. Either the tea leaves or seaweed must have been moved last night as this morning
its back to GRIM and GRIMMER ! Oh well, as they say its the same for everybody, and its only 25
miles a day. I always used to relish the “bad days” in really nasty conditions as when everybody else
was giving up and thoroughly pissed off I could sometimes excel with sheer bloody mindedness, so
perhaps I’ll see if I can find that determination that must be locked away in the dim recesses of the
Trials rider’s mind.

16 hours until we leave so last minute preparations and then the Adventure will begin!

TONY DOWN

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THE COUNTDOWN TO SCOTLAND

THE COUNTDOWN TO SCOTLAND

THE COUNTDOWN TO SCOTLAND

Only 1 week to go……….

Having completed this article, and just adding the final touches prior to publishing a random button
must have been pushed and 3 hours plus of intensive one finger typing shot off into the ether never to
be seen again! Once more the digit hits the keyboard in an effort to regain my sanity before humping
the computer through the window!

Sam MBE should be bringing the bike

…….and so it was, “The Sporting Holiday in the Highlands” and all it’s memories and disasters. No, I
wouldn’t want to ride the full 6 days anymore but the thought of the Silver Jubilee Pre 65 has much
appeal despite these hard financial times we are all enduring. Every morning I’m one day closer and
that brings back all those memories of the lead up to the event and all the rituals that had to be done
prior to the start. As the old adage says “Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” and here I’m
feeling somewhat guilty as I’m not preparing the bike that I will be riding.

Going back nearly 40 years the lead up to the “First Week of May” was always the same, and maybe
the reason I was lucky enough to finish all the 8 rides I had in this magnificent event. About March time
the NEW machine was acquired and after a couple of shake down rides it was wheeled into the
workshop to start  getting ready for Scotland.

All personal mods, handlebars, levers, footrests etc were fitted and depending on the fuel tank size a
bigger version would be ordered and fitted as the end of Rannoch or Blackwater was no place to be
with an empty tank, and some years the 1 gallon tank was going to be pushing it if the conditions were
continuous mud, peat and water and pouring rain. The bike would be dismantled, looking for any
manufacturer’s weaknesses and then reassembled with a lot of locktite, and many bolts drilled and
wirelocked. Many phonecalls, no cellphones or email back then, to”gurus” and “sages” to see what
they were doing and a lot of advice from an excellent mechanic and RAF riding companion,
Dick Clears.

The practice wheels out tyre changing and making sure the memory bank knew where all the spacers
went, was done many times and distance pieces were fitted on all the rim locks to speed up the
operation. A first time wheelout on Blackwater is no place to discover “what goes where?”

A regular sight on the Mamore road

Waterproofing and the ignition system were given the big once over with another coil and condenser
mounted somewhere up under the tank and a quick changeover system devised. A lot of time was
spent improving the safety of the aircleaner and making sure that whatever the back wheel pushed
forward it was going to stay out! With the bike in pieces time to fit all the spare cables, as back then
nipples had a nasty habit of pulling off! Suitably taped at both ends to keep out the proverbial they
were routed and taped to the current operating one, and of course a few solderless nipples were
always in the spares tin just in case. In recent years I have only ever had nipples come off a cable on
a road bike, the clutch of course!

The Spanish chain was replaced with the FREE Renolds Racing chain and of course all the oils were
drained and replenished with all the freebies from Duckhams. The universal spare lever was mounted
on a rear downtube and the ever faithful bicycle shorty pump was fitted up front on one of the engine
downtubes. A length of petrol pipe was pushed through the dummy grip leaving an inch or so
protruding for the emergency syphoning if required.

1975, stickers where the knees and thighs rub and the bicycle pump
on the forward downtube

Time for the final touches and the number plates. A quick trip to RAF workshops and after a little
begging for scrap alloy 3 pieces were acquired and cut to size. Many hours spent bending and forming
the back plates as exhaust and silencer system seemed to getting bigger and always in the way and
after all the forming the first spray of the black base coat. Inside the stencils are cut as required for
your own riding number and then the painstaking hand painting of those famous yellow numbers.
Eventually all mounted with anti vibration devices and now time for the final dose of autosol and then
the application of “stickers” ! Now I always thought this was a bit over the top and made the bike look
like a fairground but experience has proven me wrong here as a set of barbour trousers covered in
Scottish peat can destroy alloy and fiberglass in no time. Could even be used to grind valves!

Ah, those Yellow numbers!

Into the last week and time to check all the NEW riding gear from our sponsors. Nice new Blue/White
helmets from Griffon and many readers will remember how the suits changed from the drab olive
green to the colorful TT leathers, and of course we wore the Blue with White sleeves. Then we moved
on to the one piece waterproof suits which were great for riding but did tend to get ripped unlike the
waxed cotton. Boots from Sidi were tried but like all leather boots let the water in and eventually we
went back to the Dunlop Industrial Wellies which were ideal for Six Days of paddling round the
Highlands and at least your feet were dry. Gloves came in 2 types, one heavy duty pair for the long
road sections and a lighter pair for the sections or just bare handed if that’s your bag.

TT Leathers in RAF Blue & White

1975 with the Sidi boots and the Griffon Blue/White helmets

1976 the one piece outfits, and back to the Dunlop Wellies

Also in that last week all the documentation, FIM licence, check the hotel bookings and get the fuel
agency cards from the MTO and make sure the Landrovers were still available.

Well I have the airline tickets, my ACU Licence and the passports, checked the hotel accommodation
at the Onich so just the Hire car to book and all the paperwork is done. Last minute stuff on the riding
gear front, boots by Sidi, not the new pair, stay with the black Yes helmet. I have the new sealskinz
socks so I’m hoping for dry feet in wet boots. I have the BMW rain gear which is superb, lightweight
and absolutely waterproof……. very tempted by the XC-Ting jacket as I use their stuff so a quick trip to
Fort William might be in order on Thursday afternoon, assuming I still have some funds.

If funds stretch the latest jacket from XC-Ting

….. And finally time to pack the Outlaw Toolbelt (kind donation) with all the essentials of tubes, cables,
plugs, chain links, cable ties and the tools we hope never to use.

The Outlaw Belt  donated by Dave Rhodes

So this will be the last article prior to the event but I know “IT” will be the source of several episodes to
come with tales of daring do and much drinking, eating and story telling……. and to all those that have
supported this huge operation….THANK YOU.

TONY DOWN

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BITS STUCK ANYWHERE

BITS STUCK ANYWHERE

BITS STUCK ANYWHERE

A B40 Motor

Bits Stuck Anywhere doesn’t sound too glamorous but this is what BSA motorcycles were always
called when I was a lad. My first ever motorcycle was indeed a Beesa, a little 1946 rigid 123 Bantam
with a 3 speed box. An ex Post Office machine that was loved and cherished until finally being rebuilt
for my official entry into the world of motorcycling at the age of 16.

The Sick James, maybe Robregordo next year?

So why am I waxing lyrical about BSA, or Birmingham Small Arms? Well it transpires that the beautiful
250 Black James that I was due to ride in the Pre 65 is unfortunately still in intensive care while the
might of Greeves try to resolve the crank & rod issues. Well just as well I suppose as the thought of
retiring has no merit. Now up for grabs is another wonderful offer of a BSA B40 owned by Carlos Bosch.
As Carlos is another meticulous mechanic with attention to every detail I’m quite sure this machine will
be fettled to a very high order. Only going on hearsay I believe it lives in the UK and is currently in Sam’s
hands and he will be delivering same to Kinlochleven for the weigh in. Carlos himself used it last year
for the second day after his Cub blew the gearbox on Section 18 on the first day.

This is the One ! Carlos on Day 2 2008

Neat, not sure about the footrests

To be honest I have never ridden one of these beasties, nor I must admit have I ever wanted to. No,
I’m not prejudiced against the marque, just never really wanted to ride one as I’m more a Triumph
man. However as a ride in the Pre 65 it may just be the right tool for the job.

A nicely revamped B40

I know Big John is riding one this year as a departure from his faithful Matchless. The only picture of
the real machine is not that clear but all and sundry are telling me that its just a BIG Cub so that
sounds like fun. From the picture I see it still has the original forks, although who knows what lurks
inside? Being a Sammy Miller bike I’m sure it has all the right “goodies” to improve handling and
performance although many readers will remember the problems I’ve had with the Sammy pegs!
That being said I don’t remember any downhill sections in the Scottish where this would be a
problem.

Big John in Beesa Action, hope the pegs aren’t that high!

So as excitement builds to the big day and first ride of the machine, just 2 weeks today, I will sit
and ponder the joys to come.

Tony Down

All last minute “Pledges” are welcome

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ALMOST THERE

ALMOST THERE

ALMOST THERE

Kinlochleven

Funny the things you miss when you have been away from your native land for many years. The “to do”
list of eats and goodies is forming, and one that I shall endeavour to work my way through on arrival in
the UK.

In no particular order I will be most likely be buying a Bowyers or Walls Pork Pie in the airport and a
tube of Coleman’s English Mustard to go with it. Reminds me of my time in Saudi Arabia when as you
taxied in on the riotous British Airways flight from Heathrow to Dhahran you finished your last “Serious
Drambuie” and alighted onto the tarmac flicking the crumbs of Walls finest as you made your way
down the steps en route to Customs.

The famous Pork Pie!

Well, that’s new with mustard inside

Other necessities will be a bottle of Haywards Pickled Onions which I can eat like candy and a large
chunk of really good cheddar and stilton.

A lovely Stilton, now where’s the Port ?

No doubt en-route to Kinlochleven there will be time for a “Pub Lunch” somewhere off the M6 so to
delight Brenda it will have to be Scampi &Chips and for me a pint of Boddies! I can always remember
Boddington’s Pubs as being the worst in the nation, with wrought iron chairs with legs of variable
lengths, the appetizing array of “Baps” in the plastic bread bin with dead lettuce and a collection of
flies, some still buzzing and other on their backs. The arrival of the foaming pint in the straight glass
with the “Boddies Bee” on it  and as you sat and watched the liquid clear and the debris fall to the
bottom time to drink in the ambiance of the fine ale house that had not seen a duster this side of
WWII. Time for a couple of pickled eggs in their leather jackets and just maybe a Cornish pastie. If you
were foolish enough to try the “Bap” the white dusting of what you assumed was flour was likely to
stick to the roof of your mouth and was nearer to Portland cement and had the adhesive qualities of
the proverbial and the blanket !

A Classic Boddie’s Pub

Boddington’s Laughing Bitter

Washed down with a couple of these

…..and a Cornish Pastie

Well, just ONE more !

So aiming to arrive in Kinlochleven circa 1800 hours time to remember how to order a pint of
McEwans. Memories of doing same at the Highlander many years ago, the ritual went something
like this;

“A pint of McEwans please”
“You mean the Heavy?”
“Whatever”
Round two, “A pint of Heavy please”
“You mean the Export?”
Round three, “A pint of the delicious Export please”
“You mean the Special?
Sometime later, Round four, “A pint of Heavy, Export, Special please”
“UUUuuu, trying to be funny Jimmy!”

Breakfasts have their own special place and being in Scotland I see plates of Mallaig Kippers but as
you can’t get sausages here in the USA some good old British Bangers will have to feature somewhere
as I sure miss them.

The British Banger

Never having been a Whisky drinker the only one that I did enjoy was Glenfarclas when I think I drank
a whole bottle one night and all the way through to breakfast while putting the world to right. It was very
smooth but “whisky and kipper” burps while riding are not that pleasant!

Be VERY careful with this one!

Thursday is the rest day and time to try the James and see how it performs. Signing in and I assume
another burst of lunchtime drinking. I may have to drive to Fort William to pick up some new equipment
as I don’t fancy getting wet! The idea of riding in a jacket and rain gear seems somewhat alien, but of
course if you haven’t got it then you will perish on the moors. I did buy the super stay dry seal skins as I
know the boots will last about 1 section before they are full of water, but as we only do 2 days I will
survive. The donated Outlaw Tool belt will work well and cart tubes and pumps and all other essentials
so hopefully I will get round without too many incidents and stay on the assigned route. I never got lost
in Scotland but I remember some of the moorland riding as being less than easy and the sections
were often a refreshing boost knowing you were still on track.

You know Who….. well I’m on the same bike

3 weeks today and it will all be happening……..

Pipeline, 39 years ago was my first ride up this one

Still time for anyone to “Pledge” on the Cleans for Cash basis

Tony Down

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