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Event Report – Training Day 130920

All photos courtesy of Roger Kenyon

Following the very successful and enjoyable training day for Inters and Clubman on the 16th August, the club were able to arrange an additional session for Beginners and Clubman who wanted to improve their skills further.

Below is a set of reports kindly provided by Martyn and Gavin and photos by RogerKenyon.

Martyn Humphreys

I arrived for the Beginners/Novice training day a full 24 hours early, that’s how keen/desperate I was. So having realized my mistake I’d either got a long lonely wait and be very early or I come back tomorrow. I messaged Geoff to explain what a plank I am and that I couldn’t get my bike to the venue on Sunday. No problem says Geoff, come anyway.

I am so glad I turned up, even attending a training day without a bike worked for me; the Aqueduct Team as usual were spot on, ever friendly, welcoming and effortlessly creating a very special environment for those attending their events; people today of all ages and ability.

Pen-Y-Graig has so much to offer, great to build experience. Arriving without a bike turned out not so bad; having the option to sit, listen and watch the delivery and participation of training sessions worked out perfect for me. The size of the groups today certainly seemed beneficial; I think there were two groups of ten-ish. Come the afternoon a bike became available and Russ offered me the use of his Montesa,…

Brilliant. I spent the afternoon learning the Montesa, I think it was a 250, very positive, very forgiving, very different from the TY’s and TLR I’d been using. I went back to the early sections Russ and Mark had laid out and repeated their sessions, starting with the Figure of Eights, by now quite muddy, the Montesa rode very sweet, the front end sometimes gently washing out in the mud, but having listened and watched the mornings sessions it was good to put into practice the body position and balance techniques the guys had spoken about, the front wheel slightly washing out was manageable, another new experience.

Moving on from the Figure of Eights I gave the white sections ago, again I was really surprised how confident you could be with the Montesa, ample power when needed and good useable engine braking. I’m now quite pleased, I’d just completed my first section, albeit White.

Completing the second section as well really boosted my confidence. Back to the beginning and this time giving the yellows ago, again, I am really pleased, another success; the guidance and instruction given by the guys throughout the day had been spot on.

Having just a couple of hours riding in the company of these guys has certainly improved my humble ability, I’m confident others will agree, sitting there at the end of the day watching the last practice session there were beaming tired content faces everywhere, the youngsters were doing laps and loving it, Russ was fine tuning to the end, taking that extra time with the youth riders to hone their skills and provide memorable life experiences.

A Good Day. Many many thanks for your time and patience, just the right pace for me…Oh, and the bike.


Arriving at the venue selected for the training day, seeing all the vans and trailers with sweet smell of 2 stroke engines in the air just gets the blood flowing. With it being the first time at a trials event after lock down it just made everything seem back to normal. After signing on and grouping up at the bottom of the quarry, we were asked to ride in a figure of 8 between 2 logs while one of the instructors watched us, this was done to work out the level of the riders abilities as the training day caters for all riders some of which where attending for the first time at an event, as throughout the day it was done in a relaxed and unpressured environment, I feel is consistent within any aspect of trails whether competing or just at a practice day everyone always wants you to enjoy yourself and help you improve.

Once the groups had been figured out we followed the instructors Moz and Jimmy , to the first section of the day we would be working on, the section had been set out with white, yellow, green, blue and red routes, I normally ride the yellow routes so I choose to first have a walk of that, while walking through it with Dave we both started looking at the green route and both switched to ride the green routes, as we were walking through our instructors gave us advice on which lines they would take and which areas to watch out for, as it worked out the two instructors had different lines from each other which I thought was brilliant for learning as everyone is different so to get two opinions helped me see there’s not just one line.  After I had 2 rides though there was one area where I was spinning out on an causing me to either take a dab or completely taking both my feet of the pegs, the area was on a off camber incline straight after a sharp left turn, with the ground in this area being loose stone I was just loosing grip, while I was riding the section Moz had been carefully watching letting me try it twice and then stopping to have a quick chat, he showed me how I needed to slow down take the sharp left at a wider angle in which to give me time to open the throttle to give a little blip before starting the incline, then to roll off the throttle to tickle it up the rest.  

We then moved onto the next section which had some nice features in it, come through the start sharp left, up a short but steep incline to then turn back on yourself back down to then ride over loose stone off camber area, with a slow turn right to the end gate. What I found with all the sections set out was that they all had a lot in such a short area absolutely fantastic, as for me it was taking that next step in my riding having more to remember and link together. Jimmy gave me some great advice he said that within the sections there will always be key areas in which to focus on and then the bits in between you can usually just ride through, this advice made me see the sections in a different light as I had always seen them as one where from Jimmy’s helpful advice it broke it down into more of a slower and manageable area which helps your mind focus instead of thinking of the whole section.

We then all regrouped for a spot of lunch an in which the learning carried on with Jimmy having a quick chat with us asking how we were finding the day and if we had any issues that he could help us with.

After lunch we moved onto the next section had a walk through but this time with all the hints and tips fresh in my mind, myself and Dave started to eye up the blue and red route we both agreed that we might as well have a go as where better to learn than to do it on the training day. The route took a lot more concentration I had to really think on every move I was making, I can’t remember how many times it took me till I was able to clean the section but what I can say is the smile on my face was absolutely huge I was grinning like a cheshire cat.

I was only able to reach being able to clean the red and blue section due to the ever so helpful advice and guidance from the instructors, I would highly recommend for everyone to take part in a training day because you can always learn something new.

Event Report – Training Day 160820

the dreaded Section 2… normally used as the Elite route but why not chuck some inters and clubman up it?

With Covid lockdown still limiting competetive events, the team at Aqueduct arranged a training day for Intermediate and Clubman route riders on Saturday 15th August 2020. Kindly hosted by Dan Clark and Ben Butterworth, approx 25 riders enjoyed a great days tuition. What was it like? Well read on…..

Ian Emery (Very capable Inter, rides the Kia rounds and really should know what he is doing by now….)

I was one of 10 in Dan Clark’s group. The first exercise in the clearing centred around two upright logs about 10ft apart and we were instructed to ride figures of 8 around then, practicing tight turns in both directions, whilst Dan studied our every movement. We all looked a bit bemused. Bit easy this, where’s a proper section? It soon became clear how important this was. Dan watched me have my go, stopped me, made me stand on the pegs whilst he held the bike upright. With a big smile he said “OK Ian, 4 things, you’re too upright, your bums not far enough back, your legs are too close together and you’re weighting the wrong footrest as you make the turn…..” I was a bit shocked but took it all in and quickly realised how right he was. 

The first section. Two routes, yellow as the main route, with a set of green flags to make it harder. The approach was up a rock strewn embankment with a 90 right dropping back down and along to a 180 U-turn up and round a camber to then cross the camber and peel gently right, up the hill and out at the top. The green route had a tight right turn here leaving little room to get settled for the steeper climb out. As I approached, the hardest thing for me was overriding my automatic pilot which had Dan shouting “remember your legs” as I made the turns. Through the big U-turn left I had to keep thinking right, right, right to make sure I put all my weight on that footrest as I made the left turn. Felt so alien but managed to clean OK. My first attempt at the hard route was clean until the tight turn before the climb when the front pushed out needing a big dab, then the rear gripped and with my body weight in the wrong place, I rode out of the section missing the markers. Dan said I’d leant into the turn too much hence the failure. Second attempt, Dan’s words in my head, I cleaned the section and it felt great. 

We moved on to section 2. There was Mark with a big smile to welcome us. ” Come and look at this green route lads!” A few of us walked to the edge where the green flags were and looked over at a near vertical 10ft drop made worse by a deep undercut part way down . I’m thinking no way am I going down that. ” Don’t worry, lads, you’ll be going up it! ” He wasn’t joking. The section consisted of three consecutive U-turns, undulating up and down as you went round them. Quite tight. Needed to switch auto pilot off again and concentrate on footrest weighting. The exit for yellow flags was to take the climb at 45 degrees to vertical with a request from Dan for a pivot turn right as you crested the top. I managed that, even getting the front wheel in the air and turning on the rear. I looked at the green route. It was so, so steep and very little room to get any traction, speed or momentum to get up it. Along with others I’d already decided it was too much for me. I was queuing for my second go at the yellows with alongside Moz. ” Go on Ian ” he said, ” I think you’ll fly up there. Have a go. Oh, and you can go before me.” A sucker for punishment, I’d worked out if I was going to do it I’d get more whoomph in 2nd as I felt 1st might be too low. But that needed a gear change which I managed after the first very tight U-turn, got great lines round the next two turns and flew at the climb using a kicker rock to lift the front. Dan and Simon stood at the top waiting to catch if required which was a great reassurance. I shot over the top with the front wheel in the air and needed a big dab to regain control.

this is the upper view of the picture at the top of this article

The rush of adrenaline hit me and I queued again ready for another go. Second go, I just couldn’t get a gear change in so I made the final turn in 1st and screamed it at the bank. Another big dab needed at the top along with helpful hands on my shoulders from the minders making sure I didn’t slip backwards. Third go, getting tired, 1st gear all the way, messed up the last turn, should have aborted but didn’t, flew up the climb at an angle and half way up the tree on the left. Thankful to Simon and Dan for catching the bike as I jumped off backwards luckily landing OK at the bottom. That was enough for me.  I was very happy to stop for lunch. 

The afternoon session had two more sections which were testing but a little less fraught. Both with tuition from Dan along the way.

Later that evening I checked the data my I-watch recorded and my heart rate went from a resting 60bpm to 3 spikes of 166bpm, averaging 119bpm for the session. I’m still buzzing about the day now as I write this and would like to repeat my thanks to everyone in the Club who made the day possible, to Dan and Ben for their words of wisdom, and to all the guys in my group for the great banter and laughs we had. Roll on the next one.

Rob Sloggett (Confident Clubman, regularly bottom 1/3 of Inters, happy to have a go at most things if there is someone to catch the bike…)

The day started with a look in the garage and me picking a bike. The Bultaco has just been rebuilt and I had ridden it a few times at Nant Ucha, but the Majesty was probably going to be my main competition bike once lockdown was lifted. It seemed sensible to take the Majesty and learn on that, but now having ridden some of the practice sessions it would have been great to see if the Bultaco would have got up section 2 (but more on that later!)

Arriving at the venue, it was nice to get that “buzz” of common minded riders enjoying a day out. It did not feel like a competition day but it had all the normal markings of an Aqueduct gathering. We had all been asked where possible to pre-enter to limit the Covid risk and it was great to see the norm of hand sanitiser and disposable pens just reminding us that we were operating under Covid guidlines.

But down to the teaching…. we all gathered at the lowest point of the quarry where Sec 1 is normally set up, to be met with 3 sets of “figure of eight” markers. The task was simple, split into small groups then each rider enters the zone, do 3 circuits of the figure and ride out. The kicker here was one simple adjustment to a lot of peoples learnt techniques. Focus on the outside leg on the turn and weight that foot. What was apparent is that most of us subconsciously weight our inner foot and keep the outer foot light. I could explain the physics of the difference as I worked it out in my head whilst waiting and once you get it you go “ahhhhhhh” but needless to say a lot of us have a lot of brain reprogramming to do and expect a lot of riders just at Nant Ucha or Swans doing endless 8’s for a while!

The rest of the day comprised of the group being split into 2 smaller groups (one with Ben and one with Dan) and for our group (Dan), we just slowly moved around 4 sections, each one having a moderate route and a challenging route, with Dan giving small adjustments to our technique and being there to spot on the harder parts (see Sec 2 below). If you are trying harder obstacles / techniques, especially when you are at clubman / inter level, the reassurance of a couple of good spotters to grab the bike gives you the confidence to attack the challenge knowing that it you get it wrong someone is there to get the bike leaving you to jump clear.

So why Sec 2? Well Aqueduct had used an element of this previously for the Elite route. The primary challenge was at the end of the section where after a left hand 180 change of direction, the harder challenge route presented about 10 ft in front of the final change of direction a bank. When I say bank, it stood 10 ft high, it was not flat, it had an undercut and it comprised in places of rocks (which moved). To the left of the top was a large tree but after the crest you had a clear run off.

Myself and Ian Emery walked the route and a number of us said “maybe not today”. I remembered having ridden it on my Beta Evo 200 a few times but that was a modern light bike that generally went where you pointed it. The ask now was a 35 year old twinshock weighing much more.

Dan demonstrated it on his Honda TLR, limited throttle, no effort, not a care in the world… yep older bikes will go up there…. go on then guys I will stand at the top and catch your bike and when you are ready…. have go….

First two attempts, I took the easier route, so instead of the wall, you continued left the rolled up up a gradual cambered bank arching right to the out cards.

Third time in, a few riders had tried the bank, so making it, some not. I was unsure. Entered the section in first, felt OK started to make the final turn where I had the option of the wall or the easier route, spotted forward, towards the wall, lined it up and launched it……….

Well the front wheel crested but as I had entered the section unsure, I was in first gear and it just did not have enough grunt to make the full climb BUT it was smooth, no surprises so next time select second and try again.

The next two efforts were epic, second gear had enough but my entry line toward the wall was just pointing me a little to the left so each time whilst I had drive and height, as it crested my front wheel was right by the tree. The spotters in all occasions made sure I was safe.

this is the upper view of the picture at the top of this article when it goes drastically wrong!

Final attempt, 2nd gear, line perfect, fired it up the bank in the sweet spot, front wheel crested lower and out for a clean.

Would the heavier Bultaco have got up there? Maybe. Would I have felt as confident as I did on the Majesty? Who knows. That is the enigma of this sport….. But it was great to see Dan grab my bike after my second failed attempt and effortlessly fire it up there…

So in summary what did I learn? Well I think there were a few things. Firstly we all have learnt behaviour and bad habits and sometimes you need someone to take you back to basics. Secondly, everyone can improve. You may not get it right first time, but small changes to technique, line and confidence slowly get you there.

Finally, its great to learn with others because when you watch someone either clean it or drop silly marks if validates at the end of the day its just a sport where we pitch ourselves and our bikes against a set of obstacles and if you are lucky you might move up a few places from where you normally end up, and actually for us in the lower ends of the grouping that is just as good as a win….

A huge thankyou for the Aqueduct team for having the vision and time to arrange this during these testing times and a huge thank you to Ben and Dan for being great coaches…. oh and finally whoever else was helping Dan spot on Sec 2, it was appreciated!

Event Report – Belgium Mons Pre 65 2 day International

The Aqueduct Team

Event Report by Paul Owen

Aqueduct classic riders Russell Jones, Kev Ellis and myself (Paul Owen) left at 4am on Friday to travel to Belgium. The weather forecast was not looking good but our spirits were high and the long journey was filled with fun and laughter and plenty of Facebook live videos.

We finally found our hotel and got settled in. The little town was very welcoming and the event was about 3 miles away.

 Saturday morning was cold and wet. We signed on for the trials and hill climb and went for a walk around the paddock to see some exotic bikes. My favourite was the indian twin furnished with wooden footpegs and side stand. The trial was all on banks with no rocks or stream sections in sight but the ground was slippy. Every section was challenging with steep inclines and tight turns. I believe there was over 110 riders and 2 classes with clubman and expert both being very good.

Saturday was 3 laps of 8 sections and we waited back at the start for the course to get cut up so we could get rear grip which worked on lap 1 but then we had a rain shower and it turned the sections into a mud bath and very slippy. Grip was there but throttle control had to be gentle as the rear would spin up as the gritty mud would grip but then lose all traction.

 Russell and Kev were at hand to help with great advice for me and my powerless bantam as they are more experienced riders than me on the big BSA Goldstar and the James/Francis Barnet. We were glad to see a nice warm hotel room that evening and we made a plan for Sunday to attack the course early as the rain was coming.

With 3 laps of 11 sections we were the first 3 away at the start in a slippy, greasy venue that felt like it was -10. The 3 of us stopped for 1 minute silence at 11am for Rememberance Sunday and our bikes had poppies next to our number boards.

 With new sections ahead we all rode well and dug deep to come away with great results . We also hung around for the hill climb.

I was first up on the rigid bantam and just looking at that hill was daunting for me. I made it up about the first 3rd of the hill. Kev was next up on the big lump of a Goldstar and fell just shy of the top. Russ made it up two 3rds of the hill on his James powered 2 stroke. The hill was suited for the big 4 stroke motors though.

We packed away and managed to get back across the channel that evening and home 3am on the Monday morning. All in all it was a great experiance for me with the lads and can’t wait for next year. The organisers were very welcoming, friendly and helping .

Results Saturday:

2nd pre-unit class, Kev.

2nd rigid class, Paul.

4th 2 stroke class, Russ Jones.

Results Sunday:

2nd pre-unit class. Kev Ellis.

1st rigid class, Paul Owen.

7th 2 stroke class. Russ Jones.