The Malle Trials 2019
Many have come and witnessed first-hand our annual chaos of flying mud, billowing two-stroke smoke, inappropriate motorcycles going sideways and the resultant beauty of it all (for those that can see it) at The Malle Mile. So we never thought we’d be invited out of the grounds of The Malle Mile, to host a race where our little brand of chaos, noise, mud and lawn-destruction was welcomed with such great enthusiasm and open arms.
When The BikeShed team first invited us to host a little Malle mayhem at the BikeShed Fest at the Lydden Hill race track, we jumped at the chance to collaborate and we couldn’t wait to get started on building something special for the motorcycle community. In particular, something designed for those riders that share our ideology; who don’t take life/racing too seriously, who understand that bikes are made to be ridden, who don’t mind getting a little (or very) dirty in the process, who want to race anything with wheels and spend a weekend with us in the mud.
Imagine a quaint British countryside sheepdog Trials.. but instead of sheepdogs – scrappy motorcycles – and instead of sheep – howling wolves in vintage motocross gear – and instead of quiet whistles between man and dog – thunderingly loud roars as man and machine tear across the pristine and well manicured lawns of Lydden Hill.. welcome to The Malle Trials.
Inspired by The Malle Mile, it was a series of run-what-you-brung.. or rather “fun-what-you-run” race events, that saw riders entering The Dash – a 1/8th of a mile, hill climb slalom drag race and The Malle-Cross – a 1 Mile off-road looped race, with 5 riders racing head to head, with a ‘Le Mans style’ running start. All riders in the 3 classes: Scramblers, Lightweights & Novice, enter each race and the final 10 from each class enter the final knockout race of the day to win The Malle Trials Title.
With the BikeShed Fest coinciding with the tale-end of a British hurricane – you can plan for every eventuality all you like, but the British weather will always try to do it’s best to surprise you – so we didn’t know what to expect, but we were in fact all blessed with pretty amazing weather and the occasional shower only helped to create a race track that was even more fun for the riders.
The previous week of non-stop rain made the hill-climb amusingly difficult for those on road tyres, with Malle Marshals pushing many of the riders off the start-line and out of the quagmire by hand – usually ending up with a face full of mud – as the back wheel would eventually grip the track and send a spray of thick mud into the marshals face, much to the amusement of the audience and the riders waiting for their turn to race.
Official race photographers Amy Shore and Nick Ramsey, darted out from behind hay-bales to capture shots from the start-line and dart back behind the bales, covering their lenses and shielding their faces from the soon- to-land shower of mud.
Our golden tongued-race commentator Ben Bowers kept the audience informed and entertained throughout. After a few years on the start-line of The Malle Mile, like a religious seer he can instantly decipher a few strange hand signals and the occasional nod from the Malle founders Robert and Jonny, to inform the crowd in complex detail, about which heat we’re now entering, how many riders are left in each class and he’s always there to point out the more interesting machinery to roll up to the start flags.
The bikes to beat up the hill that weekend were a custom 650 Royal Enfield, with huge chunky dirt tyres.. almost tractor tyres, ridden by a Royal Enfield engineer, who built it in the evenings at Enfield HQ and the impressive custom Harley Davidson, ridden by Jacob Young and built by Charlie Stockwell.
One of the crowd favourites in The Dash was the custom-built BMW, hand built by Archie Morris – when it decided to go into neutral for the ‘hand on helmet’ rule and got out of the start-line bog, it performed really well. Another crowd pleaser was Joris, who travelled all the way in from Germany, to race his 1953 Triumph Speed Twin, custom built just for The Malle Mile earlier that summer – with obligatory sharks teeth graphic across the tank – he and Joe, on his Matchless G50 Metisse with signature gold/magnesium engine cases, were the two oldest bikes in The Malle Cross, but they flew across the finish-line, with Joe pulling a crowd-pleasing wheelie on his final race.. that may or may not have resulted with him in a pile of hay bales seconds later. The GNAS boys from Cornwall, had the bike to watch, after they won the Malle Mile earlier this year on it. But sometimes luck, terrain and start position aren’t on your side.. or maybe the Malle team kept them up too late in the festival bar the night before?
As the sun set on the beautiful valley that surrounds the Lydden Hill Race Track, at the end of day one, everyone packed into the main ‘over-the-track’ marquee. There were a lot of excited riders toasting day 1 on the main track and the good weather.. and as is often the case, without realising it, it was suddenly 2am and we had to be back out on the race track for the riders briefing in only a few hours.
On Sunday, we all woke to the sound of heavy rain – it always sounds worse than it is from inside a tent – our team quickly discussed the game-plan.. the show must go on.. we will probably get soaking wet and possibly freezing cold, even more muddy.. but we had emergency cold beers in the Marquee and there were promises of warm showers on site, just in case! But as we headed to the riders briefing, we were amazed to see a little blue sky creeping over the horizon, amazingly our luck held out again, by the 10am race time, there was barely a drop of rain, the motorcycle gods were on our side. The previous nights heavy rain had made the track even more challenging and the thick and heavy mud seemed to fly even higher and further than on the day before.. perfect!
We want to thank all of the riders that joined us for the inaugural Malle Trials at The BikeShed Fest and to the stellar team at The Bikeshed for their passion and spirit for collaboration, motorcycles (inappropriate and otherwise) and for inviting us all to come out and play in the mud.
Long may it continue!
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