December has quickly come around and this report checks into the last event of Aqueduct Classics 2016 Championship campaign and what an event it was. Last visited in June, the venue whilst starting off a bit chilly quickly warmed up as the 60 riders comprising of 24 Pre 65's, 16 Twinshocks, 9 Air Cooled Monos and 11 Modern bikes gathered at 11:00 for the off. A good split of 8 Elite riders, 22 riding the 50/50 route (to be renamed "Intermediate" for the 2017 series), 23 Clubman and 7 Beginners were offered the usual mix of 4 laps of 10 sections. And what a great set of routes they turned out to be!
This months event report is kindly contributed to by Ian Emery and Rob Sloggett.
Ian Emery (50/50) - Twinshock Ossa Gripper
A very cold start greeted the 60 riders at Plas Onn Farm which led to two immediate problems for me; firstly keeping the Gripper's engine hot enough to run cleanly and secondly keeping my fingers warm to grip the bars. Luckily a clever Spaniard designed an exhaust system that works as a hand warmer too. This report covers the "Green" or Intermediate route and how my day went.
Section 1 was testing starter. A run alongside the stream with a nasty drop in over rocks to then make a difficult right turn across the water, over algae coated rocks, to then climb the far bank, traverse a camber and drop back in higher up the flow. The first turn was the hardest bit with many riders losing grip especially on the first lap. Section 2 was even harder! A drop into the stream followed by a sweeping U-turn to then climb against the water flow, across a jumble of rocks all of which seemed to be in just the wrong place to allow a smooth line to be taken. Once past these obstacles a 90 left turn followed by a traverse across slippy exposed roots to then blast through a muddy speed-sapping bog before joining the stream again. A long section, with lots of technical difficulty, needing a lot of effort to clean. Great sense of achievement if you did. Section 3 had its sting at the beginning. Two left/right 90 degree turns into the narrow stream gulley with an awkwardly placed rock just catching the rear just as the front pushed against the far bank. Easy to lose momentum but once through, the climb across a mass of exposed roots to the ends was more straightforward than it looked.
Section 4 was a drop into the stream and a tight left turn on the far bank to then climb a rooty step, to be then faced with a clay bank and a swooping left turn across the camber to the ends. It all went wrong for me here when the Ossa spun out just after the roots leaving me feet-up but pointing in totally the wrong direction. A "5" ! Not what I wanted with a Championship at stake. Section 5 was in the next stream cleverly using three parts of previously used sections to great effect. A steep drop on the turn into the stream, followed by a short blast up the far bank between two large boulders, to then cross a jumble of loose rocks, up a root step with a left turn, and then a right turn over a steep hump to join the adjacent stream with a long climb over a root step and loose rocks. Another really good section and easy to get into trouble.
Sections 6, 7 and 8 were in the stream just below the farm. Section 6 looked fairly innocuous when I walked it - a drop down several rock steps into the stream with a 90 right up a steep 7ft climb out into the field, a U-turn, back down again and up the far bank to the ends. What nearly caught me out was just how quickly the turn for the climb out appeared and several times I nearly overshot with the Ossa pulling sweetly from tick-over at the base of the climb. Section 7 resembled a zigzagging snake going back and to across the stream with each turn comprising a climb, a tight turn, and a steep drop back down, before repeating several times up the stream. The turns had to be made very quickly to stay inside the markers and each drop gave a sense of falling as I struggled to hold the bars. Section 8 was a drop in, tight left, and simple climb up the stream but several awkwardly placed rocks made things difficult. Sections 9 and 10 were in the higher part of the stream.
Section 9 cost me some marks. A gentle climb up the stream was followed by a tricky rock step ( very slippy on lap1) followed by a cross camber traverse before dropping back into the stream to turn left towards the ends. This drop back in always seemed to pull my front wheel onto two large rocks which cost me a big dab several times. Finally section 10, a nice flowing series of swooping turns up and down each bank with more grip than the exposed roots would suggest.
Overall, 10 great sections, each with their own challenges, and shows just how much thought was put in by the section-setters. A great finale to the Championship.
Rob Sloggett (50/50) – Air Cooled Mono TY
Why do we do this sport? I asked myself that as I fived my first section of the day. Then as I locked the rear brake (twice) stalling the engine and taking another two stupid fives on other sections over the first two laps, I asked myself the same question.
Then I approached Section 2 for the second lap, saw the challenge of gully and reminded myself "that's why".
Then the line I was totally uncomfortable with on Section 6 and tried an new approach made me realise that this sport of as much about the personal challenge as it is the results at the end of the day.
And that sort of sums up my competition (and my year). Ian has given a great review of the sections and we shared the same route (albeit different classes) so what can I add to this report? Well as I said for me the competition is about the personal challenge as much as the result and 2017 will be the year where I know where I am likely to end up and what a good improvement will look like, but what about those two sections mentioned above?
So Russ was looking after Section 2 and this was a great test of someone who is getting comfortable on the green route but offered enough to make you think and take the odd mark off you if you were not 100%. An angular left hand entrance into the gate fed you into an initial tight right hander feeding into a more open right hand arch but with some slippery roots and cambers. Across the gully and then feeding in with a left hand turn fired you up a probably 40 - 60 ft run with some nice texture of roots and rocks to keep the mind sharp. Peeling out of the gully right and up a bank then offered you a 100 deg left hand turn around a tree. A short run across a camber then fired you into a rutted gully which needed commitment of throttle and line to emerge clean. I think each run took the odd dab from me but a great challenging section which was well thought out.
Geoff looked after Section 6 and this was my nemesis. I have always attested to people who ask me about this sport that approaching a section is probably a blend of 60% technique and 40% mental attitude and when the section is slightly outside of your comfort zone, that 40% can really come into play. When I first walked this section my mind immediately said "five". I did not like the second obstacle. After entering off a high bank into the stream you were presented with a 90 degree right turn to fire up what (in my mind) was a formidable bank. So what did I do? First lap I pushed the boundaries of the route (literally) and instead of using the gully tried to capitalise on the opposite bank and using a wider arch to approach the climb. Needless to say my mind said "no" and I locked the rear wheel dropping in for an immediate 5. Lap 2 I walked the section again, watched a few riders and elected for a well planted dab to make the turn in the gully and ended up with what in my mind was an acceptable 2. The bank was not actually that formidable! The next 2 laps offered acceptable scores but has planted a seed in my mind of a scenario that in my next practice session I need to master.
This was a great way to finish off the year and as always a big thanks have got to go out to the landowners, organisers, club officials and observers.
Don't forget that our next event is on Sunday 15th January 2017 at Carrog Isa. This is the first round of the 2017 Club Championship.
Pre 65 Elite: Kev Ellis, BSA (26); Colin Fray, DOT (33)
Pre 65 50/50: Gary Shaw, Triumph (2); Roly Jones, Ariel (3); Paul Cook, DOT (7)
Pre 65 Clubman: Adrian Kent, Sprite (7); Roger Smith, BSA (7); Peter Cocking, BSA (9)
Twinshock Elite: Stephen Knight, Yamaha (19); Danny Littlehales, Fantic (19); Julian Price, Fantic (31)
Twinshock 50/50: Ian Emery, Ossa (18); Steve Blackburn, Montesa (27); Jeremy Sutton, Ossa (33)
Twinshock Clubman: Peter Elvidge, Bultaco (20); Keith Gush, Yamaha (23); Karl Kavanagh, Fantic (28)
Twinshock Beginner: Craig Fowler, Yamaha (47)
AC Mono 50/50: Gordon Wilson, Honda (9); Paul Cartwright, Beta (25); Martin Powell, Honda (30)
AC Mono Clubman: Neil Francis, Aprilla (10); Steve Blaxall, Fantic (35); Andy Steele, Yamaha (45)
AC Mono Beginner: Pete Thomas, Fantic (15); Chris Matthews, Fantic (92)
Modern Mono Elite: Vincent Brett, Beta (31)
Modern Mono 50/50: Declan Marsden, GasGas (26)
Modern Mono Clubman: Ken Willians, Montesa (21); Steven Creaser, GasGas (22); Mark Bill, Honda (22)
Modern Mono Beginners: Pete Rainsford, Montesa (32)