Chair Boys Go Head To Head

This weekend has been another with no trials for me as I’ve been to Ireland again for the Skerries 100, Irish road race meeting. Regular readers of this column will recall that 12 months ago I headlined my column with the words “Do It Before You Die” which described our exploits in Ireland over the same weekend 12 months ago.

Thankfully, there were no excitements by way of punctures in the middle of Dublin, but once again the thrill of road racing on the narrow roads of Ireland has not diminished. The VFR was used to transport daughter and I from home to Ireland and back and all went well.

Despite some poor weather, the day actually proved to be bright and sunny for the crucial period when racing took place, and whilst walking between vantage points, I was looking at the tarmac (yes, I know, sad!) Interestingly, the grip provided by race tyres on bikes travelling at speeds of up to 150 miles per hours actually pulls the stones from the tarmac when it’s warm. In fact, just as on trials bikes, tyres have developed fantastically over the past 20 years or so.

I was clearing out my garage the other day and came across a brand new Pirelli trials tyre that I had from my sidecaring days which ended about ’85, and just for a millisecond thought about using it on my Beta. One quick feel immediately put that thought out of my head – it was rock hard, not because it had significantly deteriorated, simply that tyres are now so soft that you tend to forget just how poor old rubber now seems compared to modern carcasses.

Talking of sidecar days, this coming Sunday sees three good former sidecar drivers all competing in the Dave Rowland trial, and all riding very close to one another. As well as my good self (modestly claiming that I was a reasonable sidecar man!), there’s Phil Scott and Scott Rowland. Phil Scott rides solos regularly these days, frequently in trials in which I also ride, and he’s a very good clubman rider, and of course Scott Rowland is a former multiple British Champion on three wheels, and though he only rides solos very occasionally these days, he’s still pretty good when it comes to tackling sections on two wheels.

Whilst I shall be very happy to finish in third place if you look at the competition between the three os us, actually picking a best performance between the other two would be very difficult as I reckon they will be very close when the results come out. Rowly is riding a borrowed Beta Rev 4 and whilst Scotty was on a Montesa 4RT the last time I saw him, I’ve just got a feeling he may have changed to a Beta since then. All very parochial, but nevertheless quite interesting.

Looking at the Czecho results from last weekend, it’s interesting to see that Toni Bou is not getting the World Championship all his own way as Adam Raga is still proving to be as good. Bou’s performance last year gave an indication that he would romp away with the title for years to come, and whilst he’s still the favourite to most folks, Raga is keeping him very honest. Fujigas is also in with a shout, but I still thinks it’s sad to see that there are only three riders realistically capable of winning a round these days.

To some extent this is a quiet time of year for our sport. The attractions of bright, sunny weather (cough, splutter), long summery evenings and many other things to do frequently reduces the number of riders to trials. In fact I was writing an article for Trail Bike Magazine a few days ago having interviewed George Greenland over the phone and he reminded me that back in the 'fifties and 'sixties trials simply did not take place in the summer. The Scottish tended to round off the winter season in May, then trials started up again in September. Not suggesting that it was either a good or a bad thing, but it is at least understandable why summer trials do tend to have smaller entries.

Communication problems (no e-mail) have meant this column has appeared a bit later than normal, sorry guys, that’s modern times for you!