The Road Racers Bring In The Crowds

It came as no surprise to learn that Spain won the Trial des Nations in Italy at the weekend, but for Britain to be second in the men’s contest and for the British girls to win the ladies competition is absolutely fantastic.

It’s now two years since the TdN was held in the UK when the Isle of Man hosted the event in 2007, and back then it was the women that provided the thrilling contest, just as they have done this year in Italy.

Whilst I was not in Italy, I rather suspect that for the average trials riding spectator, watching the women ride is much easier to relate to as the sections which they ride are far more relevant to most people than the style of sections in the men’s event.

Becky Cook is the only British girl remaining from the 2007 winning squad, she has been joined this year by Joanne Coles and Emma Bristow. Becky was a classy competitor in the Scottish Six Days this year when she was able to showcase her talents. Emma was also impressive in the SSDT, but I was also able to watch Emma in the fairly recent Reeth Three Day when her riding number and mine were not so far apart. She rode the hard course and displayed some superb rides of some tricky sections and her selection for the British TdN team was well merited. Joanne, though I have yet to see her ride, is reputed to be the hottest prospect of the UK’s women trials riders, and with such depth of talent there is no doubt that in the TdN, Britain’s girls will always be the team to beat.

Whilst not decrying the results claimed by the British men’s squad, the absence this year of the Japanese team may well have been a blessing in disguise, for it was the Japanese who upset Britain’s 2007 runner up spot to Spain when they pipped the Brits to the post in the Isle of Man. But not this year when Dougie, James, Michael and Alexz did the UK proud.

Having just glanced through the FIM interview which is featured on this website, the comments regarding trials was neatly summed up in one of the postings relating to it. But what I want to make some comment about is spectator attendance at major meetings.

Over the past four months, by choice I have not ridden as many trials as I have done in past years, preferring instead to look at other events. I have attended the British round of the World Trials Championship at Carlisle; the British Motocross GP at Mallory Park; the Isle of Man TT; the inaugural Armoy road race meeting in Ireland; the British Superbike round at Croft and today, the Scarborough Gold Cup road race meeting at Olivers Mount.

I know that many of the readers of this column have no interest in anything other than trials, but from a personal perspective, seeing other events gives a deep insight into bike sport as a whole, and which I hope will re-energise my solo trials riding (not that I wanted to miss riding, but there’s only one Sunday per week, and you can’t do both!)

From an attendance point of view, whilst I don’t have figures, both Scarborough and Croft had massive numbers of spectators, certainly attendance at both far outweighed the number of spectators at either the world motocross or world trial – and that judgement is made by simply viewing the number of people watching and the massed ranks of cars and bikes in the car parks.

Indeed, Armoy had a significant number of people watching, though perhaps not as many as at Mallory for the motocross. So what is it about road racing that makes it so popular? The motocross has spectacular action at speed; the trial has spectacular action, whilst the road racing is simply fast.

I’ll tell why I think the road racing wins hands down for public attendance. It’s possible to relate to it. If you can ride a bike, you think you can ride it fast, therefore you think you could do what the racers do. The same doesn’t apply with world level motocross and trials, and that’s why road racing attracts big crowds when compared to mx and trials.

Only my view of course, but worth commenting on.