A Christmas Review

This is my last column before Christmas, so now seems as good a time as any to take a brief look back over the past year. But before I do that, can I say thank you to everybody who reads this column; thank you to everybody who posts a comment and thank you to those riders I see at events who pass on their personal views about the words I write and in every case make very satisfying remarks about this column.

Presumably those that don’t like it or think it’s a load of rubbish haven’t bumped into me yet!

I know I’m going over old ground, but it is increasingly difficult to write this every week. There are times when I look back at the previous week’s column and see that it has only attracted 1000 hits and I think “why am I bothering?” But then there’s the case – as is the situation now – when I check back on last week’s offering and see that the column has nudged up 2700 hits. That’s pretty good I reckon, and it certainly makes it all worthwhile.

This is column number 98 for Trials Central, but prior to that I wrote 274 for TMX, so 373 columns is a fair number of words week after week after week…………….!

Anyway, going back to the start of the year, my thanks to John Lampkin for taking over the sponsorship of this column. Without a masthead it would look pretty plain and he was more than happy to step into the breach.

One of the early 2008 columns referred to Michael Brown’s efforts at The Tough One where he not only won the trial race but dominated the enduro race on his trials bike until he was pulled out so as not to upstage the enduro boys who were finding life that much harder on their enduro bikes. It was a profitable weekend for Browny as he went home with a comfortable wedge in his back pocket.

An early column that proved tremendously controversial was back in January when I wrote about the eligibility of Pre 65 machines in the Pre 65 Scottish. There were 87 postings to that column and over 3600 hits, so it was a subject that brought out a great deal of differing views. Must return to that again some day!

In March I brought up the subject of observers and how they were rewarded. Cash, biscuits, chocolates, free entries to riders – all are offered by some clubs, but still the long term problem of getting sufficient observers is a difficult one to solve and I haven’t yet ridden a trial where observers have been intentionally dropped with a view to finding a satisfactory observe yourself method. Again, it’s a subject that I think will crop up again.

Next big problem to crop up this year was the situation regarding refuelling in the Scottish. I didn’t realise it at the time, but we now know that this year’s trial very nearly didn’t happen due to getting the fuelling sorted out, then we learnt afterwards that the 2009 trial was at risk unless a refuelling remedy was found. Loads of comments were posted but nobody had any real answers; however the club eventually found the solution and all being well the problem for next year’s trial (and future trials?) is well sorted. The sport has a lot to thank Sandy Mack for me thinks.

On a purely personal level, my June road bike trip to the Dolomites with six mates was the highlight of my year. Prior to the 11 day holiday, my previous experience of road riding was about 0.0005% of my total bike riding, so to crank up 360 miles the first day and 2400 miles in total was a steep learning curve, but one that I enjoyed immensely. The guys I was with made sure I was well looked after until I got into the swing of things, so special thanks to Steve Hennessey for always keeping me in view – it’s easy to get adrift of the pack in heavy traffic.

The Reeth Three Day and Manx Two Day are always special events and non more so than this year. I had better rides in both than I have enjoyed for a while and during the last few weeks of the year I have even managed to claim class wins, which are satisfying at any time, but especially so when the birthdays keep coming round.

Trialing has been very much my life for ALL my life and I’ve many friends in the sport. However, now seems as good a time as any to say a simple thank you to my riding pal Graham. Everybody who knows me will also know Graham. We are a bit like twins, there’s always a bit of invisible string linking us together. My sport simply wouldn’t be the same without somebody to ride with every week. He’s a great pal and a great companion.

So, here’s to a few more columns; keep reading and keep posting, it makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks, and a very happy Christmas and successful New Year to all trials enthusiasts.