Column 200 was meant to be my last, but I’ve just read the many replies about the Pre 65 Scottish, so here comes another
What comes first, the cart or the horse? I ask this as I have ridden the Pre 65 trial on 11 occasions, though it wasn’t until I saw Tommy Sandham’s book last year that I was aware I had ridden that number.
Anyway, back to cart and horse. The problems as I see them, (though I could be wrong), is that there are no longer enough “genuine” Pre 65 bikes to fill the trial. If there are enough and all the owners got a ride, the vast majority of those owners would not be able to get round the trial as it now stands, as the bikes would be unmanageable much of the time.
I don’t envy the club the job of selecting who is in and who is out, but I do know many of the machines are in fact modern components disguised to look something like a Pre 65 machine, therefore making them considerably better than the versions they are emulating. If we wish to get back to how bikes were when ridden 20 years ago, the trial itself needs to change.
Back when I rode Reg May’s 350 AJS twice in the trial (early 'nineties??) the trial was very much easier than it is these days, and to successfully negotiate such a machine round today’s trial would be a major effort. I may be getting older, but I can still ride a bit. No doubt I could finish on such a machine, but it would be a significant challenge and the current sections are not really aimed at bikes like the machine Reg lent me.
As the bikes have improved, so the sections have become harder, so whose fault is that? The club’s for making the trial more difficult, or the riders for turning up with ever more competitive machinery, thereby forcing the club to come up with sections to challenge them.
I rather guess that asking for pictures this year will have given the selection committee the chance to eliminate those machines that APPEAR too modern, but then we come to the point that many of the entrants expecting a ride are also riders who regularly ride with clubs orientated towards classic trials, therefore the machines they own have been produced to contend with classic trials as they have developed around the country.
I’m by no means a regular at classic trials, but I have been to a small number this year and whilst many of the machines outwardly appear to be “in the spirit”, look more closely and even to my untutored eye they have been developed way beyond the state of development reached in 1965.
So what does the club do? I have a personal view which I have aired previously – get the best known riders on whatever Pre 65 style machine they have, and give them a trial in line with their abilities. Whilst I have no idea who is in and who is out (I’m OUT by the way), spectating to see a load of wobblers on old dogs of bikes on sections they can’t do is not my idea of two days of fun.
I would far rather watch 180 riders that I know or at least have heard of, on the latest machine they have created, than watch far less able riders, whose regular experience is four laps round a field on a bike that is a heap of junk who are faced with a challenging trial that is way beyond their abilities.
I suppose that I have now REALLY spiked all chance of a Pre 65 ride – though we are told nobody from the Pre 65 organisers reads this website. I wonder. However, the classic Manx Two Day beckons in September and that is a great trial.
Since announcing last week that I was finishing my column, many riders and respondents have expressed their dismay, and at Sheffield on Saturday night I was really touched to hear from so many folks that my column would be missed, for which I thank them – hence this week’s column which has come as a result of reading about the Pre 65 trial.
I will try and produce some columns in the future, all I request is that I do them in my own good time and as frequently as I want, rather than the commitment of every week, every week, every week, every week.....................
Can’t say fairer than that