Last Wednesday evening about five pm I was stood on a hill overlooking the Lune Valley with the wind blowing a gale, showers drifting across the hills, wondering if anybody was going to turn up for a Lancs County evening trial.
It was the third round of our club’s Wednesday evening series and entries have slowly dropped off over the past few years. At one time we would get 90-100 for an evening trial (too many), then it dropped to seventy or so (about right) but last week it dropped to just 32.
All this set me thinking. Why was the obvious question, and there can have been three reasons. Our previous evening trial held some three weeks earlier had been held in a tremendous storm which resulted in almost impossible going and cricket scores for results. Other clubs in the area have got on the evening trial bandwagon so now there’s virtually one every week, and the weather forecast for the evening had not been good.
In the end the trial took place and the going was fine, it stayed relatively dry for the night and the sections were easy, therefore the scores were low.
Hopefully at the next event, our entries will be back to normal.
I know this is all about my own club, but it brings me to the point I’m making. Are there simply too many trials throughout the year? Once upon a time, as a general rule there was just one trial per week in one area and in the summer months all trialing came to a halt.
I’m not suggesting that summer trialing stops, far from it, but is there any need for each club to run a dozen trials a year? Lancs County is as guilty, perhaps more guilty than most and whilst a small number of clubs in my area only run three or four trials a year, most run loads with the result that instead of having the choice of just one event to attend at a weekend, there are usually three or four, all within an hour of my home. To some extent that’s because I live on the borders of three centres, but even so, there is always a big choice of where to go, with the inevitable result that some clubs dip out.
So with lots of choice, clubs do need to make their event attractive. Some, by the very nature of the land they have will always get a good entry, but for others they should have to work at it. We always try to ensure that the trial is advertised on Trials Central and in TMX. We always try to be cheerful and pleasant to the riders who are our paying customers. We always try to ensure we put on a decent set of sensible sections, and I always produce a decent set of results section total by section total, and the result is that as a general rule we get good entries.
What bugs me as an individual is going to a trial where those officiating tend to be a bit stroppy. Sorry if this gets up the noses of some folks, but it’s true. This is my sport on a Sunday and I want folks to be pleasant. I can find plenty of stroppy people during a working week. In return I won’t be awkward and will be nice to everybody.
Secondly I want sections that I can ride and I want those responsible to plot sections with my level of ability in mind, and to be fair, this does happen for rarely do I go to a trial that is way over the top. Those that are too much for me I avoid in the future.
And thirdly, I want a decent set of results. I’ve paid my £15 entry fee and it’s only right that I get to learn how I have fared. Clubs that simply list a final total are not doing the job properly. They won’t like me saying it, but it’s not good enough.
Their argument is that if they list section by section (or section total by section total) they are encouraging riders to protest. Rubbish; I’ve been doing it section by section for eight years and can count on the fingers of one hand how many riders have phoned to query their results. Just a final total is being lazy, though I do accept that using punch cards makes it difficult to produce anything other than a final total.
So there you have it, my ideal trial on a Sunday. Bet you have some views as well..