On September 17 I rode in the seventh and final round of the SA Reliability Trial Series, the Beryl Pearses Reliability Trial, which was run by the Clare MCC (my local club). It had been 18 years since the Clare MCC had run a reliability trial and everyone was eagerly looking forward to the event. The course comprised six competitive sections ranging from three to 10km in length spaced over a lap of 136km.
Once again I had entered on the trusty ’83 Ténéré, and in the spirit of the event I rode to the Main Control at the Clare Showground instead of putting the old girl on a trailer for the nine kilometre journey. I had drawn number 31, and was the first clubman rider out onto the course at 1:31pm, following hot on the heels of the Expert Solo riders. As I was still nursing a right boot full of broken toes from the Theo NixonTtrial at Mallala a month before, my plan was to just cruise around and enjoy a good day's riding.
The first paddock section was six kilometres in length, and started on a hill which gave a great view out over the section. Having arrived early into the start control I was able to watch a lot of the Expert Solos ride the section. Much of this section was flat-out over open pasture on the side of the hill, with the occasional twisty bit in and out of the gum trees around the creek in the bottom of the paddock. You know it is fast when you see and hear riders approaching turns tapped out in top gear. My riding was a bit more sedate, although I will admit to scaring myself at one point when I looked down at my speedo to find that I was doing over 100kph in fourth gear as I approached one turn.
The second paddock was three kilometres long and was a tight one over some rocky hills through stringy-bark trees. I don’t think I got any higher than second gear in this paddock. It was quite hard work try to muscle the Ténéré through the trees and up/down the hills. Having over 25 litres of fuel onboard didn’t help much either.
Paddock section three was four kilometres of narrow track, twisting and turning through a couple of paddocks on the hills around Barney’s (one of the organisers) house. The high point of this section was a sharp, bumpy right-left combination of turns coming down a steep hill towards Barney’s house. There were hazard markers in place and we were warned at the rider's briefing: get it wrong and you would land on the roof of Barney’s shed and from there fall into his spa. Any bike Barney found either on his shed roof or in his spa would be his!
Paddock section four was five kilometres long and had a true Clare Valley flavour. From the start you made a flat-out run around the edge of a vineyard before heading into a couple of paddocks of rolling grassy hills with the occasional large gum tree used for turning markers. The course twisted and turned up, down and across the hills and was quite fast, with a lot of 'Rollie Rocks' in the grass to keep you on your toes.
Paddock section five, at 10km, was the longest paddock on the course. This section was in an area called Camel's Hump, which is an apt description of the big barren, rocky hills with a covering of native pasture and a few stands of Black Boys. Fast wasn’t the word for this section, there has to be another word that means faster than fast. The only thing that made you slow down, apart from fear, were the numerous wash-outs and small gullies that the course crossed and occasionally ran along.
Paddock section six was eight kilometres of similar fast riding to paddock section five.
At the end of the lap, I surprised the officials and the main control by arriving before any of the Expert Solo riders had clocked in. Being a local, I was asked serious questions relating to cutting the course on the transport section from the final paddock section back to the main control. I just pointed to the Ténéré’s fuel tank, and said that with the fuel I had onboard, I could probably ride three laps of the course without having to refuel. That’s when it dawned on the officials; I had come straight to the control, while all the Experts had gone to the local servo that was the official fuel stop to fill up.
After a brief lay-over, I headed out for my second lap at 5:20pm. With the sun going down and darkness approaching my aim was to just maintain steady pace and make it to the finish without hurting myself or the bike. The lap was fairly uneventful, with the exception of losing my lights a few kilometres into the fifth paddock section. Being plunged into darkness while riding cross-country isn’t that much fun, but I managed to pull up with hitting anything. It only took a few minutes to find and fix a broken earth wire and once that was done I pressed on to the end of the lap.
I arrived back at the main control at about 8:40pm, happy to have finished another reliability trial on the Ténéré, and was presented with a commemorative stubby holder. After hanging around the finish for a while chatting with other riders and supporters, I put all my gear back on and rode the Ténéré back home.
So, after seven rounds the trusty Ténéré had taken me to a resounding Class M victory in both the Series and State Championship with the following results;
Second place Class M, Rd 1, The Phil Haydon 6hr Trial
Second place Class M, Rd 2, The Mike Connor 8hr Trial
First place Class M, Rd 3, The Robertstown 2 Day Trial
First place Class M, Rd 5, The Theo Nixon 6hr Trial
First place Class M, Rd 7, The Beryl Pearses 6hr Trial
Even though a 1983 XT600ZL Ténéré is probably one of the most inappropriate bikes to try and ride in these types of event, its shear reliability and indestructible nature saw it survive nearly 2,000km of competition/abuse with nothing more than a broken front mudguard, a bent foot-peg, a broken earth wire and a few more scratches on the fuel tank.
The trusty Ténéré has now been retired from competition. It will be given a full service and prepared for the forthcoming 2012 Tenere Tragics Mountain to Mountain Run.
Looking forward to seeing you all in Bathurst!
-- Colin Jay, TenereTragic #6
Congratulations and well done, Colin, on an impressive result! You're an inspiration to all your fellow Tragics: remind me to remind everyone at the Welcome Dinner at Bathurst at the start of next year's Tragics run to shout you a drink - you deserve it!
-- Clubby, Ténéré Tragic #1