Before I returned to trials riding full time back in 1997, I had been a regular competitor on the enduro scene, having ridden most British Championship (and North of England and Scottish) rounds for 14 years.
I well recall David Knight taking part in his first British Championship round and have followed his progress since then. We first got to know one another when he was riding the British Expert Championship in trials, a series that he won, and it didn’t take long before it was very obvious that Knighter was going to be an absolute star on the enduro scene.
And so it has proved. Not only has he been British Champion, he’s been a multiple world champion, he’s won the ISDE outright and taken the American Grand National Cross Country Championship twice. But now he’s back in Europe riding for BMW in the World Championship. And as I type this on Saturday evening he’s finished sixth on the first day of the championship in E3 class, which is almost certainly a disappointment for him – which is not what I was expecting to write, so much for finding a subject that was going to provide hot news. And as I update this Sunday night, he’s retired. Ummm, methinks I’ve done a “Murray” on him.
What it does go to show is that it is very difficult to maintain top form all the time. I recall watching Knighter back in the late 'nineties when there was a world round at Llandovery, and he was just coming into the form that would soon net him top spots. But that’s more than ten years ago, so perhaps expecting him to immediately to slot back into world championship winning form straight away – and on a strange bike – is expecting a lot. No doubt there is more to come and it will be interesting to see how it develops.
You may well have heard that Mick Grant has recently suffered an unpleasant injury when a thorn spiked his eye. It happened at the recent Jersey Two Day trial and seems to have been one of those most unfortunate occurrences when the totally unexpected happens. In my days at TMX, whenever I was choosing a photo for inclusion in the paper, I always declined to use a picture of a trials rider who was not wearing a helmet. That doesn’t mean to say such pictures were not used, they were, but I was not responsible.
In those days, and I rather suspect it applies now, riders in AMCA organised trials were not required to wear a helmet unless they so wished, and that in my opinion is simply foolhardy. I consider a helmet essential and twice in the past few years I’ve had occasion to thank the Lord I was wearing one.
I hit my head extremely hard on a low branch in a club trial last summer and was knocked totally off the back of my bike and had done the same thing (at a different venue) some 12 months before. It’s not something I try to do, but it can and does happen, and in both instances there’s no doubt the helmet saved me from serious injury. (At least I think it did dohhh!)
Of course Mick’s eye injury can’t be avoided, nobody is suggesting that we should wear goggles during a trial, but the bare minimum of safety kit, helmet, boots, gloves and long sleeves should be mandatory for all riders, not just youths as is currently the case.
And should Mick get to read this, all the best and hope you are better soon.
Rather than sending this column to Andy on Saturday, I’ve waited until Sunday night to see the results from Kinlochleven, and judging from Andy’s terrific report and superb pictures, it looks to have been a cracking trial and all credit to Dibs for making such a fighting comeback against such a formidable competitor. It certainly bodes well for the SSDT in a few weeks time when both these past winners come up against each other on what is best described as equal machinery.
I would have liked to have gone to Scotland to see the trial as I managed a couple of years ago, but it was not to be as the Bemrose beckoned last Sunday, and what a superb trial that turned out to be. It was the 80th occasion that the Bemrose has been held which is one heck of a lot of trials and purely for personal reasons, it’s great to be able to ride both Hollinsclough and Hawks Nest. I first went to see action at Hollinsclough some 48 years ago and of course Hawks Nest in the same trial. I was there with my dad and as I recall a pal from school by the name of Harland (can’t remember his first name). It was the Clayton Trial, one of the two nationals held by the London based Wood Green club
The only rider I can remember from the trial was Derek Adsett on a 150 Francis Barnett Fulmar on Hawks Nest, and as I walked the section today with Dave Thorpe I asked if he was in action that day. He reckons he first rode there some three years later in 1964. We’re both still going, both still loving it and both lost the same number of marks on the genuine, original Hawks Nest section up the far right hand side. Great stuff.