COUGHING IN THE SECTION

COUGHING IN THE SECTION

COUGHING IN THE SECTION

 As a dedicated, not dead yet, afficionado of the “Rothman’s” brand I had drooled over the Grand
Prix bikes in their wonderful livery and never ever got to see any of the Trials Hondas that Rothmans
were supporting until tobacco sponsorship became socially unacceptable. I’m told that Honda in a
fit of peek, as they weren’t winning anything, took all their “Works RTL’s” and put them in a
crusher! They tell me one escaped and is alive and well in France.

A few years later after making the TLM series Honda quit the trials scene again!……. and then
with classic business sense make the  decision, if you can’t make one, buy the factory that can
…. and so Montesa is bought by Honda. I wonder how long it will be before the Montesa badging
vanishes completely?

For my part I kick off the Honda acquistion with an Erion Racing 929 RR and then transform it into
a “Rothman’s Racing” edition which of course there never was. About the same time Adrian Lewis
was rebuilding a later model RTL (Adrian’s web www.lewisportusa.com lots of good stuff and
especially the interesting bike section) anyhooo, I get the RTL in it’s unfinished state and will do
the final painting at this end.

No sooner was this project under way when, a 260 TLM comes up on E-bay with all the usual
“strong runner etc, etc” again my lucky day nobody seems interested and a little while later it
arrives. As always the pictures are somewhat better than the real thing! Scruffy would be the
best way to describe the beast or ridden hard, put away wet!

Into the shop with you, strong runner indeed? there is NO fuel pipe!! …….. and NO sparks!!

Source some new fenders, not easy, and now with 2 tank shrouds from the RTL and the TLM time
to see my painting man. As this TLM is going to become a full “Rothmans” the strip down continues
and engine plates forks and yokes are off for polishing while I’ll work on the swinging arm, bash
plate and some ancillaries. Engine needs a touch of Gold and Black so out with that and then
respray the frame. The engine doesn’t want to play ball and at this stage I find the frame is
BROKEN in THREE places! Again it’s my lucky day and within 48 hours the frame is back with
welding that would do a jeweller proud. He has resleeved everything internally and the joints are
perfect WOW! and all for $100.00!

The 260 TLM was another of those bikes not sold in the USA, so I assume this one originated in
Canada and seems to be in a European color scheme as the others I have seen were in the
Pentax Camera Livery.

From a layout point of view these early mono-shocks were a nightmare with all manner of bits
just velcroed or bolted on in the most bizarre places and virtually nothing is accessible without
taking the shroud off. Redesign some of the layout and now the rebuild is underway time to get
some sparks. Now I thought this thing was Japaneese but it behaves more like an Italian and is
infuriating and tempermental as I can have sparks in the workshop in the morning……. come back
after lunch ……none!   Sparks in the workshop…… take it outside… nothing! Eventually after
rewiring completely we are good and it fires up first kick….. what a beast, the power is
unbelieveable and it’s handling is equally impressive.

So here it sits as there isn’t really a class for it although I am tempted to ride it next year just for
fun and to amaze myself with what it can do even if, I can’t, or don’t want to!

Smoke anyone?

TONY DOWN

Remember there are 50+ articles in the November archives if you are looking for more to read on
a winter’s night.

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Comments
  • 12/10/2007 11:39 AM Outlaw Dave wrote:
    Another great restoration job Tony – with regard to Honda and Montesa, – the reason they bought the company, was so they could sell the Honda scooters in Spain ( And they got it cheap with bankruptcy looming) – this is why Yamaha own one of the French bike Companies – it’s all about Governmental controls to protect the home manufacturer. ( In other words a loop hole was needed)
    The only TLM that I ever saw up here in Canada, was ridden by Tommy Farr of Ontario,- a good rider who also does stunt work for the movies.
    Reply to this
  • 12/11/2007 9:06 PM Steve Fracy wrote:
    Hi there Tony:

    I was directed to your site by Outlaw Dave. I am also another Canuck living up here on Vancouver Island. I have enjoyed looking through your stories and pictures. I love the TLM, and actually competed against Tom Farr who rode one in the 90s. These bikes were brought into the states by a guy in Chicago, Sven Bley. He owns and operates Bley Machine works. He used to sponsor Jonny Andersson from Sweden on the fourstroke Hondas, but later sponsored Tom Farr on the TLM 260. I would love to have one that is for sure. My so called vintage love is my 300 Fantic. I also introduced Outlaw Dave to the Fantic marque and he is sold! Would love to be able to visit all those nice bikes sometime and meet you!
    Reply to this

    1. 11/18/2008 8:32 PM Sven Bley wrote:
      Hi Steve!
      This is almost 2 years later!!
      Browsing the web after a few beers…
      That TLM looks nice, but the motor is terrible. Tom Farr had a terrible time with it.
      Hey if you get this my e-mail is sven@madetomeasure.us Jonny is looking for you too! We just talked about you a few weeks ago.
      Reply to this
  • 5/6/2011 1:37 AM jared wrote:
    hello tony, just wanted to tell your rothmans 929 is still alive! in my garage and still perfect as the day you sold her to my best friend. thanks again! still a looker everywhere you go!
    Reply to this
  • 4/28/2014 5:27 AM Herb Farr wrote:
    I remember those trials bikes, I was amazed to see HRC written under the seat pan in pencil or marker. If I recall Tom ended up grafting more fins on the last one for better cooling. I think the last one Tom had went to Italy after Tom was done with it.

    Herb
    Reply to this

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TIRE IN A JAM, TEACHING THE BRC

TIRE IN A JAM, TEACHING THE BRC

TIRE IN A JAM   TEACHING THE BRC

Spring of 2001 and I’m thoroughly enjoying motorcycling, so the decision is made to give back
something to the community in recognition of a sport and hobby that has given me so much
pleasure. I decide that having been a Flying Instructor and Ski Instructor perhaps a teaching role
in motorcycling would be a good deed, especially as what I see on Arizona roads does not exactly
portray a great deal of motorcycling knowledge or common sense!

First I have to undergo the course but as motorcycling is an “international” language hopefully
this will not be too difficult. I consult my American/English dictionary, learn to spell tyre with an “i”
and pronounce le-ver as lev-er, also note that manoeuvre has lost an “e” in the trans atlantic
crossing (must have gone down with Titanic) and that mudguards are now fenders and the
gearbox is a tranny and petrol is gas.

The Instructor course lasts about 3-4 months with 2 full weekends per month going over the
entire classroom package before setting foot on the range where we will teach. As the site is new
and purpose built this should be an excellent facility but during our course it was still under
construction so we would meet in the most unusual places, tops of hotels in their storerooms,
coffee bars in dealerships, backrooms etc, etc  but I guess we achieved our objective without
being arrested as terrorists.

Finally our group of 12 now ventures out on the range and we go through the full course as
students then on future weekends run the exercises as “instructors”, “coaches” or “facilitators”
…. what a dreadful word! call a spanner a spanner…. oops! I forgot spanner=wrench.

So on 11/11/01 the 12 of us qualify and now we do a few weekends U/T until we are on our own.

I teach for T.E.A.M. Arizona and the organization has several facilitites all over the state but at
Gilbert we can push 48 students through every weekend, and sometimes a smaller course of 6 as
well. The Basic Rider Course (BRC) comprises about 5 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours
on the range riding the set exercises. As a seasoned motorcyclist and instructor it is difficult to
fault the course in both design and content, and as always you wish there had been something
like this some 40+ years ago.

So who are we teaching and where is the course pitched? This course is for Beginers, and the
students usually fall into one of the following groups; those that have just bought a new bike and
realise they know nothing about it, or have tried to ride it, fallen off at the dealership, or have
frightened themselves fartless on the way home! The complete beginer. The “come back rider”
usually self taught dirt bike rider at 17, now 50, with kids through college and looking for some
weekend fun, but with a degree of common sense and self preservation. The 30+ lady rider who
wants a Harley Sportster. The “backseater” who has been persuaded by her husband to do the
course. It is also a pity in my mind that the Police and Courts don’t impose this course on
irresponsible hooligans that give motorcycling a bad name.

Normally the course will meet on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. for 3 hours of basic groundschool
with lots of student participation as we move through the necessary knowledge for them to ride
safely on Saturday morning. One of the sections covered is “riding gear” and I usually spend a
little more time on helmets, as 70% of all motorcycling fatalities are head injuries it follows that
you should wear the best helmet that you can afford. $100 helmet=$100 head. $500 head= Arai/Shoei/Suomy/AGV. I throw in the “stone through the car windshield” concept to try to give the
students the damage a stone could do to an eye or dental work without a helmet and then show
them the effects an Arizona Bug had on my vizor!

When they arrive on Saturday morning we will fit them to a motorcycle, most being 250cc but
there are Buells that are allowed as the course machines may go up to 500cc. We will provide
helmets, bearing in mind Arizona still has a ridiculous “no helmet law” but woe betide you if you
are caught without “eye protection” and even worse if the lens has the wrong colored tint!
What f***wick made that law? Ok, then be a vegetable but at least be a “seeing” vegetable!
So now with helmets, and also we provide gloves (home depot) otherwise they would walk, the
motley crew assembles and some have been shopping……. not one piece full leathers but some
interesting apparel nonetheless, jackets with fracture boards in the back and kevlar elbows and
shoulders. Harley boots with huge soles that would be better for deep sea diving and the Harley
gloves made and dyed in India!……. lets see what happens in 110 degrees when your hands
start sweating.

For some the fitting of helmets is very confusing and the tricky buckle is causing all manner of
problems, which is why I suppose airlines still do the “seat buckle routine” as there are some
people who just don’t get IT! By 7 a.m. we are all ready to go.

The course starts with a famil then works through all the basic disciplines culminating in stopping
quickly to round off the first morning. Day 2 puts a little polish on what has been learnt and
explores some new territory before a controlled practice session and then the “test”. As we are
all MVD Examiners we will issue test certificates for all those that pass. At any stage along the
way we may drop individuals from the course for any number of reasons, but normally it would
be for lack of progress or inability combined with safety issues.

Having done quite a lot of instruction in many fields there are few things that surprize me but
just when you think you have seen it all up pop a couple that leave you speechless. Here are a
couple of my favorites,

The one and only student to fail the famil!!! A gentleman the same age as myself in a course of
12 with 2 experienced instructors.

Breifing; “When you have all your kit on go and stand by a bike you like and we will size you up”
This guy almost runs out to the 12 bikes lined up in the staging area …… grabs one and walks off
with it…….Oi, Oi…..YOU! STOP!!
Eventually catch up to him and can’t help but notice something is wrong, but can’t quite put my
finger on it. Tap him gently on the shoulder and get in front of him to explain we don’t want the
bikes moved when I realise he has his borrowed 3/4 helmet on BACKWARDS! ….. and the peak is
down his back!
So now with “wayward” back in the pack, we start the famil. Getting on and off (demo), he puts
the stand up overbalances and falls off, no matter I’ve seen this before. Everything is a struggle
but we are nearly with everyone else and now dismount, which he does but forgets to put the
stand down and the bike now falls on the parking lot. OK lets cover the complexity of this stand
thing.

Some time later when I’ve wrestled his hand off the horn button we get to “Starting”
“OK everyone start you engines, using F.I.N.E.C.” (not difficult, F=fuel, I=ignition, N=neutral,
E=engine cut off, C =clutch, and choke if you need it.)
Blank look…… “Hello”  “you remember FINE C? from Thursday night?… More blank looks….. “OK F
is for FUEL” at this point he unscrews the gas cap and shakes the tank while peering in to the full
container splashing fuel everywhere!
Finally we have her running, and while I wrestle with his “death grip” on the throttle to get the
revs back under 2000, I’m trying to see if there is any glimmer of comprehension, but regrettably
the lights are on, (dimmed), but nobody’s home!
Now we need to “shut her down” ….. the briefed signal is given and a reminder of the sequence,
THUMB…… KEY ……..FUEL
My man can’t quite get the THUMB thing on the Honda Nighthawk. OK let’s go over it again “When
these 2 are lined up the engine runs…… rotate the knob either way and the engine will stop”  …..
“You try”

Brrrrrrm, brrrrrm, brrrrrrrrrrr….brrrrm, brrrm…………brrrrrrrrr…brrrmmmm…brrrmmmmm and finally
BRRRRRRRRRRRRR…click, click! He has rotated the knob round and round and round until the plastic
sheared off in his hand!

Here endth the first Lesson…….. and in your case the course!

……and here’s one you will need a tissue for!

Day 1 Exercise 7 Cornering;
In the middle of the range there are 2 semi circles forming an oval. We will do the exercise twice
in groups of six going anti clockwise, then reversing the turn to go clockwise. We will then stop you
and send you back to the staging area. Of course as one Instructor briefs the exercise the other
rides the demo. When all’s ready one Instructor goes out to the oval to conduct the task while the
other monitors and discusses technique with the other waiting group in the staging area.

An all female class today, and we are coming to the end of this exercise and the first group are in
waiting to go out again for their second session. I see one lady from the group that is on the range
coming out of the turn and heading back towards the staging area, or so I thought……… but she
has actually just put the power on way to early and is now in full flight running very wide and
coming towards us at 45 degrees!! She now sees the problem and grabs everything, clutch,
front brake, feet down, screaming….. and collides with all six parked bikes and riders, at which
point with panic front brake and 3000 rpm she drops the clutch and falls off the back, and the
riderless bike goes through my six pack of riders like a bowling ball picking up a spare! All 7 women
are on the ground with bikes everywhere and the lead lady who was, shall we say “vertically
challenged and also a little wide in the beam” is face first on the parking lot with the wayward
machine parked in her rear end and it is still UPRIGHT!!!! It was all I could do not to put my boot
on her rump as I extracted the bike…………..

TONY DOWN   MSF Instructor

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BOND…. JAMES BOND

BOND…. JAMES BOND

BOND…..JAMES BOND

Polish that Alloy!

 Another Montesa comes on E-bay and it’s a 242 and nobody seems very interested, so as the
auction continues I patiently wait and pounce. Now what? what can I use it for as it doesn’t fit in
any AHRMA class and realistically I’m too far away for the ITSA offerings. Well it’s different so we
will see.

It lives up in Golden Colorado and the previous owner has been running it up hillsides at 10,000
feet so I wonder what the carburation will be like. It arrives with an assortment of bits which he
tells me is a complete bike? … this turns out to be another 242 which was not mentioned in the
sale and with limited inspection of the pile it was missing the tank/seat unit, some of the “python
exhaust” and some of the engine, but apart from that looks more or less complete. When I see a
pile of junk like this I wonder why people take them to pieces, is it curiosity? are they planning on
rebuilding? did it go wrong, and if so what? Do they have any idea of what they are, or were
looking for? …… and then did it all get too difficult and project abandonned!

Nearly there

So put the spare “one day a 242” in the junk room for another rainy day and concentrate on the
one that is complete and running. Can’t say that I like it much, seems a bit tall, a bit wide for the
era, and with a pale blue tank and red/orange frame downright ugly. Banknotes are exchanged
and happy camper is on his way back to deepest Colorado.

Welcome 007

Some time later the machine is stripped and  the rebuild begins. Get all the new bits together
tires, levers, cables, tank straps to replace the baler twine, some oem fenders, sprockets and
chain. Polish the yokes, forks, new seals of course, and the swinging arm. Repaint that bloody
awful tank and then the pipe. give the motor a once over and cut the fins for a striking effect.
While down in the bowels I note the frame and Engine Number…….007!

Shaken not Stirred

The frame is finished in a bullet hard polyurethane reddish orange and will take a month of
Sundays if I want to strip it so, as it’s only worn where the boots rub we will leave well alone and
just bring the color back to life. Rebuild the shocks but nothing wrong here so wheels next and
again the bearings are sound and they are true enough for government work.

Rebuilding continues and some MI6 stickers found on E-bay. Much use of those “special” Montesa
4.5 mm and 7mm allen keys. “Look I said I was sorry we sunk your Armada….. now let it go!”

Bond,……..James Bond!

All comes together and now replace all those fibre washers that people insist on overtightening
and now with all the leaks fixed it fires right up. Test spin….. soft motor, smooth clutch, …….
for sale!

There will be a prize for anyone who can tell me who bought it?

TONY DOWN

Don’t forget all those AHRMA articles from early November, see Archives.

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BUT I DON’T SING

BUT I DON’T SING

BUT I DON’T SING

 Travelling round the World as Her Majesty’s Ambassador there is often a requirement to be a
public speaker, racconteur, master of ceremonies…….. but Ballard Singer????

Of course many members of various Squadrons that I’ve been on have had superb voices, as
indeed were some of the trials fraternity, but yours truly was not gifted in that department,
although I was always happy to hum along with the choir or join in with the massed chorus
……… I think I would have got a blank look and a curt “THANK YOU!” from Simon Cowell.

So, what’s a man to do?

Well,  I was having lunch with an old friend of mine, Bill Shakespeare, and he suggested I take
a different tack and be a “Thespian”. He said he had the makings of a script for a play but, to
date it just wasn’t coming together, so I could have it and improvise a little and try it out at some
local taverns before going National or even Global. I duly studied the script and tried to get round
some of the early Anglo-Saxon language of the part and while I am quite familiar with the words
and their meanings I have listed them for the reader for easy reference should he or she get lost
when we give the rendition

GLOSSARY:

T’was                                          It was

Sal-iis-berry                               Salisbury

SW-war-d                                   Sword

Charger                                       Horse

Ho-Hag                                        Good day Madam

The Gentle Lady Ann                  Local Tart in the Castle

Hast?                                           Have you?

Gallant                                         Bold, Brave, Chivalrous, definitely NOT gay

Band                                            Group of, more than 1, not musical

ME                                                A Name I call myself

far                                                a bloody long way

Laid                                              Out of, exposed, open

Prithy                                           Excuse me

Nay                                              No

So, finally I have my rough draft and I go back to Bill with my version of his discarded
“Richard The Lionheart” and after listening, the Bard suggests that it could work in cabaret if I
keep it to one Act. He further suggests that all the necessary props are usually available in any
“Ale House” or kitchen of any “Restaurant of Good repute”. He is not interested in any commission
as he has already finished “Richard II” and is currently working on the sequel, “Richard III” both
of which went on to be best sellers I believe.

OK, so if you want to try this at home, cabaret, or to impress management for free food and
beverages, these are the items you will need (usually available from fine dining kitchens)

One large knife
Kitchen Mop
Metal vegetable collander
Table Cloth …. any color
Metal Lid with handle from servery Hot Plate

Now using the archive photographs use props to dress accordingly.

So now, armed with your new knowledge, ….. When Simon asks you to sing and you normally
decline saying “But I don’t Sing” you are now in a position to add “BUT I DO, DO CABARET”

HERE WE GO……..    enter stage left or right……

 T’was on the field of Sal-iis-berry
We had fought long and hard, this, many a day
(drop head…pause)
(Raise Head, gesture with knife)
EACH upon his own worthy charger,
EACH with his SW-war-d, laid naked from the scabbard,… and gleaming in the sun,
EACH with the Red Cross of St George upon his breast.
(pause for effect)
I didst look across that field of Sal-iis-berry and, in the far dis-tance dids’t espy a Hag
I didst urge on my worthy charger
(take care not to drop the mop as you shuffle forward)
Ho Hag! hast thou seen a gallant band of Knights,
EACH dressed as myself?
EACH upon his own worthy charger,
EACH with his SW-war-d laid naked from the scabbard,… and gleaming in the sun

EACH with the Red Cross of St George upon his breast
(pause)
Nay Sire, I hast not seen this Gallant Band of Knights, this many a day
(note audience response)
(find another female, more shuffling)
I didst come across the Gentle Lady Ann,

Prithy, Lady Ann, Hast thou seen a Gallant band of Knights,
EACH dressed as myself,
EACH upon his own worthy charger,
EACH with his SW-war-d, laid naked from the scabbard,… and gleaming in the sun
EACH with the Red Cross of St George upon his breast

She didst look, at me and grieve a most grievious heavy sigh, and didst say
Nay Sire
(pause, allow laughter to subside)
(while saying the following line, open knees allowing mop to fall on floor)
I didst get down from my worthy charger,
and didst gaze across that field of Sal-iis-berry
and didst say
(pause)
Well where the F*** have they Gone..?

This act has been presented in many Public Houses and fine Hotels throughout the United
Kingdom and Europe and has also toured the Falklands, North America, The Mediterranean,
Saudi Arabia and the Far East.

Thanks Bill

On location, even an “artiste” must sleep

From the Annals of Stupidity…………..sorry!

TONY DOWN

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THE OTHER ISLAND GUERNSEY 1972

THE OTHER ISLAND GUERNSEY 1972

THE OTHER ISLAND GUERNSEY 1972

 During the partying at Jersey in November 1971 the Guernsey Club members were trying to
persuade us (the RAF) to come their Island for a trials team competition in early 1972. Nobody
was at all keen on that night crossing by sea so I borrowed the last Valetta C1 piston engined
transport and the game was on.

The press met us on arrival and once again we were made to feel very welcome by all. Guernsey
is traditionally a “market Garden” community with thousands of acres of greenhouses which
produce flowers year round and the famous tomatoes which are exported all round Europe. As
we flew into the Island the devastation of last November’s storm was still evident where the gale
force winds had ripped through the greenhouses scattering glass all round the Island.

The trial was organised as a 1 Day affair for the Fuel Suppliers Trophy and was a morning and
afternoon event on the Sunday. Saturday was spent touring the Island, looking at the damage
and finding a lot of potential sections, and enjoying a lot of quaint little pubs that the tour guides
had planned in the route.

Bucktrouts has the sign and the awning out front

A quick aside, to mention Bucktrouts, who were a major company in the Island owning all manner
of things but one that I shall always remember them for was that they had a distillers license and
could bottle under their own brand name. They had a magnificent building overlooking the harbour
in St Peterport, and if you were lucky enough to be invited for a wine tasting it would start in this
room with the big bay window. Later you would be invited to take the lift which took you down to
the cellars below sea level. They were beautifully furnished with all the bins along the sidewalls
with bottles of Chateau Mindblower and prices to match! Anyhooo, when the Island was invaded
by the Germans they put all their best wines at the back of one of these cellars and bricked it up.
The Germans never discovered the false wall and after the war no one remembered it either. About
1970’ish during a clean up it was discovered/remembered and reopened. Apart from all the superb
wines there was a barrel of Jamacian white rum that must have arrived around 1939/40 and had
been sitting there unmolested for 30 years. The white rum had taken on a yellowish hue from the
barrel and was duly bottled and sold during the 70’s and 80’s as “Liberation Rum”.The RAF Battle
of Britain Flight has one bottle at RAF Coningsby in Lincs. The contents are still the same color but
the last time I saw the bottle the top appeared to have been tampered with?

With all the touristy things done and a bit of practice along the route we are ready for the trial on
Sunday. Well organised and laid out everybody had a great time and the variety of sections was
mindblowing, giant climbs, mudholes, nadgery, rocks on the beach, sand, and long meanders
through the heather and root strew hillsides.

No! it’s the picture not the WHEEL!!!….. dam those Akronts are Crap!

The event was won and lost around the back of the airfield in a giant mudhole behind a pile of
tires. Ted Thompson and I had been riding round together and it was neck and neck with me
holding a slight advantage. The mudhole was one of those deep black ruts that come all the way
up to the axle. All the lines through the swamp had been explored but it still seemed to favor the
slot on the last lap. I dropped in and managed to power through with a lot of arse wiggling and
took a dab on the tree root pile on the uphill exit. Ted wasn’t quite so lucky and took an earlier
dab but his boot got stuck in the goo and came off and despite some frantic centipede work his
little legs weren’t long enough and he ended up with a five and a lost boot!

Overall we finished with 3 in the top 4 but the rest of the team went to pieces either through
alcohol abuse or inability or both.

We will be back!

Tony Down

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GUERNSEY REVISITED 1975

GUERNSEY REVISITED 1975

GUERNSEY REVISITED 1975

After the first RAF v Guernsey Team Trial things seemed to slide with various problems but with
some new faces the event was resurrected  in 1975 and time to do it again, unt ziz time zer will
be no prizzzoners!

I can’t get my hands on the old Valetta any more so now I have to charm the C130 crowd at RAF
Lyneham. Normally when a military aircraft uses a civilian airfield the RAF gets charged for all the
services, but in this case as several of the Guernsey trials riders work at the airfield they can swing
the charges, and I can persuade the Hercules boys that they can shoot some approaches and
even land at an airfield they don’t normally go to, a classic win, win situation.

  So as everybody is happy we leave on the Friday lunchtime and in less than 2 hours we are on
the Island of Guernsey. The press is there and they make quite a spectacle of the whole thing
and promise to be around for the event over the weekend. This time it’s a 2 day with both days
added together for the overall result.

A Real Steep Climb in the Heather Day1

On both days there were crowds everywhere, a bit like the “Tour de France” and radio and TV
were also making the most of it, on reflection a great shame that events like the Scottish never
attracted the same degree of media attention, but there again Guernsey is almost a “family”
island. Don’t knock it, enjoy!

Usual mixture of great sections with a lot of variety and no excuses of, I don’t like this, or this
because just like the weather, the next one is completely different! Rocks on the beach, rocks up
on the headland, sandy climbs under some trees right beside the beach road, tree roots and steep
climbs through the heather and of course a handful of mud holes to make it a “real” trial.

Lots of fun wining and dining on Friday and Saturday nights, and then a whole new set of
sections on Sunday. My memories of all of the sections are somewhat clouded but as I have a
Trophy with my name on it I guess I must have won?….. and this time I believe we won the Team
prize but don’t quote me.

Day 2 Hey, I’m getting Good on this Heather!

Tony Down

If you are an AHRMA member don’t forget to check the early November articles for some of the
2006 and 2007 events, and if you were there then you might be on  www.trialsphoto.com

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FURTHER UP THE MOUNTAIN

FURTHER UP THE MOUNTAIN

FURTHER UP THE MOUNTAIN

The Grey Bits are Still British!

 Now 2/3rds of the way through my first tour in Cyprus and enjoying life to the full (with the
exception of no trials riding) a group of us had just spent a week on Mt Troodos skiing and drinking.
Back to the reality of work and the heat of Cyprus in April I get a phone call late in the month from
my Wing Commander.

At this time “spoofing” (the art of convincing someone that what you are saying is true, a bit like
a year long April fools day) is all the rage. I take the phone call and the other end announces
that it is Wing Commander King, a voice I know one of my best friends can “do”

” Tony, he says, I’m pleased to tell you, you have been selected to attend such and such Ski
Instructor’s Course”
“Thank you Sir, and by the way Stu, stop ….ing about!”
At lunchtime I pass the Wing Commander coming out of the Mess and give him the standard
salute which he returns but just glares at me….. strange man!

A week later an official service letter arrives in my “in tray” with all the usual preamble;
Flying Officer A.M.Down has been selected to attend no; 12345 etc Ski Instructor’s Course in the
Lebanon between the 28th May 1968 and 21 June 1968 etc etc. I think to myself this is a very
clever “spoof” but I’ll pretend I’m not taken in and think how I can arrange a bigger and better
one! ….. Who ever heard of skiing in JUNE, and in the Mediterranean? ….. and on what sand
dunes?

The Cedars Resort Lebanon

A couple of days later and my Boss says “Congratulations” but I’m still convinced that Stu has
taken him in as well and just applying a bit more to the game. Another week goes by and then
another official letter with travel instructions and airline tickets from Nicosia to Beirut arrives. Well
if this “is” a spoof the boys are going to a lot of trouble. Same day another guy rings up from one
of the other Squadrons, apparently he is going too….or is he?

Nicosia Airport, now Defunct!

Nicosia Airport after the War

The first weekend is spent in Beirut, cocktail party at the British Ambassador’s, closing down a
beach Chalet courtesy of the US Embassy and night 3 a trip to Casino du Lebanon some 20 miles
up the coast. A very full and entertaining weekend of which the highlight just had to be the Casino.
Our driver arrives and whisks us up the coast and on arrival we are treated like Royalty and
ushered to a front row table by the stage where the cabaret will be after dinner. A very nice meal
with copious ammounts of wine, then the cabaret opens with the full cast of  “singing in the rain”
……. at that point the ceiling opens and the deluge comes down from the overhead pipes striking
the splash tray behind the plants on the edge of the stage…… the backlash covers the entire front
row of the audience!

The Mystery Cedar ?

Monday morning and a small bus collects us, complete with headache, from our hotel and soon
we are on our way to our unknown destination. We meander up through the hills looking at all the hillside “bench” farming and marvel at the clever use of the land. After a short sleep I awake and we
are now in an area where there has been snow…. a little later we disappear into an ice tunnel and
about an hour later, still in the tunnel, we stop. The driver turns off the engine and motions us to
get out. He points to the wall and we climb the ice steps and emerge into brilliant sunshine…… I
doubt I will ever forget the sight……….. over to my left there are some wheels about eigtheen
inches off the snow and cables, dead ahead there is the top of something that looks like an
upturned V. Closer inspection reveals the wheels are the lift!…… and the upturned V is the top of
the hotel and they have TWENTY TWO FEET OF SNOW!!!!!

We Walked to the Top of the Ridge

The following day the course starts with our 2 instructors, one Norwegian who refuses to speak
English, and the other a Lebanese Army Officer who speaks Arabic and pigeon french….. ffff
fantastic! Yes, we can use the lift and then we walk to the top of the mountain and start from
there. So standing with one leg either side of the ridge its on with the skis, and hey ho! follow me,
“more benz zee kneezs” We keep this up all morning on the bullet hard ridged ice until about 11
when it softens a little and we get 2 hours of respectable skiing before, the 70+ temps degenerate
the snow into slush and is like skiing in a sugar bowl! No more skiing, so back to the hotel roof
and drinking starts with some very attractive sights of guests in bikinis and ski boots! just think
only 3 more weeks of this at Her Majesty’s Expense.

Here they Are! All 40 of Them!

Well in my Bible there was much talk of “The Cedars of Lebanon” and it’s their national flag, and
this place is called the “Cedars Resort”, so summoning up all my schoolboy french and a lot of
pointing I try and discover where all these famed trees are. Our Lebanese Captain waved his ski
pole down the valley to the village below where there was a copse of trees “C’est tout!”  so………
all that’s left is a 40 strong copse and the Army have a camp there to protect them!!!

3 weeks later we are back in Cyprus.

40 Years Later, Demonstrating the “TRUE” Parallel.

Tony Down

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THE CHANNEL ISLANDS – JERSEY 1971

THE CHANNEL ISLANDS – JERSEY 1971

THE CHANNEL ISLANDS  JERSEY 1971

  Every year on the second weekend of November while the rest of the UK has Remberance
Sunday the Island of Jersey hosts a 2 Day Trial. Jersey is the biggest of the 3 main Islands that
comprise The Channel Islands the others being Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.

Each Island has it’s own character but they all share an affinity to the UK which they refer to as
the Mainland. As they were occupied for a large part of World War II it is rather strange that they
don’t observe Rememberance Sunday, but there again as your main hospital is underground and
was built by the Germans you pehaps don’t need reminding.

1971 and we decide to give the event a go so 6 of us arrive at Weymouth, Dorset and after
watching our machines being craned into the hold we set off to the seafront bars as the ship does
not sail until midnight. Suitably tanked up we arrive back at the ship around 11 at night and head
straight for the bar as its dam cold and very windy. The bar is fairly busy and of course there are
plenty of other riders also on the crossing. Beer and stories flow freely and with British Rail efficiency
the ferry eases out into the harbour on time. We all gaze out of the bar windows and can’t help but
notice that the lights seem to be moving a fair bit!

As we creep past the end of the breakwater all hell breaks loose as beer mugs, ash trays, and
assorted glasses career up and down the bar, just grab one as it goes by and catch a full one the
next time round. Well this should be good for 7 hours! By 1 in the morning the barman has to close
as the loss rate of breaking bottles and glassware is exceeding his profit margin even at duty free
prices. People return to their seats or to anything that isn’t moving, some are already throwing up
and others are changing color to match the British Rail seating.By now the crew have disappeared
leaving us to our own devices as we crash through the mountainous seas. Every now and then we
crash down into a trough and it feels like the ship stops dead as all the batwing doors open and
close with a der,der,der,der.

Some time later, and no doubt still full of pop, Ted Thompson, Dickie Clears and myself link arms
and waddle our way to the rear of the vessel for a peek outside…… what a sight! a huge bowl of
water below and around us with the  wind howling and whitecaps everywhere and distant lights
of the shoreline behind us, then suddenly its all gone as we crash down into another hole in the
ocean and the props come completely out of the water and you can hear the engines screaming
as the props spin in air, huuuuummmmm, this does not look good!

At 8 o’clock in the morning in the pouring rain and mist LAND HO! and we round a headland and
there amid a mass of white thrashing water is the Island of Guernsey where we are supposed to
dock before our final stop in Jersey. We wait like a surfer and then you can hear the engines come
to full power as they try to line up on a big one and ride it into the harbor. Nice idea and 10 out of
10 for effort but after 3 attempts the Captain gives up and announces to all that we are going on
to Jersey and arrangements will be made for the Guernsey passengers.

So without more ado we set off for the big Island and fortunately we are in the lee so we can get
in and unload. 3 hours late but at least we are here and the local clubmen greet us and ferry our
luggage to our respective hotels. Strange people? they all have french names and talk like
Australians?

The trial gets under way somewhat late and the rain has stopped but the gale is still blowing. For
such a small Island they have an immense ammount of trials land from natural rock sections on the
coast and beach, leafy climbs and gulleys and a host of muddy woodland to make up the rest. After
the trip the trial was very relaxing apart from one section which everyone got a 5 on. You rode
down through the woods and as you did so huge balls of snow about cricketball/baseball size kept
coming through the trees and hitting you. Never seen anything like this and it was only when you
stopped to walk the section that you could grab one of these things which then disolved in your
hands as it was just bubbles! JEP! Giant bubbles of foam blowing in off the sea, and we were
1 mile inland!!!

The section where everyone got a “5” consisted of a downhill on the cliff riding head on into the
balls of foam, then a left turn on the cliff before the uphill climb. No one could make the turn! The
moment you turned crosswind the force of the gale just slammed you sideways into the rock face
no matter how much body english was applied, although I did see one local lad apply too much just
as a lull arrived and he toppled over the other way!

Later on having finished the day’s run we stopped at a local establishment to take on some liquid,
and of course as color, other than green, was returning to peoples faces a warm by the pub fire
and a pint or two was the order of the day. The excitement of the trial, cheating Davey Jones, and
the duty free booze was overtaking common sense and so was nightfall! At around 6 p.m. all 10
of us (I think) stumbled outside to find it was pitch black!

So, nothing for it let’s see if we can find the hotel, off we go down dark country lanes with no
lights, weaving our way through corners and as limited night vision picks up so does the speed!
Coming into one village we zip past some poor woman with her dog who must have thought it was
“The Horsemen of the Apocalpyse” as 10 noisey 2-strokes howled by.

Homeward Bound!

Later the local clubman entertain us in time honored fashion and then bed on something that
didn’t rock. Day 2 was enjoyable with sections that rivalled National standards but overall a great
trial. Another party night and then its time for that boat again! Well at least it is daylight and now
the sea is calmer, just a huge rolling swell. We make it back to the Mainland vowing never to go
back……. well, at least not by BOAT!

TONY DOWN

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  • 12/5/2007 7:34 AM Outlaw Dave wrote:
    Great story about the Ferry ride – back in 1963, My wife & myself had a similar horror trip from Calais to Dover – We were returning from a Motorcycle holiday in Italy. – As in your account, everything went cool at the start – In the bar having my first pint of “Red Barrel” after two weeks of European beer & wine – Fantastic – However I soon realized that most people were deserting the bar ( Including my wife) I can still remember the sound of the ship juddering as it corkscrewed and pitched through the huge waves – ( I was hanging on to my wife so that she wouldn’t fall overboard) – On landing in Dover we were told it had been the worst crossing for 20 years, and all the glasses in the bar were broken – (I know because I went back to look for my pint) – We were first off the ferry on the Norton – pouring rain – down the road to the first Hotel – Standing dripping in the Lobby we were told by some snobby bastard that ” We are sorry Sir, we are full” I guess our Barbour Suits didn’t fit in with the usual Class. – Luckily we found a B&B around the corner who treated us like Royalty, and the next morning the weather was sunny and dry.
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THE BULTACO YEARS

THE BULTACO YEARS

THE BULTACO YEARS

At the end of the Season with all the “Goodies”

 After 3 years on the Montesa, and now good friends with Geoff Chandler of Wasp and Bultaco
fame its time for a change as the grass is always greener….

I load up the faithful beast and set off the 40 miles or so to New Milton, Hants where there is a
man who knows something about the marque. Sammy invites me to “Start her up then”
which I do……

Gerding..Ding.. Ding says the piston as it wanders it’s way up and down the barrel “Jeeees,
that’ll never seize then!” says the Maestro, and with that the deal is done and I’m away with
my big box containing a new 250 Sherpa T (we bought them in kit form for a couple of years to
avoid the taxes)

Very Neat and Slim! Bike’s not Bad Either

Home and unpack and build, this really is a cracking bike, and so narrow. No funny tailpipe on the
originals it just swept down and finished by your right boot. Everything else about the bike felt
right and within no time I was enjoying a lot of success and having a great time. Of all the trials
bikes I have ever ridden I think this model suited me best and was also the one on which I had my
best results….. Yes, it does amaze me that I haven’t rebuilt one yet.

I do remember that the ignition had to be just so and I spent many hours ensuring that I was
spot on at 4 before!

During it’s lifespan I had the frame nickel plated (7.00 GBP) in those days, went through some
color changes, fitted a Mikuni (pretty revolutionary for 1972) those awful black Vulcan mudguards
that shattered on impact! and a set of Geoff Chandler Renthalls along with some very fancy
Magura levers. Also had the Hommerlite alloy tank for the 72 Scottish as we didn’t think the stock
tank would make it across the moors. Finish off with some special Girlings.

Trials, Hillclimb, Enduro and a School in Cyprus

During this period I had managed to convince the RAF that we should fly to some of the trials
venues and we enjoyed trips out to both Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands and also
took a C130 Hercules out to Cyprus in the Mediterrenean where Jon Tye was flying Vulcans and
actively promoting trials. I think 1972 was the year when I spent 9 weeks motorcycling “On Duty”.

One of my Favourites, Coalasnacoan 1972 SSDT

The 1972 Scottish was a breeze and the bike never missed a beat and I enjoyed probably my
easiest ride round the famous event. Of course it might also have been something to do with
some added maturity, experience and a sprinkling of common sense so often lacking in youth!

A very rare photo of the Hi-Boy 325

With the advent of the “325” and the “Miller Hi-Boy”, well we just HAVE TO HAVE one of those.
MISTAKE, I could not ride the thing for love or money. Sure it was powerful, but sounded like it
was about to fall apart and rattled like a 2 year old worn campaigner. It looked wonderful with
the bright nickel frame, extra ground clearance, the one piece solid alloy bash plate and the
distinctive green and white tank. All that glitters is not Gold, and the Hi-Boy frame had that extra
footrest height which constantly proved a problem on big drops and very tight turns.
Strangely enough I had a similar experience for the first 8 months of this year while trying to
relearn how to ride the Tiger Cub. It too had a fascinating habit of allowing me to inspect the
front wheel spindle while in the section and after 4 “A over T’s” Brenda noticed my stance was
“off” and so putting 2 and now “4” together the SM footrests are now 2 inches back and Down!

We learn , but painfully slowly.

TONY DOWN

One month in , 60 articles in the bag!
If you want to hear about something let me know.

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  • 12/2/2007 6:33 PM Steveo wrote:
    It’s a treat your sharing your trials history,photo’s and all.Very well laid out and written,being somewhat computer challenged,I can well appreciate how much work this must have been to sort it all out,first rate job and thanks for the sharing! Steve
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BACK TO TRIALS

BACK TO TRIALS

BACK TO TRIALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PipeLine Day 1 1970 SSDT

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

TONY DOWN

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

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