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2016 Putoline South Midlands Tough Ten Trial

Tuesday June 21, 2016 at 3:03pm
2016 Putoline South Midlands Tough Ten Trial
The Berkhamsted, Hillingdon & Uxbridge and Kenton & Kingsbury Motorcycle clubs combined to run the Tough Ten Trial for the sixth time on 12th June, and it really lived up to its name.

Setting out on a damp Saturday, Clerk of Course Graham Haslam assisted by brother Ray and a willing team, created ten challenging, technical sections with four routes to test the excellent entry of 95 riders. These came from a distance such as Cornwall, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Southend, Ipswich etc as the popularity of the trial becomes known.

It was sponsored by Putoline Oils with ‘goody bags’ for the first three riders in each class, by John Lee Motorcycles with prizes for a free raffle for all riders, and by The KTM Centre of Hemel Hempstead who made up a shortfall due to an increase in classes.

The trial is run on the punch card system with riders handing in each card after ten sections so that lap scores can be displayed as the trial progresses. Starters and lap scorers Kevin North and Bob Brown split the entry into two, starting at one minute intervals, sending the classes to sections one or four to spread the entry.

Section one was in the top woods near to the lane with a downhill start to a fierce tree root climb for the Experts and Youth A on the white route. A yellow deviation for the four Elite riders over a different section of roots caused no problems as they all cleaned it, though ones and a single five were scored by the white route riders on lap one.

Over 40’s, Inters and Youth B riding the red route had an eased, but demanding ride, with three’s and five’s being recorded. Exceptions to this were Kevin Nolan and Steve Swanson starting their trial with clean rides.

The Novice/Clubmen, Over 50’s and Youth C route was eased a bit more, though the technical nature of Grahams setting out resulted in just two cleans being recorded on the first lap.

The second section started with a cambered turn uphill to a steep drop back to the bottom of a gully, then up the opposite bank and back down, finishing with a climb of varying severity for each class. Sam Haslam dropped the first of just two dabs on his terrific first lap here. The fourteen Novice/Clubmen only managed nine cleans between them over all four laps. Youth ‘A’ Oliver Smith, of OSET fame, had the best ride cleaning it on all four laps.

Number three was the longest section so far giving Berko Chairman Ian Reynolds a day long walk to observe it. It included both chalk and loose surface cambers with a particularly difficult one round a root exposed tree to catch out the unwary. Veteran riders John Cowley and Rob Faulkner showed how to do it with four clean rides, but Sam H gave away only his second dab on this lap. Steve Clements must have been pleased with himself taking a single dab on lap 3 riding his ageing Fantic.

A ride across the meadow to four, the ‘Bomb Hole’, with it’s severe climbs from a standing start for the top riders. Experts Tom Haslam and Tom Moss found it to their liking by recording cleans on all four laps, even though it was muddy in the bottom which soon carried up the sides.

To the far end of the woods now for the infamous ‘Scottish’ section 5 which required three observers to cover the 80 yard length. Full of rocks, slabs tree trunks etc it is an arm pumping, full on concentration ride not for the faint hearted. In all four visits all Elite riders took single dabs, with the exception of Sam who had three  dabs. The ride of the day was by young Tom Haslam who cleaned it all four times.

Number six was a brand new section cut out by Ray Haslam in amongst the trees and bushes in the shape of an S. Two observers and a punch operator, Becky, Steve and Lucy, were in charge here checking the riders over the rocks and fallen trees, round two tight bends and loose surface. Notable rides were by Inter Mat Dixon and Youth B riders Gus Oblein and Jack Dance who all cleaned it on all four laps.

Section seven, sponsored by the South Harrow club, was back near the start with Craig and Ian watching over it. A deep gully was entered by all classes with varying severity of exit. The Elite boys had a steep climb then over a big log at the top, with the white route riders exiting right and the red and blue route to the left. All Elite’s had at least one five on their cards, but the ride of the day was by Martin Greeves riding the over 50 route keeping a clean sheet.

The big dell was the setting for section eight with many rocks, logs and stiff climbs to keep the Wycombe club’s John and Peter occupied during a long day. The challenge for the riders was such that nobody managed to record four clean rides on all four visits.

Still in the dell, nine provided the biggest challenge for the Elite boys with two drop offs on the way down, back up a concrete staircase to a courage testing 20 ft drop onto the slope of the dell, turning on the camber to climb back to the top over rock steps and a tree stump right at the top. Sam was best with a 3, a1, and two 0’s score, but Alexz Wigg compounded his nightmare day with all maximums. Other great rides were by Kevin Nolan and John Cowley in the Expert class and Andrew Earnshaw in the Over 50’s with four clean rides.

Finally number ten, still on the side of the dell and taking it’s fair share of marks from all classes. Kevin Nolan was the only Expert to clean it on all visits, but several riders on the easier blue route enjoyed four clean rides to cheer them on their way. After a lap for just four dabs on lap three, Toby Martyn was on for the only clean lap of the trial when he arrived, but disaster struck and his hopes were shattered when he fived the last section of the day. This is the fourth time Toby and his dad Tim have made the long journey from Cornwall to ride the trial, this time riding as an adult in the Elite Expert class being fully justified by his two single mark laps. Tom Minta, returning after a couple of years also had a single figure last lap. Fantastic to see these youngsters progressing so well.

The organising clubs cannot thank the observers, punch operators and officials enough for carrying out their duties and staying on post for a very long day. A post trial meeting will determine what further improvements can be made to the format for next year. Thanks also go to the Haslam family for use of the land and for all their input; to Putoline Oils for continued sponsorship, to John Lee Motorcycles and KTM Centre of Hemel Hempstead for raffle prizes.


Elite Experts. 1st. Sam Haslam  28.  2nd. Toby Martyn. 38.  3rd. Tom Minta, 64.

Experts. 1st. Tom Haslam, 47.  2nd. Thomas Moss, 52.  3rd. Andrew Blackman, 62.

Youth A. 1st. Oliver Smith, 69.  2nd. Keiran Tovey, 112.  3rd. Ronnie Day, 163.

Expert Over 40. 1st. Kevin Nolan, 26.  2nd. John Cowley, 52 M/C’s. 3rd.  Steve Swanson, 52.

Inters.  1st, Matt Dixon, 43.  2nd. Joe Haslam, 90.  3rd. Marcus Jaggard, 101.

Youth B.  1st. Gus Oblein, 42.  2nd. Mitchell Brightmore, 81.  3rd. Jack Dance, 90.

Novice/Clubmen.  1st. Chris Tesseras, 75.  2nd. Ryan Tomkins, 77.  3rd. Jason Clifford, 82.

Over 50 Clubmen, 1st. Andrew Earnshaw, 41.  2nd. Martin Greeves, 55.  3rd. Mick Marshall, 65.

Youth C. 1st. Ashton Brightmore, 52.  2nd. Harry Turner, 83. 3rd. George Clarke, 112.


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