Hotter than hell in Herefordshire

Photos: Rob Dan Gareth & Dick

For July’s trials we were invited to attend an MROC event being held up at Wigmore in North Herefordshire. MROC don’t hold TYRO events so we were invited to set up and run one alongside their RTV/CCV trials.

I must admit to a few reservations about the situation, especially after a quick check on Goggle Maps gave a travel time of around 90 minutes and distance of 60+ miles. From experience we usually have lower attendances at the more distant events (Wagtail, Avon Dassett etc) so I was concerned that it might not be viable. Additionally, there was the minor problem about setting up. I seemed to be the only one available on the Saturday, but I really didn’t like the idea of a 3 hour round trip, plus setting up time, only to find we had 3 or 4 drivers on the Sunday. We had never been to the site before, so we were in the dark as to what to expect.

Fortunately, we got a favourable response to Rob’s email with 6 members saying they would attend so it was decided we would travel up early on the Sunday morning and set everything up then, with everyone helping. We had been advised by MROC that suitable areas were available for TYRO sections. It was decided we would travel up in convoy to make it easier for everyone to find the site.

Having to get there early to set up meant leaving home at stupid o’clock on Sunday morning for our planned departure from Cheltenham B&Q car park at 6.45am prompt. Two members had decided to meet us at Wigmore and our convoy was assembled at the meeting place well before departure time, only for one to announce he needed to go off and fuel-up before we set out. Departure was only delayed by 10 minutes or so but, being so early on a Sunday morning, traffic was light, so we were able to make good progress. The route we had selected took us past Gloucester, Newent, Dymock then out into foreign lands up to Leominster and hence to Wigmore. Rob was leading, and the only hiccup was in Leominster when his satnav threw a wobbly and took us astray for a few minutes. We arrived at the site only 15 minutes after our intended time. (Rob: I hasten to add that with Dick now leading another competitor passed us going in the opposite direction and duly arrived before us!).

The trials site is in a stunning location, a short valley rising steeply to woods on one side, quite large in area, several small copses and hedgerows and fantastic views over surrounding countryside. But, even at 8am, it was roasting hot! The grass on hillsides was scorched brown and lifeless, the ground hard and dusty. There was very little air movement. Thank goodness for the trees providing a bit of shade. A good site on a dry day but, on clay soil, would be a difficult place (impossible for TYRO?) on a very wet day (very like Halford or Buildwas).

After a quick refreshment we split up and headed to find suitable sections. Because of the steepness of the valley sides and the best bits having been already grabbed by the MROC RTV setters it wasn’t easy to find sections, but we very soon had 5 laid out, 3 potentially reversible. We had everything done in time for a brief scrutineering and then off to play.

The first section, set up by Dan and Stuart, was straightforward but some drivers were caught out by getting the wrong line between gates. We then reversed the section, drivers again being caught taking the wrong line.

Our third section, on the open hillside, didn’t look too difficult just a gentle meander down and up a short steep bank, but several drivers opted for the cautious approach and set off on a long safari to get best approach to the final gate. Highlight here was Rob shedding a bundle of canes from the back of his motor at the final gate (see pic).

Next up was into the shade of a copse at the summit of one of the valley sides. Cunningly set up by Rob up and over the top, making use of a few ruts and tree roots as obstacles. Nobody fell into his traps though and everyone cleared it in both directions. A nice, well planned section.

A leisurely lunch followed this section, sitting in the shade, admiring the wonderful views. Great day and location for a picnic.

From here we went up to the very top of the valley where I had set out a section in a cool wooded area. Nothing too demanding, a gentle meander through the trees with just a slightly challenging climb out of a ditch at the end. No problems here except for those who were a) in wrong gear and stalled or b) got lost. You know who you are so not naming names (see scores).

We then reset and reversed this section to give a slightly different finish. I regretted that suggestion as it was here that I made my one error of the day and whacked a 7 cane!

Lastly back down the valley to a section in another copse, set by Dave Collins and Simon Atkinson. A little bit of minor tree surgery was needed here to remove low hanging branches but, again, a nice little meander up though the trees but with a slight sting at the finish requiring good vehicle alignment to clear.

By the time we had completed this, our 8th, section it was mid afternoon and we decided it was time to up-sticks and call it a day. The RTV/CCV trials were still ongoing but we didn’t hang around to spectate, heading for the long drive home.

Well done to Simon Atkinson for a superb drive, ending on only 1 point in his faithful old Series. Dan Deveraux, in his 90 Td5 also drove well to end on 3 points. I finished on a miserable 7 points, due to that stupid error. As you can see from the score sheets this means that its getting very tight at the top of the championship, only 1 point now separating the top 2.

I can’t give any report on the RTV/CCV side of it as we didn’t get chance to see their action, but I know that Paul and Joe, Gareth, Jim, Jordan and Julian were in there somewhere.

My thanks to Rob, Simon, Dave, Dan and Stuart for making the effort to turn up.

Many thanks too to MROC for the invite.

Was it worth the journey? Yes, it was! (Rob: “The Trumpet” was such a nice place to stop on the way home that I think it should be the 9th section next time and you should score a 10 if you miss it!).

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