Four months after it all began we could legally cross the bridge back to Wales, and as luck would have it the sun came out again.
Old friend, and landowner of one of my old practice venues, James Bowers dropped me a message out of the blue a couple of weeks ago for a chat and also invited me back to have a play in his woodland. The location has been used for the Mitchell Trial around 8 years ago, but was also the place that i dislocated my knee for the first and worst time!
Its a lovely wooded valley venue with a fairly wide rocky stream running all the way down, probably my favourite place that i’ve ever ridden.
James reported that bikes haven’t been in there for trials for around 5 years so he will come down with chainsaw to open the paths up a bit. Having a spare old Beta Techno sitting at home meant i could provide him with a bit of transport for the day!
My travelling companion was kamikaze pilot Francisco, armed with his newly acquired SWM. It’s been no secret that i think its the wrong bike for him as he likes to use revs, speed and blind optimism to attack everything … he had a nice 300 Montesa 4rt a year ago that suited him but he thinks having a big heavy twinshock will calm him down a bit… nope, didn’t 😉
Being the first time out for him since lock-down he started out calmly, and only fell off twice on the way down into the stream ! But as soon as we got there and he saw the climbs that was it, great efforts and impressive star-jumps off the bike were the order of the day.
I have been out a couple of times since we were allowed too, but this was the first time i wanted to actually ride sections rather than just bumble around. You can’t ask for a better venue to give you a range of things to do so you can build up confidence. But i love playing in the rocky stream and spent most of my time there, or watching for low flying SWM parts coming my way!
Towards the end of the day we stopped to do some photos, and i set out a tricky section for him that finished with a little step for photographic reasons … as he approached it the SWM started to sound like a cement mixer!! It was stopped quickly, allowed to cool and upon starting again it still sounded terrible, and was rumbling and rattling away … something wasn’t right. After another cool down period we managed to get it out of the woods and back to the van … and to our surprise were handed a cider and a plate and we sat down with James’ family for a BBQ ! Lovely.
The next day i took the barrel off the SWM to try and discover what may be the issue, turns out he may have had a partial seize-up and also i found several mounting bolts that had rattled loose which i think made the rumbling sound worse! Sadly, although the bike looked good from a few paces away, we keep discovering that some things were done for looks rather than performance. It’s been an ongoing discovery!!
A new piston kit, with an enduro two ring piston, and a rebore hopefully will sort it. Francisco will have to remember that he is riding a 40 year old bike that was not designed for the more modern “rev rev, go” style and i think that this may have brought that home … time will tell 🙂
A great day out with Francisco as always, and a huge thanks to James and his family … should be visiting there many more times from now on.