This report appeared in the December 1926 issue of ‘Motor Sport‘ of a Sporting and Classification Trial held by the Liverpool M.C in North Wales starting from Chester. This trial shows that the riders by even today’s standards rode for a considerable distance on machines that today many would be surprised to find out how versatile these machines were.
So after a great xmas you are all tooled up… leather driving gloves from the sister in law, Top Gear aftershave from the kids and a Barbour manbag from the wife… as the novelty wears off why not treat yourself, if you have not already to Deryck Wylde’s great issue fourteen of OFF ROAD REVUe which is now online. Unique and notable articles is a feature on the post war Welsh ISDT events and as with anything coming from Deryck the images are not only great a number are originals unlikely to have been seen before.
The Bwlch y Groes (Pass of the Cross) and its side road Bwlch Eunant probably have a history as a road that lies back in the dark days long before things were ever thought of being recorded as existing. The road summit at 545m, (1788ft) is often claimed to be the highest public road in Wales, however, as far as surfaced roads go, that honour is held by the Bwlch yr Efengyl (Gospel Pass) 549m, (1801ft) in the Black Mountains of South East Wales also used by the ISDT in Wales although its approach is not as steep as the Bwlch y Groes. The unsurfaced Bwlch Llandrillo in the Berwyns, also used in the ISDT, crosses the 580m 2000ft contour at the summit of the pass. The ISDT, when on the Bwlch y Groes, never crossed the high summit as detoured to travel to Bala via the gnarly old tracks through the Euanant and Hirnant valleys. History paints a picture of the route being in use by religious travellers passing between the early Celtic Christian sites and the many Monasteries, Abbeys, Friaries and Priories the church of Rome had established at Welshpool, Llangollen, Llanrwst, Holywell, Flint, Denbigh, Llaneltyd before the reformation. But it was mostly motorsport rather than tourism that rediscovered the opportunities the then many unsurfaced road provided in the early development of motoring on public roads.
The mission of SpeedTrackTales is not just to capture as a record the history of the people the bikes and places of the International Six Days Trial. It is also important we learn of, and reflect on the social and cultural conditions of those times that contributed to both the development of the sport of Reliability Trials and its evolution to be renamed Enduro as well as the history of land access and the impact of the modernisation of highways and land management during the era. In many cases the sports happily co-existed with local people going about their own daily business.
The road twists and turns all over the place, and it seemed to be full of country folk shepherding home animals from Corwen market.
For this article reproduces an article written and published in the weekly ‘Motor Cycling‘ 28 November 1934. The article is a test of two models of Triumph the 5/5 and the Twin models for 1935. The test compromised of a tour around North Wales, but in particular it took in the classic roads in regular use by the ISDT and reliability trials of the time such as ‘the Reliance Trial’
Early on Wednesday morning we were skirting Bala Lake and heading for Hirnant Pass, en route for Lake Vyrnwy. The lane we traversed were shockingly surfaced. It was an endless procession of large culverts, cart ruts, slimy mud, rocks and everything else imaginable.
It is clear that by 1934 the area was very familiar to many in the Motorcycle industry as a place to both test Motorcycles and to undertake adventure tours by motorbike. It goes without saying to do this motorbikes were required to be reliable and handle well where road surface conditions were still poor. Places like the Bwlch y Groes, Eunant Pass and the Allt y Badi regularly feature in both test articles and event reports.
Long, gruelling climbs made no difference, either. Taking the Eunant Pass from Lake Vyrnwy,” we climbed another 1,000feet, which brought us out near the top of the famous Bwlch-y-Groes.
The article, coincided with the holding of the annual ‘Reliance Trial’ in the North East Wales area, the report for this event can be found here.
I can recall whilst out trail riding in the Clwydian Hills in my teens during the late 70’s when one of the old blokes pointed into a hedge (they said it was a track, but you could not get into it to stand and look.. it was a hedge) and that once the ISDT had gone up there…. I knew the event and it filled my head with images of far off exotic trails in wild forests. I had never even heard of the ISDT in Wales although I knew that once the Tour of Wales Enduro had come these ways it had not done so for years, the only active local off road competition were the Scrambles at Bodfari, the Fosters Cup an observed trial run by the South Liverpool Club and local observed trials organised by the Denbigh and Mold MCC. Even so that story stuck in my head and everytime i drive past this hedge I think the ISDT went there once.