The first six days’ trial since 1914 was tougher than ever, but so were the bikes. Prepare for a tale of determination, derring do, and fishing.
“ALTHOUGH THE EDINBURGH MC did not expect a large trade entry for their first post-war Six Days’ Trials, there is no doubt that the officials were disappointed when the dozen riders who had been entered were suddenly withdrawn in accordance with the decision of the Manufacturers’ Union…The trial this year was organised more or less as a reunion after four blank years during which everyone concerned has been scattered all over the world, and the Scottish riders, who form the major portion of the private-owner element, and the officials of the Club were looking forward to meeting once again those trade experts who have so keenly appreciated the sporting nature of past trials and the treatment they have always received at the hands of the sporting Scotchmen…The crack trade rider is ruled out, and this most sporting event is, for the first, and we hope for the last, time confined to the amateur and shamateur…the works-tuned mount being, for once, conspicuous by its absence…Judging from the machines, the mascot craze is coming to a dead end, and Brash, who carries a rabbit’s foot as a mascot, is the only interesting exception. Macrae is carrying a small fishing rod lashed to the handle-bars of
his Harley, with which, presumably, to while away idle moments en route…The few good patches which existed in 1914 are now, it is said, as bad as the worst of the less frequented roads, being completely smashed up by timber haulage…Wednesday’s route from Inverness to Beauly and Braemore encompasses a new hill which we are all learning to pronounce. It is spelt Aultnaharie, and correctly pronounced only as McGregor and his satellites pronounce it. It is on everybody’s lips, in several translations, and some idea as to the ferocity of the gradient can be judged by the special clause in the rules: ‘In the event of 90% of the competitors starting that day failing on Aultnaharie Hill, failure on this hill will not disqualify a competitor from gaining a gold medal, but competitors who make a clean ascent will be awarded some form of recognition for their performance.’ From all accounts the hill has so far been climbed only by an AC light car, a 2¾hp AJS, and a Douglas. It is said that the riders go round three sides of a cottage, and, on the third ‘leg’, look down its chimney…At Croall’s Garage the Triumph, Douglas, and Sunbeam riders stand idly by their machines. Cool and soft-voiced officials proceed with the work of sealing. Wills, who will lead the competitors, anticipates a world of trouble. He has a hole in his crank case stuffed with solder. A Blackburne and an ABC have just ticked quietly into their places on the tan floor of the official garage, which, under ordinary conditions, is a horse repository…
As a strong contrast to the weather of yesterday, the sun shone brilliantly, as, under perfect conditions, JW Wills (5hp Rover) led the fifty competitors from Croall’s Garage at nine o’clock this morning. In addition to the ‘trade’ entrants, which were withdrawn, there were several other non-starters through various causes, but chiefly due to the non-delivery of new machines, several of which were held up by the railway strike. As the competitors went away in pairs and singly, disappointed entrants learnt from the newspapers that the strike had been settled. It lent a touch of irony that the settlement should come a few hours too late to benefit them, so far as riding in the trial is concerned…The greatest enthusiasm prevailed, and as the last man disappeared round Princes Street Gardens The Motor Cycle recorder of facts and failures mounted his Scott and followed, with the staff photographer on his Victory Matchless in pursuit…
We left Edinburgh this morning under ideal weather conditions, and the run to the first check at Stirling was without incident—save that, if facts were obtainable, it might stand out as the greatest blind in history. Dead straight, dead hard main roads the whole of the way—pot-holes? Yes, assuredly, but for the most part the road was tarred, and the occasional moth-eaten patches did not prevent a high average…We came across Wills, busily shedding the last remaining relic of the chain case of his 6hp Rover and complaining of an elusive rattle. On arriving at the lunch control we were told that Spence had fallen out and was getting a new wheel axle turned up for his 4¼hp BSA. It was said that he intended to continue, but we have not seen him since. We also heard that Hugh Gibson and Frank Smith, not to be deprived of at least seeing some of the fun of this classic event, had turned up on a new Clyno. Somewhere between Crieff and Aniulree, J Shepherd (6hp Campion) fell out for good, owing, it is said, to magneto transmission troubles. Not a murmur of tyre troubles yet. We were on the famous hill in good time to obtain a seat. A very fair show of spectators were present, the weather being glorious. Wills, dead on time, came up behind us and made a clean ascent, though he found that the removal of the chain case had not removed his rattle which is worrying him. The first bit of excitement was caused by Cunningham’s Morgan. At the sound of his exhaust, the spectators stood clear. He stormed the first bend in fine style, but the second was too much for him. He slowly, but surely, came to a stop. Newman, who was directly following, rode skilfully round on his 3½hp Sunbeam, and was cheered by the onlookers. H Alexander (8hp Enfield) failed, and, when finally Cunningham restarted and got away, he did so at the expense of his clutch, and was compelled to retire. Beck (3½hp Sunbeam) struck his footrests with a crash at the first corner, but managed to ricochet out of it. On the second corner he ran into the loose sand, charged the bank, and, of course, failed. JR Alexander on his 7-9hp Indian outfit made an excellent ascent, and Hutchison (4hp Douglas sc) negotiated both corners well, then, for some reason, konked out within five
yards of the finish of the hill. Douglas Alexander (8hp Enfield sc) came up much too fast, skidded round the first corner, and stopped on the second owing to his sidecar lifting. AL Downie (2¾hp AJS) skidded badly on the first corner, but managed to recover. By means of repeated clutch slip he successfully negotiated the second, and proceeded up the hill in fits and starts, the engine alternatively racing and konking. His ascent, however, was clean…The glorious weather was now interrupted by one of those unexpected deluges reminiscent of every Scottish Six Days up to date. Fair spectators, clad in summer cottons, looked round hopelessly for shelter, and decided there was nothing for it but to go through with the business. The rain came down in torrents for perhaps fifteen minutes, but it was rather more refreshing than otherwise, and the sunlight and cloud effect turned the mountainous panorama into a jig-saw of contrasts. Moreover, the remaining competitors had not only sadly deteriorated road surface to contend with, but also they were facing blinding rain. Duncan (4hp Douglas) made a clever climb, and Olsson (4hp Douglas) kicked and skidded his way round. The storm now became almost blinding, and Fairley (4¼hp BSA) took the second corner too fast, failed, and could not restart. Alan Hill, on his crimson Morgan, made a fine climb, as also did Macrae (Harley-Davidson sc) and George Wray on his old Clyno. Baker, whose Scott is the smartest machine in the trial, came, up with a regular TT roar, but, unfortunately, the rocks at the first corner jolted his throttle closed. He started with an immense reserve and climbed easily, and similarly Fisher’s Norton went up with power in hand. Mrs Bell made one of the cleanest and smartest climbs of the day and was enthusiastically cheered, as she deserved to be…Grinton (7hp Harley-Davidson sc), Selby (4hp Blackburne), and Miller (3½hp P&M) took the hill by storm, and Tunbridge (6hp AJS sc) and Downie (5hp Ariel sc), running neck and neck, forthwith made slow, cautious, and skilful ascents…The weather now cleared, and the play of sunlight and cloud effect tempted one to dally on the hill-tops. The descent was a veritable nightmare, and we are tempted to think there will be many failures here on the return, owing to the appalling combination of loose sand and bedrocks that comprise the road. We now kept to the rear, prepared to cheer up the cripples, but mile after mile was reeled off without a glimpse of a stranded roadfarer.
Driving mist, stinging rain, diagonal draining gutters looming unexpectedly from the chaos of rocks and fog, unending miles of wet, shifting sand, of deep, slimy mud, of half wild mountain sheep minus decision of purpose or the strength of character to carry their intentions into effect; add to that the house-side gradients and roads, which appear to have been designed by a tipsy corkscrew manufacturer, and one has a dim impression of to-day’s riding. Those who have been associated with the trial from the first say they do not recall a day when weather and road conditions combined with such unity to annihilate the prospective gold medallist. Now and then we emerged below the clouds to catch glimpses of majestic salmon rivers or of deep, rich glens between the mountains—mere glimpses to help one to realise what the ride might have been. We have bumped and jolted and skidded for endless miles through rain we could not face, or peered anxiously through drifting highland mists in search of the next protruding rock or deeply washed water gulley calculated to break our frames, and for once the sidecarists were better able to stick the pace than the solo mounts. Immediately one attempted an acceleration one plunged into a sea of water or slime, rising suddenly from out of the mist, and immediately proceeded to give an excellent representation of a frog on a buttered plate. Anyway, here we are, with the bagpipes wailing without—waiting for the tail end of the dripping officials to come in with their clammy wet papers…The Devil’s Elbow was in bad shape, and after that there followed, as one rider put it, ‘forty miles of concentrated hill!’…Harry Macrae (7-9hp Harley-Davidson sc) climbed well and changed into middle directly after the second bend. Capt Hay-Will (6hp AJS sc) was badly baulked and forced into the heather on the extreme left of the second bend. He kept up a good speed in spite of jolts, regained his grip and recovered well, making an excellent performance. W Young (4hp Triumph) fell at the first corner, and the succeeding ten miles were too much for him. He checked in at Inverness very late…undoubtedly, the thrill of the morning was put up by Fairley (4¼hp BSA), who was behind time, and stormed the first corner at tremendous speed. Thereafter he skidded broadside about ten
yards, turned a complete circle, and fell…the second observed hill of the day was Cockbridge Ladder. The surface consists of wet yellow mud on solid bedrock. The first corner is easy, the second is a right angle on a gradient of about 1 in 3 with the road sloping the wrong way, then after about half a mile of stiff collar work there comes a second right angle, succeeded by miles of middle gear jolting, skidding, and grinding, so that skill alone did not suffice to assure clean ascents…Mrs Bell (6hp AJS sc) was the first sideearist to arrive, and failed from wheel spin, baulking Moir (3½hp Sunbeam), who rode round cleverly and made a very clean ascent. The driving mist now became a deluge. Miller (3½hp P&M) rode up well, and Downie (5-6hp Ariel) made a good climb in spite of wheel spin. George Wray (5-6hp Clyno sc) was apparently overgeared. He tackled the steeper side to get out of the slime, konked, and ran backwards, all but ejecting his passenger…The surface was now awful, the churning wheels cutting deeply into the mud, so that the gradient consisted of scores of wheel ruts, each one filled with a rivulet of trickling water. JR Alexander (7-9hp Indian sc) failed from wheel spin, but is, we understand, protesting, while DS Alexander (8hp Enfield sc) made a good climb. AH Alexander was baulked by Hutchison (4hp Douglas sc), but rode well, while Hutchison asserts that his failure was caused by an effort to avoid baulking Alexander.
To-day has reduced the number of potential gold medallists to the merest smattering. The weather has been fine for the most part in the valleys, but practically all day we have been riding in the clouds through banks of driving mist over roads treacherous with wet clay, boulders, and shingle. The old hands among the competitors are unanimous in the opinion that this is the most difficult trial that has yet taken place. In 1914 solo competitors were allowed ten minutes’ and passenger machines fifteen minutes’ latitude of schedule time; this year all alike are allowed but four minutes. Added to this is the abnormal condition of road surfaces—factors which reduce the event to one prolonged TT. Mrs Bell and others are complaining of over-fatigue, and the number of starters to-morrow will depend largely upon the hearing of to-day’s protest. Nine miles out of Inverness a whole bunch missed an arrow and went nine or ten miles out of their way. Two did the thirty-five miles over freak hills and freak surfaces in the time allowed for the thirty-mile check, and a massed protest of the others is pending. The attempt to rectify the error over the appalling roads led to numerous mishaps, including Emerson (3hp ABC), who broke his frame and retired towards the end of the day. JE Alexander (7-9 Indian sc) had a day of punctures, but, taking great risks, lost no marks on time over two-thirds of the journey when the tread came clean off his rear tyre, and he has now joined the ever-growing band of ‘tail-enders’ for whom a bronze is the only possible award. Hutchison (4hp Douglas sc), after a clever climb of Aultnaharie, broke his sidecar chassis and retired. George Wray (5-6hp Clyno sc) broke a coupling on the outward journey when travelling at speed, and experienced a bad smash mounting an eight-foot bank and colliding with a telegraph pole. Luckily, neither he nor his passenger suffered injuries. Macrae (7-9hp Harley sc) also broke a sidecar connection and retired. Twelve different competitors have had more or less serious falls during the day, and tyre troubles have been unending. We descended Aultnaharie through driving mist, took lunch at the foot, where there was just room to stack the machines at the loch margin, and later ascended. Nearly everyone was out of petrol and a motor boat was despatched for a fresh supply. The hill is about one and a half miles long, the gradient varying from 1 in 2.8. The surface consists of jagged rocks, boulders, sand and shingle. The first three solos came up successfully. Macrae (7-9hp Indian sc), the first sidecarist rider, failed, as also did the surviving Morgan, both unable to obtain wheel grip. Hill’s gold medal, therefore, is gone, which is hard lines as he has a good machine and drives it magnificently…H Alexander (8hp Enfield sc) failed on the first corner, overheated owing to wheel spin and was compelled to shed his passenger. J Beck (3½hp Sunbeam) went over the edge, rolling with his machine for twenty or thirty feet. Downie took the corner well without his passenger performing acrobatic feats. Emerson (3hp ABC) purred up comfortably but broke his chain midway. Moir (3½hp Sunbeam) crashed among the rocks…There were sixteen failures on the hill. Despite the gruelling, eighteen competitors still have clean sheets.
The most remarkable news item of to-day is that it has not rained. We seem to have been ricochetting over mountain tracks, through drifting cloud banks, since trials began, but to-day brought a glorious relief in the way of almost uninterrupted sunshine, good roads and an entire lack of exciting wayside incidents…DS Alexander (6hp Enfield sc) broke a wheel spindle and retired. Moir (3½hp Sunbeam) also has retired owing to tyre troubles. Applecross was, of course, the event of the ride. We ourselves rode out just ahead of the competitors, and made the long trying ascent with a following breeze in a stagnant atmosphere, the sun seeming to concentrate his rays on the hard-worked engine, yet the new 3½hp Douglas, which we were now riding, took the interminable gradient with the greatest ease…Halfway up we found McGregor making a restart, owing to the petrol having fallen to the back of his tank…we feel that special comment should be made concerning the kindly treatment that has been shown by the judges; no reasonable protest has been turned down, none have been refused a hearing. A sporting event conducted by sportsmen is a true description of the Scottish Six Days. Ye gods! What a gruelling they are giving us, perched on a pinnacle commanding the three hairpins, the scene that lay below was in itself worthy of the ascent. Overlooking the island-studded rock-dotted loch, with range after range of rugged indigo fading into the distance, the highest peaks were cloud wreathed, some indeed still carrying snow, and a fairy-like effect of light and shade played on the whole scene…The Morgan climbed well: a cascade of shingle flying from the rear wheel, steam issuing with volcanic vigour from the radiator, it was certainly a fearsome machine, and the flying stones were dangerous to approach. Baker (3¾hp Scott), whose gear seems to grip with dog-clutch fierceness, took the first corners OK, but over-ran and crashed into the ditch at the second; he also had ‘got steam up’. AH Alexander (4hp Douglas SC) hit the wall at the bottom corner with his sidecar wheel, otherwise he made a fine ascent. He, with Mrs Alexander as a very plucky and skilful passenger, is piloting his little mount with an able hand. The pluck of the lady passengers and of the sole lady competitor is really inspiring. If Mrs Bell (6hp AJS sc) gets her bronze medal she wiU have triumphed over conditions which have tried out all but the topmost cream of the male competitors. Brash (7-9hp Harley sc) climbed well, and it may be added that this very able rider accomplished the impossible later in the day by changing the rear cover of his Harley-Davidson between checks in twelve minutes… Duncan (4hp Douglas) was stopped on an easy part of the gradient by a boulder, the size of a man’s two fists, jamming in his front forks. It is rather remarkable that, with the exception of two failures, neither of which was due to lack of power, the competitors climbed the famous hill without effort, thanks mainly to the weather. We partook of an excellent outdoor lunch at the loch margin at Applecross, amidst scenery certainly hard to beat, returning by the same route. For romantic grandeur and absolute loneliness to-day’s and yesterday’s routes beat everything one reads of. Miles and veritable leagues with never a sign of human habitation! For hours one sees only a shepherd or a wandering tribe of half-wild gipsies. There is nothing but rock and heather, crags and clouds, and many of the competitors were quite distressed by the utter loneliness of the riding. The roads are made of splintered boulders, covered with earth and left for the rabbits to tread in. All the schools are liberated to see the competitors, the children lined up, and encouraged to cheer us on our way. Bonny Scotland is the land of unparalleled scenery, unparalleled whisky, and the worst roads that the ingenuity and cussedness of a man sporting a sporran (in war-time) could devise. The question of the evening is: ‘Who killed the blue Persian cat?’ Hutchison (4hp Douglas sc) got home yesterday by strapping up his broken chassis with dog collars. It is reported that it took him two hours to make friends with sufficient dogs to enable him to complete the repair. The Diamond, which was running magnificently, experienced a broken valve and seven punctures yesterday; the previous day it ran out of petrol, ran some miles on paraffin, during which it was compelled to tackle a test-hill, with the result of a red-hot engine. Thanks to the Vacuum man who, of his own account, yesterday drove his car over the appalling route to Aultuaharie; Jameson, the Diamond rider, and several other competitors were helped out of oil shortage difficulties, which otherwise might have compelled abandonment of the trial.
Leaving Inverness at eight o’clock—all that was left of us—we followed the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness to Fort Augustus, the weather being perfect, and, therefore, the glorious mountain scenery at its best. Thence we climbed Glendoe, the test hill of the day, and away over good roads for the most part to Grantown, where an excellent lunch was provided at the Grant Arms Hotel. The quality of the meal and the reasonable charge made for it were both an appreciable relief after the tip top prices and rock bottom returns we have experienced at Inverness. From Grantown onward the route was the same as traversed on Tuesday (Tomintoul, Cockbridge, Braemar and Perth), save that, though the road remains the worst in the entire route, we were spared the discomfort and difficulties experienced on the northward journey. In Glendoe the road winds along the course of the Glen, the verdant, pretty scenery being quite a contrast after the lonely grandeur of the mountain tops which have characterised the last few days. The observed portion of the hill is about four miles in length, undulating, but chiefly hard collar work, ending with two bad hairpins on a gradient of about 1 in 4, and a surface of deep dust intermingled with stones. In spite of a late start and belt troubles en route we managed to arrive well ahead of the competitors and took our seat overlooking the hairpins, accompanied by Donald McKay (the assistant secretary) and others. Westwood, on his Triumph, was the first to arrive, and made his usual steady climb. He is one of the few surviving veterans who have competed in every Scottish Six Days’ Trial, and his riding and timekeeping are superb. Choldcrott (4hp AJS) wobbled somewhat, but kept going. He has made an excellent performance so far. Grinton (7-9hp Harley-Davidson sc) went up very fast, as also did Alan Hill, stones and steam shooting in all directions from the Morgan wheels and radiator. Mrs I Bell (6hp AJS sc) experienced considerable front wheel banking but got up all right. She deserves a gold, whatever she is awarded, and all the lady passengers deserve awards of some sort. Most of them, it is to be feared, are pretty near the end of their tether. Duncan Bell (5-6hp James sc) made a steady climb. We noticed a squashed petrol tin jammed under his sidecar body; perhaps it had arrived there by accident, but it must have relieved the springs, of considerable strain on the rough portions of the road. The P&M and the Blackburne knocked slightly, the first hill on which they have shown such symptons, but, while the P&M got out easily, the Blackburne, to our complete surprise, all but failed. Baker’s Scott was missing fire; he slipped his gear on the first corner, but, safely round, the gear gripped suddenly and he konked out. He has since experienced considerable magneto trouble and retired. The AC light car failed from clutch slip. AH Alexander’s Douglas was missing fire owing to contact-breaker troubles, and, unfortunately, konked out thus depriving him of his probable gold. JR Alexander’s 7-9hp Indian sc was also missing fire, and again his high gear ratios proved his undoing. As soon as Beck (3½ Sunbeam) appeared all the spectators got up the bank, but on this occasion he stuck to the road, though riding much faster than was necessary. Newman’s Sunbeam probably made the star performance, though Jeffreys, riding the big AJS solo, also did well. This Australian officer is to be congratulated on his success; he entered the trial with no knowledge of such things, and merely as a means of seeing Scotland. AL Downie has put up a good show on his little 2¾hp AJS, and his brother, AF Downie (6hp AJS sc) is one of the star performers of the trial. EJ Tunbridge (6hp AJS sc) konked out, and all those unnamed made clean ascents. On the execrable roads succeeding Grantown, on which it was noticeable that many machines were misfiring owing to the awful gruelling they have undergone, the first really regrettable accident occurred. Deans (3½hp Ariel), who had a clean sheet hitherto, fell, and was run into by Grinton (7-9hp Harley-Davidson). Dean’s shoulder was slightly injured, while his Ariel was badly crumpled. The rear wheel of the Harley was buckled, but Grinton is continuing. Alan Hill got his first puncture at Corgaff, and averaged 27mph for nine miles over the most appalling portion of the whole route. The most exciting sprint of the whole trial was put up yesterday by D Alexander (8hp Enfield sc), who did 39¼ miles over truly atrocious roads in one hour.
Midway in the week we would have prophesied that the first-class awards this year would be counted on the fingers of one hand; but, since then, glorious weather has favoured us, and, during such brief spells enjoyed in the Highlands, the most impossible hills became possible and the roughest tracks moderately rideable. As the trial nears its end, we have learnt how to make up the time over boulder-strewn and shifting surfaces. We have learnt to ignore our machines and our native instincts of self-preservation and to blind all out down steep gradients. To-day’s ‘pimple’ was Kenmore on the north side of Amulree…the difficulties are enhanced by the jagged outcrops of rock which form slanting steps, as it were, at the worst hairpins. Selby (4hp Blackburne) experienced an aggravating piece of bad luck. On the way out, he broke a chain link. His spares had gone astray and he was riding the Blackburne without spares of any kind so was compelled to retire. He had a clean sheet thereto, though we noticed yesterday that his engine had suddenly developed a mysterious overheating. Douglas Alexander (8hp Enfield sc) again had chain trouble, and once more put up some marvellous stunts. On the hill, Black’s Triumph exhibited its usual reserve of power; Hill (8hp Morgan) came up very fast and took the second hairpin on two wheels in real Gordon-Bennett style. Tunbridge (6hp AJS sc) failed on the first hairpin, and AL Downie (2¾hp AJS) is reported by the observer to have failed, thus losing his first mark. Downie, however, protests that his ascent was clean, and his protest was eventually upheld. Douglas Alexander (8hp Enfieid sc) broke both engine chains within five yards of the end of the observed stretch, and all other competitors made clean ascents, thus bringing to an end the last of the difficulties of what has probably been the most strenuous British six-day trial on record.
Aultnaharie ridden cold was undoubtedly the worst hill of the trial, and, consequently, claimed the most victims, though Glendoe and Amulree also took their toll. Amulree is the first hill of the trial, and a good many competitors invariably fail through stage fright. Thursday was the most strenuous day, the roads on both sides of Cockbridge being terrible at any time, and near upon impossible in driving mist and rain such as we encountered. Wednesday also will live long in the memory of many of the riders, vile weather adding no little to the endless desolation of the route and the natural difficulties of the moorland tracks. The special award has gone to trade rider AF Downie, who has put up an excellent performance on his AJS sidecar. The solo riding gold medallists have run so close together in the uniform excellence of their performances that it is impossible to set down one as better than another. AL Downie (2¾hp AJS) probably overcame the greatest difficulties, as he had no power to play with, and climbed the various precipices only by delicate fingering of his clutch. Of the new riders, JW Wills (5-6hp Rover-JAP) rode well. He is given to ‘stunting’ but is cautious where caution is needed. Experience will teach him to cut out the theatricals. Black’s (4hp Triumph) particular temperament is better adapted to the TT than a Scottish Six Days, but he is blessed with excellent judgment. Capt W Strettell Miller has a good head, and rode throughout in the most praiseworthy manner. GH Cassie (4hp Douglas) takes his hairpins too fast, but, being a Highlander, he probably likes that sort of thing. Fairley (4¼hp BSA) is only nineteen years of age, and had not ridden a BSA till the day before the trial, so his performance reflects credit both upon its makers and himself. Of the silver medallists, Hill’s (8hp Morgan) judgment and the pluck of Mrs Hill, his passenger, deserve special comment, while Mrs Bell (AJS) has, of course, put up a wonderful performance. AH Alexander (4hp Douglas sc) lost his gold medal only by his contact points working loose at the top of Glendoe, but he has achieved his purpose, in that he has proved the 4hp Douglas as capable as a sidecar machine of climbing the worst hills in Scotland under the most strenuous conditions. Milne (4¼hp BSA) also is a steady rider. Among the third-class awards, Claude Duncan (4hp Douglas) was ‘priceless’. Eight punctures a day have been his average, and his gold and silver medals gone, leaving him with two hours to play with at every check; he instituted a system of tea parties and fishing expeditions, which were a source of endless merriment to the tale-end officials. The organisation and arrowing have been perfect, and the true sporting spirit of the event in every way upheld. McGregor, in his Ford, has covered the entire route and climbed every hill with the competitors—a most praiseworthy performance.
☞ The Motor Cycle representative rode one of the new 3½hp spring frame Douglases. He covered the entire route, and observed every competitor on every hill—a feat which would probably have been impossible, owing to fatigue, on a rigid frame machine.
☞ Every wheel of Downie’s AJS outfit is perfect, no side shake, and no broken spokes—the only time he has experienced such immunity in a Scottish Six Days’. He puts it down to larger wheels and tyres.
☞ The lesson of the Scottish Six Days’: ‘Go canny with unknown hairpins’.
☞ Macrae got his bit of fishing—two fine trout on Friday and one on Saturday.
☞ One competitor uncertain of the route eventually found a dead cat in the middle of the road and further on a dead rabbit. He was then sure he was right. Curiously enough McGregor’s Ford was the only vehicle that preceded him.
☞ There were sixteen failures on Aultnaharie, on Amulree only twelve.
☞ A competitor, after a day of tyre troubles, went into a shop to buy a collar, and when questioned as to the size demanded 26×2½.
☞ Emerson was a late starter, and mid-way on a mountain road ran out of petrol. A sporting car driver, thinking it was a race, rushed up to him, and insisted on instantly filling his tank, refusing payment, and urging him on in pursuit of the others.
☞ Baker’s Scott simply bristled with gadgets, which are the subjects of patents.
First-class Awards: JW Wills (5-6hp Rover-Jap); N Black (4 Triumph); JA Newman (3½hp Sunbeam); W Westwood (4hp Triumph); HE Fairley (4¼hp BSA); Vivian Olsson (4hp Douglas); EW Choldcrolt (4hp AJS) Capt Hay-Will (6hp AJS sc); RB Clark (4hp Douglas); HG Cassia (4hp Douglas); A Downie (6hp AJS sc). Special Awards: Capt Strettell Miller (3½hp P&M); DM Brash (7-9hp Harley-Davidson sc); AP Downie (6hp AJS sc). Second-class Awards: DS Milne (4¼hp BSA); AH Alexander (4hp Douglas sc); Jas Beck (3½hp Sunbeam); JA Jeffreys (6hp AJS); GC Stead (AC Light Car); Alan Hill (8hp Morgan); AL Downie (2¾hp AJS); Mrs Bell (6hp AJS sc); Duncan Bell (5-6hp James sc); A Downie (6hp AJS sc). Third-class Awards: Claude Duncan (4hp Douglas); DS Alexander (8hp Enfield sc); EJ Tunbridge (6hp AJS sc).
To summarise the results, the solo machines are in the majority where gold medals are concerned on account of their larger entry, but the proportion of awards is very little higher than in the sidecar class. This year’s starters included twenty-nine solos, eighteen sidecars, two Morgans, and one light car. Of the solo machines nine secured gold medals, one special award, four silver medals, one bronze medal, and fourteen retired. The sidecars secured two gold medals, one special award, four silver and two bronze medals, and eight retired. One Morgan obtained a silver medal, as did the only light car in the trial. Retirements in the solo class represented nearly 50% of the starters, while in the sidecar class the proportion was a little over 55%. Only those who have driven a sidecar through a Scottish Trial can appreciate the difficulties to be overcome, and the latter results, therefore, compare very favourably. The withdrawal of the trade entries appeared to be a somewhat risky experiment, as most of the manufacturers were represented in the trials by sporting amateurs, and it must be a source of great satisfaction to most makers that these entrants have succeeded in riding to victory in a trial which is the most severe of any Six Days event to be organised. Road and climatic conditions added to the severity of the gradients made the winning of an award an achievement of which to be proud, and we congratulate the competitors, especially those who are newcomers to the competition field, upon their performances.”
THE MOTOR CYCLE’S SMUDGER had his own tale to tell: “Photographing the Scottish Six Days always means ten or twelve days of hard riding, and, after following the 1913 and 1914 events on a solo machine, I decided that a sidecar is better to accommodate the
heavy paraphernalia…I was away on holidays at the time the Editor decided that my fingers should press the button. I was recalled from the coast by wire, and had thirty-six hours in which thoroughly to overhaul the machine and fit new tyres. My mount is an 8hp Victory Matchless with many thousands of miles to its credit, so I made my way straight to Messrs Colliers at Woolwich, arriving at noon on the Wednesday prior to the trial. A few words with CR Collier to explain matters were sufficient for this sporting manufacturer. He helped to dismantle the machine himself, and very soon the engine, gear box, and wheels were out for overhaul. In the afternoon he turned his men on to the job, and by 6pm I left the works with the machine in trim for the strenuous week’s work…With the same good-hearted sportsmanship as displayed by the Collier firm, the Palmer Tyre, Ltd, fitted a new set of tyres, and by midday on Thursday I was ready for the Northern trip. With the exception of a stop to rectify the timing, which had slipped, the run to the Scottish capital was without incident other than running into a very bad thunderstorm a few miles from my destination. The actual running time was sixteen hours—25 mph average…I left Edinburgh on the day following the conclusion of the trial and cruised back to London at an easy speed, arriving on Tuesday morning. The Victory Matchless is fitted with an 8hp JAP engine and an Amac carburetter, and my petrol consumption works out at over 60mpg, but under less strenuous conditions I frequently obtain 70mpg despite the heavy loads I usually carry. My total mileage to provide readers of The Motor Cycle with a photographic record of the 1919 Scottish trials is 1,768—covered in twelve days.”