Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Creuse 4 Day Trial

Boogied over to nearby Sardent last Saturday on the Transalp with Georgie to watch the '4 Days of the Creuse Trial'. Held in beautiful countryside with boulder-strewn sections and enjoyable routes along forest and riverside pathways (a different course on each of the four days - must take a hell of a lot of organising), this impressive trial featured around 300 riders of which about 60 or more had travelled over from Britain to compete. Apparently many of these Brits make it an annual pilgrimage to ride in this trial, as do various other Europeans including Spaniards, Italians, Germans and, of course, Frenchies.

As it's not a world or national championship trial the sections don't have to be ridiculously difficult in order to cater for the top 'works' riders. Consequently, each section is laid out with three routes to cater for riders of differing abilities: easy, medium and hard. Mind you, on our section (section 9, just outside Sardent village) the easy route didn't look that easy to me! And, as for the hard route that featured a near vertical climb up a 10 feet high granite rock face, well, it looked impossible. However, the local champion flew up for a 'clean', as did Andy Cripps from Rochdale (a dead-ringer for Keith Lemon) on his 250 Sherco after bellowing a wonderfully apt expletive in his broad Mancunian accent on confronting the rock for the first time.

 Fortunately the locals probably weren't familiar with all the effin' and blindin' that pierced the quiet of the woods with alarming frequency in thick Lancastrian, Yorkshire and cockney accents as riders battled their way to the 'ends' cards. Other European riders probably expressed themselves in a similar manner but, not being fluent in foreign lingos, I couldn't say for sure.

As this was the first trial I'd been to for ages, years actually, I was particularly interested in the bikes, most of which were recent offerings from manufacturers such as Montesa, GasGas and Sherco. As I'm an old fogey whose primary interest is in pre-'65 old bangers and twinshocks, I have to admit to not paying much attention to how far modern trials machinery has advanced in recent years. As a result, I was really impressed by their lightness, monoeuverability and quicknes of response to braking and accelleration. They seemed a whole lot easier to ride than the trials bikes of old. Good fun too.

This got me thinking...

Having recently sold my Greeves, I'm now left with just one trials bike: a 350 Ariel. It's a magnificent steed and ideally suited to pre-'65 trials, both in France and the UK. Trouble is, most of the French events are miles away in the Alps and Pyrenees, and the UK events are even further away, so I'm unlikely to ever ride again if I keep this bike. Realistically, the bike's just an ornamental investment which, let's face it, is never again going to be used for purpose while it remains in my ownership. Thinks... time for change?

350 Ariel

There and then, while being surrounded by modern engineering masterpieces that danced over rocks in a manner that left me gobsmacked, I decided to sell my beloved Ariel, buy a 300 Sherco (or maybe a 250 Repsol Montesa), join the organising trials club (St. Christophe) and enter next year's event doing the gentlemen's route (easier sections). So that's my plan. Ariel currently on eBay and Sherco search on-going on the leboncoin site. Might have to practice bellowing a few Scottish expletives. Should be fun. P.S. - Am now being tempted by the GasGas Raga Replica so I've added a couple of pics.

300 Sherco                            250 Repsol Montesa
2013 GasGas Raga Replica


  1. Out with the old and in with the new so easily? Poor Ariel.
    I thought new brooms sweep clean but the old ones know the corners better.
    I wish you luck in finding just the right bike for your new adventure in biking trials on the gentlemen's route.

  2. Sounds like a fun time ahead. I wouldn't mind two wheels again. I used to have a Honda 50, because I could step through it to sit rather than cocking my leg. I always wore skirts, and flinging one's leg over the bike seemed not quite lady like thing to do. I am not sure, however, that should I ever get two wheels, that I would venture forth on roads which are not relatively flat and straight!

  3. That trial sounded a lotta fun.

    Modern trialers remind me of circus tricksters.

    I often spot roadside posters advertising local moto-cross meetings in my neck of the woods near les 3 lacs.

    Have you sampled any of these?