THE PRE 65 SILVER JUBILEE DAY 1
THE PRE 65 SILVER JUBILEE DAY 1
During the night the windows flew open, curtains thrashing and bashing with horizontal rain a bit like a
scene from Deadliest Catch but after battoning down a restful night was had. The morning saw little
change with pouring rain and a stiff 20 mph wind. Over breakfast Brenda wisely declines my invitation
to “go see a trial”………”Are you quite Mad??”
What to wear? Well clearly its going to be the BMW full rain suit, the red Sidis and the hopefully
waterproof socks and some “just in case” gloves. I set off for Kinlochleven and meander down the
side of the loch and as I approach the town the wind has stopped and the loch now has a mirror finish,
but of course it is still raining. Time to get organized and get the footwear on along with the last tools
for the bag. Dick arrives with a monster wrench for the backwheel nuts just in case I get a flat, lets hope
not, the idea of changing a tube in the pouring rain has little appeal this morning.
Waiting for the very wet start
A lot of looking at machinery as I wait for my start time and a few chats with old and new friends
including Mick and Jill, a blog reader from Canada, Sammy Miller and Bill Wilkinson.
Scrutineering took all of ten seconds and soon I’m up on the starter’s rostrum and ready for the off. The
rain continues but BMW’s finest keeps it on the outside and I’m away to the first sections at Loch Eilde
Quite a workout along the boggy and rocky trail to the sections but arrive in good order to see the
gushing water spilling over huge rocks. Well this certainly doesn’t look much like a Pre 65 section,
infact more like a “Sportsman” section at National level. I make it through the first couple of steps but
then turning for the last stages the wheel spins off a boulder and I’m left stuck on the crankcase for my
first 5 of the day. Well it was doable so lets try a little harder. Further up the hill I manage to creep
through 2 for my first clean and set off for the solo section at Mam Brec. This one is more to my liking
but the T-Rex stance causes problems and another 2 goes out the window on a section I should have
Actually cleaning Section 2
A pleasant ride round the old Mamore Road splashing through puddles and out on the moor to
Leacann Na Faire. 4 sections here in groups of 2 and once again I’m amazed at the severity of the
sections which even in dry conditions would be thrown out of any AHRMA event. The opener has a
deep water start then 2 rock steps onto a adverse rock slope with cascading water coming from a
narrow gap between 2 big rocks at the top, and then if you got that far, and many didn’t, drop into a pool
for a left, right, left in deep water and unknown boulders then finish the second sub with a step and
make it to the exit. Amazingly I’m up and through the gap and plunge into the pools of unknown and
manage to clean this one before hitting something pretty hard as I enter 2. The almighty underwater
bang has twisted the forks and knocked a big lump out of my left thumb and feels like someone has
hit my left shoulder with a sledge hammer….. hey, but this is fun and it’s raining even harder now!
3 & 4 in this group don’t look quite so bad but Scotland can make the best riders look like Novices if
you hit one rock badly. A good line up and a fairly easy clean in 3 but entering 4 the old worn tire is
struggling for grip and a couple of helping prods are required to get out.
A tough ride round to the next group along some rough muddy and rock strewn tracks with plenty of
traps for the unwary. The next 4 sections were a real struggle with the BSA and I’m getting really
annoyed with the riding position and the T-Rex stance. Meall Na Cruaidhe was not a favourite and
after getting through in a centipeed blur I did see one poor soul go over the bars in classic Scottish
style and ended up helmet under water for what seemed an eternity but on surfacing he laughed it off
with a big smile so on down through some very wet treacherous bogs to Coire Na Cruaidhe where the
river is in full flow and quite difficult to walk or pick any line. I sat and watched this for a while trying to
decide how the hell to attack it. It started with a vicious uphill from the peat bog over some jagged
rocks and then a wide turn on a flat slab in gushing white water turning back across the torrent to a big
step acting as a waterfall on the far side. If you could get over this then the rest and all of the second
sub was pot luck as all the rocks were submerged in 2 feet of water. Miraculously I cleaned the first
and then it became pure survival to keep it upright in the cascading torrent.
Getting back out of the river was also a challenge and while there saw some unlucky soul with a large
chunk of case missing and water pouring out of the clutch side. Believe it or not he finished with a
whole roll of Duck Tape sealing everything.
A lot of this to negotiate
Dam Wall was next on the menu and a tricky run across bottomless bogs trying to find a safe run
between the flags to stay on course. Only one “in to the top of the forks” here and I got it out using the
spoke by spoke trick. The Dam sections didn’t have the same volume of water and the first was pretty
simple by today’s standard. The second had a nasty narrow step after a wide turn in loose rubble and
water then a tight right hander with another step to the exit. I was going well until the last step when it
ran on and I went the wrong side of the marker.
Dam Wall 1 & 2 for a good clean here
Some interesting cross country eventually rejoining the old track from Altnafeadh in Glencoe and then
the run down to Pipeline. The rain is now torrential and the hillside is just a sea of umbrellas and
getting tricky to see the route. Slapshot from TC Fame is running the section and doing a great job as
I can’t see any of the Observers in the rain and mass of spectators. Set off with loads of power and
complete the first sub OK but the worn tire shows her age as I get into the second sub and as I attempt
the big step the BSA rears up and goes vertical on me and someone grabs the front wheel. I hang there
by the bars with nothing to put my foot on for what seems an eternity until I’m pulled sideways and
regain terra firma. Many thank yous to my saviour for not letting machine and somesay “rider” flip
backwards, turns out to be none other than Sammy Miller!
“Slapshot” in the Yellow controlling Pipeline
Back behind the start area and some “nearly” sections at Aluminium Works but struggle on
regardless to refueling and then out of town for the other loop of the south side off the loch.
First up Cnoc a Linnhe with its 4 subs and arrive at 3 ? Oh, well back we go and attack 1 & 2 which
nearly becomes a double but squander another 2 close to the ends card. Clean 3 and come to a
grinding chuff stop in 4. Back through the swampy bog to the main road and off to Pollock Hill to
collect yet another 5 ! A lot of side hilling through crankcase deep ruts and swamp and being close
to the back of the entry these ruts are real energy sappers. Arrive at Coire Sgoilte in good company with
Mick Andrews but can’t emulate his easy riding style and struggle through these .
Full flight on Coalasnacoan
Coalasncoan is next and in the past I’ve always done well on this one, and indeed it was going well
until the last turn by Camp 6 when turning for the final ascent “it” stopped and was a real pig to restart.
Jack Knoops was there to record “Rake’s progress” or lack of. While gazing down the loch it actually
stopped raining and while having another smoke I see some modern day bikes coming up the hill
………****!! these guys are backmarkers…… look at watch, it has Stopped!!! I now have 5 miles and 2
sections left to go in 11 minutes!
…. and then it stopped!……. are those Backmarkers ????
The BSA backfires on the overrun as I hammer down the road doing a little “Pipe Bluing” and then its
off road downhill through thick bog before crossing the burn and coming up the other side to the 2 solo
sections of Camas Na Muic. The first goes reasonably well until reaching the plateau close to the exit
when the front wheel goes the wrong side of a rock and puts me in a dead end situation. The last
section has a near vertical 3 foot exit across what was once a series of roots which have now all been
Out of there and blast back to Kinlochleven and the finish to pick up about a 20 min time penalty and
its now raining again. Park the bike in disgust and slosh off to the car to get out of these wet boots.
The drive back to the hotel is problematic as I can’t get my left arm up on the steering wheel to the 10
to 2 position! A very painfull left hand and shoulder sustained in the early going is now showing the
full force of the clout on the geriatric trials rider.
On arrival in the room I’m greeted with “How did it go?”
“NEVER EVER AGAIN…… EVER!!!” came the sad reply.
Some time later after an excellent shower and a few more pints of laughing bitter a beaten up trials
rider returns to normality, ….. of course if I had been on MY bike it would have been a different story.