Ernie Page Motorcyclist

Marking out a classic trial has become a complicated affair these days, for instance there are a multitude of often bewildering classes to cater for. In any one event there will be big four-strokes in rigid or swinging arm form, lightweights with unit construction, two-strokes and any number of skill ranges all requiring different sections. Then, just when the organiser gets the job done, down comes a torrent of biblical proportions and the whole lot has to be redone.

lust such a scenario hit the AIS and Matchless OC - Chain Breakers Section - for the trial preceding Red Marley Hill Climb and the slippery Worcestershire mud got even worse. Tyre pressures, already low, were reduced as the day went on and one lad swore he'd sucked air out of the tube in an effort to find grip.

There were those who did display a mastery of the terrain of course, one being eventual overall winner Ross Danby on a 250 BSA who miserly parted with 13 marks through the two laps of 20 sections making up the expert course.

WORDS-Tim Britton PICS - Colin Bullock and Fiona Watson

0 Alan Wright trickles his James through the muddy stream that made up the middle group

01 sections.

BBou've probably gathered that ^J^this issue's people feature is a [ little different from the

^B normal format that we use in CDB but when there's a collection of the finest enduro and ISDT riders all in one place at one time then it's best not to pass up the chance to speak to as many of them as possible. How they came to be in one place at one time is the fault of Arthur browning and John May - both talented all-rounders with a decent ISDT pedigree themselves.

Having a breather during a French enduro last year, they got talking about other riders that would enjoy such events. Names were mentioned and the phrase "...haven't seen him for years..." came up time and time again. One thing led to another and next thing Arthur knows is he's organising a reunion for British team members on Saturday evening during Alan Wright's Classic Off-Road and Racing Show at Telford. Would anyone be interested enough to turn up? You bet they were and former riders and helpers started arriving from 7pm. So, with Photographer McKeown busily recording the event for posterity and these pages, notebook in hand, I entered the fray.

The problem is, while having the drive and determination to coax sometimes fragile and unwilling motorcycles over hundreds of miles of

O Reunion instigator - or one ot them anway - Arthur Browning, going well in the Isle ol Man in 1971.

things loosened tongues here and there. Then a new problem arose, not all of these tales are suitable for publishing in a family magazine. In some cases the parricipants are still alive, in other cases there may still be warrants extant in some countries and we don't want to cause international incident - but oh boy were they ever entertaining.

off-road terrain, most of these riders are modest about their achievements, They see it as a fun period in their competition career and are proud to have represented their country.

But getting them to talk freely about it... well, let's just say it's easier to do a four-minute-tyre-change... luckily as the evening wore on a combination of early years teams would have to be mounted on home industry products. This rule was relaxed when the motorcycle manufacturing industry collapsed in most countries. All the riders we spoke to on the evening admitted that once they could use the foreign machines things got a lot better.

the trial were deemed tough. Often these bikes were lightly modified roadsters -BSAs Maudes Trophy event in the 50s springs to mind when the team used three A7 twins pulled off the production line and won three golds.

Throughout the history of the ISOT there were Trophy and Vase teams, in the

There can be few reading this that are not aware of what the ISDT/E is. or its background and that the UK riders did rather well in it at various times. But. just in case you need a recap, the whole idea of the event used to be to prove that a manufacturer s roadster products were worth buying and those that would last

Years competed - from 66-75 (eight finishes) Medals - Mixture of more gold than silver he says Favourite bike - lawa were jealous of the lightweight two-strokes until he rode one then was so glad to get back on the 500 AJS he was issued with. For Mr Pease it was a case of going back and forth as once Greeves stopped supporting the 1SDT he rode a Cheney Triumph, then went to a two-stroke Jawa before going back to the Cheney Triumph again for the ISDT in the Isle of Man in 1975.

Rueful comment - don't follow Mick Wilkinson, 1 tried and took a tumble.

Says John Pease "As a Greeves factory scrambler I was co-opted into the works team for the Swedish ISDT in 1966 and found 1 liked the style of event. Bill Brooker had me in the Greeves team for three years after that. Though I've got to say the Cheney Triumph I rode as a team member in 1971 was a massive change from the two-strokes." John tells me he found Mick Andrews' comment that the lads like him riding the big bikes in the 60s

O Weighed in to the pare lerme in 1971 - John's Triumph was also at Tellord.

O Lett: John's temperament suited the needs ol ISDT competition and he was very successful.

ISDT team manager - who couldn't make the evening but sent a cheque anyway. By the time you're reading this the cheque has been handed over to Air Ambulance HQ.

worthy cause as recipient all those attending the reunion were generous in their ticket buying. So much so that EI75 was raised on the evening, which was boosted to £225 by lock Wilson -

As the evening got into full swing with anecdotes, reminiscences and tales flowing like a well run ISDT checkpoint an impromptu raffle was organised to benefit the Air Ambulance. With such a

Words - Tim Britten. Pics - Bill McKeonn, Tim Britton, Nick Nicholls Collection and Mortons

Media Archive

Ernie Page

Years competed - 69-77

Medals - three golds and a silver for certain

Favourite bike - lawa

Edinburgh rider Ernie Page has a different view on the American ISDT and cites it as one of his favourite events even if he was on a Zundapp. Ernie's reason for being a fan of the American ISDT is "...it was our best result in years and we were within a hair's breadth of winning it." Ernie also has a bit to say on the organising side of the things for the UK teams telling CDB that Ian Driver and Chris Oliver knew how to run things smoothly. "Despite some of the problems that the event hierarchy in the USA had to deal with, wasn't there a lawyer who tried to close the ISDT down a couple of days before it started? Anyway, our organisation was spot on." Ernie also had a wee surprise when he came into the exhibition hall earlier in the day. "I came in and the ISDT bikes were lined up in the entrance way, well, first one I saw was a Jawa, 'just like the one I used to ride' I thought, then walked on but came back quickly. Another look and I realised it was the one I rode, turns out Dave Bickers owns it now." Ernie later spoke to Dave Bickers and confirmed the bike as the first Jawa he'd ridden in ISDT competition. It's not just the riders who are reunited at these do's.

O Ernie Page - left - was another catching up with old (aces at the reunion. With him Is Alan 'Sid' Lamphm of 'that family. Sid too was a gold medal winner and SDT winner too.

Dai leremiah

Years competed - 71-83

Medals - eight gold, two silver and two bronze

Favourite bike - lawa

If there is such a person as Mr ISDT then perhaps he looks a lot like Dave Dai Jeremiah. The Welshman was a top scrambler, good trials rider and an ace ISDT rider. He was probably one of the few riders during the 70s who went abroad to compete in enduros and hone his skills in such long distance events.

Anyone who has seen him ride in his heyday, and more recently as he still races, will confirm that Dai was always smooth and consistent which are the attributes that earn you gold medals, just going fast enough to keep on the pace and allow time to make adjustments at time checks before handing in your card. "I was a private entrant in the '71 Isle of Man event," says Dave and rode again as a private entrant in America. That was a bit of a shambles, they couldn't even find anyone who had a key to the pare ferme one morning." On the organisational front the Welsh ace reckons few can beat the Czechs, "their events are always tip top and well run."

O Dai Jeremiah could well have been the backbone that our ISDT teams were built on during the 70s.

Mick Bowers Bultaco

Mick 'Bonkey' Bowers

Years competed - 71-QZ Medals -five gold, one silver Favourite bike - Bultaco Frontera

O "There's a lot ol old laces here,' grins the Derbyshire man.

Mick Bowers had been a BSA works trials and scrambles rider but, given that the company were on their knees by 1971 his entry into the 1SDT came on an Ossa supplied and prepared by former Royal Enfield team member and ISDT gold medallist - Peter Fletcher, the importer at that time. "Alan Kimber was the team manager at that time," says Mick.

It was another Spanish machine that turned out to be Mick's favourite bike though "I was leading the 350 class in the '76 event, on a Bultaco Frontera, and really thought I had a chance to win it overall. Unfortunately I managed to flood the bike and dropped myself down to third spot in the running though still managed to finish seventh overall, I really like the Bulto." If the Bultaco was the favourite bike then the least favourite has to be the Rickman Zundapp he used in the '73 ISDT.

"That pile of... pile of... er... rubbish," he grins, I walked round America on that thing." Mick goes on to say the original Rickman Zundapp he and a few others tried before committing themselves was

O We didn't have a pic ol Mick Bowers in the ISDT but the BSA works rider was also a trials rider.

a brilliant machine. "As you'd maybe expect with a chassis built by the Rickmans it worked well and even the engine, though a 125, was more like a 250. The ones that were supplied were supposed to be the same as the one we tested but they were horrible," says the Derbyshire ace, adding, "we very soon christened them 'Zuncraps' which was the only funny thing about the whole episode."

Mick and the other team members complained but the German factory were adamant that the engines were the same but Mick points out he couldn't keep up with riders he regularly beat. Mick cites the hardest medal to win as being the silver he got. "The thing with winning a gold is it means you've had a really steady week and everything's gone right for you. Silver standard means problems have been overcome, taking a bronze means a nightmare week. So what happened to drop you to silver then Mick? "I broke my leg on the Wednesday," he says.

The nickname - to his contemporaries Mick is known as 'Bonkey' and it came about when practising on a scrambler, someone said 'jump that gravel pit' and 1 did. The farmer saw me and said "you're bonkers."

Years competed - seven of them from '66 Medals - all gold he thinks Favourite bike - Cheney Triumph

If ever a rider was 'laid back' then Mick spot on the course then ride up and

Wilkinson is he! Casual observers are down it until we knew it like the back often fooled in to thinking he doesn't of our hands. Once we'd got it sorted bother too much about anything but we lay in wait for one of the foreign they'd be wrong. Mick is as competitive lads to come along, it didn't matter as they come but seems to measure who but usually one of the top ones, events by the amount of fun they Then ride along side him until he'd pull provide him. For instance the best tale away from us then we'd shoot past him we could get out of Wilky was about an as we knew the section better than he

ISDT he was at but not in... did," grins Mick. "We latched on to one

As the younger brother of Greeves lad quite quickly and did this to him rider Bill Wilkinson, Mick managed to over a couple of days until he cottoned get along to the '65 ISDT in the Isle of on then he told us 'I learn quickly, you

Man. "I weren't on me own like," he having the laugh' though he took it in says, "there were a few of us young good sport and just followed us lads, we were 16 and indestructible like through the section grinning as we you are at that age, anyway we'd got pulled in."

our trials bikes there and what we did Comment - the Cheney Triumph was a was to go out in the morning and find a good bike, it would do over lOOmph

Derrick Edmondson

Years competed - Seven times from'79 Medals - five golds, one silver, one bronze Favourite bike - Honda

If you're going to attempt to make a 'that's racing' but the reports of the day living out of motorcycle sport then tell the full story, perhaps - in the UK at any rate - maybe As Derrick started on the special test enduro racing wouldn't be your first and the bike cut out he physically choice but Derrick Edmondson chose pushed it the 200 yards of the test - up that road and was successful too. "In a hill. That's dedication. His only other the first year of ISDT competition I rode year of bother was the '83 event with a a KTM from Comerfords and, in one of 250 Honda two-stroke. "The bike was the special tests, just as 1 broke the built up from spares as it wasn't possible timing beam the plug cut out and I lost to get a complete one in time," Derrick enough time to put me down to silver." told us, "and it wasn't quite right. We

Derrick shrugs his shoulders as if to say found out later that the pilot jet was too small and that caused the piston to overheat and burn. Once we'd sorted that then the bike was very reliable and I had my best ISDE - it had become the six day enduro by then - in '85." Derrick felt this was the one he could win outright and, as events proved, he did. "I always had good back-up when I rode and that is most important in such events," he says.

Comment - the ISDT/E was my type of event.

Nick lefferies

Years competed - '74 and '75 Medals - two gold

In ISDT competition the all-rounder is the rider who can really make the pace as such an event demands the balance of a trials rider, the speed of a scrambler and the bravado of a road racer. It's not a place for those who can't fix their machines either as even a gentle off can cause a bit of damage to a bike or lose minutes and knock you down to a lower class.

One rider who has such ability in bucketfuls is Nick Jefferies from North Yorkshire. Nick's father Allan was a talented all-rounder too and the genes have been passed on to Nick. Which is how he came to be in the Isle of Man in 1975 though not with a road racer but a Jawa enduro bike. Nick says "I'd been touted as a team member for 1975, I'd ridden in 1974 ISDT but still wasn't very experienced at the event so I made it known to the team managers that if they needed me I would happily do it but would stand aside for someone better at ISDTs. The call came and I was off to the Island." Nick admits to having done some training in Czechoslovakia when he did an enduro with Dai Jeremiah.

Comment-it was fun.

O Nick Jefferies is one of the UK's great all rounders - ISDT, trials and road racing all came under his remit.

O Jefferies is pictured here, in the Isle of Man, still going fast but this time off-road.

Years competed - 75-K2

Medals - five gold, one silver and 2 DNFs

Favourite bike - Enjoyed them all

With a range of bikes including Jawa, Bultaco, KTM, SWM and Maico "I reckon I had the best years of the ISDT," says John May, "the bikes were right and so long as you didn't do anything daft they'd last the week easily." With a mechanical pedigree such as his - John's father Reg was compshop supremo at Comerfords and responsible for putting together more bikes than you could shake a stick at, it was inevitable that the mechanical skills would filter down to John. He cites his favourite event as the Swedish based ISDT of 1978 when he topped out as best British rider and came 6 overall in the 500cc class on his KTM. "You couldn't break them," he says. John goes on to say that the hardest ISDT of his time had to be the '77 one in Czechoslovakia when he and Dai Jeremiah were the only British finishers.

Comment-a brilliant event, enjoyed every ISDT.

O John May was another of those riders who seemed to excel at ISDT riding - especially on KTMs.

Sammy Miller

Years competed - 56-71 (though not every year) Medals - nine golds Favourite bike - 50s Triumph

By his own admission the ISDT was not a happy hunting ground for Sammy Miller. Machine breakages and illness dogged him through his times as a team member. It seemed as though Miller's almost legendary preparation and thoroughness deserted him during the ISDT though it has to be said this only occurred when he was a member of a team and issued with a supposedly well prepared machine. Generally this would come his way too close to the event for him to, as he says, "...check it over, y'know." When he was left to his own devices and entered as a privateer the picture looks a whole lot brighter and there are many gold medals in his trophy cabinet.

Sammy was quite vocal on the level of industry back-up available to riders in, for instance, the '65 ISDT in the Isle of Man. Mounted on a B40 BSA for the British team he spluttered to a halt at the roadside on more than one occasion during the early part of the week. His determination kicked in and he struggled on with a bike that was getting sicker by the minute. "Bits from the chain were getting hung up on the alternator rotor and shorting it out. All it would have taken would have been for someone from Lucas to hide

O When left to his own devices, Sammy Miller put up a respectable perlormance in the enduro.

along the route at some point and 'leave' a rotor handy. Us team members could have done the rest but no, they were back in the bar," he says in disgust. Miller does go on to say that, despite the setbacks, on the whole he quite enjoyed the ISDT type of events, lots of gamesmanship went on he says "certain riders from certain foreign teams seemed able to turn out each morning with a suspiciously sweet sounding machine after handing in a sick one the night before. It's a shame we didn't have those self healing bikes y'know."

One memory - "American rider Dave Ekins, was told to stick to me like glue and he'd get a medal, lie did too."

nmmmm

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