Sunday 28 January 2024 saw the Territorial Army (London) MCC run their annual Talmag trial. The Talmag has been run since 1946 on MoD land at Hungry Hill, Aldershot and since the mid 1970’s the event has been solely for machines made in Europe before 1965. Three routes were offered with two laps of 15 sections. One for girder fork machines, sidecars and clubmen, a middle route and a more challenging route which looked to be strictly for the experts. In addition to the 30 sections competitors had to ride a special test which would be used as a tie break. 

ACUE had good representation with 30 East Anglians in the programme out of the 196 solos and 18 sidecars. As well as the 200 plus competitors there were hundreds of spectators, not a regular sight at trials. 

ACUE Riders - Photo by Andrea Snowden

Seventeen riders faced the hard route and national runner Phil Wiffen (400 Matchless) was a clear victor losing a mere 10 marks understating the severity of the route.  Matthew Neale (500 Ariel) was in great form and finished third on 35. Chris Collins (500 Ariel) was next best East Anglian finishing sixth on 52 with Paul Whitehead (500 Triumph) ninth on 63 and Clive Dopson finishing thirteenth on his 500 Rigid Norton on 79. Clive has been riding the Talmag since 1975 and feels the hard route which was only introduced in 2020 has become too challenging with significantly more difficult sections than in previous years. The programme states that bunny hops, tacking etc. will be deemed a stop and therefore incur a five mark penalty as the Talmag is a no stop trial. However, with some of the extremely tight turns I think it would have been all but impossible to get around some of these sections without hopping. 

The middle route is the most competitive with 102 entrants and proved a very rideable trial with 2 riders clean and 14 riders losing less than 5. This has been the pattern at the Talmag for many years and the special test time is needed to resolve many ties. 

In the up to 300cc class ACUE rider Jim Cammack (200 Triumph) was fifth with a loss of 7 followed by former East Anglian, Hamish Eadie (200 Triumph) on 11 finishing eighth, with Alan Lucas (250 BSA) in thirteenth. In the over 300cc class ACUE expert Roger Higgs (500 Ariel) finished clean but was beaten on the test so finished second. Richard Snowden (350 Ariel) was seventh on 2 with Elliot Ryan (350 BSA) better known as ACUE sidecar champion in ninth on 4. To demonstrate how competitive this class is, John Lea (500 Royal Enfield) lost 11 and finished seventeenth while Trevor Baker (410 Matchless) also on 11 was twenty first. John Lea clearly used his road race experience to set the second fastest test time of the mid route riders - just 0.2 seconds slower than the fastest rider. 

Also riding the middle route were 13 riders on machines with no rear suspension. Darrel Glover was our only campaigner in this group and he battled the only 350 flat twin Douglas in the trial round for a loss of 43. 

On the clubman route Paul Mac Houghton was best of the ACUE riders finishing fifteenth on his original 1961 199 Tiger Cub, losing 11 marks. 

In the sidecar class East Anglian Robert Chapman was in the chair with Karl Jarvis driving (500 Triumph) and the pair finished sixth losing 18, with former East Anglian Mark Kemp and his ever-smiling wife Fiona (500 Ariel) finishing seventh on 23. 

Richard Snowden - reflections as a first-time rider of the Talmag. And not just the Talmag - it was also my first event on a four stroke - a beautifully prepared 350 Ariel. If only it had electric start!!! 

Sitting waiting for my start time there was a real mixture of excitement and trepidation, but this passed after the first section went OK. It was then a case of getting on with the trial and being very aware that it is traditionally a very low scoring event. The sections on our middle route were well set for the Pre 65 machines with limited lock and ground clearance. There were several really big hills which were exhausting to walk but were good to ride. If only Hungry Hill was in East Anglia!!! 

Only 30 sections and a special test but the sections were all long with several tricky bits so despite the low score I was knackered at the end. Do I have to mention the special test - let’s just say speed isn’t my thing. I reckon about 70th fastest!!!  I rode it clean but that’s not the point apparently!   

Anyway, congratulations to all the ACUE riders that managed to finish the event. It’s a real celebration of these bygone four stroke machines so maybe we’ll see even more ACUE riders enter the 2025 Talmag. 

RESULTS: (Winner and East Anglian Finishers):
Hard Route 
1st Phil Wiffen (410 Matchless) 10
3rd Matthew Neale (500 Ariel) 35
6th Chris Collins (500 Ariel) 52
13th Clive Dopson (500 Norton) 79

Middle Route
Under 300cc 
1st Elliott Tickner (220 Triumph) 1
5th Jim Cammack (200 Triumph) 7
8th Hamish Eadie (200 Triumph) 11
13th Alan Lucas (250 BSA) 33

Over 300cc (no rear suspension)
1st Steven Allen (350 Matchless) 1
11th Darrel Glover 350 Douglas 43

Over 300cc (with rear suspension)
1st Martin Gilbert (350 Triumph) 0 (S.T. 37.9)
2nd Roger Higgs (500 Ariel) 0 (S.T. 39.2)
7th Richard Snowden (350 Ariel) 2
9th Elliott Ryan (350 BSA) 4
17th John Lea (500 Royal Enfield) 11
21st Trevor Baker (410 Matchless) 11
23rd Brad Woods (350 BSA) 12
27th Andy Stevens (350 Royal Enfield) 14
29th William Rhodes (350 BSA) 15
31st Bob Clarke (350 BSA) 25
42nd Joe Stollery (350 Royal Enfield) 65

Easier Route 
1st Lee Bruton (500 Ariel) 0
15th Paul Houghton (200 Triumph) 11
31st Stephen Stolady (200 Triumph) 56

Sidecars (also riding easier route)
1st Kev Nolan/Harvey Allaway (500 Triumph) 1
6th Karl Jarvis/Robert Chapman (500 Triumph) 18
7th Mark Kemp/Fiona Kemp (500 Ariel) 23

Click on photos below of larger image