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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BENDS AND THE BEEMER PART 2

BENDS AND THE BEEMER PART 2

BENDS AND THE BEEMER PART 2

Despite having had several Hardley Ablesons we had never been to one of their rallies, maybe
on account of not wishing to dress  up like something out of “Pirates of the Carribean” in order
to ride one. A BMW however, well, that just might be different and I haven’t seen too many people
riding them in “doo-rags” and fingerless gloves.

The planned event is Beehive Beemers “Red Rock Rally” in Panguitch Utah. It clashes with a
classic trial at Steamboat Springs Co but the decision is Utah. The BMW is such a big beast I
have to ring Victory BMW and ask what is the best way to strap the monster down in the trailer
without damaging anything.

A late start and the driver’s NOT HAPPY !

Trying to get away from the business mid-week proves problematic and the 1000 start slips back
as the phone rings incessantly. Finally we are ready to go and the Safari RV slips out of her
berth at 5 p.m. some 7 hours behind schedule. With the original plan now in tatters we plan to
drive to Page and stop there for the night and then do the last 200 miles to Panguitch the
following day.

We make the Wahweap resort area just the other side of the dam at Lake Powell but at
11 at night finding the RV slot we have been given is difficult. When we do find it there is no
way the 60 foot long rig is going to fit so elect to drive back to the parking lot and overnight
it there. Up bright and early and away for a daylight drive through Utah. This “IS” the road less
travelled and by comparison to the dreadful roads of northern Arizona this is delightful and all
the squeaks, rattles and crashes normally associated with RV’ing are gone. The previous night
drive had seen some horrendous bumps, potholes and other attempts to rival the Wright Bros.
Waking up by the lake the view is fantastic as we open all the drapes and make ready for
departure.

The Wahweap Marina Resort

The drive goes well and the traffic light in Kanab is in our favor as we turn northbound for the
last 100 miles to the venue. Very scenic and well worth the drive, green, flowers, meadows
and lots of wildlife.  Plenty of BMW wildlife as bike after bike passes us complete with their
yardsale on the back. Well I guess those alloy paniers are functional but they don’t compliment
the bike in my opinion and it seems it’s the “Beemer thing” to bring a tent and everything else
strapped to your machine. Maybe your idea of fun but I’ll accept the “I towed mine with the
5 Star Hotel” and take all the flak later on.

Do the arrival thing, get the rules of the game  and now we are here we might as well go for a
quick ride round the local area. First up, get the bike out and when the tailgate is lowered there
is the BMW on it’s side in the trailer! Thanks to everyone at Victory for their lashing down
instructions, clearly I need a better system to deal with Arizona roads……. seems the back
wheel has been hopping and skipping and finally got to the critical point when the bars could
turn. Now comes the fun of lifting 850 lbs upright in the confines of the Haulmark trailer. Well,
just like being back on the farm, so get under it with your back and then using less than
“bionic” strength stand up and the Beemer will come with you, or at least, that’s the theory.
Outside and amazingly with all the bumper car buffers all over the machine there is absolutely
zero damage.

No damage…….. getting happier!

Kitted up and refueled, a run to Bryce Canyon to see all the “Hoodoos”. Park rangers all over
and a great bendy road along the canyon edge spoilt by a ridiculously slow speed limit.
Impressive to see what nature can do and some great photo opportunities if thats your bag.
Seen it, done it, got a badge for it, time to get back to the venue and see whats happening.

The Road to Bryce……. getting Much Happier !

Hoo-di Dooodi

Yo ho! they are setting up the bar, well it is Utah so real beer has to have a special license.
Not a great fan of “micro breweries” but here I’m in the wrong and this stuff is pretty good!
Several more of these and its time to reteat to the Safari as it is blowing a gale and we are
well pleased we are not in a tent as some don’t look as though they will last the night.

Base Camp at Everest !

Saturday morning and as the drapes come back time to drink in the scene with the first coffee,
over on the grassy knoll there must be about 100 pup tents and it looks like the base camp of
Everest. BMWs everywhere with lots of looking and chatting, well each to their own, so after
walking Doof time for a substantial breakfast and then the Poker Run.

Join in the fun and off around Panguitch Lake waving at law enforcement who are lurking
around every corner making sure you aren’t “riding it like you stole it”. Collect the first couple
of cards and then we are off up the mountain towards the Brain Head Ski Resort, and although
it’s mid June with the wind it’s getting bloody cold. Stop for the big jackets and on up the hill
with birds and wildlife that were unknown to me. Trouble finding the check point at the top
so some milling around until someone steps out of a car and gives us a card. Up here there
are still 3 feet of snow beside the road and with the chill factor this is not a nice place to be.

Bloody cold up on Brain Head

Down the hill and try to work out the deviant organisers mind for the next clue at the base
of the ski lift. Take all the info we can find and head off down the hill and all the super bends
until we arrive in Parowan where we need “proof” that we have been there. Thank God for
cell phones!

Out of Parowan and now it is warming up so a bit of fast riding up the freeway before turning
right and back into the mountains for some nice fast sweepers. Back onto “89” and then a
gentle run back into town following the river with the optical illusions. You are going downhill
and the river is on your left and the water is coming towards you?

A less than brilliant hand but a fun ride nonetheless. The afternoon gives us the chance for
another free ride but as we discover the best riding is actually further afield. However a good
thrash through the farmland and lots of villages, all with the duty police car parked on the village
limits, which of course slows you down until you pass the vehicle with the “manequin” behind the
wheel.

Saturday afternoon in the middle of nowhere

The Saturday night party, more of that “real beer” and then a few drinks in the Safari with new
friends and promises of coming back for more of the same next year.

Sunday morning and depart with much blowing of the horn, and as we make our way home,
with Beemers flashing past wih cheery salutations you get to thinking that in 600 miles of riding
and driving you have only seen one set of traffic lights!

TONY DOWN, Brenda, Beemer and all

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BENDS AND THE BEEMER

BENDS AND THE BEEMER

BENDS AND THE BEEMER

As an aviator or a diver “bends” are something you avoid like the plague, but as a motorcyclist
they are what you crave! No matter what your primary discipline is there is no finer sense of
achievement than negoiating a series of bends, right position, right gear, right speed and smooth
application of power.

Fortunately for me, my other half enjoys motorcycling almost as much as I do. So at the annual
“bike week” we accept the BMW salesman’s offer to sit on the lastest BMW K1200LT with the
hydraulic center stand. I’m impressed with the ergonomic layout and, madam is more than
impressed with the huge throne like rear seat and all the toys available to her.

Madam enjoys her Harley rides with all the noise, vibration, etc, but like all motorcyclists who own
one of these machines you know that this is NOT built for long distance riding, in fact on reflection,
its difficult to know what exactly it was built for?   First 50 miles, Ok, 50-75, can we stop soon?….. 75
-150 my bum hurts, …..my legs have cramp etc, etc.

Further discussion and we decide to plan a test ride at Victory Motorcycles, our local dealer.
The good news is they have a “test bike” and also offer a pretty good discount to MSF Instructors
(remember my earlier comments of “it pays to be a MSF Instructor”) The quick technical blow through
and away we go for a 50 miler!

First impressions, Heavy (850 lbs), beautifully engineered, stiff throttle, a bit like a fighter cockpit,
good ergonomic ride position, very quiet…. too quiet!   comfortable front and rear …hooray!  good
slow speed handling in traffic, heavy yes, but nicely balanced even with a passenger.

More discussion….. decision…… BUY!

Time for the extras, intercom (essential for harmony, and overall it WILL improve your own riding
as you talk your partner through your actions …. and the BENDS!) a sports exhaust system from
Remus for a bit more noise and an extra 10 bhp, adjustable floor boards for Brenda.

While the machine is prepped, order the matching Arai Helmets (Cycle Gear, see good news for
MSF Instructors) some, BMW fleeces from e-bay, BMW rain gear (best I’ve ever had!) the BMW
internal luggage (neat and functional) and a couple of leather BMW jackets from the UK (she
thinks her’s makes her look like a running back!)

Delivery and a quick run to Bartlett Lake, it handles well and we don’t annoy any of the
“eagle eyed” Sherrifs who line the route, easy pickings for them on one of the very few bendy
roads in the Phoenix area.

August arrives and we have planned the Colorado trip around my birthday. Day 1 will be
Phoenix to Durango, about 440 miles and then Day 2 around the “Ouray Loop” via Silverton
to Telluride and a 2 nighter there at the Wyndham Hotel at the base of the ski slopes in
Mountain Village.

On the Harley, when we did a night stop all the space was the roll bag and what you can get
in that purse. Now with the Beemer we have hairdryers, spare everything, wet weather gear,
cold weather jackets, full make up eporium, shoes…… need I go on?

The weather forecast has summer storms all the way along our route from Flagstaff across the
Indian reservation and into Colorado, great!  Not to worry, we do have the rain gear although
riding motorcycles in the rain is usually only done on the trials bikes.

Up to Flagstaff the ride is relavitely pleasant leaving the 100 + temps behind as we climb up to
7000 feet. Some evidence of earlier rain but the roads aren’t wet so on we go. Midway across
the resevation and refuel in Kayenta and the “smoke break”. Weather ahead looks pretty bleak
but we seem to be holding position on the storm and the roads are still dry.

A bit later we turn north to Cortez and now we are right up with the black monster so time
for a bite and drink and let it move on. 2 hours later we are back in the saddle and chasing it
for the last 30 miles to the night stop at Durango. No sooner had we parked at the hotel and
checked in the rain started and was coming down in the proverbial buckets!

It rained all night but by the time we came to leave just a few puddles and nearly dry roads
for the run through the mountains to Silverton following the railway. Out of Durango and up
the wide road leading the 20 miles to the ski resort of Purgatory where we have skied many
times in the past.Today its bright and sunny so just drink in the scenery and enjoy the music
coming through the headphones. Performance wise the engine is still a little tight so I’m not
pushing it and the handling is more akin to a crotch rocket than a touring bike. Despite all
the weight its very nimble and a pleasure to ride.

A lovely lunch in Silverton at the “bar” where a couple of honkey-tonk pianists keep us
entertained as they play all the old tunes while dressed in their period costumes. Onward
and upward through some great bends, some with guardrails, and a lot without! Then
the downhill twisters to the tight switchbacks at the top of the touristy town of Ouray.

Straight roads for a while until the left turn to take us back over the mountains to
Placerville and the uphill bends into Telluride (Placerville is where the man who buys all my
bikes and then drops off others to be refurbished.) Finally into Mountain Village and
the Wyndham Hotel. Glorious hotel, fabulous views from the bar, and as it’s my birthday
some complimentary goodies and an upgrade to a suite!. Not bad for $150 a night compared
to the $750 a night in the high season.

Day 3 and I have planned a ride taking us down to Placerville and then a southern loop
before rejoining the main Cortez-Telluride road. After Placerville the road is OK but then
degenerates into some flat and boring terrain. Can’t win em’ all, and now we are in Dolores,
looking to refuel and get a drink. Fuel yes, bars No! Eventually get the information and find
the “Hollywood”…… our kind of bar!

Fall in love with the place and subsequently buy a mountain getaway called “Cozy Comfort”
which is a RV park with a 1400 sq ft apartment so its perfect for summer riding vacations and
some winter skiing.

Cozy Comfort our RV Park in Dolores

Day 4, and time to go home and despite being mid August its only 40 degrees so on with the
heavy jackets for the run down to Cortez and across the reservation to Farmington and on
to Payson and the Beeline Highway back to home…. got to have the Beemer on the Beeline.

Nice and cool in the mountains but by the time we get to Payson its 100 + again. Taking on
plenty of liquid in Payson its back on the Beeline and the drive into the “Oven of Phoenix”
Dry heat …. my A***!!

TONY DOWN

Don’t forget those October Articles…. worth a look.

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ANOTHER MONTESA

ANOTHER MONTESA

ANOTHER MONTESA

 After all the fun of the first 348 you can imagine my delight when the new owner takes delivery
and announces he would like me to “tidy up” his 349. He wants a different color scheme but
wants to retain the rear footrests and the lights?

With the mainstay trials season coming to an end, and temperatures cool enough to venture
back in the workshop the “extreme makeover” begins. The tank appears to have either been
subjected to extreme heat or has been used with racing fuel as all the original paint is bubbled
and is a little outside my capabilities, but I know a man who can!

 So this tank and the Cagiva monstrosity are away to the paint shop and the once shiny bits go
in for polish and chrome while I work on the wheels and other alloy parts that I can restore. New
red guards are on their way from the UK and most of the other ancillaries are available locally at
Cycle Gear, Hardrock Trials, or Jed at South West Montesa.

BEFORE…….

AFTER!

Solvol Autosol, my favorite alloy polish is in full flow and soon those dull wheels are back to
showroom! New IRC’s and tubes are on, bearings are good so all complete there and onto the
motor. Carb off and the inlet rubber to the motor has evidence of a “shade tree” repair with tape.
Put that on Jed’s list, levers are bent, need 2 of those, cables of course, and the throttle has had
the end eaten off by rocks, trees or other woodland creatures. The side straps on the tank were
of an unusual design and certainly nothing that left the Spanish factory!

Dismantle the rest of the engine and all appears good here so just a paint job and major clean
up.

Everything comes back and the polish is beyond superb!

The tank looks glorious, but that horrid little tube, level, optical gauge, or whatever it is on the
outside of the tank is proving impossible to get a replacement pipe in the right diameter that will
fit in the slot. Finally I find one that works and all the new logos are on.

The fender at the back has to be recut and painted in the new red color but all goes well and
the wires are rerouted to provide the lights (I’m not keen) but it’s not my bike.

Not bad!

Come and get it, and bring your check book.

Job Done! Cost is high but again it’s not my bike.

Tony Down

Remember there are October articles you may not have read.

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THE MONTESA STORY

THE MONTESA STORY

THE MONTESA STORY
Despite having ridden Montesas for a couple of years, and done quite well on them, but that
really wasn’t that much of a surprise having previously been on a Greeves with the magic
banana forks. I remember the steel being soft and the paintwork awful, weak rear shocks,
bendable axels and swinging arm bolts falling out in the middle of Blackwater during the Scottish.
I also recall stories of a piston being fitted backwards at the factory and the bike went 10 times
better so they fitted them that way from then on.
After building 20+ Yamahas I stupidly thought it would be fun to try my hand at some of the other vintage/twinshocks so e-bay is given the once over and a 76 Rathmell replica was found and
purchased….. now the fun begins!!

It arrives in a crate which would have done credit to a cabinet maker and by the time I have
undone 50-60 3” woodscrews the beast is finally free. The handlebars are unbelievable, about 3”
wider than usual, flat and varying taper. Jokingly called Montesa “super akront” they would have
looked good on a Texas Longhorn.

Ooops!  Something I didn’t notice in the e-bay photos, the front wheel has been fitted the wrong
way round as the brake anchor stay has been sheared off the left fork leg. Some shade tree
mechanic now has it arse backwards and connected to the speedo bracket on the right leg!! The
rest of the machine appears all there, but we will see.

Dismantling begins, and everything is difficult! The exhaust is like one of those Arabic puzzle rings
and every which way you go it lodges in something and then after you have given up in disgust it
slips out by itself and falls on the floor!

  The plastic airbox has several stress cracks in it so that’s heading for the bin and now lets look
at the rear end….. wheel bearings shot, sprocket hooked, chain knackered…. The list continues.
Up front one leg has the brake stanchion broken off, needs a new cable and there are these awful
gaiter things that just cover up all the oily mess from the shot seals. Needless to say the fender
has long since had it and the back one can be converted if I keep the lower half.
Spend a while searching the floor for the exhaust gasket only to dimly remember Montesas don’t
bother with gaskets but rely on coke to eventually cement everything together. Off with the head,
No gasket here either! And now try and remove the barrel. Try various tools and discover it’s an
allen bolt. Try the 6 nothing! Try the 8 nothing! It is in fact a 7 and of course that does not come
with any known allen set that I have ever used. Not only is it a 7 but a long shank to boot! I think
the Spanish did it deliberately in revenge for us sinking their Armada …. And then they have
another random allen, the 4 and ½, so you may as well get that while you are out shopping.

  A trip to South West Montesa to see Jed Bates and I have most of what I will need. Two new
fork legs, new fenders a couple of lever blades, oil seals, cables, points and condensers that
monties eat like candy and  a new front engine sprocket.
Send the cases for the extreme makeover and then freshen up the paintwork. This one is going
into the Purple/Black/Chrome finish with a silver head and pipe.

Wheels next and they polish up well so out with the rear wheel bearings, not forgetting that
Montesa throw a tiny circlip in just to spoil your day. One bearing almost drops out but it’s
partner refuses to budge, so using the bigger hammer out it comes, well the balls and the inner
race do….. CRAP! This is a lot of extra work with power tools various but finally the cheap Spanish
steel gives in.

Time for the engine sprocket and after removing all the cover plates and guides discover that this
beauty is on a tapered shaft with a woodruff key. Puller after puller is tried but I’m getting
nowhere so eventually Mister Makita is brought into play and I delicately cut through the sprocket
and crack it open like a tough brazil nut. The new sprocket from Talon does not have a woodruff
key, just a press fit on the tapered shaft. Well they have been making sprockets for comp bikes
for years so I guess they know what they are doing.

Parts back from chroming so the rebuild begins. Engine all done, the ridiculous slotted head case
bolts all replaced with allens, some arm wrestling with the exhaust and things are looking good.
New bars, throttle and levers and as always new cables and we are nearly ready for the test
firing. New tires, fenders and chain but now I can’t tighten up one of the chain guards over the
engine sprocket. Is the nut stripped? Is it the threaded bit on the engine? Did I hit it with the
Makita? All good questions, and all WRONG. As part of Montesas quest to find the most annoying
and worthless piece of engineering this one really takes the biscuit! The thread that I’m trying
to put the nut on is NOT a stud, it has not stripped in the alloy…… it is in fact a 12 INCH long bolt
that starts life on the clutch side so that case has to come off again and then tightening up can
continue!

It’s done! It Runs! And It’s Sold.

The man who buys it brings me another ONE!!!

TONY DOWN   Si Habla Espan……….

Don’t forget those October articles if you havn’t read them.

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RIDING A CAN-AM TO THE END OF THE EARTH THE EPILOGUE DAY 2

RIDING A CAN-AM TO THE END OF THE EARTH THE EPILOGUE DAY 2

RIDING A CAN-AM TO THE END OF THE EARTH THE EPILOGUE DAY 2

(Don’t Cry for me Argentina)

 A fairly primitive place that was the field hospital during the conflict, the Sheep Slaughterhouse,
had long been abandoned when it was discovered that all the sheep had lung worm and were
not fit for human consumption. A tour of this half demolished building  was soon over and with all
meetings and discussions complete it was time to set off to my next port of call at the San Carlos
Memorial and then onto the night stop at Kelly’s garden where the  Chinook helicopters were
based.
About 50-60 miles or riding round the bay to the East side of San Carlos where our first marine
landings had been and then they walked all the way to Stanley (yumping).
I actually get to the far side without incident, but boy was it muddy and hard going?

 I pause here to add a couple of photos that have just come to light (I knew they were here
somewhere). The Game is AIR DEFENCE, and here is the No1 tool of the day, the Mighty F4
Phantom equipped with 8 missiles, the 6 barrel Gatlin gun and a 200 mile Pulse Doppler radar.
Normally we would refuel from either Victor Tankers or the newer VC10’s or Lockheed Tristars.
In the Falklands, the runway could not take these giants and the faithful C130 Hercules was
converted to take over the role. So here we see a Falklands F4 refueling from the C130 and
imagine it without the hose if you are the bad guy and we are right behind you!


Our next picture is of one of our uninvited friends from Argentina, inside our 200 mile zone and
somewhat reluctant to leave until we gave him the close aboard maneuver, followed by full
reheat from 30 feet ahead into a sudden pull-up.

Very close aboard and still pushing his luck.

Back to the main story and now as I bounce through all the muddy dips and hollows I come
into something close to civilization. Geese everywhere, of course, but a level strip of  gravel,
a few houses, with white picket fences, a few animals and the British Flag flying high over the
Memorial. In due respect I park PE, and walk through the mown grass area and amongst the few
headstones of fallen colleagues. I had lost several close friends from HMS ARK ROYAL during the
conflict and was pleased that I could visit their memorial in person.

Respects having been paid I’m getting thirsty so complete the rest of the run into Kelly’s Garden
and at the intersection of a criss cross of tracks there is a road sign pointing the way to many
things that made me laugh amidst all this adversity. London 8053 miles>
Officers’ Mess>        Lafonia train Spotters Club>

Follow the mud trail to the Officers’ Mess and cannot believe my eyes! I have no sooner stopped
and I’m taking my helmet off when a Corporal arrives in white monkey jacket, gold chevrons, and
immaculate blue pressed trousers. (The rest of the world down here is in motley camo kit)
“Good evening…. Will Sir be taking afternoon tea?”

So a quick wash and brush up and follow the sign to Ante-Room which I thought was a joke but
on pushing the door open I’m gob smacked to find it is just like a “real” officers’ mess, big leather
chairs, fully carpeted, roaring fire and newspapers on the table!!! As I warm the proverbial in front
of the fire I can’t help but think I’m a bit scruffy in my sweaty green outfit and stockinged feet.

The Cpl reappears with a silver tea service, complete with tea pot, hot water, sugar bowl and
tongs and fresh milk. While I make my first cup and sit by the fire he is back again with a plate of
toasted teacakes dripping with butter! REAL BUTTER, I haven’t seen butter in 3 months as we
have been working with some axel grease made by Castrol.
The teacakes are superb, as was the tea, but I did notice the inscription on the silver “King’s
Own Borderers” but elected to let it go without comment. The same Cpl returns and says he has
laid out some clean clothes for me and found a pair of slippers but he can’t guarantee the size.
After a long soak it felt really good to slip into some relaxing clean clothes no matter who they
belonged to.
The bar was hilarious and the stories these pirates were telling were quite unbelievable unless
you were there to see what they had “liberated”. A fantastic evening ensued ( what I can
remember of it) including a magnificent meal with salad bar, something else WE hadn’t seen in
3 months.
Back to the bar and more stories in answer to some obvious questions of “where did this and
where did that come from?” It would seem that many underslung loads had mysteriously
vanished as they had to be cut loose when engine malfunctions occurred, and then somehow
got washed ashore and the helicopter crews were lucky to be able to salvage them….. hence
the entire Regimental Silver of the King’s Own Borderers and all the officers’ mess furniture
en-route somewhere else….. PIRATES!

The following morning the Cpl wakes me with a cup of tea and brings in my uniform all washed
and pressed and even washed my Wellington boots and helmet! We may all have ideas about
“gays” in the military and at the time I don’t think we even knew the word, but on reflection if
he was, and I’m not saying either way it was a little like “Queer eye for the straight guy”

He then informs me that the helicopter Squadron has taken pity on me after all last nights fun
and thinks they should take me and my bike back to Stanley after breakfast there was a storm
coming in.

Laying in bed between nice crisp sheets and drinking a cup of tea it occurred to me that this
wasn’t such a bad idea after all and I kindly accepted their offer.

Squadron Leader Tony Down RAF

The Last of the Falkland Memoirs

I wonder what ever became of her “PE 1”

Don’t forget the October articles if you haven’t read them yet

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  • 12/17/2007 5:01 PM Donald Young wrote:
    Tony,
    Love the stories of the Falklands and Mount (un)Pleasant certainly did not look like that last time I was there. I had trips in 1989 and 1991, I work for the Met Office and someone had obviously known of your exploits because they had banned anyone from going anywhere off road on bikes by the time I got there. The small “club” at MPA had some rather naff MZ roadbikes and a couple of old hacked PE Suzuki’s. Somehow don’t think yours was still there, these still had the lovely yellow paintwork. The Islands are an offroaders heaven and for any trials/enduro rider posted down there Combined forces bosses should have someting available.

    love the Scottish stories as well, heard many similar from my father over the years John Moffat and many others.

    Great site, i’ll look in again
    Reply to this

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RIDING A CAN-AM TO THE END OF THE EARTH THE EPILOGUE DAY1

RIDING A CAN-AM TO THE END OF THE EARTH THE EPILOGUE DAY1

RIDING A CAN-AM TO THE END OF THE EARTH THE EPILOGUE DAY1

(Don’t Cry for me Argentina) 

Occasionally some of the more adventurous individuals on base would ask me if I would take
them on rides to some of the more famous sites, Bluff Cove and Twin Sisters being the most
popular.

Somewhere on the Twin Sisters

 Twin Sisters, the two mountains overlooking Stanley was still a very dangerous area as it had
been heavily booby-trapped by the Argies before their final surrender but none the less offered
a pretty good ride if you knew what you were doing. Bluff Cove on the other hand was a fun
place to get to but not for the inexperienced rider and on several trips I ended up riding other
bikes out of gullies and through rock runs until the less able could continue.

 Bluff Cove was where our gunners had come ashore with their heavy artillery and then beaten
the crap out of the opposition with their 105mm howitzers. A strange thing about the Falklands
granite is that it is fairly bright whitish grey with black flecks but when you roll the rocks over it
is bright pink on the underside from the peat. The none too bright opposition had rolled the rocks
over around their gun emplacements and looking up the mountains and ridges you didn’t have
to be a rocket scientist to work out where they were. The purpose of “our” mission was to
discover where the British guns had been and recover the fired brass. So once in the most
probable areas take a pole and poke about in the peat until the metallic clink is heard. Next find
the cuts in the peat and roll back the sod like carpet. Sure enough if you were in the right spot
you could find about 12 fired cases which had been pushed into the bog forming a hydraulic lock
and a firm footing for the gun’s wheels. Carrying them back was something else and I usually
ended as the pack mule as others were having enough problems just trying to ride the bike out.

Towards the end of my tour I thought it would be good for moral if I did a round the Island ride
visiting as many of our installations that I could get to. My Boss thinks it is a brilliant idea and
while I’m gone would I report back on what the ground is like at the new proposed airfield to be
built and called Mount Pleasant.

The first leg of my mission is to get to Goose Green, the site of one of the most famous battles.
Distance wise it looks like about 80 miles but depending on conditions this might be pushing it
for fuel. Full tanks, what ever maps were available, the radio and a few personal items are in the
rucksack and the fanny pack is full of tools and of course a couple of spare tubes and a pump.
 The weather is good by Stanley standards and I’m off on the familiar first part of my route to
where I normally turn off for the climb up Mt Kent but today just continue on the track which
takes me through some of the bleakest territory I have ever seen. The designated area for the
new airfield comes up and I find it strange that anyone would call this place Pleasant?
Unpleasant maybe, and I believe that is what it is nicknamed today.

The Site of An Airfield to Come….. I think?

 The track gets pretty rough with deep water filled holes but I’m getting close to the coast so it
ought to get easier soon. As I come down a cliff path (sheep) I can see something on the beach
in the inlet and when I get closer I can identify it as a penguin flat on it’s belly.

Stop the Steed and out with the camera and start crawling across the sand to see how close I
can get. The slow crawl doesn’t upset the bird at all and I’m within about 4 feet of it when it
stands up giving some great photo ops. It preens itself, flutters it’s eyes and poses like a
professional model, stupid bird! Well enoughs enough, so I stand up and as I do this bird follows
my amazing growth from flat on the ground to 6 feet tall and with it’s head in a near vertical
position falls flat on it’s back!

 Back in the saddle but not for long as screaming down the beach on the hard sand I come to an
inlet and this time it’s not hard but changes to QUICKSAND!  Bike into the bars, rear wheel in the
air, and yours truly some 5 feet ahead of PE flat on my back. A crocodile swim back to the safety
of the bars, then over the bike to the hard sand behind and after a lot of digging the Can-am
comes free.

 This is not Daytona! So back up the cliff and find the track and hopefully this will take me where
I want to go ….. it does so here I am at Goose Green which is little more than a farm but now
with a military presence. This portion has taken a lot longer than expected as it’s now 1430 and
it’s taken me 7 ½ hours to cover about 80 miles. Stay or push on?
Leaving Goose Green and the thousands of Upland Geese that are everywhere I’m on a farm
track but it is very rutted and filled with deep water and the footrests keep clouting the edges
of the ruts so I elect to climb out at the next opportunity. Hum! This is better, it’s dry and now
just navigate through this tussock grass, a bit like Camel Grass on the Paris-Dakar. A quick
glance ahead to pick a path up to the next ridge when BANG! I hit something solid so  after I
recover I look back over my shoulder and see 6 soldiers emerging from the grass with grass,
branches and other foliage all over them and one poor soul clutching his helmet! Appears I have
just ridden over a Platoon of the “King’s Own Borderers” who are stationed at Goose Green and
must have taken cover when they heard me coming? The camo sure worked, I hope his Helmet
did!

 Another ridge, another load of nothing and then as I crest one more I’m looking down on San
Carlos water, time to stop and drink it in and imagine how horrifying it must have been.

 Gazing round the hillside I find what I’m looking for in the shape of missile batteries which are
Ground to Air Rapier missiles controlled by the Army. Find one of their foxholes and after locating
the entry announce who I am and accept their hospitality of a nice hot cup of tea.

 I can now see where I need to get to and this is not going to be easy (but where’s the fun in
that?) its getting dark and I still have about 20 miles to go. Eventually with the pathetic
headlamp just illuminating rocks as you hit them I stumble into the old Sheep Slaughter House
beside the water at San Carlos. Quite a trip and now time for some serious drinking!

The Sheep Slaughter House SAN CARLOS

To ride across a mine filled Island wearing a Green Crash Helmet and full Cabbage kit (camo)
on a black/olive bike, with no roads, or maps, with just a line of sight VHF radio for emergency
… how bright is that?

Another Chapter from the Annals of Stupidity

Squadron Leader Tony Down RAF

If you liked these stories there are plenty more in the October Archives.

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