Telford 2015. Another great show.

Is it really a year since  I last posted about Telford? Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself. Alan Wright’s highly regarded Dirt Bike show was last year acquired by motorcycle publishing house Morton’s who appear to be achieving total world domination of UK classic bike events. Any fears they would somehow spoil or interfere with this popular regional show have been totally unfounded. Morton’s applied a commendably light touch to their administration of the show and Wrighty’s informal spirit lived on in the 2015 event. From an exhibitors point of view Morton’s PR and promotional clout can only be a good thing and from where I stood on stand 23, Hall 3 the show seemed better than ever.

Telford 1

Centre piece on the AdventureRide stand was a 1964 D.O.T. kindly loaned to us by Derek Hertzog from my home town of Altrincham.  It provided a nice bit of eye candy for the stand and drew a lot of comments. If you’re not familiar with the D.O.T. motorcycle brand they were a Manchester based factory who established a reputation for building , amongst other things, decent clubmen’s bikes for off road sport. Whilst not exactly giant killers, a D.O.T. could be a very handy tool in the hands of an experienced national class rider and could often give more exotic works bikes a run for their money.

The D.O.T. had been restored by my chum Pete Priest, who kindly turned out for the second year in succession to lend a hand. For some years now Pete has built a fine reputation for classic bike paintwork and a number of his customer’s bikes have won concours awards. Pete is also a very fine mechanic, campaigning a very potent Commando in hillclimbs and sprints.  He’s now moving the focus of his business into mechanical work and full restorations see http://www.priestbikepaint.co.uk

Pete, or Father Pete as we like to call him, hears yet another confession from one of his flock

Pete

Adjacent to the AdventureRide stand was my mate Nigel Land with his unfeasibly clean TLR Hondas. Nigel specialises in restoring these lovely little Honda trials bikes and has established himself as one of the countries leading TLR restorers. Nigel’s secret , which he confided over a coffee, was to source low mileage donor bikes directly from Japan, bring them in and then totally strip and rebuild them. Having built one or two bikes myself over the years  I understand the logic of sourcing the best possible donor bike possible. It saves money in the long run and you end up with a bike which is as close to a new one as you can achieve.

As you can see from the pic, Nigel’s work is uncompromising and of the highest quality, check him out on http://www.trl-transformations.co.uk

Nigel’s TLR, ’tis indeed a thing of great beauty

TLR

The rest of the show was the usual mix of race and off road bikes, club stands and traders . Guest of honour was Mick Grant, who of course straddles both camps being a hugely talented road racer as well as a very good trials rider, especially on classic stuff. I’ve bumped into Mick on a couple of occasions when doing trials and he’s a very affable bloke always willing to have a bit of banter. One of the great things about motorcycling is our heroes are often so accessible. Mick was handing out the concours awards.

Gritty Yorkshireman more used to receiving trophies than handing them out.

Mick grant

One of the bikes which caught my eye at the show was this intriguing thing badged as a Rhind Tutt Wasp. Was it just sporting the tank off a wasp outfit or was it a solo built by Rhind Tutt? Sadly I didn’t have time to check out the details but it looked an interesting bike nonetheless.

wasp

Oner of my favourite bikes which I see from time to time is Steve Gard’s superb Jawa ISDT bike. I came across Steve with his bike at the Carlisle centenary ISDT celebrations in 2013 [if you scroll to the early posts on this blog you can read all about it]. To me , this bike sums up the heyday of the ISDT era and is in wonderfully original preserved condition, which is just the way I like ’em. Of all the nice bikes at the show this is the one I’d like to have bundled into the back of the van when no-one was looking.

It’s a real shame the ISDT morphed into the ISDE and somehow lost its character. I suppose it was inevitable with the development of modern dirt bikes but for me the ISDT will always be defined by  two strokes, twin shocks and Barbour suits.

Jawa

Wasp badgeJames

This year Telford was good for AdventureRide and I feel the business has now firmly found its feet. The light and easy to ride Pamperas on the AdventureRide fleet and the novice-friendly terrain around Shropshire make it an ideal experience for first time trail riders. We’re now concentrating our efforts on encouraging new comers to try off-roading and the majority of our customers are usually very experienced road riders who have little or no off road experience. A number of female riders came on to the stand at Telford and asked to sit on the Pamperas we had on display. A lot of riders, especially girls, are intimidated by the sheer height of modern trail bikes and the Pampera is a refreshing antidote to those who don’t need 12″ of suspension travel.

After an busy weekend at Telford it was good to be able to kick back and have a relaxing day out with a group of TRF riders. By way of a change I’d advertised a ride out suitable for larger machines or novice riders and was surprised to find all six quickly places quickly filled, obviously there’s a niche there…

Once on the trail it became clear none of the riders were novices, they were simply guys who , like me, don’t necessarily want an intense , white knuckle experience every time they go out. We had a very relaxed day avoiding the more technical trails and instead concentrating on the longer , elevated drover’s trails in the borders. Trail riding doesn’t get much better, here’s a few pics.

Tim making a splash on a well known brand of orange bike

Tim , forest

Big country, little bikes. The group threads its  way along Adstone Rise.

Big Country

Hugh Clearly, a TRF stalwart and tireless rights of way campaigner, shows a bit of trials stylee negotiating deep ruts on the Kerry Ridgeway

Hugh water splash

Smiley riders, always a good sign. Jason clearly enjoying himself on his XR400

Jason smiles

Smiley walkers, an even better sign!

smiler walkers

Will turned up on an impossibly clean KLX 250. Needless to say we soon sorted that out.

will, forest

Little Britain , on the A49 between Craven Arms and Church Stretton. The best bacon butties this side of the Onny river. A Michelin-starred diner if ever there was one.

left to right : Hugh, James, Will, Jason, Craig and Tim

LB

The tremendous weight of James’ BMW caused this sink hole to appear in Bucknell woods.Fortunately I was there to record the moment on camera.

BMW , forest

Better late than never…

I came across this article whilst trawling through some stuff I’d written for Classic Bike last year. It’s an event report from the superb ISDT Centenary celebrations held in Carlisle last August. I’d entered the event on my Bultaco but due to space limitations and copy deadlines the report never made it to press which is a shame because there were some very interesting bikes and people at the event. So, a bit late perhaps , but here it is.

Carlisle ISDT Centenary.

The centenary ISDT celebration in Carlisle had an appropriately international flavour with entrants from France, Germany, Holland, Scotland and Wales . They had turned out to celebrate the famous event by re-tracing riding the route of the original competitors who had set off from Carlisle almost exactly 100 years earlier. The anniversary celebrations were the brainchild of the irrepressible Dot and Jim Jones, well known personalities in the off road world. Dot and Jim had piggy-backed the Centenary ride onto a three day enduro hosted by Rallymoto and the paddock was packed full of exotic rally raid machinery sharing pit space with classic ISDT bikes dating from 1913 right up to the early 1980s. The organisers had won the enthusiastic support of Carlisle town council and riders were waved off by the Mayor of Carlisle as they threaded their way out of the town and headed out to the Lake District. Of course most of the original route is now tarmac but in on some of the more remote routes through the fells and on the occasional green lane riders were able to sample the scenery and roads experienced by the early pioneers of the International Six days Trial.

1913 980cc Trump

Local lad David Miller from Wigton brought along his 1913 Trump to represent the pioneering days of the ISDT. His heroic exploits on the Trump won the admiration of all who witnessed his take-no-prisoners riding style on the sporty looking V-twin. The Trump is direct drive, devoid of clutch or gears and with marginal brakes. If you stop, you stall and bump starting the long legged 980cc Jap sidevalve is a tricky business. Not such a problem on the wide open fell roads but definitely an issue when the centenary entrants passed through the places Keswick crowded with sightseers and weekend traffic. David’s technique was to maintain forward motion at all costs and his fearless filtering past slow moving traffic was a masterclass in how to ride vintage machinery .

Trump

1975 Jawa Team bikes

Works Jawas are like late night buses- you wait ages to see one and then three come along at once. Steve Gard had travelled up to Carlisle from London and brought with him three Jawa team bikes from the 1975 Isle of Man event including John May’s gold medal winning 250cc machine [number 3]. Steve’s machines represent the heyday of the Czech factories involvement in the ISDT and in their day these purposeful looking machines were in the elite of long distance competiton machinery. Steve is shown holding bike number 234, a 360cc, brother in law Nick Morris is with 228 which is a 350cc machine and Paul Howard is riding John May’s medal winning machine displaying its ISDT original number 3 .

Jawas 2

1913 Campion 500cc

Bob Ashwin from Evesham was riding his 1913 Campion. Powered by the ubiquitous 500cc JAP driving a 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub gear Bob’s bike also sports a cleverly fabricated hand cranked starting device which he made himself, “ It’s not an original unit but at least it’s Campionish, I’ve had the bike about 3 years and this year is the first time I’ve had it on the road and so far the experience has been trying”. Bob’s testing times with the Campion were to continue and sadly the bike threw its hand in a few miles from the start. Fortunately he has a trusty Royal Enfield rigid ready and waiting in the paddock and went on to complete the event.

Campion

Campion hand crank

1980 SWM 370 GS

Frenchman Philippe Vandewalle’s superb SWM 370cc G/S1 was representing the hairy era of the ISDT when much emphasis was placed on the bike and rider’s performance in the motocross style special test. These big bore two strokes don’t suffer fools gladly and when asked about the performance of the Italian thoroughbred Philippe replied “ C’est fantastique, I’ve added a gasket to reduce the compression and the bike is superb to ride with good torque and an easy power delivery.”

Philippe, a well known competitor in the classic off road scene, runs the popular website www.oldknobblies.com devoted to classic enduro machines. He was taking it easy on the Centenary event having crashed the SWM in the previous day’s enduro sustaining a wrist injury.

SWM 370

1969 Cheney 500cc

There were nine original Cheney Triumphs on the event and this example , ridden by John Cart of Stratford ,was particularly good example sporting some interesting period features. “I’ve owned it for twenty years and when I originally bought it the bike had been used by its owner in one day trials. It’s got the original Cheney yokes and forks which are quite unusual and hard to find, in fact John Cheney spotted them and asked me if I wanted to sell the yokes! It’s also got a set of original Rickman hubs fitted. This particular bike wasn’t a team bike or anything like that, it’s just one of the bikes which were offered for sale at the time” An ex motocross man, John has used the Cheney in the Red Marley hillclimb and it shares his garage with a variety of Triumph twins including a 350 trials iron and a Tiger 100.

Cheney Triumph

1956 AJS 350 MCS

A number of the bikes on the event had genuine ISDT provenance and this nicely turned out AJS 16 MCS owned by Jeremy main of Oxford had participated in the event during its history. Jeremy bought the bike two years ago and hadn’t ridden the bike until the Centenary event. The competition version of Plumstead’s single was a popular clubmans mount in the 1950’s , the bike becoming popular after works rider Hugh Viney famously won the Scottish Six day three times in a row in the post war years. Jeremy seemed very pleased with the Plumstead single on its first outing and is pictured here at the final checkpoint of the day.

AJS

If you’re interested in ISDT stuff you really have to check out http://www.speedtracktales.com  It’s an incredibly comprehensive archive of ISDT material , superbly written and extremely well laid out. If you need to check any facts or research any history regarding the ISDT this is the place to go. One of my favourite websites!