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A one of a kind trials event in a hidden woodland in the heart of the South West. Two riders, one looking for victory, the other wondering if his bike will make it to the start line in one piece.

The Ubley Muddle is fast becoming one of the highlights in the TRF's calendar of events. A non-competitive fun day that pits the most modern machines against those that have been collecting dust in the back of the garage for a decade. We caught up with first timer Jason Lane and trials supremo Richard Beale to see what it takes to win... and just to start.

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TRF:

Hi Jason. Good to meet you. I've interviewed quite a lot of TRF members over the last few years but I don't know that I've met a sculptor before. Is that your full time profession?

Jason:

Hello. Yes I'm a full time sculptor  It's something I've always done. My work is made from scrap metal. I make animals and birds and really enjoy building mechanical sculptures hence my interest in old motor bikes. My work can be seen at  www.jasonlane.org.uk

TRF:

So, competing in the Ubley Muddle was a completely new experience for you. What made you decide to take part?

Jason:

 

I've had a Yamaha TY250 gathering dust in the back of the workshop for years. I acquired it from a guy that I bought an old Austin K9 from that became a crane I use to shift stuff around the yard. I've always wanted to get the bike going again, but you know how it is, work and life get in the way. I needed a good excuse to invest some time into bringing it back to life and when I heard about the Ubley Muddle I figured this was the the perfect opportunity. It looked fun and not too serious, the kind of event that would be well suited to a complete novice and a rickety old bike.

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TRF:

Did you manage to fit in a lot of practice prior to the event?

Jason:

Ha! Practice! You've got to be joking. In an ideal world I'd have had the bike running 3 weeks before the event and set aside time to do practice laps of the yard. The reality was the bike's guts laid out across my workbench at 4am the morning of the Ubley Muddle! The ancient fuel had clogged all the lines so I had the carb in bits and spent hours trying to unseize the fuel tap. I had no idea if it would make it across the start line let alone the finish.

TRF:

For a complete novice, how did you find the day?

Jason:

It was an absolute blast. I loved it from start to finish. I didn't want to take part in something that was too serious and thankfully it was a really relaxed vibe. All the other riders were more than happy to help, point out where I was going wrong and lend a bit of advice here and there. I didn't really know the rules so it took me a while to figure out that not putting feet down is only one part of it, but there's also a timed element. But that was all OK, as far as just having a great day out on a bike you can't really beat it. I'm dying to do it all again.

TRF:

I'm sure there's a ton of people that would enjoy an event like this, it seems a great way to get into competitive motor sport. What advice would you give to someone else who has an old bike in the garage and is thinking of signing up to next year's Ubley Muddle?

Jason:

 
 

Well, firstly don't leave it till the night before to fix the bike! Other than that my only advice is to just give it a go. It's fun, supportive and really relaxed. You're not tearing around at 100mph, it's walking pace so you're not going to get hurt, though you'll probably be knackered by the end of the day. There were parents with their kids, some watching and some taking part. I really felt that I was part of a community. A great way to get out in the countryside and fall in love with your bike again.

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*Pics and films all courtesy Chris Baker

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TRF:

Hi Rich. I hear you're pretty handy on a trials course, rumour has it that you won this year's Ubley Muddle organised by Bristol TRF. For anyone who hasn't taken part, what's the event all about?

Rich:

Yes, that’s right Greg, although a mate keeps telling everyone that I won an Ugly competition!

The Ubley follows a similar format to a Long Distance Trials, with a route marked out that you have to navigate, interspersed with trials type sections to tackle.. in this case 12 sections and also a short Speed Test around a track. Unlike most LDTs though the Ubley was all off road, without any road work / navigation and we did 4 laps of the course - so 48 sections in total!

 

The Ubley follows a similar format to a Long Distance Trials, with a route marked out that you have to navigate, interspersed with trials type sections to tackle.. in this case 12 sections and also a short Speed Test around a track. Unlike most LDTs though the Ubley was all off road, without any road work / navigation and we did 4 laps of the course - so 48 sections in total!


 

TRF:

Is it like an enduro so it's about going as fast as you can right?

Rich:

No!  the opposite really.. as your finishing position depends on dropping the least number of points in the sections, it’s more about control than speed. Having said that the Speed Test is your chance to go for it!

TRF:

I imagine there are a lot of people who just want to take part for fun, but there will be others who want to test themselves and see how well they can do. Do you have any advice on how to prepare for this kind of event?

Rich:

Agreed! most people arrive just wanting to get round.. but then once they’re riding they feel the challenge to test themselves.

 

Preparation involves all the basics really; making sure everything on the bike is adjusted correctly and not over dressing, it gets hot.

I also made sure to eat & drink loads before and during the event.. it might just be me but I use lots of energy in the sections and you definitely don't want to get tired or dehydrated.

I used trials tyres back and front and having ridden to the event, let them down to 6psi.

Walking the sections is a must, decide a line and know where to exit the section: it's surprisingly easy to forget the way, even in a short section!


 
Finally stand up whenever you can.. and keep looking ahead.. not at the ruts, rocks & roots below.. that will only scare you.

TRF:

And in the event itself, how do you stay relaxed?

Rich:

I made an effort not to rush into the sections.. and definitely don't talk yourself into trouble... my mate Ian said "I always struggle with this section..," and then he did... for no obvious reason.

This year it was not so much a challenge of finding grip... but more a challenge of not losing it. It's surprising what momentum will carry you over, especially slippery roots and rocks. Lots of riders were failing due to too much throttle at the wrong time... spinning & sliding when they tried to accelerate over the obstacle...

TRF:

Do you think that these events are just for people who want to learn how to race or do the skills you develop cross over to normal trail riding?

Rich:

There’s a real opportunity to develop your skills by riding LDTs and events like the Ubley - by riding difficult sections, with the goal of cleaning them, gives confidence to keep moving forward on the trail. The biggest area it’s improved in me is the need to carry momentum into a tricky area... opening the throttle on a steep climb is too late! we need to create the momentum before.

TRF:

Thanks Rich and well done on the win. No doubt you will be back at the Ubley Muddle next year to defend your win!