THE INTER VARSITI TRIAL
THE day of the annual mud-lark between Oxford and Cambridge was eminently suitable for this particular form of sport. The dawn was grey and wet,—at least I was asleep at the time, but judging by the general conditions, the above statement would seem fairly safe. However, in due course we climbed into the anything-but-new though still very fruity Frazer-Nash which we had succeeded in borrowing for the day, and having taken aboard some benzol, a jack, a hammer and a packet of sandwiches, to say nothing of a passenger, set out for Marlow..
Having duly arrived at Ye Old Crown. we were greeted with the cheering sight of sports cars and motorcycles of all sorts and vintages receiving last minute attention from dripping drivers. The entry was of most encouraging size, and only a few unfortunates had been unable to reach the start. Among these was Malcolm Muir of Velocette fame, who had forsaken his usual mount, and its borrowed substitute had died on the way. However, he had collected some sort of motor-car and appeared at intervals all round the course to watch the fun. Old members of the two clubs were in evidence as drivers and marshals, and there was a general air of determination to be amused in spite of the weather. The first hill lay on a loop of the course for the car entry, who had to return through the start after it, so just before 11.30 a.m. we slipped off and went round via this, and returned to the start to see
the motorcycles getting off the mark. The hill in question consisted of a short, fairly steep piece, with a gully up the centre approached by a grass track, and after this the hill eased off and wound through a wood to the summit. Quite a slippery little hors d’oeuvres, but not troublesome, and the Nash popped up easily, without requiring any skill or attention, as they say ill advertisements.
The next bit of bea Illness was the crossing of Moor End common, a piece of gently undulating grass land, that is, where the grass showed through the water. This caused considerable bother among the entry, but as there was no particular gradient, no one was long delayed. So far the course was not likely to cause much delay, but was certainly good fun,
and the next hill, named Woolly and Wild, was very similar in contour to the famous Wild and Woolly on Camberley Heath. Turning off into a wood (woods are always promising), the course came to a steep downhill which met an equally steep uphill at a sharp angle.
The course was now beginning to stiffen up, and soon after this a puncture and the subsequent wheel changing gave a chance of seeIng how the entry were keeping to schedule. It was fairly evident that they were not doing so to any extent, as single figure riders were getting mixed up with the ” 20’s” while one or two cars were well up in the solos, including the M.G. Midgets driven by Falkner (Cambridge) and Stedman and T. G. Clarke (Oxford). Shortly after this, there was distinct evidence of a shortage of marshals, also of the fact that some of them were getting a bit mixed up as to their “present whereabouts,” as the B.B.C. announcer so nicely puts it in his S.O.S. messages.
Ucumunstuck, the next observed hill, was unobserved, when we arrived. From here to Alms were narrow lanes till the main road to Stonor was reached, and one of the lanes, having a considerable gradient and but little adhesion, caused the undoing of Stedman, whose M.G. midget, proceeding in a manner well up to schedule, rather overdid it. After a good broadside, it turned round and over and then on to its wheels again, being distinctly bent thereby ! We arrived just in time to help clear the road again, and give the passenger of the machine a lift to the Stonor Arms. At Alms itself a general air of delay prevailed. Apparently a shooting party were occupying the sylvan slopes, to the exclusion of all else. However, in due course the hill was cleared, and sundry competitors attempted the climb by touring gently up the lower slopes (washed cleaner than usual, incidentally), and either sat down or turned round at or near the ” Cannons.” Not at all a clever
exhibition, the only climb being C. S. Jones (Cambridge) on an Ariel, and he footed. No one did the only thing that is any use on a wet Alms Hill, that is, turn up the taps, hang on, and aim straight, so they thoroughly deserved to fail. A. J. Jones on a Triumph, whom we had last observed (lasing quietly in a wood over his reluctant motor, made a better attempt, but shed his rear chain just below the worst part, and cursed cheerfully once more.
White (Cambridge) on a B.S.A. varied the monotony by charging both banks, turning completely round, and rushing off down the hill vaguely attached to his machine, but somehow he did not come off quite !
Then came Bellamy (Frazer-Nash) with a very high bottom gear, and almost got clean up. The rest of this climb was washed out,
and we repaired to Maiden’s Grove to watch and cheer. The bikes with one or two exceptions were good here, and the surface was not as bad as we have known it by a long way. The best climbs in the cars were Bellamy (Frazer-Nash), Bertram (Vauxhall), Clarke (Austin 7), Ripley (Riley), Baiss (Bugatti), and Rymill in a very touring Austin 12. Wheelspin accounted, among others, for Preshfield (Lea-Francis) and Sexton (Ford), while Lancaster’s Brooklands Riley, after a noisy and spectacular getaway, died peacefully with a gentle tinkle from the motor. Robson (Midget) petered out for no particular reason except lack of power, while Willis (B.C. Austin) burst a tyre, but was good at the next time of asking. The entry having ascended, we followed a fellow scribe up the hill, both his Austin 7 and our Frazer-Nash taking no particular notice of same, and make for Lewknor. A spot of Icknield Way before Lewknor made sure that everyone got really dirty, while any mud which was shaken off on Lewknor (easy enough this time) was replaced by Kimble Lane. So on to the Rose and Crown at Tring
and a welcome tea. W. S. B. provisional Results.
CAMBRIDGE wins “Motor Cycling” Trophy, figure of merit, 67.3; OXFORD 46.1.
BEST SOLO MOTORCYCLE.—C. S. Jones (Ariel) wins Birkin Cup. J. D. Gardiner and H. L. S. Sikes runners-up.
BEST CARS.—M. F. L. Falkner (110dget), T. G. Clarke (Midget), E. W. Bass (Frazer Nash), 0. H. Bertram (Vauxhall), A. Saenz (Riley), no marks lost.
BEST VETERAN SOLO MOTORCYCLE.— F. R. P. Taylor.
BEST VETERAN CARS.—M. W. B. May (Aston Martin), H. J. 0. Ripley (Riley). Oxford Results.
BEST Sow MoToRcycLE.—A. L. Jones (Triumph).
BEST CAR.—W. C. Clarke (Midget). BEs’r VETERAN MOTORCYCLE.—S. Murray (Sunbeam). BEST VETERAN CAR.—Scroggs (Trojan),