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Charlie Wake Report 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Laurence Richards   
Friday, 10 December 2010

Charlie Wake

It was a grey autumn morning, but dry after a week when plenty of rain had fallen. Similar, in fact to so many Remembrance weekends in past years, each of which has featured the H.C. “Charlie” Wake Trial. Although in its heyday in the 1970’s and 80’s the event was spread over a wide area on the Surrey/Sussex border, and featured many miles of road work between groups of sections, it is still considered to be a trial to be reckoned with and certainly not suitable for beginners. We have been fortunate in recent times to have the use of Tickfold Farm at Kingsfold, and once again this year, following that recent rainfall, the steep sided gulley running through the woods was to present its usual challenges to riders of all classes.

After an enjoyable ride down the A281 and along the A29 to Winterfold, I reported for duty at a busy secretary's tent staffed by Neil Bowker, both Clerk of the Course and chief signing-on marshal (and various other jobs too), along with Tracey Mair. Course design maestro Terry Tidbury was out and about putting up signage, tweaking the details and generally making sure everything was in order, while other regulars. But while the staffing problems were perhaps less severe than on some previous occasions, we still had to rely on the goodwill of visitors to man a number of the sections, a situation which is far from ideal.

A 10.00am start time was set with the aim of getting some momentum to the day with an early finish in view – spurred on by memories of HCW and Weston Trials finishing in the gloom! Dave Kav (who had also arrived on 2 wheels) and I had spent an interesting 10 minutes or so finding our way to sections 7 and 8, at the far end of the wood, but even having inspected our hazards there was still a good 30 minutes wait before the first riders showed up. Section 8 gave everyone something to think about; a common downhill begins gate, then red route riders turned left and back up the hill via a short gully, sweeping round at the top and descending for a left turn to the ends. Intermediate riders turned right, down into the stream, back up a steep bank to rejoin the red route, but with several additional tasks including a tricky turn between trees; while experts recrossed the stream nearer to the end but via a long steep and rooted climb which proved very costly for some riders.

Elite expert riders – only three of them in fact – had an even more difficult route down into the stream and out, but this provided the incentive for some very creative riding. Despite a downhill approach, the favoured method was to leap the obstacle, which required a distance in excess of 25 feet to be cleared. This did result in a couple of spectacular failures but also several stunning successes by Ben Wibberley and Thomas Moss, much to the delight of those watching (and the surprise of the Clerk of the Course!) – and if anyone knows the whereabouts of any photos I would like to get hold of one for publication next time.

Other classes continued to work against deteriorating ground conditions through the second half of the competition, with varying degrees of success. Only one rider, eventual Youth Intermediate winner Joel Manthorpe, remained clean on section 8 throughout the day, and extremely slippery turns on the final lap led to a couple of major prangs, but most riders coped well enough and failures were the exception – plenty of 3s though!

Obviously anxious to beat nightfall, almost all the entry kept moving well, and apart from a few stragglers, most had finished by around 2.45pm, more than an hour earlier than in some recent years.

I’m getting increasing concerned about my navigational abilities. Having cleared the section markers, I set out to return to the start, and was quite convinced I knew where I was going; however, had it not been for Terry and Neil (on their final sweep of the course) seeing me climbing determinedly into a field on completely the wrong side of the stream, I might still be wandering round the woods even now – despite many visits to Tickfold Farm, I’m obviously not much nearer knowing where I am...

So all in all, it was the usual good day’s sport for all concerned. I was particularly taken with the politeness of the riders – I can’t think of one who failed to thank me for observing. When that happens, it’s certainly a pleasure.

Laurie Richards

Provisional Results
Elite: 1 Ben Wibberley (34 marks lost), 2Thomas Moss (59)
Youth Elite: 1 Mark Cottingham (96)
Expert: 1 Mark Baker (38), 2 Nicky Dowland (59), 3 James Connor (77)
Youth Expert: 1 Ben Heane (135)
Intermediate: 1 James Gammons (16), 2 Jerry Green (30), 3 James Hickmott (35)
Youth Inter: Joel Manthorpe (17)
Novice: 1 Robert Rout (16), 2 Ralph Charman (32), 3 Paul Stephen (33)
Youth Novice: 1 Aidan Bowker (85)
Over 40: 1 David Shave (30)
Over 50: 1 Derek Baker (17)
Twinshock: 1 Roy Purvis (27)

 
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