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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