THE INTER-‘VARSITY RELIABILITY TRIAL. A Sporting Event over a Difficult Course.
THE only way to get any idea of the difficult route served up for the Inter-‘Varsity Reliability Trial is to follow the course from beginning to end, the procedure taken by a member of our editorial staff on November 7th. To be quite correct, one circuit was followed, and during the other several good vantage points were taken from which the performance of the various competitors could be watched –and a very good day’s sport it made too !
The motoring men from Oxford and Cambridge gathered in force at Harpenden, evidently prepared for strenuous work, and as the course turned out to be of an exceptionally severe nature they had plenty of opportunities for displaying some very good driving.
At Bonner’s Farm.
Within a quarter of an hour of leaving Harpenden, the fun commenced ; for after following a narrow and winding lane for some distance, the blue marks indicated a sharp right hand turn down a grassy lane. As it was pouring in torrents at the time, those competitors who attempted the ascent of the sudden rise at the end of the lane found themselves in difficulties and a queue of cars had to wait whilst those in front struggled with the rise. At this point much manhandling was necessary to negotiate the slope, though a few of the drivers managed to rush up, by the aid of passengers from other cars, who standing on the backs did some very effective ” bumping “to give wheel adhesion on the slimy surface.
More than half the competitors failed to make a clean ascent at Bonner’s Farm, which obstacle accounted for very severe delays. After a few miles of deeply rutted lanes, a section of boggy grass was encountered, which tested the steering and suspension systems to a degree, Trowley Bottom was reached and continuing to Holtsmore End, the route included another observed section. By this time most of the competitors were late and some very fine, if a trifle risky, driving,was to be seen.
Arriving at the non-stop section at Great Gaddeston, the section for the stopping and restarting test was found to be in fairly good condition and did not provide very much difficulty.
Climbing the Tunnel Slide.
All sorts of dreadful rumours were rife concerning the condition of Tunnel Slide, near Nettleden, and most of the two and three-wheeled brigade did some very spectacular skids in attempting the ascent. R. Richards (Oxford) then proceeded to show how the ascent should be made with his A.C., but he soon came to a standstill with his rear wheels spinning furiously. G. W. Bagshawe (Oxford) took his Senechal up in good style as did G. H. Martineau (Salmson) a member of the Cambridge team.
A feature of the Tunnel Slide episode was the excellent climb made by A. N. L. Maclachlan (Oxford), whose Austin Seven performed marvellously throughout the whole trial.
C. B. Ford (Cambridge) looked like getting up the hill at the first attempt, but was obliged to descend as the course was blocked by another competitor, but having a clear route a few minutes later, went up with a scream. The condition of the Tunnel Slide, with its steep ascent and slippery surface, called for skilful piloting, especially as anything like a bad skid would have precipitated the cars into the stone walls on either side. It says much for the skill of both teams that no casualities occurred, and, on the whole, the cars suffered but very little damage. At a distance of sixteen miles from the start many of the competitors had retired and most of the others were late, which was partly due to obstructions by farm waggons, flocks of sheep and all kinds of poultry. On one occasion four or five cars had to wait whilst a Ford van took in a load of sacks and afterwards proceeded
to lead the procession for a mile or so, until room for passing was found.
After the brake test at Little Heath, the competitors were confronted by White Hill, which with its rough surface and double hairpin bend called for skilful driving. Space does not permit of an adequate description of all the colonial sections, which had been selected with an uncanny knowledge of the local quagmires, and having surmounted the difficulties of the course thus far, the drivers were confronted with the water splash at Redbourn, where much amusement prevailed.
Incidents at Redbourn Water Splash.
Very few of the motor-cyclists succeeded in getting more than half-way across the splash before their engines were put out of action and a willing band of helpers waded in to assist in the aquatic sports. One of the best crossings was made by R. A. Stavert (P. and M. Oxford) who drove steadily without the least hesitation. F. J. R. Heath (Cambridge), driving his big Henderson with characteristic skill, got across in safety, but some of the less experienced riders could not resist the temptation of rushing the splash with the inevitable result of stopping, water-logged in the middle.
The remarkable thing about those who stopped in the middle was the rapidity with which they got their engines started again, and in some cases a few kicks did the trick.
The majority of car competitors took the water far too fast ; which, though extremely spectacular, caused much loss of time. N. R. Sony (Oxford) raised a firstclass wave with his Lea-Francis and had to be pushed out of the stream, but got going again after draining the water from his carburettor. N. Miller’s Riley showed up very well and took the splash without a falter, and, though C. B. Ford (Cambridge) stopped his engine in midstream, he leapt out and restarted, although the water was well up to the level of his chassis. Ford’s performance was very creditable, as during the second circuit he had shed two tyres on White Hill, but managed to finish within the specified time.
In view of the weather conditions and the extremely severe nature of the course, the performances of the various competitors are extremely praiseworthy, Events of this character in which the trade element is entirely absent show the standard of skill which can be attained by amateur motorists and motor cyclists, and the organising officials are to be congratulated on the smooth and efficient management of the entire trial
23 Starters. 11 Finished.
18 Starters. 10 Finished. Oxford win the ” Motor
Best Performance of the day. G. W. Bagshawe (Oxford) 1096 Senechal A. Maclachlan (Oxford) 746 Austin
Best Solo. 1st J. T. Halsall (Oxford) 348 2nd F. J. R. Heath (Cambridge) 1301 F. J. R. Heath wins the Birkin Cup for
Cycling’ Challenge Cup. 100 Marks 100 Marks
Beardmore 85 Marks Henderson 84 Marks best C.U.M.C.C. Solo.