The Townsend Trial by Irving Armstrong
It was a lovely spring morning when we left home to travel the 35 miles to Eden Hall, but what a shock when we arrived there - the previous evening there had been an enormous hail shower. I suffered flash backs to Colstons Farm 2005.
Geoff Pickup had done an excellent job on the previous afternoon, putting out 6 good hills in dry conditions. Because of the hailstorm, he could now be seen changing them. The tyre pressure for the day was free with a minimum of 2 p.s.i.
My start hill was Hill 1 which was a short blast up a very slippery hill, sharp left then a steep descent onto a level area, turning right to climb and traverse across the hill. Due to the conditions, in the first round everyone ground to a halt in the 7, 8, 9, area - only Mike Toulmin conquered this area to go on to score a 3.
Hill 2 was interesting (!) the start being a steep descent on soil, and with the effect of the hailstones, it was more like the descent on a ski jump. Going back up the hill there was a long traverse, most of the cars going across sideways, engines screaming, grinding to a halt at the 8 marker. Only two cars bettered this - Phil Yarwood and Mike Toulmin scoring 4 apiece. The hill had not improved any in Round two, 8 still being the bogey area, but Phil got through this again to a 4.
Hill 3 as with hill 2 started with a steep slippery descent on soil, but this hill was driving better . Even so, Richard Waterhouse was the only one to clear it. In round two no one cleared the hill but Neil McHardy, Richard Gibson and Tony Blair managed to score a 1.
Hill 4 - Geoff had made this fairly wide with a climb at an angle, then turning slightly as it continued to climb (one of those hills that makes you think it looks easy) but when you got to the bend, that was it, everyone scoring 7 or 8. In round two there was little improvement, and only Tony Blair achieved a very respectable 3.
Hill 5 - from the start it went over a rough section, onto a well used track, then a sharp turn onto another track. Another sharp, narrow turn up a steep step followed, which proved to be insurmountable, the best score being a 7 by Phil. For the second round, the gate was widened to allow a more diagonal approach. This allowed a good number of drivers to score a 2 but no clears.
Hill 6 This hill was marshalled by the dynamic Alston duo Denise and David Wright, the only two club members who had turned up with the sole intention of marshalling, and for that I thank them. This again was a very well laid out hill, a nice steady trickle climb but it had a narrow uphill bend at the 3 marker. This was as far as anyone got. For the second round the bend was opened slightly resulting in 6 clears.
And so to lunch. In the bottom of the quarry it had been quite warm, but as we returned to the paddock for a short lunch break we had the usual cold wind, and to show who was really in charge, a few hailstones for good measure. Phil was the lunchtime leader with 48; Richard Waterhouse second with 58.
After lunch Hill 1 had been opened up, and it had also dried out quite a lot allowing 5 clears, and 5 cleared in the final run of the day, but only Martin Grimwood and Barry Hogg cleared the hill on both runs.
Hill 2 had dried slightly but the traverse was still difficult. About half managed to overcome this, to score either 3 or 2. On the last run, the hill would still not surrender fully, the best score again being 2.
Hill 3 The start had been moved down to the road-side. This hill had also dried out, allowing Phil and Richard G. to clear. The hill continued to dry allowing 10 drivers to clear in the final round.
Hill 4 Although the hill had been opened up at the bend, only Neil McHardy managed to go round tp score a 4. In the last round 4 drivers went round the bend (!!) and scored a very good 3.
Hill 5 was also drier, but Richard Waterhouse was the only one to clear. In the last round the hill had the final say allowing no clears.
Hill 6 The dynamic duo had been at it again with their alterations, climbing higher and finishing with a few dog legs at the end. Phil was the only one to clear - everyone else got a 1, the only exception being me and I got a 2. On the final run there were 5 clears.
It was a hard day on the cars. Chris Hodgson was the first to retire, only completing one hill with a suspect clutch problem. Next to go was Peter Kilner with his recurring electrical problem.Two hills after lunch Chris Maries suffered prop shift failure. Only Chris would think of breaking down, in such a position, at the bottom of a steep hill next to the road. With Gordon and quad to the rescue, and all available hands pushing, with first aid lady Ginette as ballast on the back of Gordon's quad, we managed to get the car to level ground. Then, next to go was the double drive of Bob Packham and Jeff Armistead which had a steering arm break. The most timely breakdown must be John Hurst, the trial winner the last time at Eden Hall. John likes his money's worth, and did not suffer back axle failure until he was on his last hill.
Well done to all, thanks to Geoff for setting out such a challenging course, thanks to Gerald and Eva for all their hard work.