OK, so 80 miles wouldn't normally qualify as "long distance" around here, but this was the 2008 Swindonian Long Distance Trial. LDTs are trail rides with observed trials sections paced at irregular intervals, in this case 20 of them. The aim is to ride the sections "clean" without stopping or putting your foot on the floor. Each mistake costs you a point, up to a maximum of three per section. If you stall, fall off the bike, or launch it into a ditch, you score the maximum five points. Unfortunately for me, the highest score doesn't win. I've ridden a few regular trials before, but as the next stage towards my mid-life crisis, this was to be the first outing on my newly acquired WR250F. As ever, time seemed to evaporate in the week before the event but I managed to fit in a visit to my new best friends Roger Brown and his son Alistair, who not only got hold of a Pirelli MT43 rear trials tyre for me, but offered to fit it too. They also took pity on me and lent me a plank of wood to use as a ramp, so that I didn't have to keep manhandling the bike into the van. Details like this make so much difference. :huh That just left the task of registering for an ACU competition licence which I had completely neglected. A dazzling service from their licencing department meant that I was able to email my forms to them and they got my card in the post straight away. Phew! So armed with all the documentation, plus the handy plank, I loaded the bike for the 100 mile drive to Swindon. First blood went to the Yamaha before I even got the bike into the van when its magical automatically-retracting kick stand caught me unawares and the bike fell on my leg. Finger over the camera lens too. Not the most promising start, but hopefully things would improve. Obviously, this being ADVrider I have to include food pictures. Unfortunately there wasn't much to tell - this is no Baja trip, and we didn't stop anywhere long enough to do much more than fill up our Camelbacks. Here's breakfast though - lunch was a bag of crisps and a couple of cereal bars. We arrived at the start location to find all manner of bikes arriving. Most of them orange. Even the black ones were orange underneath! These guys entered on 525EXCs, which wouldn't normally be anyone's first choice for trials riding but I have no doubt that they had fun. Most people arrived with their bikes on trailers or in vans, but one or two needed to be a little more creative: Then it was gear on, and time to pose for a quick photo before the start. The route was issued as five pages of tulip diagrams, but as I was going to have enough to concentrate on just riding, Roger volunteered to be team navigator and lead the way. The ride took us through some truly fantastic English countryside, in what will probably be the best weather that we have all year. There would be time to admire the view later, but first we had the first group of trials sections to negotiate. On a trials bike they would have been relatively painless: no major obstacles, just some tight turns and steep banks. On an enduro bike it turned out to be much harder work! A leaking carb on one of the bikes was a good excuse for some cursing and a brief rest in the shade . . . . . . but we were soon off again The lunch time refuelling stop was quite a spectacle, with the forecourt packed with bikes - half a dozen to each pump. I was too slow remembering to get the camera out and things had thinned out a bit so this picture really doesn't do it justice. It'll give you a bit of an idea though. The confectionery selection in the shop was slightly flamboyant! Then it was back out for more of the same for the afternoon. With the exception of one or two scowls from ramblers, relations with other trail users was generally cordial. The scenery just got better and better . . . By now I was starting to get tired, and so the camera stayed in its pouch as I concentrated on riding the endless ruts. Did I mention the ruts? About half of the trails we rode had multiple deep, narrow ruts which (judging by the riders passing me) are no problem once you get the hang of it, but can be quite challenging until you do. I always seemed to pick the wrong rut - a bit like the way that your motorway lane always seems to be going slower than the others. A good indicator of my impaired decision making by late afternoon was my choice of a line through (strictly speaking, into) a large mud hole instead of round it. Still, the muddy water in my boots cooled my feet nicely. All too soon (but actually not a moment too soon!) we were back at the start. I had cleaned one section, scored threes in a few, and picked up fives on rather a lot. Granted it wasn't a particularly remote location, but I was certainly shagged-out, filthy, and satisfied. Almost an adventure! Huge thanks to everyone involved in organising the event, and my new best friends of course. My next planned outing is a Hare & Hounds enduro. Should be interesting . . .