What do you mean -‘Oi’?!

My second Trial of the winter was planned for early February but was cancelled due to the heavy snow which covered most of the country during the week. So we had a bit of a wait until Sunday 24th Feb and were back to Alvanley, Nr Frodsham for a Cheshire Youth Trial Club event. I dug out the trusty Beta Techo again, three kicks and it started. My slight lack of maintenance on the bike is almost embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong  – I always wash and oil the bike after each event but aside from that I basically wait for something to break and then fix it! In a wave of enthusiasm I decided to check the gear oil just before the event started. This revealed a hopeless lack of lubricating fluid (oops!) so a dash to the trade van on site and a hasty oil change followed. 200cc came out and nearly 400cc went back in! Before signing on I had a walk down to check out the sections and decide which level of difficulty route I was going to tackle. 15 years ago, when I used to regularly compete, I got to the giddy heights of “intermediate” and rode in the hardest route. I’m not bad at trials but was never going to “make it”. In my come back I’ve only ever ridden in the middle route of three, but reckoned having had a few successful events that I could have a go at the hard route again.

So back to Sunday, I wandered down into the wood and walked a few of the marked sections, deciding that I was up for a challenge I was about ready to head back to the van and sign on. From the corner of my eye I spotted a couple of young (15 year old?) lads with walking gear on peering down into the valley where I was. “Oi” came a shout, to which I didn’t even raise an eyebrow, “Oi!” it came again. “Oi, what’s this?” – a final question from 30 yards away. At this point I decided that, as the adult in the situation, I needed to administer some correctional advice. “Oi?” I replied, “What the hell is that? Shall we start with Good Morning?!”. “Oh, sorry, good morning, what’s this?” came the apologetic reply. I went on to explain that there was a motorcycle trial about to start etc etc. On the walk back to the van I had to chuckle to myself what an old git I was turning into. Ten years ago it wouldn’t have bothered me that some kids addressed anyone in this fashion. Suddenly I find myself annoyed by rudeness, what’s happened to me?

So the trial got underway, it was fairly dry, the sections were on the whole tight and twisty. I was happy with how I was riding and seemed to be doing reasonably well considering the step up I’d made. I struggled with a section over some rocks, always a nemesis of mine. In the area where I grew up and rode trials, sections over rocks were a rare occurrence hence my issues over this terrain. Aside from that the event went well except, since the gearbox oil was now full, the Beta was smoking like an Aston in a James Bond movie. I reckon it’s got a leaking crank seal so will have to dig in and actually carry out some maintenance on the old girl. The results came out that evening to reveal that I was 6th (out of 12 in class) and dropped 28 marks. Not a bad result for a part time off roader.

After the trial, young Ted wanted to have a ride on his Oset electric trials bike, so we took him across to a quiet bit of the ground and he was happily riding up and down in the woods. With a little aid from me downhill – he’s still not great with the brakes – he was managing to get up and over a mound taller than his head in the finish. Going great guns and really enjoying himself. A young lad, who I later found out was eight years old, appeared on a Yamaha TY80. Ted and I pulled aside as the kid looked a little unsteady, his Dad was standing by but not right alongside him. Jo and Ann were stood about 20 feet from where Ted and I had parked up. The lad came up and over the same mound that Ted had been riding over, lost control at the top and headed straight for Jo. She put her hands out and braced herself against the handlebars stopping the TY80 at her feet with the front wheel between her legs. The rider, who was slightly out of his depth, was now sat on the bike with the clutch out and rear wheel turning, Jo was holding the bike from going anywhere. All of this happened in around a second, the kid panics and hits the throttle, the bike rears up, he falls off the back and Jo still sitting astride the front wheel gets lifted off the ground and thrown head first over the rear mudguard. Initially winded and shocked she stayed down for a good ten minutes, we were all concerned with her having a history of back problems that this could have aggravated something. Once to her feet we helped her back to the van and Ann gave her a lift home. Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage. Some healthy bruising to her left side and pulled muscles in her shoulder but we reckon she is going to survive. A pretty traumatic end to the day really! I told her that trials was loads safer than road racing, it appears that it is as long as you’re the one on the bike!!

Aside from this action preparation is going steady for the season. I’ve got the ZX6, have taken the engine out and sent it for a superstock tune to Mark Fisher of G&S Racing. This should be back in early March. The rest of the performance bits have arrived and are ready to fit, I just haven’t done it yet!! Ohlins suspension is due to arrive very shortly too so although the bike is basically a frame on wheels at the moment I’m not panicking yet. My first outing is planned for Thundersport GB over Easter weekend, so there’s still about 5 weeks to go! As my old mate Dave Hewson would say, what could possibly go wrong?

I’ve been keeping on top of my training, some indoor turbo training and the occasional venture out on the pushbike over the winter have kept me going. The weather is now starting to improve so I’m back up to around 100 miles a week, commuting, on the push bike again. This along with a winter watching what I’m eating sees me tipping the scales at 12 stone 2lb, which was pretty much my weight at birth too!

I’ll keep you all up to date and send some pictures as the bike takes shape.

Mackers #30

Ian Mackman