Sunday, 30 January 2011

Exeter Trial Pt 2 "Battle of Meerhay"

Approaching our allocated 3.08 am, I peered around the emptying museum shop, less bodies on the floor now and a particular atmosphere promoted by pale, gaunt, looking faces.  Perhaps this should be an audition for Sean Of the Dead!
It is amazing how the pulse quickens as we anticipate the call  "158" to collect our card and depart.
I seriously felt that "I am going to have to dig deep" to continue to successfully read navigation notes and stay alert for the next 12 or more hours.
Here it is, 158 depart when ready!

Triumph Outfit

HRG, Very stylish.

Walking to the car through the rain I noticed an elderly VMCC BMW single and gave humbling thought for an elderly rider who was just about to set out, many hours after the rest of the bikes. What spirit to set out in these conditions when so many would be happy to sit back and reflect!

And off through the rain to Meerhay!
Trials cars with a tiny window and low seating and flying spray, are not the best for night time road work in pouring rain.
 This was certainly illustrated dramatically as we plunged in to a huge unseen flood at 45 to 50 mph. A wall of water enveloped us totally, not overly worried  I thought that it is only a brief shock and in a second we will be out... no not so, grips tightened as the time and  water seemed to stretch far beyond a reasonable period, now we are concerned, Jeremy doing an excellent driving task keeping us straight and hoping the road would be following the same route as the little Troll! And of course hoping the cars following us were doing the same.
Finally we came out of the aquatic Armageddon, (yes I know bit exaggerated but it was scary).
I also realised that the road was edged by 4 or 5 foot high banks either side, I guess these would have kept us in line if Jeremy hadn't!
Within minutes we were entering a spluttering Troll into a long green lane drive, very quietly creeping past Meerhay Manor and the Manor cottages. A whispering queue formed, muted voices, rustling and patter of rain on canvas, we could have been camping!
I clambered out to reduce the rear tyre pressures to 10 or 15psi. This the start of a ritual of careful removal of the dust cap before being handed from gloved hand to gloved hand in exchange for the on board airline.
The consequences of the water now taking effect, as we enter the hold for Meerhay hill test the Troll entered in to a detonating, shuddering misfire before cutting dead, rolling back into a convenient gate to allow those behind us to move into position. Out with a rag and trusty WD 40, we were running again in a moment. All tension building stuff!
Finally at the start of our first observed climb, all very friendly with a good morning to the observers and "Off you go when your ready, oh and good luck"..
Jeremy Launched the Troll off the start line as we bolted toward the tunnel vision allowed by our lamps into the murk. What a shock, I was not ready for this, yes the climb was as I had anticipated, but the huge bouldered mud strewn dips and rises were car crunchingly wicked. We lurched and we leapt from grip to grip and smashed against boulder after boulder, not once did Jeremy let off. I flew high out of my seat, I slammed in to my seat, the light picked out wild things in tree tops and pointed down into terrible transmission eating caverns, then for a moment I saw a burning something to my right, thoughts raced through my mind of a hapless competitor standing next to a burning wreck. Crack, another ear splitting metallic sound of destruction somewhere beneath us.... and then it was all over, just like that, Jeremy called "That's it first one down".
No suggestion of alarm or concern, he was just calm, bar for a casual remark "That was a bit rough this year"
    A bit Rough!!

Our Troll. Thank you to Dave Cook, link will follow in next part.

As a footnote, 10 days ago a friend called in my workshop, he mentioned that he was marshalling at Meerhay this year and that as always they had a huge bonfire to warm by (ah! that'll be the "wreck" I saw)!

Incidentally, he also said it was one of the worst years for broken transmissions on this hill....

To be continued....


  1. Really enjoying reading about your trials adventure. I had no idea they were such feats of endurance. If I did I might not have been quite so quick to agree to be a 'bouncer' next month. Ah, who am I kidding - it's going to be great! I'll be in a GN with a 3.5 litre v-twin. Any advice for a novice? :)

  2. Oh No..... I know that car........oooooo! fwsss (thats a sucking thro teeth sound)!!!
    Seriously, what a car to be doing it in, I love that car. Please keep me posted :)

  3. I just remembered a funny thing about that car, you may have noticed, when it starts that big motor, onlookers actually always run or step back a few paces before taking on a "that didn't scare me" look!

  4. ha ha, I'll get some 'not looking scared' practise in before I go.

  5.'ll need it! :).
    Just jealous really, have a great time.