Simonburn 1 Honda 0

I’m going to be away for the next few weekends so I wanted to make the most of this one and get out on the CRM again. Today’s destination was Kielder to scout out some routes for a future event.

The day seemed much less difficult that the last time out and whilst the ground was very wet, it all seemed to go ok. I did end up going down a hillside way too fast, the bike and me careering all over the place, unable to brake as if I’d have tried, I’ve have been off. How I made it to the cameraman waiting at the bottom without falling off I have no idea. There was also an interesting ford crossing which I made it across and just had some difficulty getting up the large sheer rock step on the other side.

We found one trail we were looking for, the ford for the next one seemed to have entirely disappeared and the third route was fenced off and will need reporting. With that complete, back to Bellingham for lunch.

For the route back, it was decided to do something challenging and incorporate Simonburn. This is the hill that they avoided on my first trip out. We arrived there and I had immense difficulty getting through the gate at the bottom as the mud just seemed to grip the back wheel and it wouldn’t turn no matter what I did with the clutch/revs. I should have noted this and stopped then but no, I ploughed on up the hill. After the first bit, I had to stop with the bike over heating as it had needed a lot of revs to make it up there. After it cooled off, I tried to move away and the clutch seemed wrong. I adjusted the cable a bit, it seemed ok and had drive again but I was concerned and tried to ride through a ditch to where the rest were waiting as at this point I was thinking about heading back down. I got to the ditch, tried to power out, the clutch failed completely and the bike and I lay down in the water.

With help, we pulled the bike out and confirmed there was no longer any drive so it turned into a recovery operation. Others volunteered to tow it down the hill and it was suggested I let them do it as they had more of an idea of what they were doing. On the plus side I got to take a YZ250 back down and that was really good fun and interesting to see how much easier it tackled certain things. The tow back down was crazy with a couple of falls and if the bike wasn’t muddy to start with, it really was now but it made it back to tarmac.

At this point, I decided it was time for the RAC but they kindly offered to tow the bike down from the hills to Chollerford to make locating me easier. I think they were kind of enjoying themselves so I let them, following this time on a Honda XR250R which held the road nicely and was comfy but was totally flat and had no brakes by any standard I’d use.

At Chollerford we pulled into a garage to one side of a forecourt and the guy came out swearing his head off about how we couldn’t park there. We suggested that a polite request to move the bikes would have gone down better which just set him off more. That garage will not be used by anyone present in future and nobody refueled there or bought the drinks they were about to.

Nothing too eventful happened from here, the recovery vehicle arrived, picked up the bike, took me back to where the van was parked and I drove home. The bike should just need new clutch friction plates and springs but I’ll know for sure when I pull it apart after cleaning it later today. I may also replace the notched clutch basket, we’ll see if I can find one at the right price. Its a slight dint to the reliable Honda reputation but I guess clutch plates are a consumable.

I’m encouraged to have made it half way up Simonburn with a malfunctioning clutch and next time I will make it to the top! I will also change the tyres as the AC10s on it at the moment have a reputation and both bikes I tried griped mud or road better than mine.