At the trial there was a good mix of machines, from brand new Montesa 4RTs to old BSAs and Triumphs. The Twinshock class provided a mix of mostly Fantics (my old ride) and Honda TLR200s; my TLR250 was the only one of its sort and given its originality (that is to say unrestored, barn-find presentation) it attracted a fair bit of attention from the other TLR owners.
Now, one thing I forgot to do was to go for a warm-up ride. Instead once I’d signed-on (£20 entry fee) I rode straight to the start and from there straight to the first section. Consequently after walking the section, I had no idea what gear to choose and no idea how the bike would turn, stop or go. And because of that I wobbled on an uphill off-camber turn and ended up footing out for a three. By the time I’d ridden to the next section I’d got a much better feel for the bike and for the rest of the day would have the confidence to trust in the bike and stay feet up through turns like that. In fact, for the next three visits to that first section I went clean each time.
Soon as I’d ridden that first section I had my feeling back for trials. I also quickly got a feel for the TLR, which was proving just a brilliant ride. In dry conditions it was quite happy to motor up even the steepest banks in first gear, with no clutch work and perfect traction. I’d picked the intermediate level from the three on offer (expert/intermediate/beginner) and this was ideal, technical enough to make you concentrate, not so extreme as to cause bike damage.
The TLR was in its element, I swear I was riding on autopilot as it was instinctive the way it tackled the sections. If in doubt, trust the bike – every time the TLR pulled through. The brakes were a bit rubbish but there was enough engine braking to compensate. The suspension front and rear was rubbish, too. The forks probably had no oil in them given the clunking I could hear going on. The shocks had spring but no obvious sense of damping, and they’d clang on full compression, too – and after a lap the right shock had no oil, evidenced by said oil now dripping all over the swing arm.
But the TLR didn’t care. I lost the odd dab on the second lap, and then – urgh – I missed a gate and so collected a five. But for the last two laps the TLR and I rode clean. In all we lost 11 marks. The class was won on three. And so the trials’ competitor’s brain went into action – if I’d only not missed that gate I’d have finished on six; if I had only practiced before that first section and taken a clean I’d have finished on three… and so on. Hey, I could have been a contender.