Trail Rides

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Upcoming Trail Ride Event

Mar 28 2021 - 15:00
Llandovery (SA20 0NB Wales)
Llanerchindda Farm, Cynghordy

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Waterproofs all along this spring



Follow up on the Exhaust


and..... a new SWM silencer



Well from last newsletter, I fitted both to my 370 TF1 and been tried on a track

The day was actually a rare sunny and warm one….

After approximately 4 runs of 10-12 minutes each, the spark plug was a nice tan colour and the sound & efficiency was perfect.

OK, I substituted the old BING by a brand new Mikuni 36mm, that may have helped, but in any case, these exhausts and silencers combinations does the trick very well!







very-very sorry for the "Franglish Accent"

and the bad video...the wind...and..... well, it did work out anyway






Great sound...as I remembered these originals 25 years ago!







How would you like to go to the French Trail Ride in the Alps ? ” Philippe asked.

“I’ve been in touch with some French guys and they will show us round some trails they know."


And so a few months later, off we went and after two days hard slog on the Autoroute we arrived at our base Les 3 Fontaines in the Haute Alps close to Sisteron.
a bit of sunshine the 2 first days...we did lots of road riding. all worth it!

 On the first day we did a bit of reconnaissance to see where our French friends were planning to meet us and we stumbled across a track that looked inviting but a bit extreme. “ I think from the maps I've been given that the French guys might want to take us up there” said Philippe with a slight note of trepidation.





Sure enough our fantastic host at Les 3 Fontaines( B&B), Jean Jacques confirmed our suspicions regarding the level of difficulty we might expect. Jean Jacques had an excellent knowledge of the area having explored it two up on a Montesa trials bike back in the early 90's. “Only expert riders on trials bikes could get up that track. There are two big rock steps and at the top the sheer drops and narrow path mean that you would have to use ropes to get the bikes up safely. It's a great way to get to the lake but don't even think about trying to attempt it with your Vinduro bikes. You'll probably just crash down into the bottom of the valley”....Jean Jacques emphasised this opinion by waving his hands around enthusiastically to simulate two motorcycles tumbling down the side of a mountain.




Next day as we waited for the French guys nearby a bridge, the rain started and got steadily heavier.

Soon enough Thierry, Daniel and Fredo arrived and as we all decided that it was a bit too wet to ride they went off to get a little bite to eat. About 30 minutes later they were back with pizza, three types of cheese, the biggest loaf of bread I have ever seen, waffles, lemon tarts, chocolate tarts, a delicious fruit flan ( I know, I had two slices ) chocolate bars and a bottle of wine - a dry Alsace Riesling. Four hours later it was still raining so we went for coffee. Eventually it dried up and we rode a little track up behind Les 3 Fontaines, but it was soon time for another delicious four course dinner. Over dinner our new friends talked about a great route up  to the lake. They had done it before, some years ago… on mountain bikes…. but in the other direction and downhill.

After dinner Philippe showed them almost all of his very extensive photo library of the beautiful bikes he'd restored and it wasn't long before we were all ready for a good sleep !!!!!!!

Next day we set off with Thierry on his Bultaco Sherpa and Daniel on a Beta Alp. So, two expert trials riders n trials bikes then. Fredo was riding a Vinduro Husana, but frankly he looked strong enough to pick it up and carry it like a VTT if he had to !





overnight fresh snow 



Sure enough the French guys lead us straight to the start of the track where we had been two days before. At the start it was very steep with a R/H dog leg half way up followed by a sharp 180 degree L/H turn. The surface was covered in loose rocks and with a deep drop down into the gorge if you didn't make the turn. Philippe and I paused for thought.
We concluded that as we are far from being trials experts and weren't riding trials bikes maybe we could find another route to the lake. However, our French friends were having none of it. Come on guys we'll help you up this first bit and then it levels out.

Well it did level out – after a climb of about 1000 metres. The track just went on forever, climbing and turning higher and higher.
The rock steps came and went with lots of shoving and heaving and some paint left behind (1981 orange KTM). Eventually we reached a point, at @ 1250 metres, near the top of the col, where the track was completely washed away.
So out came the ropes. Thierry positioned himself (bravely in my opinion) on a large rock just above the path.
One end of the rope was passed through the forks and with Thierry holding the rope and braced against the rock the bikes were lifted, pulled and pushed across the gap.

It was a master class in teamwork. It had to be, one slip and the bikes could have fallen down the mountain taking Thierry along for the ride.



Yes Thierry, do not go that way!



oops! some track missing!




But that will not stop us, here comes the rope!



So what do you do after an exhausting three hours coaxing five old motorcycles up the side of a mountain?

Well in France you stop for lunch, of course.


It really was the best of all places for a pic-nique with a spectacular view of the mountains, their tops just covered in a fresh snowfall. The French guys ate well but Philippe and I just tried to get our breath back ready for the last push over the col.




After a very scenic ride down the other side the weather closed in on us again and we made our way back to base. We didn't get as far as the lake and of the eight sides of A4 maps on which Thierry had planned our route we had only managed to finish one page. But what a day, one of the best and most challenging trail rides in some of the most impressive scenery with 3 fantastic French guides.




Well remember the Alsace Riesling - it was left behind by our French friends and Jean Jacques served it with our dinner, it went really well with the chicken and fresh morrels.





Cheers guys.





To add to Alistair comments…



Some says….. They do not do things to normality…in South of France!



That was indeed another layer of controlled and uninhabited behaviours that only the hot sun, the excess of lavender and the fresh air of this area “Alps Maritimes” can generate such dynamic and quite volatile individuals.




I explain differently….




  Just take the luncheon stuff that mentioned earlier Alistair…. well, a good part of it was left (mostly the smelly camembert, some patés…and few tins of tuna and other prepared salads)

 So, the next day…while riding through those difficulties and having few falls…few long yards of pushing most bikes, lifting forks legs, battling with the rocks and not mentioning these menacing cliff drops (really if one of us will have the disastrous idea to fall off the edge...we will still be searching for bits and a bike ride would have been easily substitute by an Helicopter journey to the hospital)





Coming back to my point regarding all this food….well, while all the above was happening, we had the opportunity to carry each other ruck sack to progress slowly but surely…





I took one, whooaaa …. What the hell was inside as it was a good 10kg….that was the food J including large 1.5lt bottles of water…then another one…even worse…with a 5 or 6 lit petrol can inside as well of more food and drinks!






Well now you get my drift, these guys do not compromise…..great to ride the mountain, but camembert and the rest are an essential part of the schedule …Gosh! That is unreal but in a way, very well-thought-of….





So we did it
it was a lesson of humility, I must admit that when I tried the 1973 Bultaco Sherpa (Thierry saving the day by riding my bike) that was a moral lift as the bike smoothness and very low seat helped me to get over lots of “hurdles”

at last my feet touched the ground!
These guys from early ages ride these mountain’s tracks on BMX and to be fair…they are very good in all…very controlled skills and superb conviviality…

Barking, full of fun, certainly not mad!





So, I will be going again next year…after a lot of training on a trial bike for a start and hopefully with 2-3 more guys from UK….. As the Alps have the X factor…. outstanding experience… a must do!






Photo of the month







Not a great picture….taken from a mobile phone 



We were cold, wet as fishes, starving and aiming for some comfort food 


In a small village of very few habitants, this shop was so fantastic,  unexpected from the outside.... a modest entrance with a Provencal beaded plastic curtain, and then...





  A tiny premise filled with goodies, from consumable to best local goat’s cheeses, home baked pastries, fantastic bread loafs and lots more…


 One of the most packed and versatile usage per square foot



Look again at the picture, all cans properly displayed, all stacked nearly and neatly up to the ceiling


On the left was the old wooden furniture with great drawers and perfect for the chesses, the charcuteries etc… that do not need to be refrigerated, just kind of gradually ripening/maturing for our delight.


Just wanted to give lots of credit and praises to this 68 year old lady, that is certainly not a 9-5 job  



 More like salvation, so important to the community and the village….



One day it will all vanish. The next generation will travel further to the Supermarket…  


So, 100000000000 thanks for these personal and irreplaceable wellbeing keepers!   








That is it for this couple of months….



Next we will be doing and reporting on the Ryedale Rally and other “bruises” that may occur


As now Philippe is recently a Self-employed in Hospitality/catering/consultancies…bla  bla bla….




Well, I have already made myself so busy that the “SWM Rescue Workshop” will be neglected a bit 





Still, a superb, very original and ready to be used 250cc 1980 TF1 will be soon completed…and looking for a new owner


Catch up with you in September


Bye for now, Ph.