The Sport You Can’t Practice
- Mike Rapley
Just been checking out the venue for the 2012 French Round of the World Trials Championship which is scheduled for April 28/29. It is due to be held at La Bresse, in eastern France, which is about 400 miles from Zeebrugge, with the village situated between St Die des Vosges and Belfort.
La Bresse is a very attractive Alpine/Swiss style village, with very big hills each side of the valley and the venue planned for the trial is about halfway up the eastern hillside. It’s used as a venue for local trials and the local club, MC La Bresse have trials schools there.
Big slippery rocks abound, parking is pretty good and they have the facilities for press, officials etc on site and whilst I have no knowledge of if or when the venue was last used for a world trial, it certainly looks OK to me. But of course I may well be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs and all you regular world round visitors know it well. Do tell me if you’ve been before.
Why was I there I hear you ask. Well, not only does the La Bresse club run trials but they also hold a Monte Impossible hillclimb there once a year, and it was to that event that I paid a visit two weeks ago with my good friend and former British and European sidecar trials champion Scott Rowland.
If you’ve never seen such an event, then I suggest you log on to www.mclabressaude.fr and get a taster of what they offer in the world of European hill climbing. The pair of us have been to just about every form of motorcycle sport over the years, but neither of us had seen a hillclimb and fitting it in with a visit to a day of the Tour de France at Sestriere followed by the World Sidecarcross GP in Germany, seemed too good a chance to miss. So we went!
However, it must be just about the only sport which is impossible to practise, unless you just happen to have a massive hill in your back garden which you don’t mind ripping to pieces!
I won’t spoil your appreciation of Eurosport 2’s transmission which is scheduled for Thursday, August 11 at 10.45pm and will no doubt be repeated several times thereafter, but do take a look. I know this is a trials site and I should be writing about trials, but look at it from a trials rider’s perspective and you’ll understand that it would be totally impossible to get a trials bike up such a formidable obstacle. In fact you would be hard pressed to get a trialler up the first gentle slope.
Following on from the hiillcimb we watched the Tour de France at Sestriere before heading off for the German sidecarcross GP at Strassbessenbach. Again no connection with trials except that the organising club used trials bikes as well as quads by marshals which gives me the best possible reason to give it a mention. I do like to see other forms of bike sport, especially to see the best riders in action, and in double race winner Daniel Willemson you have one of the fittest men on this planet – and that aspect alone is what gives him the advantage he seems to have over all the others, something I think I mentioned once before after seeing him back in 2008 at a French GP.
Having covered 2300 miles on my road bike, I simply couldn’t be motivated to drag myself up to Fort William for last week’s World Trial, especially as it was for only one day and because I went there last year. By all accounts, L&M did another fantastic job in organising this event; reports to me say that it is arguably the very best world trial of the year. I won’t argue with that having been last year, so suffice to say congratulations to them.
Instead of going to Fort William, I had a chance to ride a Pre 65 bike in the Ilkley Club’s round of the Sammy Miller series, a championship that has a significant number of devotees, but which does not suit everybody. I did enjoy it, but 37 miles and 31 sections on very slow old bikes is not to everybody’s taste. A lap length of around 20 would have been much better suited in my opinion.
Talking of road trials, last Sunday’s Westmorland Club’s Kefty Watson Trial, a round of the Normandale ACU Traditional Trials Championship only managed to attract a disappointing entry of 64 riders. My club, Lancs County also holds one of these rounds and by keeping the trial all off road we attract entries around the 160 mark. I do know that we run earlier in the year when enthusiasm for the series is ripe, but even so, I think that if Westmorland had put the trial all off road on their superb bit of land above their own venue at Witherslack, they could have managed a five mile lap and in the process probably attracted another 30 or so entries.
However, what they did offer was a great trial which used a load of land the club has not been able to use for many years and the effort put in by new clerks of the course was very impressive. In fact it was a great trial and judging by the comments made, the best round of the Normandale series this year.