We are always looking for something different here at Trials Guru and our good friend and contributor, Toon Van De Vliet from the Netherlands has submitted this article from the Netherlands.
THE SCOTTISH SIX DAYS TRIAL DIARY – FROM ‘PM TRIALS’
Words: Toon Van De Vliet & Peter Miltenburg
Photos: Peter Miltenburg; Toon Van De Vliet & Iain Lawrie
‘PM Trials’ is a synonym for ‘Peter Miltenburg’ also known to his friends as ‘Pim’, the Sherco and Scorpa importer in the Netherlands. From his last participation (2016) he made a diary to try to make an explanation of what this phenomenal extreme event is. Seen through the eyes of a real trials man and a lover of the countryside.
Heavy rain on the first morning. I start with the number 125 in the third group, nicely in the middle. At the start, I get the message some of the hills can’t be ridden because of the high water! There is so much water in the sections that all signs and arrows are no longer visible.
We can ride the route as normal and when I pass this first hill I indeed come to see thundering roaring water under a wooden bridge by flows. Further on the route we can do some sections. Here too a lot of water, but these sections I ride quite well, the beginning is there in any case. Then continue by the Moors. We are today on Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, where snow is still at the top which is melting hard. This means that besides the abundant rain water also melting snow from the hills is coming down. In addition to the usual water and mud channels now also extra water gullies with extremely unreliable bottom. Usually I come pretty well through, full throttle in fourth gear but a number of times I got stuck in the mud – Up to the petrol tank in to it! Hard work you get it out and continue the route. I ride alone so I have to do this all by myself. The sections ride well despite the amount of water and the fact that you do each time to get used to the large smooth boulders and required type of riding. On Ben Nevis we need a river crossing of about 40 meters wide, the water hurling down from the mountain with a depth of about one meter. On the other side are five other riders with the bike upside down to pump the water out the engine, so better not cross here? I try downstream find a better place, I see a spot with at least ten large stones on the bottom. I manage standing next to the bike in the ice cold water to hops the bike from stone to stone with the engine running in second gear and after at least half an hour I got to the other side. But I can go on! Lost a lot of time but do to the ‘’missing’’ sections we could not ride I’m on time in and can do a little work to get prepared for the next day.
First day with more than 180 km. Drive went better than Monday, the Moors were better to do because this route is on another mountain and there is no additional melt water in the rainwater. Long hours on the bike working out. Few times bad luck in the sections with a kinked throttle cable that stuck and the stop magnet shoot lose on a big step. On three quarters of the day the clutch hose damaged, no clutch of the rest of the day. These last four hills, I had to ask for five penalties, too bad. I try to phone my followers and at least it works in the middle of nowhere and they provide a clutch hose and a throttle cable as well. Upon entering I deliver my time card in at Rhoda Rathmell (Sherco England) she counts than how much time I have left. The right parts are there and I start in the pouring rain to replace the damaged cables. Rhoda comes along with the card and I see I still have 25 minutes to do the job… I get everything back neatly mounted and deliver the bike on the minute. Pfff…only now just rest! Looking further back had a nice day with plenty of rain, sunshine and sun again. Tasty!
Today early start; at 07.50 I am allowed to go. Twenty minutes before starting time, I am allowed in the Parc Ferme to do some work on the bike. I only need to replace the air filter and that’s a quickie to do. At the first sections on Ben Nevis again I have some dirt in the gasoline and a jet is clogged. The Army refuels your all week, but they often are standing in muddy places and sometimes there can be an unlucky moment for them, but now it’s me…I parked the bike on a big rock. I have the carburetor adjusted that I can turn it a little so I can get to the main jet. Special drill (made at home) through it and off we go! The effort of the previous days are coming out now, no spirit left and I feel empty. So at the next stop I need a refueling for myself too. Grape sugar like Dextro Energy will help a lot. Today most beautiful sections can I reasonable do. At the beginning it is dry, later plenty rain again. On Monday I found on the route a client of mine with his wife in the middle of the Moors walking for some hours to see the sections, just for free! That’s the real spirit. Today on time within, new tire, brake pads, chain and air filter again. Sherco okay. I start in the last group tomorrow so only then at 8 a clock I’m off to go.(the riders rotate every 48 numbers, the first day number 1 at first, second day 49 and so on).
The ‘Longest Day’! At the end of the day eventually 212 km on the counter and the tongue on the boots, it was the most beautiful SSDT day so far and risen to place 186. For a change no rain, beautiful sections. A lot of heavy moors in the route that don’t get any better after the passage by 250 riders. I get the ‘reading’ of this landscape better and better in control. Fewer failures in the sections but in the last hill no rear brake left, the disc is bent. A lot of other riders are late, but my bike is already prepared for the next day and back in the parc Ferme.
Just a heavy Friday. Sections are very difficult today but I was able to ride them all quite well ‘just be or just not results. Less moors on the route many miles on the road but the Sherco picked up a lot of dirt and at the end of the day the bike must have been 10 kilograms heavier. It still runs well. Only my own battery is nearly empty! Where is the end?
Were normal Monday and Saturday what easier, after the ‘’Killing Monday’’ on the last day were certainly no presents given away. After the second Hill I ’landed’ on my left hand. Could no longer operate the clutch handle as I’m used to do. And suffered on in the technical sections with some fives.. Uphill went better, no problem.
Again I’m happy with my bike preparation in advance; I ride with a small extra petrol tank to be sure that I always get the regular tank stops. Today I saw at least ten riders suffering without patrol on top of a mountain, not that nothing happens, also in the mountains I get lost on the route with a couple of Danes . Together we find finally the ride track. My followers, supporters and family are on top of Pipeline waiting for me. The first subs I do well. For the last sub section we have to start from the side. A rider in front of me advised to use third gear. He managed to go to the top, but not ‘without dabbing’. I’m not should have used second gear the bike runs out of stem – so do I. Pipeline is at the end of the trial, but the organizers decide that we had to do the sections on the Hill Monday were impossible. That’s really heavy stuff for me. Town Hall Brae in the middle of Fort William is for me the nicest thing to do! The end of mine third SSDT Second Class Award, place 179 at least 100 riders behind me in the results.
Thanks to all who helped me coming to the end of this really hard Six Days.
Thanks to my wife Marjan, she said; ‘Next year we go again!’.
With thanks to journalist, Toon Van De Vliet for supplying Trials Guru with this article and to Peter for his reminisces at the 2016 Scottish Six Days Trial.
Photos: Copyright: Peter Miltenburg; Toon Van De Vliet & Iain Lawrie