Our report for April 2020 ACU South Western Gazette.
Firstly, apologies for no Devonport contribution in last months Gazette.
Will start this month’s report with the greatest of all British traditions – the weather!! It’s been playing havoc with trials up and down the country with many events cancelled resulting in me rattling around home on a Sunday but at least the garage fettling has benefitted from this. Hopefully the wet period will pass soon and normal service can be resumed however I’m getting concerned about the Coronavirus situation as it takes hold in the UK and hopefully won’t manifest into something bad, having further impact on us all.
With our SDMCC masks on we ran our 4th WooHoo LDT recently and with a few last minute concerns (the weather!!) the sun came out and the event seemed to be enjoyed by the majority of the 160 odd riders. With difficult going this time of year you just have to make sure you’ve taken your “man up” tablets and as some rode into the finish saying what a tough day they’d had losing 35 marks!!! You should see how many marks I lost in one of my first trials back in 1978 and Nigel Andrews still has the Torridge Motorcycle Clubs report – if anyone is interested.
Our first trial this year will be at Preston Combe on 19th April and its lovely streams will form a round of the SW Twinshock and Pre65 Championship. As always, the hard-working committee are on the case already to prepare what hopes to be an enjoyable day. BJ, with his burger van, will be there so please support him. With regard to our Twinshock round in June a little bird has told me that Bernie Schreiber (Mr Pivot turn) may well be riding this event as part of the Devon Double weekend so, if it happens, it could be very interesting.
Thank you to Dave Cole for his obituary for Brian Slee, a very interesting article as Dave has extensive historical knowledge regarding off road in the SW centre and beyond. Although I only knew Brian briefly it brought back memories of my early trialling days. Something that struck me was that Brian retired from riding when he was in his early 40s which I seem to remember was the norm in those days, how different things are today and I guess the trials scene would be quite empty if that was the case these days,
Anyway, Easter is looming, the clocks change soon, keep calm and carry on.
See you all soon.
BRIAN J. SLEE
1940 – 2020
It is with sadness we report that the South Western Centre lost one of its most well-known and fastest riders of the past when Brian Slee passed away, at home on the 21st January, only a few months before his eightieth birthday.
Brian was born in Plymouth and moved, with his parents, to live on the opposite side of the river in Torpoint. He went to school in Torpoint then later to Plymouth College before joining the family business as a butcher.
Brian’s first ride was on a 197 James in 1956 when, at a Mortonhampstead Club trial, the sixteen year old won the Novice Award. Brian continued to ride successfully in trials but couldn’t wait to try his hand at scrambling.
When he was eighteen his father bought him a new 250 Francis Barnet scrambler in readiness for his first race at Haldon Roadhouse (almost directly opposite the Devon & Exeter horse racing track). Not a win first time out in this discipline, he had to make do with a second place. It certainly wasn’t long before he was winning races and during the winter, in the days when we had separate trials and scrambles seasons, he continued to ride in trials.
The new machine in the Slee stable for 1959 was a 500 BSA Gold Star on which Brian achieved many wins. Then in 1960 a 250 Greeves joined the Goldie and Brian notched up a mass of wins in both the South Western and Cornwall Centre’s. He also represented the South West in Centre team scrambles. One of Brian’s main rivals, and closest friends, was Roger Wooldridge. The most notable of those who regularly tussled with him at the front of the pack were John Trible, Terry Cox, Triss and Bryan Sharp, Ray Baker, Mike Jackson, Roger White, Danny Orchard and Frank Heard - all wonderful riders.
The wins continued, Brian won several Centre Championships including both the Junior Championship (up to 250cc) and the Senior Championship (over 250cc) in 1962. A Tribsa now became his weapon of choice and this was the machine that took him to a win for the prestigious Patchquick Trophy in 1964. Brian’s father, Ben, a former rider, came in runner-up for the same trophy not so many years earlier.
The prolific winning continued for Brian, he’d changed to a Rickman Metisse in 1965 but the responsibility of fatherhood saw him taking less chances and by 1967 the passion had gone, he decided to call it a day as far as racing was concerned.
He did however make a one-meeting comeback at a Torrington Veterans Meeting in 1973 when he rode against the likes of Bryan Sharp, Terry Cox and Bernard Singleton – do I need to mention it – the old magic was still there, he won every one of his races with Bryan Sharp as runner-up.
Brian continued, as he had throughout his racing years, to ride in trials. He’d won the West of England Clubs Knill Trial in 1965, just the day before his wedding to Rosemary. He’d won a prestigious Scott Spoon, won the Otter Vale’s Presidents Trophy Trial and was proud to have represented the SW Centre in “Inter Cenrte Team Trial’s” with such riders as his very good friends Ivan Pridham, Roger Wooldridge, Victor Ashford and Bill Martin. Importantly to Brian, he was also always proud to represent the club that remained dear to his heart, the Devonport & District Motorcycle Club, whenever he could.
Riding on a regular basis Brian was regularly in the awards and in the four years, 1977 to 1980, he rode in what must be the most famous and arduous trial in the World, the Scottish Six Days Trial, he finished every time.
In 1981 Brian decided to take life a little easier and took to golf rather than charging around on motorbikes. With a champions blood running through his veins it wasn’t long before he’d achieved a superb handicap and was taking on the best of opposition.
About ten years later Brian’s sport of choice again changed when he fell in love with the challenge of Carp fishing, and as you would imagine, he gave it his all.
Determined, Fast, a winner and, to some, a hero, that’s how Brian will be remembered.
Our sincerest condolences go to Rosemary and daughter’s Sarah-Jane and Louise, our thoughts are with them and their families.
For and on behalf of the committee of the Devonport & District Motorcycle Club
Ben, Brian and Rosemary Slee at Haldon with the Patchquick Trophy in 1964
Brian Slee (BSA Gold Star) Sandway, South Molton 1961
Brian Slee (Bultaco) at “Peter’s Ditch” during an Otter Vale trial in 1977, watching are Colin Somers, Roger Trott, Ivan Pridham, Mike Rapley, Pete Thompson and Pat Trott
Brian Slee (Bultaco) at a late 70’s Devonport trial, waiting behind to perform are Ernie Short, Ivan Pridham, Sid Hobbs, Geoff Fry, Mike Rapley etc.
Our report for February 2020 ACU South Western Gazette.
The Club opened 2020 proceedings with our annual AGM and our joint chairmen giving a brief overview of a successful 2019 resulting in the club being able to present Devon Air Ambulance with another cheque for £1,000; a chunk of this being money returned to us by our generous observers and landowners so once again thank you. A few changes to our committee this year – I’ve become treasurer taking over from club stalwart Derek Fuller who has managed the club finances for many years; we extend our thanks to him for his loyal service. We also welcome Rich Mumford and Andi King on to the committee, so thanks to them for their interest in the club.
Most of us enjoyed a great ride out over Christmas at Robin’s Road Trial, organised by West of England club, it’s always a sociable, relaxed day and welcomed particularly at that time of year. Bit of a mention to Rich Mumford and myself who recently completed the 91st Exeter Trial which is more of an endurance test riding on and off road through Devon and Somerset at night covering 280 miles, personally I could hardly stand as we rolled into Torquay 18 hours after starting!!!
We have a full calendar planned for 2020; we are currently in top gear for our WooHoo long distance trial on 22nd February, we have a SW Championship round for the Pre65 Twinshock series, a national KIA round and a SW Championship round along with our usual club trials. Barry from BJ Catering has been booked for most of the events so please support him if you can and all the best to you all for 2020.
Final note – just because I am “for” the paper gazette it does not mean I am anti online!! Far from it actually, it’s just that taking the laptop to the loo just wouldn’t be the same.
See you all soon
Our report for January 2020 ACU South Western Gazette.
Happy New Year to all our riders, helpers and supporters, now the festive season is over its time to make and break all those new year resolutions!!! There is only one you need to make and maintain, ”I must get out on my bike and ride more often”
Forget all those adverts for the fitness gym you only need==GYM== Get Yourself Motorcycling and then join us for a couple of pints afterwards.
Big congratulations to Steve Holcombe from South Molton for retaining the Enduro 3 World championship for Beta on the 300rr.
Our first event of the season is not until Sunday 19th April when we will be running a club pre 65 and twinshock championship at Preston Combe. Further dates for your diaries are - Friday 8th May club trial, Sunday 31st May championship trial, Saturday 20th June Kia round, Saturday 25th July club trial, Saturday 15th August club trial, Saturday 10th October club trial. To put the record straight we as a club voted to retain the gazette, however we are forward thinking and have nothing against on line entries, in fact we were the first club in the centre to run our championship event in 2018 both online and paper. There after the centre withdrew the online option!!
I read now that the focus group from the management committee are allowing clubs to use online entries once again with an additional payment for the privilege, looks like more admin to me not less?
Happy new year see you all soon Keith.
Our report for December 2019 ACU South Western Gazette.
Hi all, Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all, god where has that year gone? As a club we have had an excellent year, rising rider numbers at our events, two new venues, and our first national event, a popular Kia round which we have been asked to do again next year. Thank you to all of you that have supported us and hope to see you next year. The one down side to the year was the injury to our stalwart Jon Stafford, Jon has certainly been through the ringer and has done remarkably well to make a good recovery but has to go back in very soon to have a titanium plate inserted in his head, Jon’s worth even more money now. Glad to hear the S W gazette survives another year, how long we can hold up the computer buffs in our sport who knows?? Finally the hard working Mike Wilson (dad) in our committee has finalised our Aggregate series. Well done to Raz Berry Clubman, Sean Noyce Sportsman, Pete Rush Over 50, Olly Lulham Novice, Mike Wilson Over 60, Richard Mumford Twinshock, Robbie Savill Pre 65, and Katy Dallow Beginner. Full round up can be viewed on our website and the awards will be presented at our first trial of 2020. If you are holding one of our Aggregate trophies from last year, please could you return it to one of us please. We are all now hands on organising The WOO HOO LDT, entries out in the new year, see you there. Cheers Robin.
Our report for October 2019 ACU South Western Gazette.
Congratulations to Moreton for running an excellent team trial, I wasn’t able to make it myself (the manager dropped me Rage, Rage), but our team members all enjoyed themselves and thought the sections were spot on. I know we keep changing the format but is there any way it could be split into A and B teams, as previously, but still run under a similar format ?
Our last trial of the year is on Sat 12th Oct, 2pm start at Orchard Farm, Brownston, PL21 0SQ, all classes will be catered for, and start signed from California Cross, on the Wrangaton to Kingsbridge road. This again is a NEW venue to our club and was last used in the 80’s by Dartmouth Club, it is a wooded area with small streams on either side, so plenty of scope for excellent sections.
I recently found a results sheet from Oct 1983, of the same venue, interesting reading, only 35 riders, but several still competing, Experts, Chris Berry, runner up 22, Jeremy Parker 28, Dave Hammersley 28, Martin Gilbert 29, Non-expert Keith Worden runner-up 40, Nigel Hayes 49, Novice Kevin Laskey 82, Andrew Evenden 90, and the highest score was T.Ford 170.
What you must remember is that there was only one route and every class rode the same sections, and this was three laps of 15, so a good days riding, “ think we must be going soft “. Another name in the experts who should still be riding is Mr J. McDonald 29 marks lost. I will try and get the full results scanned to another page of this gazette.
Finally a sad farewell to Jon Corin, who passed away on the 27th August 2019, aged almost 72, our sincere condolences to all his family and friends, a great rider who always wore a smile and persevered with his immaculate BSA 250cc up until the beginning of this year. He will be sadly missed by us all at Devonport. It was fitting to see so many riders and clubs represented at his funeral to celebrate the life of Gentleman Jon. “Feet up Jon”
Our report for August 2019 ACU South Western Gazette.
Hi all, I will start on some bad news, if you have not already heard that Jon Stafford one of the back bone of Devonport MCC has suffered a serious injury while clearing up after our Merivale CHP trial. He apparently banged his forehead on a over hanging tree unknown to any of us at the time. Three days later he had an emergency operation to remove a blood clot from around his brain.
Seems like Jon will make a full recovery but only after some serious take it easy time off JON . Apparently when he first came around after the operation he asked for his mobile phone to check facebook!? bless him .
Good luck from us all on your recovery Jon and expect to see you back on that Beta feet up again in the near future. Our good news this month was the running of Devonports MCC first ever national event. We were approached last year about running round 5 of the KIA series.
With a great hard working committee behind us I think we did ourselves proud with many very complimentary comments from the KIA organisers and championship riders. Preston Coombe was the venue which turned out to be perfect for the stipulated requirements to host the classic type trial. Well done to everyone that contributed to running such a great event and thanks to all the local riders that took part.
Our next trial is on a Wednesday evening August the 14th at a new venue discovered by the Woo Hoo LDT team. Its quite a large area with pockets of sections so we are hoping for a good ride around with friendly/easier type sections ideal for after work trial.
At the moment it’s named after the owner Skellys which is right by California Cross in the South Hams. Hope to see you there.
Our report for July 2019 ACU South Western Gazette.
I write this just after the successful running of our S.W. championship round at Merrivale near Princetown an excellent venue we have used for many years with its challenging sections and unpredictable weather conditions no matter what month of the year.
As the 10am start time approached the 93 pre entered plus 10 extra riders on the day all assembled for the rider briefing, this was our biggest entry achieved to date and we would like to congratulate all those who completed the course in such testing conditions. As the first riders crossed the river then the mist and rain started to roll in off the moors then just like magic as everybody was finishing the cloud parted and the sunshine appeared, tee shirt weather at least we were all able to drive out the field.
Congratulations to Joe Baker who retained the Hallis-Slade Memorial trophy and is now well on his way to winning the S.W. Championship for an unbelievable 20th year in succession “doesn’t seem old enough for that”?
Also on Merrivale, well done to Shaun Gatting on the hill climb who somehow managed to find excessive amount of grip and “ghosted his Montesa “ over the fence and into the next post code.
Last but certainly not least thank you to our great band of observers who endured those unseasonable conditions, without yourselves these events would not be possible.
Our next club trial is on Sat 27th July, 2pm start at Willake near Clearbrook, signed from the Plymouth to Yelverton road, all classes, entry form in this issue.
Finally a note for your diary, our Sat trial on 24th Aug has now been brought forward to an evening trial at 6pm on Wed 14th Aug at a new venue, Brownstone near California Cross PL21 0SQ an easy trial with all classes.