Two Manx Tales

Following a posting to last week’s column’s comment section that I never made any reference to the Manx Two Day Trial, this week I can put that to rights by making favourable remarks about the Classic Manx Two Day Trial which took place last weekend.

As far as I know, this was the14th running of the AMCA club’s Pre 65 and twinshock two day trial in the Isle of Man, an event that has grown in popularity in recent years to the extent that getting an entry is now a high priority for anybody who has a interest in the classic scene.

So what was I doing taking part, you may well ask, for as I have pointed out many times, the classic scene is not really my sport – I’m far too young
Let me explain. Blowing my own trumpet here, 2010 is the 45th anniversary of the first Manx Two Day in which I competed – I rode a 250 Royal Enfield Crusader trials in the 1965 event, and when I realised a couple of years ago that significant anniversaries were on the horizon, I decided that I wanted to ride a sidecar again, and to ride the Classic event. The sidecar ride happened last year, so this year it was the turn of the classic scene.
Thanks to the generosity of my good friend Michael Batty, I had the generous loan of the latest creation to emerge from the Batty workshop, the James that his eldest son Carl rides to such stunning effect, the machine in fact which Carl rode to victory in the National Twinshock Team Trial in July. So armed with competitive machinery, it was over to the Island again last weekend for the Manx Trials Club’s big event.

Quite simply, it was a fabulous trial. It was as well organised as any event can be, providing two days of great Manx trialing over sections that were simply ideal for Pre 65 and twinshock machines. Many of the groups were familiar to me, having ridden the better known Manx on both solos and a sidecar in recent years, but there were also a significant number of groups that were totally new to me, so in many respects it was a totally different trial to one that I could have expected.

The Pre 65 scene is a little unfamiliar to me, whilst I knew a great many folks, others were simply names that I knew of but had never met, suffice to say that the great sport of trials was as welcoming as ever and riding round with guys who ride Pre 65 all the time was a real eye-opener to the levels of ability and to the quality of the machinery.

Thankfully, I didn’t disgrace either myself or the machinery, and came home late on Sunday night delighted with the trial, the bike and reasonably content with my ride. I was never going to win it, but when every section looks cleanable to both my ability and the bike, then you have to say the trial was spot on.

Thanks for making me very welcome again to the Isle of Man, and rest assured, I shall return

Another rider who says he will return is the great Arthur Browning, possibly one of the best known names ever to have emerged from off-road bike sport. I shan’t chronicle all his records except to say for the past five decades he has been an exemplary performer in trials, scrambles, speedway, grass track, hill climbs, enduros and more recently classic road racing.

However last Wednesday in one of the Manx Grand Prix classic races, he came off. Let me relate his comments: “I was suffering problems with two riders, I was faster than them on corners, but as soon as there was a straight, they pulled away as they were much lighter than me. I got one of them over the mountain, and reckoned I could get the other before the Bungalow at the only left hander along the Verandah. I was flat out in top, probably doing 120, trying to pass him on the outside and clipped the bank. I was lucky to get away with that” said Arthur as he nursed an injured left leg spectating on Sunday at Snaefell Gully.

“So has it put you off?” I asked. Stupid question really to somebody with his record of achievements in bike sport, and no doubt that once the wrecked G50 Matchless is back together, Arthur Browning will be campaigning it as hard as ever.