Return To Strict SSDT Rules

Writing about my ice racing experience last week seems to have proved prophetic, for no sooner had I put fingers to keyboard and typed last week’s missive, than down came the snow, throughout the country over a period of days and effectively cancelling the vast bulk of trials this Sunday.

Yet ironically, where I live in Carnforth, adjacent to Morecambe Bay, we’ve had absolutely NO snow – well just a sprinkling on Monday morning which had gone by dinner time, so whilst the rest of the country has been slipping and sliding around, those fortunate to live in this area where the Gulf Stream hits the UK, have had no travel problems at all.

In fact on Friday when the news bulletins were all about Wales and South West enjoying their heaviest falls of snow for decades, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky all day Friday, the sun was actually warm and we thought for a moment that Spring had come. At least until dusk when the temperature dropped dramatically.

As you will have seen from this website, many trials have been cancelled, including the Colonial which is where I was planning to ride this past weekend. It’s a cracking trial and as I understand it, the Colonial has never been cancelled in the previous 25 years, so it’s a shame that the last year that Keith Ellis was to be at the helm, it has not actually happened. Keith managed to get the trial just right for the class of riders he attracted, which is no mean feat getting the sections that I ride also suitable for the likes of Dabill and Browny (with hard route modifications of course!). And as I type this on Saturday afternoon, every last trial that I had considered riding has now been cancelled. Mrs Rapley will have to put up with me for a Sunday – she doesn’t like that!!

Phew!! I’ve just picked up on the thread elsewhere on this website (Forums – SSDT) with regard to Phil Alderson swopping bikes during last year’s trial. There are 64 postings about this incident, and if you go there and read them all, I think you will agree that everything that needs to be said about the case has been said, and I don’t intend to add any more to them. What does surprise me is that after dying a natural death about mid June last year, it all started up again seven months later in January this year, so it’s obvious that the case has left a bitter taste in the mouths of those who made comment.

Whilst I shall make no comment about what happened, I do wish to make comment about the potential ramifications of the situation. It’s quite simple to my mind. I’ve been to every Scottish since 1978 and it seems to me that as the years have passed, the rules regarding working on the bike have been relaxed to a point where they to all intents and purposes no longer exist. I would like to see 2009 be the year when strict adherence to the parc ferme rules returns.

When a rider and his machine is present at the start/finish, the only person allowed to work on the machine should be the competitor, with one exception. The removal and fitment of tyres can be done by the tyre companies. In all other situations, all work must be done by the rider. Simple as that. Sure, mechanics and parts men can be on hand to supply the necessary advice and components, but all work that needs to be done is carried out by the rider. If you need fork seals, YOU do it. If you need a piston change, YOU do it, and if you want to blow the mud off with an air line, YOU do it, etc, etc, etc.

It would level out the playing field considerably and do away with the supported riders disappearing inside awnings and coming out 20 minutes later with immaculate machines, compared to the guy likely to finish in the last couple of dozen, arriving back knackered, with a bike falling apart and then having to spend valuable time penalties getting it all sorted out for the next morning.

There are two allowed variations to this. If you intend to retire and restart next day with no award, then let anybody repair the bike as necessary, and if you suffer a mechanical problem out on the trial and can find a kind and friendly spectator to assist, then as long as it’s out of sight of a official, then it’s OK.

That would return the trial to the situation of some 30 odd years ago when riders, no matter who they were, lived in fear of being caught by a club official.

And going back to the situation regarding Phil Alderson, I’m also glad to see that those who take part but decline to make a valid attempt at every section, are also not in the entry list this year.