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West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 69 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2022

Ben's gone back to School with Steve Saunders - 2007

Words By Ben Falconer (and Photos! well, clearly not by Ben, Probably Tony!)

saunderstraining_1Fed up of struggling round trials for 5s and 3s, I jumped at the chance to join CHG regulars and others for a day's tuition with Steve Saunders. For those who don't know Steve, and there can't be many, he's multi-British trials champion and former serious contender for the world title.

He's also the acknowledged master of mud, which was handy seeing as the venue had been switched from a quarry to a typical Cotswold valley with steep muddy slopes and natural streambed sections.

When Steve set up the first section, a steady uphill turn on grass followed by another over turn roots and up over a rooted bank, we thought we were in for an easy day. "You could get a trailbike round here", was the general consensus, it looked so innocuous. How wrong we were. Fighting for grip, it felt like I had 20psi in the back tyre and I wasn't the only one. Letting it down from 5psi to about 3psi helped (the best riders look at how squidgy the tyre is and don't bother with gauges, it seems) but Steve stepped in and gave us a demo feet up, stopping to balance and talk us through the trouble-spots that had caused us so much grief.

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We had several more goes and some cleans were recorded, or at least something better than what's known in the game as a "fighting 3". On we went to two more sections, back for some packed lunch, then three more sections in the afternoon. There was a fairly wide variety of abilities in the group but Steve picked sections which didn't intimidate. In fact they were just the opposite and served to demonstrate just how important perfect machine control is.

Watching Steve do a demo is one thing but trying to emulate him is another - yet despite his legendary skill levels, he can relate to the average rider like us. Which was also handy because there were one or two p-takers in the class.

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The day finished with a simple rocky stream bed with a loop up the bank, round a tree, back in to the stream and out over a low rock step. It was a good excuse to try out other riders' bikes so with some trepidation they lent me their steeds. Mr Eeles' 270 Beta fired me about 2ft further up the bank than I expected and I'm not sure I actually opened the throttle on Mr Morris's 300 Gasser throughout the whole section but it still carried me through. Steve's 4T Beta felt no different to a 2T but required a much higher skill level than mine to get the best out of it. Mr Venn's 250 Pro was the one for me light, nimble and armed with the secret weapon that is a slow action throttle..

While the cost of a day's tuition is much more than a trial entry fee, it was worth it. We must have had at least ten goes at perfecting each of the six sections over around 5 hours, with the expert eye of "SES" looking for points to help with and improve.

Come to think of it, the day amounted to more than 60 section attempts in the time it takes to do two trials, which would explain why I was so knackered afterwards.

Big thanks to Steve and his helper with the "works" TY250 for a cracking day.

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