A Reet(h) Good Time Was Had By All

I’ve been home from the Reeth Three Day Trial barely three hours and have done what everybody else does on a Sunday evening after trialing – unloaded the van, stuck the dirty washing in the washing machine, had a quick look around the bike and chucked it in the garage ready for washing on Monday night. Normally I always wash it immediately I get home, but have to say that tonight, I’m fair shattered.

I don’t suppose there’s that many lads quite as worn out as us older riders at the tail end of the results, but for those of you folks who have never ridden the Reeth extravaganza, here’s a brief resume.

Organised by the superbly efficient Richmond Club, it takes place in God’s own theme park, the Yorkshire Dales and is a wonderful three days of sport. It’s three full days of trialing; Friday made superb use of a 36 section course that took in loads of land used for the Scott Trial and featured Richmond’s usual mix of dry rocky becks, wet rocky becks, slippery rocky becks plus a few hillsides littered with dry rocks. It’s difficult to put a mileage on it, but it must be approaching 30 or so whilst on Saturday the suggestions went that it was well over 60 miles of even more Scott Trial country, this time with 41 sections.

And if that was not enough, then Sunday provides even more Scott Trial stuff over the Grouse Moor and associated areas, again well over 30 miles (and even more if you happened to miss section 22 and had to go back to ride it!).

What is amazing is that the Richmond Club is able to obtain permission to use such vast tracts of land; that they can persuade hard-working club members to undertake such a massive promotion and how it all went so well without any obvious hitch.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have ridden the three days five times now, and it cerainly doesn’t get any easier. It’s incredibly difficult to get the mix right – hard enough to take some marks off the best riders in the hard and easier course classes, yet still sensible enough to allow the lesser lights the chance of some cleans. It’s probably more difficult than a good many nationals, but without a doubt it was pretty close to being spot on this year. The winning scores in both classes (Ben Hemingway and Kevin Hipwell) both staggered into double figures, but neither winner had time to relax for there were loads of eager riders waiting to pounce if they got it wrong.

The Richmond date is well established in the calendar and is without doubt the biggest trial in the north all year, so quite why it was deemed necessary to organise the revamped British Experts Trial on the same weekend, and then have another big “stadium” type trial on the following day, I haven’t yet worked out. Presumably it was because of other commitments by the organisers of the Experts, but I rather think that a good number of those at Reeth would have also considered going to the British Experts if it had been another weekend – or maybe I’ve got it wrong and there was no real clash at all!

It was good to see Robert Crawford back in the UK and riding a bike. His infectious good humour has been missing from the scene for a good number of years and to hear his broad Irish brogue back again was good. He came over for the Reeth trial with his pal, ex-MotoGP racer Jeremy McWilliams, who had never ridden a trial before!. It proved to be a bit of a rude awakening, probably a bit like thee or me being thrown into a Moto GP weekend, so he and Robert did the sensible thing and retired to the pub after making a fair attempt on Friday. They got a few more sections completed on Saturday and on Sunday seemed to be enjoying the convivial atmosphere of the lunch check before scarpering off back to Stranraer for the ferry home.

Robert of course could well have been in with a top ten placing if he had put his best efforts into it, but he stuck by his pal and ensured he had a good experience from his first taste of trialing.

It’s one of the great things about being a biker. There is no doubt that no matter whether you are a trials rider, a motocrosser, an enduro man, a road racer or a road biker, there is an affinity with each other. It’s unlike any other sport I can think of, once behind a pair of handlebars, there’s no hiding place, and because we all know that we are only ever as good as our results show, it’s the greatest leveller in the world, and because of that, we all respect each other with never any snide remarks about another riders’ performance.

For that alone, I’m glad it was biking I took up as a kid!