“This year our normal trials holidays were disrupted by the “greens” and old age on Ms. Coutard’s part. We had re organised the boat once so just decided to go and support Mike Fear who was riding in an international classic bike trial at Arbecy near Vessouls in France. On arriving we found Craig Mawlam taking the sun and sipping a beer which is always a good start to a weekends trialing. Craig immediately offered to lend me a bike and not surprisingly I immediately accepted.
The bike is a very rare possibly even unique model called a Kato, it turns out that it was the development machine of a kato San who was driving the development of Yamaha TY175 trials in Japan. It was a really well balanced and finished bike but not quite up to my (over) weight and size, we assumed that Kato san was about five foot two and weighed about 9 stones. Having not ridden a twin shock since they went out of fashion ( a long time ago!) it took me some time to realize that these bikes need to be ridden with more precise technique than modern bikes to get anything out of them (a department I seem to be progressively lacking in). The sections were long and very interesting, the days were long and HOT, Mikes No. 2 Cub melted just at the end of Saturday and it proved to be terminal wear on the oil pump. Despite working into late evening there was nothing to be done so Mike had to call it a day. As I had discovered the value of the bike by now and was starting to wilt by midday Sunday, I knocked it on the head before I did some irreparable damage to this lovely little bike that Craig had so generously let me ride. Big thank you to Craig and apologies for sneaking off in the night, we were worried about being bogged down in the field as it started raining hard in the early hours of Monday.
From there we motored on in convoy with Mike & Christine to get to a friends house in time to rest for a day before heading off for a Rando in Andorra. A Rando is general term for a ride in the great outdoors and boy did we have some great rides in Andorra. There is an official trials park in Andorra but we have a friend who lives there and he wanted to show us his playground! Andorra – the word originated from Endore, (Catalan for way) – as this tiny country apart from going around the sides is the only way to motor between France and Spain, not surprisingly it is effectively a series of passes and very deep valleys so the rides consisted of very steep climbs. Friday we did two tankfulls ; ca. 40km all off road and effectively continuous sections (certainly by our local standards) we got up to about 1800 metres. It was fantastic for all of us including Janet who struggled in a few places. Some of the views were breathtaking. In the evening we entertained Josep & Marie Jo (our Andorran friends) and got off to bed by 10 pm as we were planning the main event for Saturday.
Janet wisely decided that she would be better off shopping with Marie Jo and Joel so it was just the the fellas who set off at 9 am carrying 5 litres each of spare fuel and 3 litres each of water. The ride was to take us to a summit for lunch at 2,800m. (ca.8,500 feet!) altitude over a lateral distance of about 10 k. What a ride it turned out to be, I’ve done most rides talked about in trials circles but this was the ultimate test of trials bike and rider there were several sections ( and I mean sections) of several hundred metres where it was continuous rock steps and pivot turns. We got to the the summit by 1pm , finished the last of our water, ate our sandwich filled up with the last of our petrol and watched the wildlife; mountain goats, marmots, [do you readers know what a marmot is? Ed.] a herd of cattle & fortunately no bears.
We set off to find a herd of “wild” horses (let out to roam in summer months) we found them and in particular one who was stuck in a bog up to his shoulders. It had clearly been there for several days waiting to die and there was no way we could pull it out so we we finally persuaded it to drink (from Papys helmet) and set off to find a telephone signal, which we eventually did, and called the police who organized a helicopter rescue for this lucky beast. By now around 4.30 pm we were out of fuel. water, food and energy so we decided to retrace our steps back down. We finally got off the mountain and visited another friend of Josephs for fuel and water, this guy turns out to be a bike mad dentist who spends all his spare (and there was clearly plenty) cash on his bike collection; over 60 bikes including Ariels, BSA’s, Cubs, Ossa, Bultacos, Montesa’s etc etc all in concours condition. We had to leave him by 8pm as it was getting dark and we still had a tank full of fuel to get back to our campsite (for those who fill up every lap of our local trials a tank full is between 25/30 km). By time we had got home, scoffed some Pasta, changed my rear tyre (IRC’s can’t hack it in those conditions; mine was shot) it was time for bed as the Sunday ride was planned to be a doddle by comparison. Sunday we set off early again with Janet. 5 litres fuel each, food and water on our backs for our pleasant ride;….It turned out to be yet another “ride of deliverance” ending up with Josep feeling so guilty he sported a restaurant meal with plenty of drinks for 7 that evening. Later in the same holiday whilst riding in France we met another old friend who had just come home from a Rando on Corsica, 5 days guided through all the best mountain rides with support truck and hotels in evenings so you can guess what our plans for next year are?
Wow Chris! thanks for that – you are making a lot of people envious! Thanks for sharing your holiday with us. Our own European adventure this year didn’t involve any 2 or 4 wheel sport. But we did make a point of seeing the French Przewalski [wild] horses in their conservation reserve
Why was it good not to see bears? I don’t reckon they would have eaten you! I’m sure the brown bears are shy but what a wonderful thing it would be to see brown bears in the wild after they’ve nearly been hunted to death, or taken from the wild as cubs to be made to dance so their “owners” could make money. Fortunately public opinion now sees how cruel that was.
Back to 2 wheel sport. I’ve posted the Regs & Entry Form for the West Wilts Errington Cup Centre Championship Trial. Secretary Chris Kelly will be waiting for your Entry!