It has been a long time coming but I finally plucked up the courage to test the knee and the Jotagas 300 at an event ...

 Up until now I have been just going out to play with the guys up at Nettleton Quarry, mainly so that I can get used to riding again, test the set-up of the bike and also to make sure that my knee will be ok now that it has a swanky carbon fibre knee brace to protect it. The truth be told there is probably more wrong with my brain than my knee, the brace is helping in both departments as it not only stops the knee twisting too far and possibly dislocating again but it is calming my mind a little and allowing me to try a few things again. I have had this slight nervousness about dropping over things as i now think about what would happen to my knee if i go over the bars ... although the hesitancy is still there I at least have started to try some logs or drop-offs again, just need some time to build up the severity a bit.

jotagas 300

 The Jotagas 300 is so easy to ride that it can be easy to forget it is a 300 at times, it is very smooth and forgiving but if you slip the clutch a little and give it a handful it flies. What this does mean is that coupled with the chassis and suspension design it grips amazingly well. Those that know me will remember that not only am i not a fan of muddy going but that I am a bit shite at it :) ... well now I almost look like I know what i am doing!

The event chosen for my first comp ride was the Hawks club trial up on the Cotswold's in Dowdeswell. The Hawks always put on a nice sensible event as many of their riders are on pre65 or twinshock machines, but those self same riders do seem to like a little bit of slippery going. We have had a week of rain around here so it was always going to be a little muddy, the sections were set up in and out of the little stream that runs through the wood and up the banks with turns around the roots. I usually am able to ride clubman expert route, well i used too!, so the sections they had set out were reasonably straight forward for me but one lapse of concentration would drip you off line and it could easily end in a paddle out or a five ... I am very pleased to say that not only did the bike just grip up and over everything but that I managed to maintain my focus for the whole 4 laps of ten sections and remain clean all day (barring any strange observing decisions) ... it has been many years since I cleaned a complete trial as I usually get to the last lap and completely cock it up !!

 ... A few observations on the bike after the trial. The one area I need to change is the gap around the header pipe, underneath the radiator. Without a mud flap on the front mudguard the water and crap gets thrown straight into this gap and then up the side of the engine and towards the air intake of the filter box. Nothing found it's way into the air filter but the tell-tale splashes showed that it was close. SXS sell a filler plate to prevent this happening and it will be the next item fitted to the bike .... you can get the same item for Gas Gas and Beta machines as well and if nothing else it will cut down on the amount of mud that cakes around the engine which would not only assist cooling but also cleaning.
 .. another issue I have that requires sorting is the adjuster for the rear shock. On the early models they fitted just one adjuster and it has a grub screw that stops it un-adjusting itself ... the problem was that this proves a weak point and they were prone to cracking .. this one has. The problem was solved very quickly as they have fitted a twin adjuster ring to all models since that lock together, my one will need a bit of welding to prevent rapid un-adjustment. Talking of adjustment, I am very finicky about where my clutch bites and the reach adjustment so I will also be looking at the lovely CSP lever adjusters available through SXS again ... they allow you to adjust on the go without needing tools. Once again available for most other bikes .. well worth a look at the whole CSP range as it not only performs but, some would say more importantly, looks a bit trick .. ;)

 ... Another mention must go to the MOTS jeans i wear, as you may recall I use the enduro/freestyle style of jean that goes over the boot. As we rode into the water often and some very runny mud stuff I was very glad I did. Not a drop went down into the boots. Also as I have to wear the knee brace these days it is good to report that there is no restriction of movement with this type of jean and I kept cool but dry.

Thanks to the Hawks motorcycle club for a very friendly event that suited my purposes perfectly, and also it was good to get out and ride with Rob, Andy and Lisa ... think it is about time Rob joined me on the harder route at these events. The sections are not going to hurt him but are tough enough to push him a bit.