This event was the start of the 2016 season and, as has been the case for several years, took place at Constantia.
This is the property that just over a year ago was severely burnt by the runaway fires that swept the peninsula. We then used it in October last year for the John Fulcher Trial. The owner said I would find things a bit different now as they have had contractors there cutting down all the dead and burnt trees. Well apart from the surviving lower area, there are just logs lying everywhere with some access tracks made by the machines doing the work, but still plenty of scope for sections.
So we had a bit of work to do to link up the sections and this was done on a Sunday with the help of Dion and Michael with chainsaws.
The sections were all set and marked by the Wednesday preceding the event, and I had a quick check on the Friday to see if any baboons had found the markers, but all as well.
On the day of the trial I set out early to put in the begins and ends cards and score sheets and discovered at section four the baboons were everywhere. There were so many of them with many young ones. I could hear shouting and realized the baboon monitors were nearby and trying to chase them away from the neighbouring vineyards and back into Tokai forest.
It was going to be pointless fixing up any damage they might have done while they were still around, so instead I decided to start the trial and fix anything as we went along. By the time we got to section five there were no baboons to be seen and the damage they had done was minimal. Just a few markers pulled out and tapes broken. I don’t have any hard feelings for them, they are just inquisitive and in fact I’m glad to see their numbers appear to be growing.
Just ten riders turned up for the trial. I’m always surprised more riders don’t take the opportunity when this venue is available as it is so convenient and different to our other venues.
The first section was along the path a short distance from the start. It had some tight turns and a log which varied in its height off the ground which was ideal for the various classes to negotiate. The highest point was for Michael and had a very short approach to it .Michael couldn’t manage a clean here and scored a one each time. The experts crossed it much lower down but had to do so obliquely, and the clubmen went around it.
Section two was on a steep hillside where the main hazard was a difficult off camber. Tree roots became exposed as the trial progressed making this even harder.
Section three had a bit of everything: tight turns, some logs, a bit of a stream bed and rocks. The intermediates rode the expert’s line here and most of them lost a lot of marks. The current scoring of not getting a five for stopping certainly did help those who battled on for a three.
Section four was right next door and pretty much had the same ingredients, but was less difficult.
Section five was an easy one. It was originally just going to be the route to the next section, but was put in to see if it would take any marks, and apart from the masters and experts, it did.
Section six was in amongst some large rocks and also had possibly the largest log on the property for Michael to ride over.
Sections seven was an old one amongst granite rocks but so different this time because of the work that has taken place there. One particular rock step that Michael had to ride up proved a bit too ambitious so he left it out after the first attempt.
The last section was again amongst some massive rocks. It is several years since we have used this area because it had been inaccessible, but has now been opened up again. One of the most difficult parts of this section was a very short off camber, and for Michael some very daunting rock steps where he asked for people to stand by to catch his bike in case he couldn’t make it. He did struggle a bit but fortunately without any crashes.
As usual Michael was the only master, and unusually I was the only expert. The intermediate class was the best in numbers with Steven deciding to move up from clubmen for the first time. Trevor bravely tried to ride with an injured ankle but had to give up. He has to have an operation on the ankle but thought he could manage one last ride before having it operated on. Steve must have had a very good ride as he ran out a clear winner over the others who were all just a mark or two apart.
Just three entrants in the clubmen class, with Chris making good progress to complete three laps before retiring.
Thanks to the Ramsden family for the use of the venue and all those that helped before and after the event, and Anette Stals for the photos.