The most famous and longest established event in the British Reliability Trial / Enduro in Great Britain is the Welsh Two Day Trial and has often been used to decide on the selection of British Team riders for the ISDT. Originaly a three day trial it is organised by the Mid Wales Centre of the Auto Cycle Union. Taking place in Llandrindod Wells it has undoubtedly influenced the venue for the ISDT when it has been held in Wales.
In 1958 the event was used to select the British Team for the ISDT 1958 in Garmische and the event was reported in the ‘Motor Cycling’ paper of 26th June 1958 by Norman Sharpe. The whole text of the article is reproduced below as are the images.
Thanks to Chris Goodfellow for this note on Bill Booker – Sgt.D.Brooker is better known as Bill , later to be the Competition Manager for Greeves Motorcycles , Bill is still in the land of the living , aged 87 , and only recently stopped riding in one day trials .
Styled in the programme as plain Cfn. Brittain and riding a 250 c.c. Greeves as a member of the victorious Army “A” team. Royal Enfield “works” rider Pat Brittain last week won the National Welsh Three day Trial with no loss of marks on time and a better overall performance in the many special tests than his rivals. Brittain, however, was riding to the standard speed schedule “A” set for ordinary competitors. Whereas J. B. Houghton (250 James ) competing voluntarily at the higher schedule “B,” was the only rider other than Johnny Giles (650 Triumph) to lose no marks on time at the faster speeds and, in doing so, won the Jack Stocker Trophy. Of the three sidecar entrants only D. Bryant (600 AJS) lasted the course.
Like the tortuous mountain tracks of Cymru, the Welsh Three Days, organized by the Mid-Wales Centre A.C.U., is anything but straightforward, and this year’s event was even more complex than usual. Devised to familiarize would-be I.S.D.T. contestants with ”Six-Day” rules and conditions, it also, in 1956. incorporated the A.C.U’s “International” team tests, the 24 invited candidates being set faster speeds than ordinary competitors over the 650 miles and having to undertake snap mechanical tasks during each day’s run under the eyes of the selectors. However, other riders could, if they chose. ride at the higher schedules without doing the tasks and, in addition to Houghton, W. G. R. Faulkner (250 Francis-Barnett), P. G. K. Baldwin (200 Triumph), J. Harris (250 James). A W. Glassbrook (500 B.S.A.) and C. G. Moram (500 Matchless) elected to do so.
To add to complexity, none of the Royal Enfield or Francis-Barnett team candidates were allowed to compete for awards in the trial, although they all took part, because their tyres, whose suitability for the I.S.D.T. they wanted to assess, did not conform to the trials specification agreed between the A.C.U. and Government authorities. Consequently from the entry of 58, only 49 of the 55 starters were actually
in the event.
Despite these inequalities ,all riders competed on level terms. the aim being to maintain their schedules between the time controls with a leeway of up to three minutes late and a penalty of one mark for each minute by which they exceeded it. Any necessary maintenance had to be carried out en route or in the 10 minute allowed each morning between drawing their machines from the closed control at the Llandrindod Wells base and starting on the day’s run.
The First Day
BRILLIANT sunshine splashed the Welsh hills with sparkling colour as, at 9.01 on Wednesday morning. J. C. Bodenham’s, D.M.W. led the field away- the only starter of the three 175 c.c. entries whose maximum average speed throughout the trial was set at 26 m.p.h. Then, at minute intervals between each man, the 250 c.c. solo runners and the sidecars of Bryant. F. E. Woodward (500 Matchless) and D. Holoway (500 B.S.A.) set off to maintain a 28 m.p.h. average, followed by the “350s” (29 m.p.h.) and the “over 350s” (30 m.p.h.). So as the day progressed, the classes closed and intermingled, the “possibles” among them with their faster schedules continually overtaking “standard” runners, and doing so much of the time in choking clouds of dust thrown up from bone-dry tracks.
Apart from this, the morning’s run caused little consternation, even to the majority of the “possibles” who were called on to change their clutch wires under the eyes of the selectors. Dave Curtis, however, was in serious trouble, stranded with a badly split tank near Farmers, and neither Terry Cheshire nor Australian Tim Gibbes were too happy. Cheshire’s “Crusader” emptied its crankcase oil tank through the breatherpipe and Gibbes rode for much of the morning with his front forks jammed down before he was able to free them,
Fate also jostled Faulkner in the afternoon. Hardly had he left Llandrindod when he had a rear tyre puncture and pinched the new tube in refitting the cover. Already 15 minutes late, he returned to the Drill Hall for yet another tube and departed nearly half an hour behind schedule. Try though he did, he could only regain about half the wasted minutes and consequently lost 13 marks at Gwarafog. Tyre trouble also struck Gordon Blakeway at precisely the wrong moment. In the last section but one, the “possibles” came hurtlina down the stony descent of Pen-y-Cnwc to run slap into an ambush of officials who ordered them to remove the float needles from their carburetters before carrying on to Abergwesyn. And, just as he approached, Blakeway’s front tyre punctured, giving him two jobs instead of one so that he was 12 min. late at the control.
Sid Wicken also wasted time by initially removing his slide needle, but still had minutes in hand at Abergwesyn; and neither the Francis-Barnett contingent nor Garth Wheldon lost marks although their “Monobloc” end covers could not be removed without uncoupling the carburetters from the cylinders – a shortcoming which will be remedied by trimming down the carburetter shroud flange on the crankcase castings before the models go to Garmisch in 5eptember.
Unluckiest man of the afternoon was Eric Adcock who retired with a seized piston, but he was given permission to carry out repairs and restart on Thursday for selection purposes only. Surprisingly, Johnny Giles and Ron Langston each lost a mark by failing the brake test, as did seven “standard” riders, amongst whom E. S. T. Pryce (200 Greeves) retired and Bryant, Holoway and W. A. Fort (200 Greeves), lost nine, eight and five on time, respectively.
The Second Day
REAL Welsh “International” weather greeted the competitors on Thursday morning and soon they were splashing their way through mist and rain over the 108-mile route by way of Claerwen. Ffair Rhos, Esgair Gelli, Abergwesyn, Penlanlwyd Cefn Coch and Garth. For such weather the schedules were fairly tight – especially after a rear chain removal test near the start – and most had only a minute or so in hand when they reached the first check beside the massive Claerwen dam. Shortly past it, John Harris’ ride ended when the bottom head lug on the front forks of his 250c.c. James – possibly weakened by an earlier excursion into a bog – snapped and he nearly took a header into the foam-flecked waters of the reservoir. He lashed the forks with twine, rode the model (Brian Povey’s old trials job) back to the check and retired.
But in the afternoon schedules were tightened still more and the 41 remaining runners were scratching even harder. In the tight Cefn Coch section, the “possibles” were made to change a front tube and only Triss Sharp and Johnny Giles reached Garth unpenalized -the latter by dint of covering woodland paths at up to 80 m.p.h. The delay cost Bob Manns, Johnny Brittain, Roy Peplow and Brian Stonebridge two apiece and the others even more, although the best tube changes took only about five minutes.
Trouble of a more realistic variety overtook several riders in the course of the afternoon. Houghton dropped his mount on the way to Garth and arrived with wayward steering and a flattish tyre, Peter Taft was out with front wheel trouble, and Cheshire’s clutch nut came undone, shearing the Woodruff key and leaving him without mechanical propulsion until Peter Stirland came along and towed him back at the end of their barbour suit belts. Peter himself late, having had to make a detour to a Llandovery garage to repair his front brake whose lining had split, but Cheshire’s delay caused his nominal retirement – after repairs he started again next day.
Though not nearly so hard pressed, the standard runners were also having trouble. When they arrived at Garth, one silencer on J. J. Ferguson’s 250 c.c. Villiers-engined V.S. & S was falling apart, its bracket having snapped, and W.O.2. J. Day’s was speedometer cable was an inoperative tangle. Of the sidecars, only Bryant was still going, Woodward, who had lost 20 minutes after running out of petrol, having retired, like Holoway, who lost his way, and only eight riders, none of them test participants, remained unpenalized.
The Third Day
FRIDAY’S route was the reverse of Thursday’s but the weather was much the same. And to add to the joy, the “possibles” were given not two but three mechanical tests to perform: remove air filter and main jet; take out the carburetter slide needle and remove and refit the rear tyre. Having hown his aptitude for the first operation on the opening day, Wicken declined to repeat the performance. But, for Smith, the tyre change was a more ironical repetition. Little more than a mile before the test. his front tube had burst as he rounded a corner and he had shot through a gap in the roadside wall and on to his head in a stream. The Lycett helmet he was wearing on a test saved him from anything worse than a headache,and though shaken, late and officially retired, he carried on to complete the course.
Stirland was also late, havin taken a wrong turn after the Esgair check and he lost more time the tyre change where he found he had lost his air bottle connection and had no pump. However, he managed to finish the event, unlike three other “possibles” who retired at lunchtime: Wheldon, who had earlier been plagued by ignition trouble; Gibbes with faulty suspension and Sheehan whose oil pipe banjo came adrift – though he too completed the afternoon run.
And that, but for the prizegiving, was the end of the trial-though nowhere near the end for the I.S.D.T, team selectors faced with the task of choosing 16 men to represent Great Britain in September. With no “possible” unpenalized and only 16 of them finishing the event, their trials have yet to come!
ISDT Team Candidates Performance
Name Machine Marks lost
T. Cheshire (250 Royal Enfield) R
E. Adcock (250 Doe) R
B. Sharp (250 Francis-Barnett) 11
J. Simpson (250 Greeves) 8
B. G. Stonebridge (250 Greeves) 6
E. W. Smith (250 Francis-Barnett) R
T. Sharp (250 Francis-Barnett) 1
P. T. Stirland (350 Royal Enfield) 75
S. B. Wicken (350 Matchless) 5
A. Lampkin (350 B.S.A.) 33
J. V. Brittain (350 Royal Enfield) 2
D. G. Curtis (350 Matchless) R
P. Fletcher (350 Royal Enfield) 20
S. B. Manns (350 Matchless) 2
R. Peplow (500 Triumph) 2
P. N. Taft (500 B.S.A.) R
G. S. Blakeway (500 Ariel) 16
J. Giles (650 Triumph) 1
A. T. Gibbes (500 Ariel) R
B. W. Martin (500 B.S.A.) 7
R. G. Langston (500 Ariel) 11
K. Heanes (500 Triumph) 5
J. F. Sheehan (500 Ariel) R