Fun in the Welsh mud

When I explain my hobbies to people, they always look at me strangely when I start to talk about trialling. You can read a little about it in that link but it boils down to us taking old cars to muddy, hilly places and trying to drive them to score as many points as possible. This video shows the idea in practise.

During the summer I volunteer at various race and speed events but the winter months are given over to trialling and the Welsh Trial, based around Presteigne, is time for the Other Half to have some fun. Saturday morning was chilly but clear so he set off with his bouncer to go to a filter point and have the car checked over by a scrutineer before setting off to Presteigne to sign on.

Signing on is at the Radnorshire Arms on Presteigne High Street. Drivers and bouncers sign to say they are fit to take part, collect their score cards which records how they have done over the various sections and head off to their start hill, usually after having one of the excellent bacon baps that are available. The start hills are split between competitors so everyone heads off to different places, the idea being to stop everyone going to the same place and queuing for hours! There were 5 hills on the Saturday, two of which are designated as Spectator Hills.
Fun in the welsh mud

It would be lovely to welcome all and sundry to all the hills, but the land we use combined with new safety requirements mean we have to limit public access. For Saturday there was the perennial woodland favourite called Smatcher and a new hill based at Ralph’s Cider and Perry which was named after the farm, Badlands. They actually hosted a cider festival over the weekend and the trial section was an intergral part of this. The welcome they put on was excellent with tractor rides  to the start of the section, vintage engines and tractors greeting guests as they arrived at the farmyard below. Unfortunately I didn’t have an opportunity to stop and purchase cider but those (non-drivers) who did assures me it was excellent. Fingers crossed the Club will be visiting these top notch hosts again next year.
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Once the hills are completed, the cars return to the Radnorshire Arms to hand in the Saturday scorecards and collect the ones for Sunday morning, which comprises of 7 hills. Back at Presteigne there is a great atmosphere as the High Street is taken over by vintage cars, all of which are made very welcome by the locals, not surprising as its been estimated the Club generates around £100,000 additional revenue in the area. As discussed here the social side of the Club is hugely important and Presteigne, one of the spiritual homes of the VSCC, is no exception. Children all flock together in the pub garden whilst the adults discuss the day’s progress over a well deserved pint. Of course, as shown in the picture below, it can all get a bit much for some people!
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Often there is fettling of the cars in the street as any mechanical issues of the day are sorted out along with plenty of healthy banter and a party atmosphere. You can see more shots of the trial and the High Street on my friend Rob’s twitter feed.

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Sunday morning and the Other Half headed off to collect his bouncer before travelling on to his start hill for the day. Unfortunately disaster struck when engine problems hit meaning a nice hole in the crank case, I still have my fingers crossed it will be repaired in time to for me to have my turn at the Cotswold Trial in November – spectator hills being based around Prescott Hill Climb near Cheltenham. Prior to that our A7, nicknamed Gizmo, will also be making an appearance at the NEC Classic Motor Show on the VSCC stand, one of his stable mates will be the fabulous Beast of Turin.

Whilst Gizmo was being returned home so the damage could be assessed I headed out to visit a section called Railway, this has been manned for the last two years by a number of the Club’s younger generation so I dropped in to soak up some of the wonderful enthusiasm they show as they cheer cars up the hill. Many people bemoan the lack of youngsters in sport so we are lucky to have a crowd who both compete and marshal.

From there it was off to Cwm Whitton for the afternoon hills, all spectator friendly this time as evidenced by the huge number of people who turn up each year, providing a donation to the local Rotary Club who kindly organise the parking and enjoy the tea and caked provided on site.

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To be fair the day had a bit of a damper on it after Gizmo’s problems but the Other Half joined me and again we soaked up the atmosphere and watched some friends, including a Morris called Borris, try their best. We left before the results were announced but really the fun is in taking part so who wins is slightly immaterial!
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