It was, by general agreement, a thoroughly sporting event with the sort of terrain that tested men and machines to the limit.
A FAIR NUMBER OF COMPETITORS arrived in Perth to-day, and many of those who had taken the precaution of arriving thus early mostly spent their time in examining the famous Amulree. One of the first to arrive was JA Newman with his 3½hp Sunbeam, on which he has travelled across France and through parts of North Africa…Perth, by the way, is enjoying an official holiday, all the shops being closed, and were it not for the number of motor cyclists to be seen in all parts a Sabbath calm would prevail…Campbell McGregor’s 3½hp Brough is one of the very few of these machines which have been turned out, the rider whom everyone will remember as one of the leading lights in the organisation of previous Scottish Trials is this year riding a single-geared machine…All reports tend to show that the bad roads and long mileages are relied on to eliminate machines to a large extent, though of course many of the long and steep Scottish gradients will make their presence felt in no uncertain manner. A somewhat unusual method of directing competitors has been decided upon, for, in addition to the usual type of arrows, doubtful corners are to be indicated by coloured powder dropped from a car, different colours being used on successive days so as to avoid confusion where the routes cross…Twelve manufacturers’ teams are entered and five club teams, each of the latter being distinguished by coloured number plates, whilst the single-geared entries well deserve the distinction of their bright red discs…Unfortunately, there was a brush with the police, who took exception to machines standing outside the official hotel, and acted in a rather high-handed manner with regard to the scrutiny of all parts of drivers’ licences.
A GLORIOUS MORNING AFTER a week’s heavy rain raised the hopes of all concerned, and a steadily rising glass tended to confirm these optimistic feelings. Shiell’s garage filled rapidly, many competitors having arrived by night trains. The Rev JM Philpott, who starts No 1, was one of yesterday’s arrivals, having ridden up from the Midlands on his 2¾hp Blackburne-engined Wilkin (the special cigarette case fitted to the top tube must not be overlooked). Examination and sealing started this morning amidst the usual scenes of animation and final adjustments…Amongst the heavy sidecar outfits is one of the experimental 8hp Clynos. This machine is very attractive with its spring frame and black and grey finish…The AJS are well represented; HR Davies is making his debut as competition manager for this firm…Hex Mundy is riding a Reading Standard fitted with an American type flexible sidecar, which he has converted to a rigid type by a multitude of extra attachments. In addition to this, he has fitted wooden beams under each chassis member lest the conversion shall throw extra strains on the chassis and cause breakages…Norman Black, is riding his TT Norton, this time with a three-speed Sturmey gear instead of the Philippon pulley…Blackburne engines are common and range from JS Holroyd’s big 8hp to a number of 2¾hp engines in Verus, Wilkin, HB and Coulson machines. Their slow running propensities are much admired…Everything is now prepared for tomorrow’s start, and the competing machines are out of the hands of their riders until starting time. If the weather only holds like this a most sporting and enjoyable trial is a certainty, for on paper, at any rate, the organisation leaves nothing to be desired.
Perth, Monday. The first day. Observed Hills, Amulree, Cockbridge Ladder and Bridge of Brown.
RAIN FELL HEAVILY DURING the night, but by the time the competitors lined up for the start, it had ceased, but the weather was far from bright. The start was particularly well organised and all competitors got away well, except HF Barge (Morgan), who stopped and had trouble restarting outside control, and Lieut Lochead (2¾hp New Imperial) who changed a belt…Amulree, the first test hill, was in good condition, free from loose stones or grease and, consequently, was not a severe test for modern solo machines. Sidecars, however, found the second hair- pin, which is left handed, somewhat difficult to negotiate…P&M, BSA, Scott, and Sunbeam machines were exceptionally good…The two single-gear entrants both stopped, Carfrae (4hp Triumph) falling on lower corner, while McGregor (3½hp Brough) konked out. To summarise, the single-cylinder and flat twin machines easily outshone the other types so far as solo machines were concerned…At the top of the hill was the first check. The descent of Kenmore gave newcomers to the trial an idea of what was to come on the fifth day, and, incidentally, an opportunity of studying the better side of the road. From Pitlochry a moorland road was traversed, and here AB Fairley (2¾hp Douglas) broke a throttle wire. After a hurried repair he pushed on, only to hit a bridge and damage his forks a mile or two further on. The second check was just beyond Kirkmichael, and thence a narrow road with a long 10mph limit led over open moor. Incidentally, the Scottish authorities are too free with their ten-mile limits—a fact which causes the unrighteous to disregard them entirely, while even the more careful riders get tired of limits on wide roads with no turnings. Glenshee was the next point of interest, and the long pull up after the Spittal Hotel was rough and twisty. Here H. Gibson (2½hp Clyno) got into a rut and fell while, fiddling with an air tap. Fortunately, he was unhurt, and made a fine climb of the Devil’s Elbow…After an excellent lunch at Braemar the main road was followed to a point just opposite Balmoral Castle, where a sharp left turn led up a narrow lane. Then followed a succession of rough gradients, both up and down, culminating in a fearsome hairpin, and after a mile or two of excellent road came the famous Cockbridge Ladder. Somehow these, at one time appalling, hills have lost their terrors, and even the miles of rough hill with its many hairpins can be negotiated on
middle gear by a well tuned ‘3½’. For single-geared machines, however, the proposition is a stiff one. The enthusiasts riding these mounts take the trial in a most sporting manner, and one of the riders at least stops at the foot of each observed hill and removes the greatest possible amount of clothing in case violent assistance is necessary. Poor Carfrae, after a splendid ascent of the lower slopes, suffered belt slip on the upper section and had to foot slog. The rain which threatened at Cockbridge cleared off, and the scenery was gorgeous—in fact, only man and the road surface were vile, and the latter was truly so! A series of cross gulleys continued for miles. Apparently, these gulleys followed the practice of waves on the seashore, since every seventh was the biggest; anyhow, sidecar frames had a bad time, and solo riders were none too comfortable…A mile or two further on came the Bridge of Brown, with the subsequent long ascent…After a long descent, good surfaces followed to Carrbridge (check), and thence a fine road led to Inverness and the finish. This road was deceptive in places, and some of the pot-holes encountered in the last eight miles were very deep and yet not too easily distinguishable through the dust…0PC Collier (Beardmore-Precision) fell and damaged his machine so badly that he was unable to continue [he was one of four retirements on the first day].
Thurso, Tuesday. The second day, 182 miles. Observed hill, Abriachan.
A WET START FOR THE LONGEST trip of the week was not encouraging, for Inverness does not look its best in a drizzle; However, the competitors seemed to be in good spirits, especially as the only observed hill came in the first ten miles…The lightweight Clynos are performing very well. PW Bischoff rides like the old hand he is. CV Freeman is a good man, and was unlucky in shedding his oil filler and smothering the machine in oil, while Hugh Gibson, who is well known to all our readers, performed a wonderful feat after the lunch stop. His petrol union came adrift, with the result that he lost most of the contents of his fuel tank. He decided to return to Lairg and refill. Thus he lost very much valuable time, but in spite of this he made up lost time over the most appalling roads and checked in to time at Altnaharra…The view from Abriachan over Lochness is wonderful, and, in spite of the rain we were tempted to loiter, enjoying the view, which necessitated a ‘blind’ over greasy tracks to regain time. During this section care was necessary to avoid skids, and it was wonderful to notice Jesse Baker and C. P. Wood (Scotts) making time steadily over the rough greasy tracks; the way the Scotts hold the roads is astonishing…At Bonar Bridge a complaint about the rain drew unexpected comments from the natives, who have had no rain for six weeks, and whose water supply had been endangered…Another long climb through perfect scenery, the roads being bordered by silver birch, led to Lairg and lunch. Rain was now falling really heavily, and we could not help admiring the plucky performance of Mrs Duncan Bell as we passed her piloting her AJS sidecar over the flooded roads. After lunch came the test of the day, for the road to Altnaharra was a mass of loose stones and parallel ruts, which made steering a tricky job, especially for solo riders. Many falls were experienced in this and many falls were experienced in this and the following section, some riders falling several times within 40 miles of the lunch stop. Mrs Knowles was seriously delayed with water in the magneto, and pluckily ‘blinded’ to make up time over the villainous roads. In spite of an average which made many old hands shudder, it was impossible to save the situation, and she lost over an hour. Real hard luck! The last few miles to the check at Betty Hill were in good condition, and finished with a long easy climb to the village. Here competitors had their first glimpse of the North coast and the open sea…none but those who have tried to average 20mph over this awful stretch, with blinding rain against them, can imagine the severity of the trip…The streets of Thurso were strewn with nails, a foul trick which the police assisted in remedying to the best of their ability, and were sportingly helped by the Provost of the town…AJ Sproston (3½hp Lea-Francis) broke his driving chain twice before lunch and twice more afterwards. He has also had trouble with his carrier, but finished well…Capt Hay Will (AJS sc) had his sidecar off and was tinkering his machine just before Dingwall.
Inverness, Wednesday. The third day, 139 miles. No observed hills.
BRIGHT SUNSHINE, A SHORT JOURNEY, and grand scenery combined to make the third day a comparatively easy one. The start took place at nine o’clock instead of eight, as on the two previous days, and on leaving Thurso an excellent road across the moors led to Latherton (the first check) and the coast. From this point a good road followed the coast line to Golspie, a distance of 35 miles…the Rev Philpott (2¾hp Wilkin- Blackburne) was very late in starting owing to the fact that he ran out of petrol yesterday, and was forced to use paraffin, with the consequence that his carburetter was foul. He had a run of real bad luck. After a series of minor mishaps he fell into a ditch while making up time. So deeply was his machine embedded that it required the help of two men to get it out. The sporting spirit with which the trial is run was admirably exemplified at the Latherton check by one of the officials calling out the official time every minute, so that the waiting competitors might run in dead on time. The winding coast road afforded a wonderful view of the sea, with Tarbat Ness and the distant coast of Elgin in Banff on one side and of moor and mountain on the other…The roads had been so good that a section of villainous timber-hauled road near Mound Station came as a shock, and for a hundred yards or so, many solo riders preferred to push their mounts rather than risk tyre trouble…The scenery between Lairg and Evanton is indescribably beautiful, the moors after Bonar Bridge are in their summer coat of brown, since it is too early for
the ling to be in bloom. Nevertheless, the sombre colours are relieved by the fresh greens of young bracken and hillside springs and patches of purple bell heather…At the control, competitors were allowed time to change tyres, and some twenty took advantage of the opportunity. Tyre trouble has been the bugbear of the trial, Campbell McGregor has lost time through this cause to-day, and GW Lush (3hp ABC sc) came in with his rear tyre in ribands. Yesterday’s run weeded out many competitors through falls and tyre troubles, and only half the trade teams are left with clean records. Damaged footrests are common everywhere, and Hugh Gibson has been forced to spend much time fixing up his footrests with an elaborate rigging of copper wire. When he lays himself out to make up time for this purpose it is wonderful how the little Clyno covers the ground…Caithness truly gives the impression of a foreign land. The man from the South cannot help but be struck by the peculiarity of the huge stone slabs, placed on edge, to function as walls…The natives of this land seem to have an understanding with their animals. One sees horses confined to their paddocks by the stone slab fences no higher than their knees, apparently making no attempt to escape into the next door neighbour’s mustard patch…The first three days accounted for 19 retirements out of the 94 competitors who started. A further 18 had lost marks.
Thursday. The fourth day, 160 miles. Observed hills, Mam Ratachan and Glendoe.
A DULL MORNING WITH INTERMITTENT rain. The optimists promised that the clouds would lift, and their prognostications were justified in that a moderately fine morning resulted. The route led down the north side of Loch Ness, past the foot of Abriachan to Drumnadrochit and the Invermoriston Hotel (first check). The road was easy and the scenery superb, but the surface of the road for the last few miles was such that one was apt to pay more attention to keeping a straight course than to the view, especially as only a thin hedge separated the road from a 100 feet drop into Loch Ness. R Carfrae (Triumph) had the misfortune to break his fork spring in this section, but carried on after strapping up the fork. From Invermoriston the road led through silver birches with a mountain torrent on the left, but these pretty scenes soon changed to the grander and impressive mountain scenery of Glen Cluanie. A loose surfaced mountain road led up the glen, and the mountains at the head were shrouded in mist. Travelling through the heart of a deer forest with great hills on both sides, one’s eye naturally strayed from the road in search of stags, but we were vouchsafed only a glimpse of a herd in a sheltered corrie and an attempt at a better view nearly cost us a spill. CP Wood (3¾hp Scott) fell out in this section and thus spoiled the record of the Scott teams. The descent from the top of the pass was tricky in places, as the loose shingle surface was difficult for the solo rider, while the three ruts were an awkward fit for the sidecar machines. Next came the ascent of Mam Ratachan, a four-mile grass surfaced hill, two miles of which were observed. The climb was easy enough as far as the gradient was concerned, but half-way up the surface had been ‘repaired’ with earth and stones. This portion caused a lot of trouble, since the wheels sank in to a depth of six inches in places, One would have been inclined to say that the surface was unfair had not HM Batten (3½hp P&M), L Guy (3¾hp Scott), and JA Newman (3½hp Sunbeam) made absolutely clean ascents, without even moving their feet from the rests…W Westwood (4hp Triumph chain drive), who has been riding most consistently regularly, lost his chance of a gold medal throughout, climbed excellently, but spoiled his record by bouncing into a ditch and stopping, as a result of an early change to top gear…After lunch the morning’s route was reversed as far as Cluanie, and it was interesting to find that almost everyone considered the descent of Mam Eatachan steeper than the ascent…Incidentally it was worth while watching HB Denley (8hp Morgan) making up time over mountain roads; stones flew in every direction and the rear wheel seemed to cover the whole road…Falls throughout the day were numerous, and TS Sharratt (Indian Scout), who is a good and steady rider, fell no fewer than three times. From Tomdoun to Fort Augustus the road was easy, though twisty and wet, the last few miles being accomplished against a strong head wind and stinging rain.
Directly after the town came the ascent of the first part of Glendoe—a second gear climb—thence a short descent, and the final part of the hill—a short section of 1 in 3 with two nasty corners. There were a few failures at this spot, but quite one of the best climbs was made by Mrs Olive M Knowles (3½hp Norton). Rain now began to fall in earnest, and it was hard to see more than a few yards ahead. The roads were quickly flooded, and the next few miles over the moor were anything but pleasant. Now came a detour to Craggie Inn, including nearly ten miles of logging road which was quite unrideable at 20mph. This is the first section which has given cause for a grumble, for it distinctly penalised the steady rider and favoured the man who ‘blinds’. It is true that in dry weather the roads might be rideable…Jesse Baker, who has not long recovered from a nervous breakdown, has suffered severely from his fall. Under the circumstances the judges allowed CP Wood to ride his machine for the concluding stages of the trial.
Friday. The fifth day, 191 miles. Observed hill, Kenmore.
A LONG DAY, BUT A DAY of good roads. Near Struan on the moorland E Palmer (3hp ABC) retired with a broken camshaft. A fearful rainstorm broke in the Grampians, and in five minutes the road became a torrent. One or two competitors took shelter under a bridge, but the majority preferred to have plenty of time in hand, especially as the Dalnacardoch check was only a comparatively short journey ahead…Between Dalnacardoch and Pitlochry, RE Darnton (7-9 Indian), who had been riding very regularly, lost his chance of a gold medal by suffering tyre trouble; even after a repair the tyre went down in four miles, and he checked in three minutes late. The Rev JM Phipott, who had been struggling gamely against a host of minor troubles, was forced to retire at the lunch stop, since his carrier and mudguard carried away and fell backwards on to the road. He finished the last five miles holding the carrier in position with one hand, but gave up at Pitlochry. A most excellent lunch was served at the magnificent hydro, the liquid refreshments being arranged by the officials of the Edinburgh club. After lunch Darnton was again unlucky, tor, being short of petrol, he was directed to Aberfeldy as the nearest place where replenishments could be obtained. This led him seven miles off the course, and. in spite of a wonderful effort to regain time, he checked in late at the top of Kenmore. Two miles of wet and deeply jutted roads led to Kenmore village, immediately after which comes the famous hill. Rising from Loch Tay, the narrow road climbs sharply for over four miles, and includes four hairpin bends. The bottom section was badly cut up, and very soft, but the upper corners were fairly hard though rough and stoney. Amongst the nine failures were Robert Carfrae (4hp Triumph single-gear), who made a plucky attempt, and Alan Hill (3½hp P&M), who was severely handicapped by the fact that yesterday’s fall had damaged his leg to such an extent that he was unable to use it to steady himself. TS Sharratt (Indian Scout), HF Mase (3hp ABC, JR Fellows (3½hp James), JS Holroyd (8hp Blackburne sc), J Shepherd (8hp Campion sc), GW Lush (3hp ABC sc), and S Hubbard (2¾hp HB), also failed to make clean ascents. Exceptionally good climbs were made by HR Davies (6hp AJS sc), Mrs Bell (6hp AJS sc), Olive M Knowles (3½hp Norton), and JA Newman (3½hp Sunbeam).
DH Noble and JA Hilgar were riding 5hp Rovers very well and steadily, and their performances were again good. Except for Alan Hill’s unlucky failure the new P&Ms are showing up well on hills and rough surfaces, and all the Sunbeams climbed well. The drop down Amulree was followed by good roads until nearing Gilmerton, where the surface was greasy and full of pot-holes. At Crieff, one and a quarter mile further on, another cloud burst overtook the competitors. So heavy was the rain that it was impossible to see more than a few yards ahead, but the storm was purely local, and within a few miles the roads were quite dry again. After lunch, and provided, of course, that competitors were up to time, the checkers were lenient as regards the times of departure, and at the Stirling check many spent their spare time in plastering their magnetos with grease in preparation for the watersplashes on tomorrow’s course. After Stirling one leaves Highland scenery and the remainder of the run to Edinburgh is rather dull, and the miles seem unduly long. Neither Falkirk nor Linlithgow is impressive, and the excellent roads between were the saving grace. Owing to the late start and the great distance covered, the first man was not due in Edinburgh till about 7.30.
Edinburgh, Saturday. The sixth day, 155 miles. Observed hills, Talla Linn, Redstone Rig and Elmscleuch.
THERE HAS BEEN MUCH DISCUSSION about the severity of this day’s run, but in actual practice there can be no complaints, since it proved to be less arduous than some previous days…Unfortunately, the club has been unlucky this day, and the route marking Ford broke a stub axle, with the result that parts of the road were badly marked and the Haddington check was altogether missing owing to the fact that the second official car, which went to the aid of tho first, developed a series of minor faults which delayed it considerably…R Fellowes (4hp Triumph) came into the lunch control at Innerleithen with a flat tyre. M Brown (Merrall Brown) had trouble in a splash and nearly collided with a sidecar, but continued all right…Narrow, greasy roads, with occasional watersplashes and many corners, made timekeeping none too easy…HM Batten (3½hp P&M), after a wonderfully regular performance and steady climbing, nearly lost his gold medal at Emsleuch owing to chain trouble. W Chambers (3½hp BSA) had ignition trouble near the same spot. Both, however,
succeeded in evading penalty. N Black (3½hp Norton) retired with a damaged gear box on Elmscleuch Hill—a piece of bad luck after his consistent performance on all the preceding days. Near St Agnes Farm GW Lush (3hp ABC sc) broke a fork, and retired…Mrs Bell, who has driven her AJS and sc most pluckily throughout, had engine trouble within a mile of the finish, a piece of almost inconceivably bad luck. She was towed in by HR Davies on a similar outfit and finished to time. HM Batten finished with a flat tyre, and in spite of a broken fork spring Robert Carfrae brought his single-geared Triumph safely home. He was the only one of his class to finish and put up an extraordinarily fine performance…Hugh Gibson finished with a clean sheet, a wonderful performance for so small a machine as the 2½hp Clyno, especially after a nasty fall on the Spittal of Glenshee. On the last day his gear lever broke, but he continued the journey holding the gear control in position with one hand…The Edinburgh &DMC are to be heartily congratulated on the success of a very sporting trial. The failure of the route marking car and its relief on the last day was the only hitch, and nobody was more grieved over this failure than the club officials themselves…The officials have decided to disqualify Mrs. Bell—presumably on the ground that her machine did not finish in running condition. Strictly speaking this is probably a correct decision, though our sympathies go out to Mrs Bell, who put up a most plucky performance and completed the course to within a mile of the finish.
Results of the Scottish Trials.
94 Starters. 26 Gold (including six sidecars), 18 Silver, and 9 Bronze Medals. 4 Retired Monday, 14 on Tuesday, 2 on Wednesday, 7 on Thursday, 9 on Friday, and 3 on Saturday—Total 39.
“A Competitor records his Impressions of a Strenuous Week.
A DAY-TO-DAY REPORT OF THE TRIAL has already appeared in The Motor Cycle, so in the following I propose to give merely the outstanding impressions of a competitor. Foremost among these are the repeated visions of Robert Carfrae, of the single-gear brigade, shedding superfluous garments at the foot of every observed hill, turning inner tubes about his neck, winding belts about his middle, but always well ahead of time and ready to push a tram over. Then there was Campbell McGregor, to whom these Trials owe so much, another single-gear sportsman, who rode a good machine, and rode it well, but into whom the puncture fiend had firmly set his teeth. Generally we saw McGregor at the side of the road in the attitude of|a Rugby half waiting for the ball, while rain streamed off his hat on to the carefully solutioned patch, and gathered in a miniature loch about his feet. Foremost among all the impressions was the rain itself, and on the second day the Highlands surpassed themselves in their own supreme art from Inverness to John-o’-‘Groat’s and back to Thurso. We left Inverness at 8am, and it deluged unceasingly till six in the evening.
We were then at Thurso, and the trip to John-o’-Groat’s and back seemed an appalling waste of time and energy. Everyone had visions of hot drinks and warm fires. Nothing doing. Away we went to the far northern point, and now the sun condescended to shine, and life took on a new aspect. By white-walled cottages and fields of mustard we hurtled, each cottage with its knock-kneed horse and its village idiot in the way of a rooster determined to commit suicide—away to the dreaming little ‘land’s end’, which most people picture as standing, isolated and grand, alone on a rugged cape, but which, in reality, might be any spot on the coast of Norfolk. I have omitted, however, to mention the delightful little hotel at Lairg where we took lunch that day—I think the best lunch we had, and, as usual, the cheapest. The salmon was straight out of the river, and the mutton straight from the moor. Och, mon, after lunch we ordered something to keep us warm. It was brought in a tumbler, a double dose and ordinary price—the choicest pre-war stuff at that. The road following consists of a series of ridges, each exactly 2in wide. You select your ridge, and tight-rope along it till it terminates in a shell-hole. Also there are corners, so mild and gentle-looking as you approach; but these corners continue and become sharper till you find yourself ricochetting over the ruts into the rushes. This ceased at length. We were skirting a loch—still pouring in solid sheets. One obtained visions of fairy groves of silver birch, with beds of flowering ‘flags’ here and there. The corners became worse, and real grease hampered us now. Someone overshot, and was found seated serenely among the iris while his machine reclined at the loch margin. He said he was all right, anyway, and ‘Good old Scotland’. He had been taking advantage of the one sunny spot in a sunless day. Another rider shot by me at about 47mph over the ruts and shell holes. He had one finger on the bars, and he turned right round in the saddle and grinned at me—a silly, idiotic grin, considering
the roads and the weather, considering our boots were full of water, and a burn following the trend of our back- bones. He, too, had been guarding against chill! Rain and more rain. Colliver was my riding mate, and all the week we stuck together, closer than brothers, exchanging dust and occasional comments. Other riders hurtled by in clouds of brown spray. Many overshot corners, not a few blued their engines or had tyre troubles. Often we saw Hugh Gibson, who was truly one of the heroes of the Trial, surmounting insurmountable obstacles, never unduly early, never late. The little Clyno possessed an extraordinarily vicious bark, and was a marvel of power and speed…after a long ascent which terminated in a sharp bend round a protruding crag, I came upon my friend and team mate, Alan Hill, lying under his machine. It was one of those spills for which one cannot account, as the road surface was comparatively good. Hill had quite seriously damaged his leg, and at first we thought he had broken it. Ten precious minutes were lost ere we could get him astride his machine again, but the fall led to a short circuit in his ignition system and other minor troubles, which caused him, in a semi-dazed state, to lose twelve marks on time in this check. His subsequent failure on Kenmore was due to his partially disabled condition. The fifth day was not remarkable except for its tremendous length and the terrific deluges, but the sixth day all but proved my Waterloo. After lunch at Innerleithen I missed an arrow, and duly found myself in isolated splendour almost at Dalkeith. Then came miles of full throttle, overshooting arrows, finishing half the corners on the grass, and feeling thankful that I had spared my engine earlier in the week. So on to Giffard, checking in at the last second of the last minute of my three minutes’ allowance, and on again to Redstone Rig. Almost at the top the low gear chain broke, and there was nothing for it but to slam into high. A series of short, savage konks carried me past the non-stop section, where chain cases were torn off, and the discovery made that the spare chain would not fit. It was at this juncture that CP Wood sportingly came to my aid, giving up at least twenty minutes of his time on the twenty-seven miles check. One word for the officials, who were gentlemen and sportsmen, and for the organisation-, which was superb. Though a reliability trial in the true sense, this year’s Scottish Six Days will prove a source of many happy memories to all who participated in it.”
“Reflections on the Scottish trials.
SOME IMPRESSIONS OF THE SIX DAYS Trials in the Highlands. Notes on Hills and Outstanding Performances of Riders by an Observer who covered the Course.
Only twenty-six competitors out of ninety-four starters in the Scottish Six Days Trial secured gold medals. If viewed superficially, this low percentage of successes would seem to reflect discredit upon the modern motor cycle. It is perhaps well to remember that a competitor had only to lose one mark to forfeit his ‘gold’. A stop on one of the ten test hills through carelessness or misfortune, or to be more than three minutes behind schedule time at any one of the thirty-three checks, was sufficient to relegate a rider to the second class. That twenty-six riders covered the difficult course without loss of a single mark is a remarkable tribute to the reliability of present-day motor cycles. Anyone fresh back from the Highlands, with its memories of hills, hairpin bends, bad roads, and the rain must indeed marvel at the performances of both men and machines. Tyre troubles and falls were responsible for more failures than mechanical deficiencies. B Alan Hill (3½hp P&M) can usually be counted on for a gold medal, yet was knocked out on this account. He had a fall on Thursday that was mainly responsible for his failure on Kenmore the following day, because he could not use his leg to steady himself in the deep ruts at the foot of the hill. Jesse Baker (3¾hp Scott) is another consistently good performer who had to retire through a fall, although his machine was in no way damaged. W Westwood (Triumph) made a third expert rider who lost a premier award by a fluke. He
changed into ‘top’ a little too soon on Mam Ratachan, causing a momentary wobble in the rough. Causes of retirement were various. A Alexander (7-9hp Indian) had two punctures in the first twelve miles of the trial, and retired when the rear tyre collapsed altogether. Campbell McGregor (3½hp single-geared Brough) averaged about five punctures per day, and finally retired on the sixth day through this cause. OPC Collier (Beardmore-Precision) so damaged his machine in a fall that he was unable to proceed. Beck (8hp New Imperial sc) retired on Tuesday owing to the bearings of his rear wheel giving out. D Wright (4hp Blackburne) burst a tyre, and had a fall that caused his retirement, while J Morton on a sister machine had a collision with a Ford van. Tom Peck (4½hp Ariel) had tyre troubles, and in striving to make up time fractured his piston. GW Lush, who very sportingly drove a 3hp ABC with a sidecar, can blame tyre troubles for his failure to finish. He had persistent punctures, and when he arrived in the control on Wednesday night (when the rules allowed a change of tyres), his rear tyre was in ribbons. Making up time and riding with a flat tyre may have been responsible for the fork breaking on the last day. Illness was responsible for Mrs Knowles’s withdrawal on the sixth day, and a smash through taking a right-hand bend too fast accounted for Hamilton (Harley-Davidson sc). Water in the magneto led to the retirement of J Westwood Wills (2¾hp Verus). The causes of the retirement of ‘Parson Wilkin’, as the Rev JM Philpott (2¾hp Wilkin) came to be known, were many, but he was finally knocked out by his carrier coming adrift. Serious mechanical breakdowns were exceedingly few. EC Palmer (ABC) had a broken camshaft, and Mrs Bell (6hp AJS sc) within a mile of the finish also had engine trouble. Norman Black (Norton) with only a few miles to go, ‘chewed up’ his gears. So much for the unfortunates. One must admire many of them for their plucky but futile efforts to carry on under difficulties. We will now consider the credit side of the balance sheet. There were few new machines to attract attention, but many watched with interest the performances of the new P&Ms. This was their first appearance in a really long and severe trial, and they have distinguished themselves considerably. To begin with, it takes a good 500cc machine to maintain schedule time
over such a course, and yet be able to make clean ascents of all the observed hills; and secondly, their steering and road-holding propensities were noticeably good on loose surfaces. Another machine which has so far done but little competition work in this country is the 3½hp spring frame Douglas. Ellison Hawkes, the rider of the only one in the trial, was dogged with tyre trouble, but was delighted with the smooth pulling of the engine, and at times one could not help envying his smooth and comfortable progress over the villainous roads. He managed to secure a ‘bronze’. Tyre troubles, as already mentioned, were frequent and disastrous throughout the trial, but large tyres have suddenly come•into great prominence, and most of the machines so fitted were entirely immune from punctures. Good riding plays a very important part over Scottish roads, and it was curious that so many of our very best and steadiest riders lost marks through falls this year. JA Newman (3½hp Sunbeam), HM Batten (3½hp P&M), L Guy (3¾hp Scott), and AL Downie (2¾hp Wilkin) were all conspicuous for their fine riding, and Hugh Gibson’s performance on the little two-speed two-stroke Clyno was a thing to wonder at. A fall on the Spittal of Glenshee damaged his footrests to such an extent that he constantly ‘blinded’ so as to have time to refix them temporarily, yet his little engine never overheated, and climbed all hills comfortably. While on the subject of riding, both the lady competitors deserve special mention, though both had extremely hard luck. Olive M Knowles, after some riding which astonished even the old hands, was forced to retire through laryngitis, developed on the last morning, and Mrs Duncan Bell failed in Princes Street, Edinburgh, within pushing distance of the finish. Only two single-geared machines remained in the trial long enough to be interesting, and of these Campbell McGregor (3½hp Brough) was eliminated by tyre trouble, while Robert Carfrae (4hp Triumph), though he failed on five hills, lost no marks on time, and is to be congratulated on a very sporting, if somewhat arduous, ride. There were no single-cylinder sidecars in the trial—the first time the Scottish Six Days entry has not included such machines. This was perhaps unfortunate, because the single is undoubtedly the utility mount for the masses, and, although to have got a 4hp sidecar through the trial would have been no mean achievement, the chances of
success well merited the effort on the part of some of the makers of these popular machines. The performance of the little ABC sidecar was really remarkable, for it must be remembered that the engine has a capacity of only 400cc, and yet it got round, with only one hill failure, to within fifty miles of the finish. If I were asked which make I considered had put up the best all-round performance, I should hesitate between the BSA, the C1yno, the Rover, and the P&M. The only Coulson B entry also secured a ‘gold’. This was the only 100% result achieved by any make of machine. The BSA record is decidedly good. Seven were entered, four obtained golds’, and three ‘silver’. They secured the team prize, as they deserved to do, thus repeating their performance in last year’s ACU Six Days Trial in Wales. Next in order of merit—although standing alone on account of the type of machine used—comes the Clyno. Three lightweights started and finished, and one secured a ‘gold’ and the lightweight prize. One 8hp model competed and also obtained the premier award. Rovers were the only other make to have their riders finish intact. Of the four entered two secured gold, one each silver and bronze medals.