BACK IN THE DAY….
A wonderful report of the first “welsh 2 day Enduro” event!
Well you may wonder how it all began, I know I was surprised to find that the First
Two Day Welsh Enduro was created by an English man from Gloucestershire, the course had 78 entries but only 68 starts! Day 2 nearly resulted in a competitor falling 250 ft down a sheer drop but being saved by a very fortunate tree stump and while all the men and machines are named, I am still to find out the name of the ‘female rider’ who fell!
The following is extracted from the 1951 programme:
First Welsh Two Day Trial 1951
P.F. Richards (347 A.J.S.) the Winner: H Tozer (499 B.S.A.) Makes Best Sidecar Performance
When the Mid-Wales Centre of the ACU was formed some six months ago, its newly appointed officials lost no time in coming to an ambitious decision which not only provided trials riders with a welcome opportunity to
complete in an event that was definitely different, but also provided a sure means of putting the Mid-Wales Centre well and truly on the map.
Building upon the germ of an idea contained is the Correspondence columns of The Motor Cycle a couple of years ago, the decision was to introduce a Welsh Two-Day Trial, centred upon hospitable Llandrindod Wells and offering all the added interest of enjoyment and social atmosphere which is inevitably provided by an event where competitors and officials are, as it were, housed together under one roof for a longer period than the few hours’ duration of the average modern one-day sporting trial.
Without question, the Mid-Wales officials were thinking along the right lines when considering such a venture and they put the seal of success upon the whole enterprise when they prevailed on the super trials organiser, H P Baughan, to come across from Gloucestershire and give them the benefit of his vast experience. Mr Baughan, as all will know, has been Clerk of the Course for the last two International Six Days’ Trial (held in Wales).
As might be expected, he brought with him more than his knowledge and experience. He influenced into the event that “friendly atmosphere and absence of officiousness” which, with complete justification, were promised in a footnote of the regulations. Unfortunately, however, he failed to bring with him quite enough of the fine weather usually associated with his Cotswold classics, though it must be admitted that there was a goodly amount of warm sunshine during the first day.
In any case, competitors were treated to an abundance of hospitality and good humour – not to mention the beauties of Welsh mountain scenery and the obvious pleasure that comes of riding along many miles of the old “International” route at exhilarating speeds. As an unexpected added attraction, the Secretary of the Trial was none other that the Beauty Queen of Llandrindod – confirmation of the belief that the Welsh do indeed think of everything.
An entry of 78 had been received (65 solos and 13 side-cars), and the widespread interest that this trial created is emphasised by the fact that almost a quarter of the entry came from the South-Eastern Centre. Of particular interest were the machines ridden by Hugh Winery and Jack Stocker – obviously prepared with more than half an eye on the year’s International Six Days’ Trial. Both were rear-sprung 500 cc twins (Viney’s of course, an AJS, and Stocker’s a Royal Enfield) and must have taken a deal of handling over some of the super-sporting sections included in the second days run. In this connection, however, it was notable that on the worst hill of all, the almost breathtakingly steep and rocky Kinsley, Viney and Stocker somehow contrived to come closer to success than anyone else!
Both machines had their exhaust pipes neatly merging into a single silencer – Stocker’s emitting a surprisingly subdued note despite an almost complete absence of any “baffling”. The AJS had a tool-box effectively converted into an air-filter (with gauze-covered holes in the lid); and a feature of the Enfield which at once caught the eye was the twin front brake – two complete sets of drums, shoes and cables, operated by a single lever. Extra anchors for extra weigh – a sound policy!
Among the ten non-starters, unfortunately, was Fred Rist – entered on a 500 cc BSA twin in “International” trim; and other notable absentees were Bill Nicholson and Arthur Humphries. However, there was still quite a smattering of trade riders – and more than a smattering of familiar “International” gadgets such as a nail-catchers, air bottles, and so on. “Rather like the ISDT – but without the tension”! Commented Viney at the start on Friday morning, and, indeed, there were many aspects of the Welsh Two-day Trial calculated to remind competitors of last September – except that the sun was shining!
Promptly at his scheduled time, the first man – A. Knowles (346 Royal Enfield) rode sedately out of the spacious Gun Park behind Llandrindod’s Drill Hall and set out upon the first stage of his 135 mile journey. Within the minutes came a double acceleration test (a story of “go, stop, go” affair which called for a deal of forethought), then competitors went on to the Tyn-yr-Ynn check some ten miles farther on. Between here and the next time check, St. Harman, several riders overshot a side turning and continued for many miles before realising their mistake. Jack Stocker lost five marks for late arrival at St. Harman as a result.
On this same stretch of the course, was the first observed section of the day. This was a long, shale-littered ascent near Rhayader with a very considerable drop on the left-hand side (the cause of over-cautious tactics on the part of some competitors) and a muddy patch near the summit, where riders of the calibre of AW Burnard (347 Matchless) came to an unexpected standstill. The fastest climb was surely that of Jack Stocker, for probably his twin was over geared for “plonk” tactics; and Viney was little slower.
For sidecars, the hill was alarming, though just possible. Closest to an unpenalised ascent was the climb of veteran FH Whittle. His 600cc Panther outfit carried him strongly to within a few yards of the “Ends” card, when a lifting side-car wheel called for hasty footwork and a loss of three marks. F.Wilkins (297 Ariel sc) got even farther before a very unfortunate stop brought a groan of sympathy from onlookers; Harold Tozer came to a standstill early in the fourth sub-section – as did GL Buck (497 Ariel sc).
Within a mile, a tricky stream-crossing with a boggy approach (Nanty Sarn) caught a considerably greater number than had the much more awe-inspiring Tyn-yr-Ynn. K Heanes (346 Royal Enfield), youngest rider in the trial, dropped one mark for a single touch here, and David Tye (348 BSA) was probably surprised to find he had retained a clean sheet in the deceptively deep mud. Sidecars, rather remarkably, fared better than the majority of solos, though in any case it was not really a difficult section and was ideally suited to the first day (allegedly more concerned with tight time schedules than with steep hills).
Between here and the lunch stop at Tregaron, 19 year old GL Jackson all but rammed a sheep with his 498 cc Matchless – and fell while taking “avoiding action”. A few well aimed kicks undid most of the damage to his front fork, but within another mile, he broke his primary chain. Despite these misfortunes he checked in at Tregaron on time – an extremely praiseworthy performance for a rider wholly unfamiliar with “International” type of going.
After Lunch, an increasingly rough stretch of road led ultimately to the Shon Cattis check (“Too rocky for inclusion in the I.S.D.T.” – by Mr. Baughan’s own admission)!, then on via slightly less tight checks at Cynhordy and Llangammarch to the third and last observed section of the day – a very easy ascent known at Troed-y-Rhiw.
For Solos, it was a gift, only one man losing marks. Sidecars had a very different story to tell, however, and only Harold Tozer (499 BSA sc) was clean through all four subsections. Wilkins looked like equalling Tozer’s feat but up-ended the outfit when his rear wheel found sudden and unexpected grip near the top. His lady passenger was flung out rather forcibly on the grass, but no damage was sustained by person or vehicle, and the gallant team were soon under way again.
Twenty more miles of fairly easy going, and competitors were back at Llandrindod for a brake test (in which PF Hammond made the best performance on a combined figure of merit for time and distance) A brief stop to purchase oil cost Tozer one mark for late arrival at the finish check, but he was still comfortably ahead of his nearest rival.
Saturday’s run started with a 15 minutes’ allowance for checking over machines (which has been locked away “in control” immediately after the previous evening’s finish) and a start test a la I.S.D.T. (engines to be started within 30 seconds). It was dull and overcast, and not long after riders had reached Llwyncutta, the second observed section, a sharp shower made the going decidedly slippery and washed away much of the brightness of the red dye used for course-marking (course-marking, incidentally, which came in for high praise).
This second section, a muddy track in the corner of a field, caught a surprising number. Perhaps the most unfortunate was Frank Wilkins, whose engine stopped when the corner of the coat got sucked into the air intake. Even more surprising, in a different way, was the hasty dab indulged in by MM Vinson (347 Matchless) on the exceedingly simple section at Llwyngwilliam – for Vinson was one of the select ten riders who had contrived to retain clean sheets throughout the first day’s run.
Shortly after the lunch stop at Presteign, a muddy track known as Warden dashed the hopes of many a good man – even such experts as David Tye came to an unexpected halt. And by the time Kinsley was reached, there remained only three clean sheets, those of JV Brittain (356 Royal Enfield), RW Peacock (347 AJS), and PF Hammond (498 Triumph) – indeed a story of the Ten Little Nigger Boys!
What of Kinsley itself? There can be few finer hills anywhere in Great Britain, and it is not to be wondered at that in the past the local clubs have never dared to do more than observe it in a downwards direction! A slimy uphill approach leads to a right-hand hairpin (complete with awkwardly placed rock stop on the apex), and from there the track becomes even more steep and rocky until a pitch of near impossibility is achieved just short of the summit.
To cap all, there is an almost vertical drop of between 200 and 300 feet from the very edge of the track down to the roofs of Knighton below. Half the population of this sleepy little Welsh market town seemed to line the upper reaches of the hill, but if they expected to witness a non-stop ascent they were doomed to disappointment.
Three riders, A Knowles and JV Brittain (both on 346 Royal Enfields) and PF Richards – the ultimate winner – managed the hairpin without penalty, but none could keep moving through the last of the four sub-sections. Some really tremendous onslaughts were made on the hill, notably those of Stocker, Hammond, HR Kemp (346 Royal Enfield), Richards, Burnard, and 17 year old K Heanes. High Viney’s performance was perhaps the most meritorious of all. Certainly the most thrilling was that of David Tye, whose 348 cc BSA disappeared abruptly over the right-hand edge and was saved from a 250ft drop by a most opportune tree-stump!
Obviously undaunted by this alarming experience, Tye put up the outstanding show on the next hill – the Devil’s Chair – a long and muddy ascent which formed the final obstacle in what had without question been an extremely sporting 109 miles.
On a one-day trial, Saturday’s route was sufficient to remain for many years in the memories of the 58 brave spirits who still remained at the finish, and, couples with the less arduous activities of Friday, there is no doubt that the success of this initial venture has established the Welsh Two-day Trial as a very desirable event indeed.