Better Late Than Never
- Mike Rapley
Bet you thought that I had forgotten to write something about the Scottish Six Days Trial. Well, you’re wrong, because I have deliberately left it for two weeks, preferring to reflect on the comments and remarks made since the trial finished.
There’s no doubt that the general opinion from everybody that I have spoken to and from the written reports, the Centenary SSDT was superb in every respect. I agree totally, but also make the point that the weather helped tremendously – few Scottish Six Day Trials have been as good with only Thursday proving to be a day of inclement weather.
What made it especially good for me was the vastly improved layout of the West End Car Park. When I first saw the plan for the parc ferme and working area I thought that the designer had got it all wrong, but somehow the set out provided so much more room for everybody which made it great for the spectators on Sunday and through the week, whenever one wanted to go into the park to see what was happening, there’s was always so much more room. I was fortunate in having taken my road bike to Scotland this year, so parking a car was not a problem, but the shuttle bus service seemed to work OK, so no complaints on that front.
One complaint was made, and that was by the West End hotel who objected to their car park being used as a dumping ground for riders vehicles who left them there for the whole day whilst they rode the trial, preventing residents from being able to park their cars. I imagine there will be some form of permit system in future.
I guess that those folks who normally leave their cars and vans on the park whilst they are riding the trial will disagree as there’s no doubt it can’t be as easy to do whatever work is needed when you haven’t got your transport handy, but everybody seemed to manage, especially as the manufacturer camps are now so well organised with everything a rider can need.
However, whilst I am sure the marquee went down well with many folks, personally I never made use of it. I did go in once to get a drink, but the queue was so long, I stayed thirsty instead. And I have to ask “what did the town centre pubs think when they knew much of their regular SSDT trade had gone missing”?
So thumbs up for the car park.
As for the trial itself, well it’s the Scottish and in many respects it was no different from recent years. As a spectator, it is hard to quantify whether it was more difficult or perhaps less difficult than last year. Some of the riders I have spoken to said they considered it harder whilst other felt that it hadn’t changed much. But it was generally drier and that makes the rocks more slippery and looser so up until Thursday, perhaps it was a touch more difficult.
Inevitably, one is impressed with some aspects and disappointed with other aspects. I was really impressed with Emma Bristow on the Ossa who comfortably won the female category. She has obviously trained hard, lost a lot of weight and was noticeably fitter which has paid off with a great result. And you have to admire her sponsor, Nigel Birkett who finished his 39th consecutive SSDT and did it with a great 90th place finish. Talking to Nigel today at the Westmorland trial, he will definitely be back for his 40th trial and whilst he didn’t say so, 40 rides and hopefully 40 finishes would be a record that seems unlikely to be matched. You can never tell of course, but simply there’s nobody even near matching such a tremendous effort.
It may well be wrong for me to make criticism of any person or organisation that attends and tackles the Scottish, but I have to ask, just what was the Greeves effort all about?
Sure, you have to applaud the fact that they have actually made a machine – at least three in fact - but the approach and quality of the machine was simply not up to such an event. Quite why anybody wants to make one-offs when those well established factories from Italy, Spain, France and Japan turn out reliable and competitive machines at prices folks can afford, has me beaten.
Far better in my opinion would be to make a decent sized batch of Pre 65 style Greeves Scottishs that meet the requirements of the classic scene. First of all there is a much better chance of selling them, and as the classic road race scene accepts “new” old bikes like Manx Nortons, G50 Matchless and 7R AJS machines, whose to say that the Pre 65 scene can’t be persuaded to accept such a product. After all, folks are building new old bikes to ride in Pre 65 trials, so why not machines from a full scale manufacturer?
The result is well documented, so congratulations to James Dabill on his great result and commiserations to last year’s winner Alexz Wigg who lost a five on the trial’s very last section, Town Hall Brae, when his chain came off. He wouldn’t have won, but he would have been second instead of fourth so that was a hard loss to stand.
Yes, Scotland was another great week and whilst I am an anorak and intend to be at the Scottish for as long as I am able, for those who have not yet made it up to Fort William, give it a go next year as it really is a great week if trials is your sport.