BUCKEYE AND THE CRYSTAL BALL

 

BUCKEYE AND THE CRYSTAL BALL

BUCKEYE AND THE CRYSTAL BALL

I’ll be back !

As you all know I was forced to give up my Trialsmaster and other duties for the season opener at
Buckeye but the event was capably handled by Ed Peacock and others and the full results are up on
the Ahrma website.

From a quick chat with Ed it seems it all went to plan with 9 sections a day, where I would have had
12, but other than that the turnout was good with a largish influx of Arizona CAT members riding
Modern Support and some of the stars in for a few shocks !

So how did my Crystal Ball predictions go ? Well, my No1 choice in Modern Classic Expert went
exactly as planned with Ralph Foster taking 2 excellent wins and outclassing the field. Mind you I did
give Ralph a few pointers on sand prior to the event and it might have helped. Rick Daniel and fast
improving Dave Cooper swapped 2nd and 3rd places so are equal on points while John Dowson
didn’t fair quite as well as he had hoped and only picked up a 4th and a 5th. He says he will doing
some homework on the subject before the next event.

Ralph Foster outclassed the opposition on both days 

Rick Daniel back on 29 points with a 2nd and 3rd

Modern Classic Int was a surprize with Ed coming home the leader with 2 ties. He won the first on
age with his zero score but lost out for 2nd place on number of cleans on day 2. Ed tied with Steve Richardson who always pops down from Canada for the event and won the class the first year we
held the trial. Steve didn’t do so well on Day 2 losing 30 to the leaders 10 points where Ed and Shane
Arndt tied with Shane getting it on number of cleans. Jimmy Allison rode well on both days and could
soon be getting a win with the Yamaha 175. Not forgetting that current Champ and recent Hall of
Famer, Fred Martinson, hasn’t started his 2011 campaign and could be out either on the Fred’s
Fancy Yam or perhaps the upgraded Cub.

MC INT class leader Ed Peacock on 36 points already

Steve Richardson from Canada tied with Ed on day 1

My prediction in Premier Lightweight Expert went out the window with Dan Straka upgrading to the
class and taking 2 good wins. Will Dan be selling the baby Honda and the Ossa now, or will he be
trying Modern Classic Experts in the future on the 1 line ? …… and now if Dan has had his card
changed maybe Mike Buchholtz will be out again on the Greeves as he relishes good opposition, or
he may still get that Suzuki finished or the newer Yamaha and have a go at Ralph and Rick in MC
Experts.

Dan Straka moves up to the 2 line and takes home 40 points, but has he
upgraded his card ?

Last year’s Prem Lightweight winner, Hugh Campbell, had said he didn’t much care for the 2 line
in 2010 and dropped back to Prem Lt Int and took a couple of fine wins from Jim Crain.

Hugh Campbell has dropped back to the PI line for 2011

Classic Experts swopped winners on both days between current Champ Eugene Waggonner and
Rick Wolff so both leave AZ with 36 points apiece. Might be another interesting class this year if…….

Rick and Eugene still tied on 36 points a piece

Good start to 2011 for Eugene with 36 points

Classic Intermediate was uncontested and current Champ Bob Strohman took another two wins in
his quest for a repeat title.

The big heavies only took to the contest on Day 2 due to MX committments on Day 1 and once again
Rob Poole and good friend Kelly Shane were head to head with Rob emerging the victor.

Last year’s Prem Heavyweight Champ and class leader Rob Poole

A pleasant surprize for me was to see a big influx of CAT members for day 2 with Rich Palmer in
Modern Classic Experts and another 9 club members riding in the modern support classes. A bit
sad that I wasn’t there to see them all.

Steve Dickson who broke his neck a few years ago in a KTM accident and at one stage was facing
a wheelchair  won the Modern Support Experts in a very tight affair and Greg Jones who normally
wins with ease could do no better than  4th!

Where’s my duster ?

Well it looks like everyone had fun and although I wasn’t there physically I was there in MIND !
Meanwhile out with that soft cloth again and some further Crystal Ball polishing.

TONY DOWN

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  • 1/31/2011 10:57 AM Evelyn wrote:
    Hi Tony — Don’t know if you can edit your blog but in MC Intermediate day 2, it should be Shane Arndt instead of dad, Ray Arndt that tied with Ed.
    Reply to this
  • 2/8/2011 6:31 PM Jimmy Allison wrote:
    Tony,
    Thanks for the kind words about me vying for a win this season. I am however campaigning my Sammy Miller 325 Bultaco and really loving it.
    Reply to this
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WHAT DOES IT TAKE ?

 

WHAT DOES IT TAKE ?

WHAT DOES IT TAKE

Many of you may have read my ramblings on being a Rookie School Bus Driver but now time to stand
back and review all the qualifications that go with it. So what is required ? First up the CDL with
airbrake and passenger endorsements and then the S endorsement for the school bus along with the
DOT medical. So far so good, but now in order to get to drive one you have to find an opening.

You would have thought that as nearly all the school bus drivers you see are seniors that these
positions would come open on a fairly regular basis. Not so my friends, these covetted positions
have enormous longevity with people driving 20 tons of Bluebird way into their 70’s.

Should you be lucky enough to find an opening it will doubtless be for a Sub position as generally
speaking these posts are very much dead men’s or women’s shoes and the current sub has moved
up to take a regular route.

Once the application is in progress then with credentials on the table the next round of drug testing, fingerprints, and CBI background checks all come into play as we don’t want any freaky weirdo child molesters loose with a bus load of young children.  When all that is completed, along with referees endorsement, it all goes before the school board for a final yea or ney.

So now if you are lucky you will be offered a Sub position and further training and testing begins. For Colorado we need a few more written tests on Winter driving and adverse weather driving in the
mountains and also take a first aid knowledge exam with a 100% pass mark. Now the route learning
begins and perhaps the morning runs are somewhat easier as passengers and parents are standing
by their stops or waiting in cars beside the road. The afternoon run is a bit more problematic as many children don’t ride the bus in the afternoon as they may be on other activities, sport, or have been
picked up by their parents at the school. Then there are the others who have multiple destinations of
either Dad’s, Mum’s, the shop, or Granny’s !  On top of that some of the afternoon runs go in a different direction so very easy to miss a stop especially when you don’t know all the “riders” on your Sub route.

Now we come to the passengers and how to handle them ?  They come in a variety of sizes from
diddly squat 4 year olds up to full size running backs and wanna be Miss Americas!,  all with their own problems, agendas and needs. Some are sullen, some button pushing aggresive, others noisey and
wound up on a sugar or fun day high, and others are of course normal happy go lucky children. All
need different treatment and all respond in different ways. How do you deal with all this mayhem and confusion while trying to keep 20 tons of machinery and 60+ passengers on the road and out of the
ditch ?

They tell us there are many ways to retain control, and to date I have seen several including some
that would have frightened me! IMOHO, genuine friendly persuasion will achieve much more than
shouting and threats. It does seem to me, with near on 40 years of instructional experience in a wide
variety of tasks, there are different techniques that can be applied to get  the required results. Perhaps
getting into the child’s mind is the key as all children are naturally curious and are constantly begging
the question WHY ? Give them the right answer, usually safety, and you will get compliance. Not really
a lot different to running a trials school when you find someone struggling with the very basics……. and
of course a ton of encouragement when they do it right.

Boys becoming young men, horseplay, fighting No…… a simple firm word
should stop this while they are still smiling

Today there will be a little reading of the riot act as it seems some of the Rat Bus occupants have
been misbehaving over the last week and whatever they have been up to needs to be nipped in the
bud. All safety issues as I understand it, running round while the bus is moving, standing up, a little horseplay, and moving forward while the bus is slowing for a stop. On top of that some tend to forget
some safety basics when the bus stops or arrives, including running across the road in front of the
bus without checking for the driver’s signal…… now that one really scares me!!

This one has clearly gone too far.

In summary it is perhaps not a job for everyone but it is very rewarding nonetheless and you are
molding the nations future one way or another, whether they know it or not, as you impart a level of
discipline essential for all civilised society. If nothing else, punctuality, politeness, rules, and an
acceptance of social standards are all keys in growing up. From a driver’s viewpoint you need your
wishes to be complied with without argument or discussion while exercising compassion and understanding. As you will be spending up to 4 hours daily with your charges, and 5 days a week,
you WILL become their “locum” Grandparent and 2 way communication will become the norm as
they come to you with all their minor gripes and stories of fun days.

Share and enjoy as  they will remember you.

TONY DOWN    (locum) Grandad

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THAT PRE 65 TRIAL

THAT PRE 65 TRIAL

THAT PRE 65 TRIAL

As we move into another year the “same old, same old” saga kicks off on Trials Central with
comments not dissimilar from last year, the year before that, and no doubt next year. Every year the disappointed air their views and whine about those that are in. I can only imagine they don’t read the
entry form where it states the way it will be.

The Trial is the property of the Edinburgh & District Motor Cycle Club, they lay out the rules, and have
the right to decide who will ride. Their “discretionary bucket” can be as big or as small as they choose
and once they have those riders they want to ride then the rest can go into a ballot. Of course it will be oversubcribed, as will the main event, the SSDT.

I have seen many good points over the years and equally some dumb ones from people I feel
should have known better and perhaps I will get personal here and take one person to task. A certain columnist  who states the Pre 65 scene is not his bag, but has ridden this event 11  times in its 26
years, feels the riders should be graded on their ability ???  Isn’t that being over selective ? Imagine
having your entry returned marked “insufficent ability or track record” ? Good heavens man are you
advocating a Pre 65 boot camp with a 2 mile run to see who has the requisite fitness ?

Make no mistake about it, “IT” is a tough event, but for the vast majority it is a dream just to compete
and be there and drink in some of the Scottish mystique. Let’s remember a good number of Pre 65
competitors may never have had the opportunity to ride the full Scottish in their earlier years as it takes
a lot of support and financial where withall to do either event as a true privateer. They may now, with advancing years wish to compete on a twinshock machine from the theoretical Pre 65 scene. They
may have course gone the whole hog and gone for a “new one” in Pre 65 style built out of unobtainium
and are dying to try it out  with a Scottish flavour.

Nothing like this ever left the James factory in the 60’s

A DOT ? I don’t think so ! It has the “stickers” but everything else is NEW

Going back to my 8 rides and 8 finishes of the 70’s I was lucky to have RAF backing and several manufacturers support so basically many of the day to day problems and worries were taken care of
by the excellent support crew……. and bearing in mind back then refuelling was an individuals
responsibility to keep yourself going on the 200 mile daily routes.

Refuelling man and machine 1974

This year there have been some changes to the route and I can understand the Edinburgh Club
perhaps not wishing to overuse some parts of the course but to, as rumor has it, throw out Callert
“up & down” as being too hard and the subject of rider complaints strikes me as not being quite true. Certainly going up the goat track with constant slippery rocks at perfect wheelbase length knocks the
stuffing out of you and the seemingly never ending long steepish downhill on the other side to the Kinlockleven road is equally tough on the arms but it is part of the event and dare I say it what a lot of
riders came to be part of and experience.

Coming up Callert with the Mamore Road on the other hillside

The rock strewn path up Callert

At the top of Callert with the long downhill to come

If this is now considered too hard as part of the route then other mighty climbs and descents will
never get back on the schedule.  The Uphills and Downhills of Loch Eilde Path and Lieter Bo Fionn
must be clearly out and Ben Caillich has NO CHANCE !! I can remember the mighty other Ben and
scrabbling up the 8 sections of browish loose rocks having crossed the rotten bridge at the bottom
of the gorge. The way up was never easy and was usually on Friday afternoon as the last sting in the
tail after nearly 1000 miles of Scottish riding.

As I remember it, and no doubt Big John will correct me if I’m wrong, we left the Mamore Road and
arrived at a perilous narrow bridge crossing a fast flowing burn in a gorge about 12 feet below. The woodwork was slippery and rotten in places and I must have walked it two or three times before
plucking up the courage to ride it.

With the high wire act behind it was onward and upward climbing the 2000′ goat track and trying the
8 sections dotted up the trail, some solos, and others in double subs and nearly all with tight hairpin
bends. At last, the sight of the “Finish of Hill” sign and then still ever upward to the crest of the
mountain. From the top you could see the Loch way below on one side and on a good day the
Mamore Road wending its way back to Fort William on the other. There were many who were at their
wits end going up Ben Caillich just sitting in the heather or collapsed over the bars gulping in air like
Goldfish out of their bowl.

Finally up on the ridge, you feel a bit like Sir Edmund Hillary

Up on the crest, and I wish I had some pictures of it, the ride was easy along the trail but of course the
mind was wondering what the organisers had next and sure enough the next item was a large yellow DUNLOP sign pointing straight DOWN ! If you didn’t like coming down Callert you would have retired
seeing this one !!!

The summit of Ben Caillich………”what goes up must come down”

The one and only arrow says it all!

No track, just heather and rocks in the grass on about a 20-45 degree gradient and 2000′ of vertical
descent. When you finally arrived at the bottom and crossed the river you could look back at it from the
relative safety of the Mamore Road and ask yourself “Did I really just come down THAT ?”

Many of you will know that I was, shall we say persuaded, to ride the Silver Jubilee event in 2009 and
I’m very pleased I did despite the atrocious weather and a very poorly prepared machine. I suppose
the biggest shock was the sections and certainly not the route which did use the up and down of
Callert. I had imagined we would be using actual Pre 65 sections from that period in and around Kinlochleven, but No these sections were nearly all very ambitious National standard and not at all
what I was expecting….. perhaps I was not well enough prepared mentally. Route yes, sections NO.

I’ll never own a BSA as long as I live !

Near the end of Day 1, 2009 Silver Jubilee Pre 65

If the organisers wish to change the event, and I hear they are thinking along these lines, then
perhaps some of the true Pre 65’ers of Grey Mares Ridge and Loch Eilde Path could creep back in,
and those on Altna Feadh if permission can be acquired would be good traditional “true” Pre 65 test.

Day 2 on the delightful 350 BSA

The last sections of Day 2 at Lower Mamore for two good cleans

Well I’ve thrown in my two penneth to the mix so for those taking part …… congratulations, enjoy it,
as it will have been worth it, …….. and for those that didn’t get in  …… keep trying.

TONY DOWN

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THE ROOKIE

THE ROOKIE

THE ROOKIE

A new year, a new task, and at last something to get my teeth into. Those remaining that is !  Gainful employment was a part requirement but a challenge was perhaps more important than sitting in an
office sifting papers or at home watching TV. Like most things in life you don’t realise what’s totally
required until you try it and formulate your own opinions. So it is with driving the school bus !

Clearly I have a lot to learn but to date it has been a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Another 2
routes taking rally-cross notes as we hammer round and then driving D30,  known as the “Rat Bus”.
Week 1 has seen me driving D11, the “Horse”, D2, the “Panda” otherwise known as the “Polar
Express” as the heater never seems to bring the mobile igloo up to an acceptable temperature, and yesterday the “Rat Bus”. All the Dolores buses have a big sign in the side window with a picture so
the kids know which bus to climb on board. I still have runs on the Dinosaur, the Chicken, and the
Whale and one other I can’t remember, I’m told it is the Wolf.

In between the driving and note taking its over to Cortez for a few hours of training every day and I’m
working my way through a ton of videos before coming home for lunch and then out for the afternoon
run.

Tuesday was the “Panda” and it was a chilly -13 at the Bus barn when we cracked off. The forecast
high for the day was 10F  and the feels like -30 with a nice 10mph wind. Panda also takes the little
ones to Pre School after the main run and has a few car child’s seats and a couple of belts for the
other minis who can’t touch the floor when sitting on the seat. I have a totally deaf boy sitting next to
me and he is clearly distressed, cold and crying. He is well dressed for the cold but his woolen
gloves are wet maybe from snowballing? I dry them out for him and fit them correctly as he had them
on arse backwards with the thumb empty! Happiness is a warm pair of gloves that fit all fingers!

The Panda route is the only one I have been on to date where you don’t turn it round multiple times
on the trip which maybe is just as well as its a 78 seater !! On arrival at the main school all the other
drivers bring their mini charges over to the Panda and help them aboard as some can’t make it up the
first step which for them is about thigh high. With all the other buses gone the Panda then pops over
to Pre School and drops off the little ones, same procedure in the afternoon and then the other drivers
come and collect their snow bunnies for the homeward delivery.

All lined up for the afternoon run with two “minis” being escorted 

Wednesday and Thursday on the Rat Bus with me driving the second day and Larry the normal driver
riding shotgun. Friday is a non working day for Dolores and Cortez and Dolores also has MLK day off
on Monday along with Mancos. For reasons unknown Cortez is working so I’ll be learning a Cortez
route on Monday as the normal lady driver has some planned surgery coming up in the near future.
Tuesday and Wednesday I’m on the Rat Bus as Larry is away in Denver. A Whale of a morning on the
special needs bus on Thursday then over to Mancos to drive the Middle School basketball team to
Dolores and back. Well as the school is only 200 yards away I can bring the bus back to the RV park
and watch TV at home until I have to collect them.

I bring the Rat Bus to the first stop at the Brew Pub and Brenda takes in
the action 

The Rat Bus leaves town for the Boonies with 60 on board

Just finishing breakfast and thinking about going and getting more firewood when Wes, the Mancos
Director, rings to ask if I’m available for an activity run? This will be my first one so I eagerly accept.
Arrive in good time and find Joe, one of the other drivers also there. Seems the school wants two
buses for this outing which is a “rewards trip” for Middle School and we are taking about 100 of them
bowling in Cortez.

Our convoy arrives at the pick up point which is different for activities, I get a briefing on all the
additional paperwork and eventually children and teachers arrive. I now have to become the airline
hostie and brief them all on the emergency evacuation procedures while pointing out the exits etc.
1245 and off we go with Joe leading. We get split up a bit joining the main road and Joe is setting a
cracking pace but as I’m in Sharon’s bus I have a slight power advantage on the hills so without
exceeding speed limits I’m back in position with about half distance gone.

“…… and there are two more emergency exits through the side windows”

Bowling begins with a  variable feast of skill sets with some showing good technique and knocking
down pins a’plenty and the others hurling cannon balls underarm and overhead at the elusive white
objects. 90 mins later they are back on the buses, the head count is done, and off we go again back to school.  With students and their associated trash unloaded its back to the Bus Barn and give Sharon
back her bus and swop to Sara’s for the afternoon homeward run from the main school.

So at the end of 8 days of training and driving what have I learnt ? Well quite a lot !  It would seem
every schoolbus is different and they are all purpose or custom built, a bit like Harleys, and no two are
the same. They do, however, drive better than most Harleys and are certainly more comfortable.

Having fun and still learning.

TONY DOWN

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SPOILT BRAT

SPOILT BRAT

SPOILT BRAT

You have spent all your pocket money and you aren’t going to AZ this
year…….. so get over it !

My behaviour has become so bad I guess I will soon be sent to my room. All my toys have been
confiscated and I’m only allowed to watch Dakar during daylight hours. Yes Cabin Fever and a lack of
pocket money are the real culprits here and throwing tantrums because you can’t do what you want to
do, have always done in the past, and what you feel you should do, are not helping anybody.

My first New Year’s wish came true so Wednesday morning over to the Cortez Bus Barn and start the
training cycle with them. All the usual paperwork, some videos and films to watch and then out for a
drive in the snow.  The first film was shall I say “vintage” and I felt like Chevy Chase in Christmas
Vacation when he got trapped in the loft and ended up watching the good old reel to reel clacky film !

I felt like Chevy Chase with the old projector

Vintage yes, but a good film nonetheless

Seems the Cortez buses are mainly manual transmissions with 5 speed boxes so some fun here
with a few goofy changes fom 1st to 4th and so on until I got familiar with the Gate !

The following day another 4 hours of videos and then out for a run on a Dolores bus with me taking
notes as to where the route goes and where all the stops are. A bit like being a World Rally Car navigator, “crest of hill, right County Road S, third house on right, etc etc” and with about 40 stops and
a full bus the note taking was fast and furious.

Fast and furious note taking as co-pilot

Friday morning and try the route in reverse with more note taking in the dark and with this time adding
the times at the stops. I now need to transpose all my notes onto a readable presentation that I can
use while I’m driving which will be the acid test on Monday. Back to the other depot and more videos
and then home for lunch before zipping over to Mancos to drive for them. Sharon, who normally gives
me my schedule, is away and I’m driving her newly washed bus. Almost a shame to take it out as its spotless ! Wes, the Director, fills me in on all their requirements, and with all the Dolores runs, I now
have a pretty full dance card including 3 activity runs on the big tour bus for Mancos.

Variety is certainly the spice of life so a very pleasant afternoon run, and for some reason the kids
were as good as gold, and back to the Brew Pub for a little Happy Hour refreshment to wrap up a very pleasant 3 day working week. Next week I’m working every day which is refreshing starting off driving
the Thursday/ Friday route at o’dark 30 with all my notes, followed by more videos then out again for
the afternoon run. 2 more routes to learn, with more note taking, and wrap up with another Friday pm
drive over at Mancos.

Twelfth Night came and went, decorations packed away once more and lots of whining from Brenda
on how dark it is outside. I wonder how many of those lights will be working next year?  Once again we
won 2nd prize and a lot of town’s folk are annoyed as our’s gets better every year. One would say that if
you have a business in this town then the first year you join in with the lights you automatically win the Chamber of Commerce 1st prize !  There may be some complaints next year.

The 2010 effort with the pre New Year’s 2 foot dump of snow !

So a Saturday spent devising some sort of moving map route display for the bus that is small enough
to sit on the dash and big enough to read with geriatric eyesight. Of course once you have driven the
routes a few times it becomes very familiar but will be a good tool to have if I don’t drive one of the
seven Dolores runs for some time.

My “Rally notes”, Off R, turn left on 33, turn right on P and pick up at 0709,
then turn round, back on 33, find mother and child for 0715 pick up.
Follow 33, turn left on 184, turn page……..

Monday morning at o’crisp hundred and into the pre trip inspection in the dark. We leave at 0635 and
main road it to the start point some 12 miles away to begin the 25 mile pick up run. Some of the county
roads are still snow covered and after a severe overnight frost pretty slick in some areas so the
prudence selector is switched on. Cold little faces poke through the door and are soon on board and enjoying the heater. We make it round the run and another 60+ are delivered to start another week’s
quest for knowledge.

D11, The “Horse” back from my first Dolores morning run

Back to the Barn and I’m off to Cortez to further my knowledge with another dose of videos. The spoilt
brat is learning the ropes and is buckling down to the grindstone!

TONY DOWN

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WUN, WUN, WUN WUN

WUN, WUN, WUN WUN

WUN, WUN, WUN WUN

New Year’s Day 2011 or 1/1/11, not planning on writing checks today but it would be easy if I was. The temperature is also wun, wun or to be more precise -11 and with the chill factor the “feels like” is a
crisp -23 which should be another good test for the Sorel caribou boots. Not that I’m thinking of
straying far from the door other than to chop wood and walk dogs.

So New year’s Eve came and went, we got plowed out, more soppy seasonal films on the Hallmark
net as everything else was a repeat, a quick good samaritan act as a dummy managed to get stuck
in the snow at the intersection just outside the house and then with the either, on or off, throttle
managed to spin the hard pack to polished ice. A little work with the shovel and repositioning of the
steering wheel to straight and we had them free. Nice to see many others stopping to help, I wonder
if they will do the same if I do it with the School Bus ?

One of the turnarounds for the 71 seater. Tight in the dry, might be tricky
in the deep snow

What does 2011 hold I ask ? of course we live in hope so must not be downhearted as the new year
begins but I have many reservations at the time of writing. The standard outing as Trialsmaster at
Buckeye is currently looking like a non starter but I won’t give in just yet and I’ll hold the final decision
until this weekend but at present things are not looking good!

Regrettably its a “$” thing and with the necessary repairs to the Safari for the seals, cost of 900
miles of diesel, another couple of 30 gallons of propane, rejoin Ahrma $65, a couple of entries
$80 ? and so on, plus rewinterizing the Safari on return its fast becoming one for the too difficult
box !

Wouldn’t that be nice

As I’m not holding a lottery ticket the decision was forced upon me today so I was forced to ring
Ed and tell him I can’t do the job this year. All being well I’ll be back better than ever next year. That’s
not to say I’m not keen, far from it,  I feel as though I’m letting a lot of people down, myself included,
but common sense finally kicked in and I’m forced to accept that what was once all too easy to do
now has other ramifications. So from a personal point of view this one gets the CNX for yours truly
however you spell it ?

A bit like a cup of tea……. WUN “L” or  “2”

So any thoughts of two wins, or a win and checker/trialsmaster’s points have now gone out of the
big 2011 window and my first event will most likely be Turkey Rock in May. So instead of 1, 1, or WUN,
WUN, 2011 starts off with a WON NONE !

…….think I’ll have a Chinese,  “I’ll have the WUN NUN with boiled rice”

TONY DOWN

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Comments
  • 1/14/2011 9:09 AM Larry E Hassard wrote:
    Tony- You’re gonna LOVE the Sorels. I had a pair for years when we lived in northern Maine. Gave them to a friend when we had enough and moved to southern Arizona. We’re in Mexico for the winter but I hope to try at least one vintage trials event this year on my bitsa Bulto
    Best,
    LArry
    Reply to this
  • 1/14/2011 2:52 PM Scott wrote:
    I feel your pain Tony.I work in a gravel pit here in IL and it,s been real slow with this year looking to be worse than last year.I have a few bike projects waiting to be finished,but only the trials bike will get the nod this year. Cheers! Scott.
    Reply to this
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GATHERING THOUGHTS

GATHERING THOUGHTS

GATHERING THOUGHTS

Well as Mercury, wasn’t that the old National Benzole symbol ?, turned right side up things are off to
a brighter start. First mission this morning was to organize a snow plow but within minutes of
discussing it a man with a Bobcat skid steer knocked on the door and no sooner was he briefed and
at work than another phone call from another plow in need of work. Was it the “Winged God” ??

Time for some plowing

Happiness is the sound of a Bobcat engine

Nice job !

Happiness is the sound of a Bobcat pushing snow! I guess I could have made some easy money if
I’d kept one of mine but hindsight is a wonderful thing.  So with any luck and just a little digging I
should get the Safari on the road next week and hope that Howard has his yard plowed out and can
get the job done.  Simple enough job, take all the back four wheels off, pull the 1/2 shafts, replace the
seals, clean off the brake shoes and wash out the drums and refit, and top off the oil.

Safari is free

Thinking bikes, both are ready, as far as I can remember ? Still undecided as to which one to ride
this year, will it be the Enfield or back on the good old No Excuses Cub which is such a delightful bike
to ride. With all the design work that went into the Enfield and only one season of competition under
her belt maybe it will be her year. With a 280lb monster you can always come up with some good
excuses if it goes pearshaped. Might have to get “sneaky” and wait an see who is at Buckeye, but
there again as I seem to do better in the sand than most people I could perhaps use that to my
advantage.

Trying to remember all, if any Enfield quirks, I think perhaps the biggest reservation is big logs ! ……
and of course having to plan ahead for anything that needs a dose of power, might be the same cc as
the SWM Jumbo but a huge difference in “demand and result”. All that having been said the big logs
of Milliken stand out in the memory almost like a show jumper on a horse I found myself coming out
of a turn, which it does well, and then faced with a series of high hurdles to get over 18″ logs.

Good on the turns, but if there is a big step ?

This is what it feels like…….. will it, won’t it ??

Don’t let the horse see it until the last minute

C’mon old girl giddee UP !

To my amazement the steed plowed over everything on just off idle power as the massive roadroller
flywheel kept inertia where it was required. They do say you can leave one up against a wall and in
gear and go for a coffee and when you come back it will still be going and have dug a hole down to
the hub ! To date it has only lost a total of 7 marks in its 7 competition rides, the worst being a 2 on a
day where I lost 5 of the 7 in one event, that being the tough Sandia event to close out the 2008
season.

A great week with my old friend Mick Andrews at Sandia in Sep 2008

The last of her 7 rides  September 2008 at Sandia

Might be time to think of a different front end for the old girl ? I have a couple of sets of forks that are
35mm but I think they might be about 2″ shorter than the Enfield legs and if fitted might hit the bottom
yoke under compression. Many ways to do it so a walk, and an hours snow shovelling to get in the
workshop, and play with the tape measure, might not work but  Sherlock Holmes will investigate and
see if it is “elementary”. Watson tells me there were some extra bits that came with the new billet
yokes and we could not deduce what they were for………. unless they fit over shorter fork legs ? “Good
jove, Watson I think you may have it !”

The two super sleuths dig through the mountainous drifts until the workshop is revealed. Now just a
simple matter of finding the pieces and seeing if the evidence is enough to proceed. The frozen lock is easy “pickings” and the dynamic duo are in Aladdin’s cave.

The path to Aladdin’s Cave is dug……… and the duo are in……

“Good God Holmes! what sort of dastardly engineering takes place in
here ?”

Two boxes of forks and their assemblies are located with spindles already machined to take Yamaha wheels. The forensic micrometer reveals one to be a fine set of 32mm Ceriani and the other 36mm
from a manufacturer that will for the purposes of this article remain unknown.

The mystery “cups” from Spartan Engineering are also located and examined for their purpose. The detectives surmise that the standard legs from an Indian built Enfield are shorter than the Don Morley
works set and also have threaded ends that must locate in these cups. These devilish devices must
therefore be screwed on after passing through the bottom yoke and act as a 1.5 inch leg extension
and account for the 38mm upper fixing in the top yoke.

“Ah Ha …..found them !”

“As I suspected Watson, It says Spartan Engineering, Barnstaple, Devon”

“Elementary Watson, you see they screw on Indian made RE legs”

While Holmes measures the “Red Legs” that Watson refers to as “Frenchies”, from his partridge
shooting experiences, it would seem they are only marginally shorter than the RE works set.
Therefore Sherlock suggests the best way to proceed is to machine a longer stem for the
“Frenchies” to go through the enormous headstock of the RE. So another Billet is required for the
Bullet !

“All it needs Watson is a longer stem, a bit like my pipe”

TONY DOWN

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GATHERING WINTER FUEL

GATHERING WINTER FUEL

GATHERING WINTER FUEL

In these parts I’m reliably told a man’s net worth is judged by the size of his wood pile outside his
front door. With fires burning brightly my investment portfolio is decreasing so I thought I would
reinvest prior to this week’s forecast storm.

The ready to burn “Aspen Portfolio”

Long term yields, the Cottonwood investment

The lumber yard regrettably is on a long holiday and won’t be back until 4th of January so I’ll be
waiting in the wings and hope that the snowfall is not as high as expected. My local firewood depot is
just up the road at Aspen Wall Wood and fortunately for me they have a lot of lumber to run through the
mill. This year’s bounty is the best yet as they stripped the bark off most of the trunks before stacking
and sawing.

I normally take the Cadilac and fold the rear seats down which gives the floor area of a double bed
and then fill it up to window level and then pay the nice lady the sum of $5.00 for my load. This makes
me very pleased as in Arizona a plastic bag at Circle K would cost $4.99 and only contained about
6-7 logs. A couple of Cadi runs usually lasts about a month, which is good as Brenda likes to stoke the fireplace like a Titanic boiler.

A full head of steam from Brenda’s continuous stoking

Several changes in the weather forecast and I think they now have every option covered with the
exception of a plague of frogs. The rest of the week looks pretty grim with highs only in the teens and
a low of -7. It has started snowing as I write and today its 2-4″, overnight 5-8″, then another 5-8″
tomorrow. Only 0800 and already 2″ on the depth o’mometer on the balcony rail and a good steady
light snow and with two and half days to go their predictions look on the low side to me.

1100 and I’m informed I need to go 12 miles into Cortez and make a bank deposit ? With the snow
now at 4″ this could be fun and indeed it was but the mission was completed without incident even
though it was a whiteout in some areas as the wind is picking up and the snow plows gravel and salt
is covered before it can show the way. needless to say there were the brain dead also on the road
attempting passing on the inside in unplowed zones.

1800 and dog walking so we have now had continuous snow all day and its getting thicker. Already
12″ fallen and I had a chance of a close up and personal check when I ended up doing a yogi bear
and fell flat on my back in the side road which had been plowed but the underlying surface is like
glass ! Another near fall as my leg slipped away wrenching an old rugby injury to the knee curtailed
the dog walking and back to the fire.

This morning things are very quiet! Hardly a soul on the roads and our total so far up to about 20
inches and still snowing ! Its supposed to last at least another 30 hours with about another 6″ to come
and 100% chance of snow. As a skier I obviously enjoy the snow but now its becoming serious as it
may interfere with other activities, like getting out of here to go to Arizona and prior to that the bus has
to have the rear axle oil seals replaced so I have to drive it over to Howard’s shop to get the work done
prior to leaving on the 17th of Jan.

Deep n’ crisp n’ even !

White Christmas ? …… be careful what you wish for !

Today is New Year’s Eve and its still snowing and we have over 30 inches on the ground and more
where it has drifted in the high winds. No chance of “Gathering” anything other than a bootfull. Better
get the order in for the snow plow so that I can get the coach out next week and get the repairs done.
As always what seemed a light year away is now nearly on top of me as we should be running a trials
school 3 weeks today.

Well at least that bloody planet has spun back the right way so as we get ready for 2011 things
should be getting better for everybody, I hope so, this non stop recession hurts.

Thanks Mercury

TONY DOWN

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THINKING SECTIONS

THINKING SECTIONS

THINKING SECTIONS

Recently there has been an article on our trials bible of Trials Central discussing section severity and
the question of “How do I get it right?”. Even for a seasoned Trialsmaster or Clerk of the Course this is
always a dilemma and it is often difficult to get the desired results with the unpredictability of weather.
For the most part as USA events take place in the summer months this is not normally a player but
early and late season events can get some rain which may alter a section drastically. Then of course
there is the terrain, as they always used to say “be early on the mud or frost and late on the rocks”.

AZ Cycle Park

I’ll be the Trialsmaster for the Arizona 2 day Ahrma event in January which I see is only 3 weeks away!
My how time flies. Very often Ahrma events can be clean card affairs for the top riders which is then
really more a total individual mind game rather than a true trials test, needless to say most of us don’t
like it when it is that easy as a silly dab can be the difference between winning and losing. If there are
no serious challenges or places where you can recover, your day is done.  My plan is to devise
sections that I can get somewhere around the 15-20 marks lost from each individual class winner,
and I like a good selection of sections with plenty of variety and somewhere around 10-12 a day with
3 loops.

Some of my early planning for the 2008 event

Within the Ahrma set up we have to find four competition lines of 1, 2, 3 and PI and then add the 4 line
which is beginners only. For both days I’m going to have at least 2 sections a day which are single line
only and allow our beginners to get a taste of the real thing.

The 2008 Graded Hill which could be a single line section for all

Last year’s Day 2 Graded Hill, I wonder what the rains have done ?

Considerations have to be made for not only the ability level of the entrants but also the machine type
that they are riding. With about a 30 year span in machines sometimes it is necessary to have a
different line for the big heavies as even the Experts can’t persuade a 300 pounder with 5″ ground
clearance over an 18″ fallen log……. although they can try!  As I started riding machines of this era back
in 1963 I think I have a reasonable idea of what is possible and safe and what constitutes a dangerous combination for both rider and steed.

A Cub or TY250 can zip over it but pushing it with a 1960’s 500

Arizona is basically sand and desert and our venue is co-located with the MX gang who are racing
while the trials are in progress. The mainstay of the MX course is in a disused sand quarry so we
have some steepish banks, some ditches and a few piles of rock and debris on the arena floor. Out in
the boondocks surrounding the track we have some deep sand washes, some left over rock piles
from work on “washes” a few more banks with fallen trees and a lot of terrain so far unexplored. As
I’ve been running this event for the last 3 years I’m fairly confident we can find some “New” fun stuff
and to that end I’ll be there for the full week. A full day traveling to get there and then Tuesday as a
scouting day to find the new stuff.

New in 2009, “Palo Verde” still with a lot of unused potential

New last year “Rockery” a combination of rolling rocks and wash sand

Assuming the faithful band of willing helpers are there then setting this trial is usually a breeze as
everybody gets along and arguments are few and far between and we don’t have to consider 20
different viewpoints before making a decision. Hopefully the “gang” of the Peacocks and Campbells
will be there to pour sense on something that might be too ambitious and we should complete layout
by o’beer thirty on Thursday with just the Start & Ends cards for Friday along with some excellent loop marking.

Any thoughts on new sections went out the window last year when I became imprisoned in the yard
and couldn’t free myself from the Colorado winter. Still it was fun dropping huge lumps of snow off the
coach like depth charges and watching them shatter in the road in the mirrors. There was over 3′ on
the roof and even after 450 miles driving south some of it was still there on arrival.

Sand is a funny commodity to work with, sometimes it will pack down and be like a driveway and on
wet days what was difficult in the dry has become a “main road”. The deep wash sands which are egg
timer consistency need quite a few turns in them for the upper classes and can be kept straight and
true for beginners and the 3 line with just the slightest of turns causing problems for poor technique…..
and then who knows what the winter rains have done?  Sometimes at a venue like this after a recent
storm, such as the one we have just had, rivulets will have formed on those banks in the big pit and
cut some interesting channels which can lend themselves to new sections, a couple of which might
be this year’s graded hills.

2009 section “The Wash”, looks easy enough but it took marks from
everyone

Just like riding mud, I only lost 1 on this section in 2009

New for 2010 “The Sea of Sand” took marks off the entire entry

Also new in 2009, “The Asphalt Jungle” turned out to be a good section

As always we NEED checkers, so wives, girlfriends and everybody please lend a hand. I have had a volunteer already, thank you, and Santa, who will be off duty, should be there in a deputy Trialsmaster capacity, the more elves the better!

Santa hacks through some offending brush

Too many “split cards” on Firs, …… just can’t get the help these days !

That’s better Santa, nice clear lines and good marking on “Steps”

Santa closes off the “Fred Martinson” cheater lines on “Xmas Tree” with
some leftover presents

Santa attaches the red ribbon which gives us an S turn from the tree
going behind the snowman and the fence on “Frosty”. However, I feel
this section might change and become a mud pit if it warms up

To that end I saw Santa this morning after he had finished on the roof and he says he will brief the
checkers or observers but I rather fancy he is promoting his new line of trials goodies from the 2011 catalogue. He has these two giant hands with pull out handles which are both FIM and WTC approved
and the fingers can be bent to give the score for all to see. He tells me the fingers can be decorated
as well or you can get National gloves for the whole hand so we may see these being used on the WTC circuit this year.

A great stocking filler “Checker’s Hands” from the 2011 catalogue

Finger decorations as well

National gloves from the 2011 Santa catalogue

Santa briefs the checkers on the “5” signal

The serious “2”

The so close, sorry my boy, a dab,  “1”

The delight of the clean “0”

I’m still planning on a Beginners/Novice Trials School, all day Friday with a $30 charge. If you are
interested contact me via the “blog” or Ed Peacock………less than three riders and I will not run it so
do not delay, sign up soon if you want to learn how to ride in sand !

TONY DOWN

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  • 1/4/2011 8:10 AM Robert Cline wrote:
    I went to ACP for ama hare scramble race this past weekend and noticed a lot of new area that could be used for trials. Should be fun and I will see you there.
    Reply to this
  • 1/4/2011 10:13 AM Ralph Foster wrote:
    Tony. My opinion is more difficult is better than too easy. You should have the opportunity to make up for a mistake or a fouled plug a missed split.A 20 point plus trials might allow you to catch back up where a 5 point trials you have no chance. I have never seen an AHRMA trials that was too difficult or dangerous.Harder the better. Its called trials not cleans.
    As usual you have your finger on the pulse of trials.I always enjoy your articles. Thanks Ralph
    Reply to this
  • 1/5/2011 5:26 PM ITS Mr Bill wrote:
    Hi Tony, ITS Mr Bill, I now live in Howard, CO, just 2.5 miles from Turkey Rock,love it here.
    I always tried to set the sections so first place for each class was around 20 points. Have you got your motorhome stuck in the mud lately. My phone # number is (719)942-3372 if you need help. Mr Bill
    Reply to this
  • 1/6/2011 3:54 PM Donnie Schmutzler wrote:
    I was always told that the score for the winner should average out to 1 point to a section. In the early years of AHRMA there was always a power struggle between the people that wanted to broaden the appeal by having “Easy” trials and those that didn’t want to have a “win by age” event. I really don’t think that I ever laid out a trial that someone didn’t complain about it being too easy or too hard. So I stopped laying them out. Now 10 years later there aren’t any around the Midwest to ride at all. I guess that everybody got their way.
    Reply to this

    1. 1/6/2011 8:20 PM Ralph Foster wrote:
      Hey Donnie. Too easy or too hard I have never been to a bad trials. Some people just like to complain I guess.Im sure midwesterners would love to have you come out of retirement and put on some trials. Ralph
      Reply to this
  • 1/8/2011 4:22 PM Dennis Jones wrote:
    When I was coordinator for AMRMA’s midwest vintage trials series (MVT) from 2000 – 2002 We put a lot effort into making every section safe and challenging without any freebies.I felt in order to grow the sport it was even more important to have a really good beginner (4) line. Just having them ride into and out of a section was not enough. The rookies want to ride their bikes just as much as the experts so great care was taken to make sure the got to use their fair share of ground.

    Those years turned out to be the heyday for MVT as we were drawing 50+ riders for a regional event. All the classes were well represented with the 4 line always having 5 or more riders.

    Unfortunately that is not the case today. A beginner can barley ride the loop and are only given a few actual section to ride.
    Reply to this

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BOXING DAY

BOXING DAY

BOXING DAY

Boxing Day, a British holiday, and one I always enjoyed in the land of my birth. Here in the USA of
course it is not celebrated and I have always thought made Christmas a very short and perfunctory
affair. Yes, I’m afraid I like my Boxing Day !

The origins of this public holiday are a little vague but you can take your pick from any selection of the following. Some say it dates back to the time of King Wenceslas and the jolly Christmas carol that we associate with his name ………. and if you can’t remember much more than the tune you might
remember the one line that Brenda sings to me when I come in with another basket of logs for the
fire….           “When a poor man came in sight……. gathering winter fuu,u  elllll”     Well this could be the
case as the 26th of December is St Stephen’s Day which was traditionally the “Feast of Stephen” and
legend has it that  King Wenceslas saw this poor man gathering wood in a blizzard and was so
impressed he delivered a bounty of food to the man’s family.

A spot of gathering

Maybe not so easy today

Others may say that when the Catholic Church ruled Europe, before the adulterous Henry VIII formed
his own outfit with his own rules, the entire day was spent going to and from church. Kick off with a
midnight Mass, no sooner back from that then back again for Matins, around 7 a.m., quick spot of
breakfast then back again for the midday service and home for lunch via the ale house and then get
ready for Evensong ! Not much time for anything else as it was “numero uno day” on the religious
calendar. So with a full day of God bothering the 26th was a good time to open joyous presents, or boxes, and enjoy all the food on the Feast of Stephen.

Might as well take your bed….. you will be there all day !

Believer or not, a midnight service on Christmas Eve in a big Cathedral is quite something. The
sounds of the big organ pumping out familiar tunes and the choir singing carols is quite magical and
when the congregation join in, after having had a few hours at the pub, the sound is deafening! When
you leave the service there is definitely a feeling of “goodwill” to all.

 Winchester Cathedral  “sweet singing in the choir”

……and then the congregation joins in with the booming chorus

These “boxes” were for presents, fuel, food or whatever and was by way of a “bonus” for all the estate workers of the landed gentry. Perhaps no dedicated wrapping paper in those days. Strangely these
traditions still continue today with various service people knocking on your door during Christmas
week with an outstretched hand expecting their Christmas Box. Three that spring to mind are the
Postman, the Paper Boy and the Milkman ? I often thought that perhaps I should go and knock on their
doors and ask for mine after another year defending the UK shoreline and sitting on the end of the
runway on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) for 24 hours at a time. Woe betide you if you didn’t cough up as
papers would arrive shredded as they came through the letter box, the milk was delivered but
strangely yours had bird shit over the silvertop or had been pecked to death by bluetits and essential
mail you were expecting had mysteriously slipped between the seats in the mail van……. such is life!

Sorry !

It must have been the Bluetits

When I was a kid Christmas day was always spent at Uncle Tom’s for the full blow out meal, the
Queen’s Speech, Christmas tea and cake and all the rest. The following day the ritual was the same
at Auntie Madge’s with another full turkey lunch, pudding, tea and cake, but less presents this time
around.

My favorite, Christmas pudding with lashings of cream, but BEWARE as
its full of  tooth busting  old silver coins

As I grew older Boxing Day was always a Trial and a good day outside regardless of the weather and
I can never remember any of them ever being cancelled. A great fun event usually in fancy dress and a
lot of Santa hats as we didn’t wear helmets back then…….. and then there was always the local Fox
Hunt, another Boxing Day tradition until the Labour party screwed that up. More often than not after
getting suitably “refreshed” with much from the “Stirrup Cup” they would come crashing through our
trials land with dogs howling and horns blowing…… quite a sight.

A Boxing Day trial in fancy dress, anything from Santa outfits to drag and
Granny’s old girdle !

Fancy dress, tutus  optional

As they used to say “my Granny could have done better”

The Boxing Day Hunt meets at the local for the sipping of the Stirrup Cup
prior to the Orr’ FF, yes that’s pronounced “Orr’ FF”


The Hunt arrives on our land and its complete mayhem

Ribbons and cards everywhere, section 6 is wrecked

After retiring from trials Boxing Day was always a Shoot day either with my local syndicate or a 200
mile drive cross country to a farmer’s do up in Lincolnshire. No matter where it was it was always me
making sandwiches for Edward and myself  (turkey of course) at some ungodly hour, pouring coffee
into the thermos and cutting big chunks of Christmas cake for the shoot lunch in the barn. As I
seemed to be the only person who actually liked Christmas cake it would often last into February
before it was laid to rest as true rigamortis had set in.

A good chunk of Christmas cake for me

A Boxing Day shoot with Edward and hangover

My mother and aunts were all experts at making the cake and would start work on these monsters
some time in September and when it was deemed “mature” enough it would then take on its first coat
of marzipan sometime in early December. Now I never really liked the taste of marzipan but it was part
of the cake and was essential to keep all the alcohol in and the cake moist. When the big day came
for the official icing the virgin cake would appear from the antique tin and greaseproof paper and
lovingly be coated with up to 1/2 inch of the pure white stuff. As the icing set another set of “special” ornaments appeared and were suitably plonked into the setting snow scenes. God help you if any of
these went missing !

Don’t you dare lose those ornaments !

So with either a trial or a shoot or two the time from Christmas through New Year became one very
long holiday especially when New Year’s Day also eventually became a public holiday a few years ago.
It never was, but was forced on the country as so many revelers failed to show up for work that the
country ground to a halt through absenteeism. Now add the fact that like this year with Christmas Day
on a Saturday, and Boxing Day on a Sunday, both of these days are public holidays and are pushed to Monday and Tuesday as two more days off work for the masses.

Coming to America and having my first Christmas was a bit of a rude shock having to be up bright and
early on the 26th and I was even more amazed to find Christmas trees already in my trash bins when I owned the Trash & Grading company!

26th December and a tree in my bin! Hardly construction debris

I always keep the lights and decorations up until Twelth Night but up here in the mountains they leave
all the lights up until the end of January to give the skiers a true taste of a White Christmas.

Just for the tourists

Long live traditions!

TONY DOWN

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