The Slippery Slopes of Bidfield
I can see a bit of a pattern starting to emerge here. Setting up on Saturday done in warm, dry, bright conditions, Sunday’s trial in the wet or just after heavy rain. So it was with the trials at Bidfield this weekend. Rob and I were setting up the TYRO whilst Paul, Joe, Julian and Jordan did the RTV and CCV sections. The grass in the fields was long and wet but the underlying ground was still hard and dry, just a hint of softer stuff in a few places. Rob and I quickly bashed out 5 sections, all seemingly perfectly driveable, even by the anticipated Discos on road tyres.
Naturally it was completely different come the Sunday morning! Several hours of very heavy rain had softened the surface considerably, there was water collected in some of the hollows and some of the banks were obviously going to be very slippery, requiring a speedy rethink of the finishes on one or two sections.
Come start time we had 6 drivers signed on for the TYRO, the best for a while. As well as Myself and Rob in our respective 90s there was Simon Atkinson in his S3, Mike Pollock and Richard Pates in their Discos and newcomer Dan Devereux in a very nicely turned out red Defender 90 Td5. The latter 3 all being shod with road-pattern tyres.
I went first on the first section, followed by Rob. We both failed a short climb up to the 2 gate as it was now too slippery. The Discos struggled to even get as far as the 9 gate so we quickly decided to reverse the section to avoid the slippery start and climb to give everyone a reasonable chance of trying the section. Even so it was quickly apparent that the ground was cutting up quite badly.
The second section was to be just as slippery, the 90s and S3 had good cracks at it but the Discos were really struggling. Moving down to the lower field for the third section was, in itself, a challenge for the road tyres as the track down was really soft and muddy. As everyone except the 90s were struggling I decided that we would try one more section and if the road tyred vehicles were still struggling we would call a halt to the proceedings.
Fortunately the open area of the lower part of the field was nowhere near as slippery as the higher parts and we were able to run two more sections without too many problems and then reverse them, again without real problems.
We had kept one final section to do on the upper bank as it was easier to approach the start from the far end. This, of course, meant climbing up the bank at the far end of the field. This was when the fun and games started!
During the course of the morning that area of the ground had got increasingly slippery as vehicles had been up and down it. Rob lead the way up, just making it but with madly spinning wheels and lumps of flying mud. Simon, in the S3, similarly just got the bank but it was clear that the Discos and the red 90 on road tyres were going to really struggle to get up. Even with a long run-up and plenty of speed neither Disco could reach the track at the top and the bank was now very, very slippery to the extent that even my 90, on good tyres, couldn’t quite get as far as the level track. I had to ask Rob for a pull for the last few yards, until I was level, and then we had to try and ‘rescue’ the 3 other vehicles. Even with our 2 90s in tandem and pulling from the level ground we were completely unable to gain any progress due to the total lack of traction.
I decided that we might have a little more success further back along the bank but just couldn’t find the grip anywhere to get up. In the end we had to resort to being assisted by Paul, in his Rangie with V8 and proper mud tyres, to pull the Discos and red 90 up the bank, using 2 long ropes linked together.
Thanks Paul, you do have your uses!
Once we were safely pulled together again we were able to finish the final section. Once to the start gate everyone was able to progress through most of the section but nobody got as far as the 2 gate due to the mud and the climb up a bank to the 4 was to prove the undoing of the Discos.
By the time we had finished and were clearing up the RTV team had already finished and had gone back up to the top field. Fortunately the track out of the trials field wasn’t too bad and nobody from the TYRO needed assistance to get out.
On reflection maybe I made a mistake in taking the road tyre shod motors down the bank to the lower part of the field. Seeing how slippery everything was getting and having had similar problems here in the past I should have had second thoughts. A lesson to be learned and remembered!
As it was we all emerged muddy but unscathed and, I hope, having had a good days sport.
Next up on our schedule is Whittington when we have the Scouts driving day on 19th and trials on 20th. Volunteers will be needed to drive with the scouts and also to set up the trials ready for the Sunday. Remember, too, that setting up days are ideal for newcomers to come along and get a bit of experience in driving off-road and Whittington is an ideal site for that.
If you are available to help on that weekend, especially with set up and marshaling, please let Paul know. The club needs YOU!!