Trials for all

What a surprise to see a photo of me and my 1938 Ariel RH 500 on page 37 of the April OBM. I am pictured descending a ‘medium’ steep hill at a practice day near Meopham in Kent. The organising club were the Double Five. This must have been circa 1995.

My very first Pre-’65 Trial was in 1990 on a Greeves Scottish, at Brands Hatch. This trial was organised to run ‘within’ the Festival of 1000 Bikes. I had a very bruising awakening, but did learn new skills in falling off! This popular VMCC event had a big input from the West Kent Section in those now distant days.

I have gleaned a lot over the years and each subsequent ‘new’ trials bike acquired was always much older. But the RH Ariel has always been my most pleasing ride.

For well over two decades this bike has been a very successful girder fork trials bike, especially in and around the South and South Eastern Centres.

A hard route winner in The Arbuthnot, as well as six team wins at the very same long distance event, held in wildest Wiltshire, plus one previous victory (for me) in the Talmag, a few in the Old Codgers (plus others), and collecting many second and third places along the way.

Also other successes in popular/major Pre-’65 events. Sadly, several of these fantastic Pre-’65 trials events are no longer running.

My Ariel trials special (converted from a vintage road racer by Ray Blackwell to LDT trials specification, and purchased by me in April 1994), had been competing regularly until a few years ago when I purchased my friend and team-mate’s 1938 Tiger 70 as an alternative.

These two bikes live alongside my 1995 ACU South Eastern Centre ‘Tele Rigid Championship’ winning 1949 AJS 18C. I have included a photo of the 2010 Arbuthnot team winners, ‘Un-Sprung Heroes’.

Me on the Ariel, previous owner Mick Brown on the Tiger 70, and new owner of the AJS, my son Steve.

At the age of 72, I find the Ariel has got heavier… so the Tiger 70 250 keeps me riding girder fork iron, because it is 40lb lighter than the RH!

I can recommend the sport of trials riding to anyone! Great camaraderie, helpful and friendly competitors, hours of riding fun for a small entry fee and brilliantly run clubs!

I will keep competing for as long as possible, but might need to build an even lighter British bike in the future? Hopefully that is an extremely long way off!

Dave Blanchard

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