Wednesday, May 11, 2011



G’Day Clubby and fellow Tragics: I rode my ’83 Tenere in the Philip Haydon Six Hour Trial at Tarlee, last weekend (Saturday, May 7), which was the first round of the SA Reliability Trial Championship. For those unfamiliar with reliability trials, they are a type of off-road endurance event ranging from six to 24 hours in duration. Public road transport sections are used to get competitors around the course to a variety of competition (paddock) sections on private-property. These competition sections are generally run cross-country and are timed to the second. No outside assistance is allowed during the event and you must carry all tools and spare that you might want.
The course was about 104km in length, with seven competitive sections ranging from two to 12km in length and two laps were to be ridden. The paddocks were typical of the Tarlee area: lightly wooded rocky hills, large gullies and creeks and like all Gawler MCC events, a couple of good sized mud holes. Because I was late getting my entry in, I ended up with number 118, which saw me start at 2:57pm, meaning that I would only just get the first lap in before dark.
I always find the start of the competition sections interesting. A lot of the riders blast away from the start with a full blown MX race start to try and shave every possible second off of their time. Myself, well I thank the control keeper for coming out and officiating, and then just ride off as if I was heading down the track looking for a latte and baguette. A few seconds lost at the start don’t make much difference to my times through the paddock sections.
Overall I had a great ride, the paddocks were challenging, but in no way difficult, so they were probably real easy for those on modern enduro bikes. The biggest problem for me was the Ténéré handled like a pig due to tight/dry steering head bearings (I had been meaning to regrease them for the past few months but just hadn’t got around to it, along with a lot of other maintenance and preparation work). This made it a real wrestling match in and out of the trees, especially early on when I had a near full tank of fuel.
On the second lap, the old girl started running poorly after riding through a mud hole in the fourth paddock section. I thought I had gotten a bit of water into the air box and pressed on thinking that it would clear up, but things never improved. I was barely able to get the engine to run much above 2,000rpm, and had absolutely no power. I didn’t bother stopping to look into the problem with it being dark and the bike being covered in mud, so I just pressed on and rode the rest of the lap, about 50km, slowly towards the finish.
I got stuck in a river crossing/mud hole in the second last paddock for about 10 to 15 minutes because the bike didn’t have enough power to pull itself up the bank, and it was too slippery for me to push. I ended up getting a bit of assistance from some spectators, which is totally against the rules, but again I didn’t think it would affect the results too much. Further into the paddock an even bigger mud hole had developed on another river crossing, and I chose to walk the bike across a bit downstream from the worst of it as there was no one around to help if I got stuck again.
After a long and slow last transport section I made it to the finish at about 9:45pm and I was presented with my finisher’s medallion after I passed through the final machine examination. All bikes are checked to ensure that they still comply with the road traffic rules and points are lost for things like broken mirrors, or lights that don’t work.
The provisional results have me placed 87 overall and second in Class M (Bikes pre-1990). So I beat four sidecar crews -- yes, people are mad enough to ride sidecars in these events, and the 10 people who DNFed.
On Sunday , when I stripped the bike to clean it I found a section at the rear of the air box had been broken off, possibly by a rock thrown up off the rear wheel, and this had allowed the airbox to basically fill up with mud, which explained the poor running. I also got around to fixing the steering head bearings, so hopefully it will handle a bit better for the next round!
-- Colin Jay, Ténéré Tragic #6

That's a great yarn, Colin, and congrats on taking the fight right up to the modern-day enduro bikes in the opening round of the SA reliability trials series! But, hey, I don't believe for a moment you would have been slack on your pre-ride maintenance?! What's happened?! You getting slack since the Tragics run?! I only have memories of your '83 running like a Swiss watch and a well oiled machine ... save for the oil pissing out on the ground and the sideplate melting against the muffler as you rolled into Hawker! Maybe you've been chasing too many lattes and baguettes and not spending enough time in the workshop?! We all look forward to your report from round two ... bring it on! And you will be lining up in the SA 24 Hour in July ... won't you?!
-- Clubby, Ténéré Tragic #1

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