Start of Season (SoS) 2011

Well after missing last years SoS to AndyC''s poor organisation. I was determined to be there for the Ixion''s Start of Season (SoS) at Baskerville Hall, Clyro, Wales.

For a extra challenge I wanted to ride the Matchless G3 350cc there and back again. As its the furthest I have been on the bikes and I like riding it even if its a bit slow.

So I left home and the speedo said about 6685km and when I filled up in Bristol I took note of the mileage of 6706km. I then rode through Bristol and along the M32 then to the M4 then to the Old Severn Bridge over to Chepstow where I took the road to Usk which is a nice B road and gave the Matchless a rest after the motorway miles. My GPS was a bit of paper with some road names on stuck to the tank, so I was testing my abilities to navigate wile avoiding boring roads. After heading to Usk I decided to avoid the A40 so took the turning at Slough to Llandenny (Llandenni in Welsh) and from there I headed north avoiding the A40 until I got to Raglan and I still avoided the A40 and went to Croes Bychan then a forced stop at a lay-by near to Llanvihangel as I had pulled over to look at the map and the Matchless decided she would stall and then didn''t want to start again so I just took it as an excuse to have a 5min break and enjoy the sunshine. Then onwards to The Bryn (B4598) and Abergavenny where I got onto the A40 to Crickhowell then on the A479 to Talgarth then north on the A438 to Clyro.

I really enjoyed the ride up and even though I was a little tired I had managed the route with very little discomfort and other than the stop for fuel and the forced stop to let the bike cool I hadn't stopped on the whole ride. I left home at 1:15pm and got to Clyro at 4:25pm so 3hrs 10mins to do 145km so 46km/h (28.5mph) average @ 56.67mpg.

I got to the hall and the some of the ixies where there and I was keen to get in a get the kit away in my room. While there Fraggle couldn''t resist the urge to go and start the bike of which he admitted when I got back outside. MLH turned up and quickly took his luggage upstairs and came down to start the Matchless so he go for a test ride, he managed it and went for a ride which he says was rather nice. After which we drank then had dinner and drunk some more. Gordo was the last of the ixies to get there as he had got confused with the weeks so failed to book a half day so ended up not leaving home until late so got to the hall about 11pm ish.

Saturday, the majority of ixies decided that they needed an ice cream so there were off to Llangranog to sit by the beach. It was a bit far for my to go to the beach so I bought a map of Wales and set off on my own route. Starting with the speedo reading 6830km I headed for Brecon taking the boring roads. I then went via the town centre and road along a white road that followed along the A40 to Sennybridge and while riding along I was thinking that the likes of Fraggle and the Pugh would like this road with its lumps and bumps, and shortly after I had Andy, Gordo, and Clinton ride past me coming the other way. Ixies don''t do main roads. I got to Sennybidge and took the A4067 south, its a cracking bit of road with some nice views and some nice corners but has loads of twatish bikers on it. Once I got near the bottom I pulled over and looked for more white roads and I headed East towards Coelbren and into the woods. I came across a gate by a farm but the farmer just pointed at the barn and I rode via the open doors. After the farm I veered off right and took a gravel track and later I found a small ford which I crossed then photographed and stopped for a break as the Matchless was getting warm.


After the break I kept going east and the track came out at a place that I remember as Gordon led us down it 2 years ago and because of Wimpy Clinton we had never taken the gravel road and had to do a very big U-turn. I now continued North and got funny looks from the walking stick brigade as they weren't expecting a bike to come out of a no though road. I took another white road that headed north via Fifi''s Corners which are 3 hairpin corners on a steep hill near to Ystradfellte. I had to be careful as the Matchless has drum breaks and its not the kind of hill you want to loose breaks on. After that it was a simple trip up to Brecon and to Clyro again. I was back by 3:30pm but I went for a shower and I then sat in the sun to wait for the others to get back. I had done 140km that day so I was pleased.

As the afternoon continued on ixies returned from there far off trips. Pugh decided on some hooligan behaviour jeered on by MLH. marvin tried to start the Matchless with not much luck. Then Fong had a go and he failed so I started it for him. He went off down the drive but I had left the bike in Emergency Start which caused the bike to cough and bang along the road so he returned and I switched it over and he went into Hay. I had noticed the slight tweet-tweet noise that I had been hearing for a week or so had got noticeably louder and many minuets later Fong returned on the bike, he later commented that he had to get a push in Hay as it had stalled and he couldn't start it. Well it turned out the bike had lost compression, this kept the ixies entertained for a while an Hansom, Pugh, and Fraggle all offered their verdicts and so I set about taking bits off. I took the rocker box off to exclude the valve springs and valve guide ideas and as we pushed the kickstart over we found the air was coming out of the head gasket near to the exhaust. I notice the front right head bolt was a fraction loose. I decided to stop there as it was terminal and I had RAC cover so I would just take the easy option and get a lift back home.

Well I got home and had to see what had gone wrong, and its plain to see. Head gasket failure and it''s not repairable so I will buy a new one. I will also get a new rocker cover gasket as that is knackered as well. So over the weekend I managed 285km (177miles).




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