Trying To Be Loyal

Up here in the north this weekend the weather has been terrible – I mean terrible with horizontal rain, gale force winds, flooding on the roads, and it came as no surprise as the forecast has been bad for several days.

Rather fortunately, there was the choice of four trials in which to ride. Darwen had an event at Back Cowm Quarry; Bassenthwaite had an event at Threlkeld; Darlington had a trial at The Woodyard, Reeth and Wetherby had a trial at Bayliss Gap Farm, Pateley Bridge.

For me, all were a similar distance from home, give or take ten miles so the question Saturday evening was where to go?

Now that is rather unfortunate, for with four trials within sensible distance, it meant that entries from the north of England were going to be heavily divided. And in the end, whilst I don’t know at the time of writing how many riders Darwen attracted, there were only relatively small entries at the other three trials. I say small, but I’m comparing them with the entries each club could expect on a fine, sunny day with few other events on in the area.

In the end the decision was made to attend the Wetherby trial, principally because I knew the wooded slopes of Bayliss Gap Farm would offer some sort of protection from the worst of the weather when compared with the other three venues, and because I have only ridden at that venue once before.

Unfortunately, just 30 riders turned up for this Yorkshire Centre trial, which was pretty poor considering Wetherby have a good reputation for their trials, and whilst it was simply emptying it down at the start, as indeed it did for much of the day, as predicted the venue provided the protection that I expected. However, it also turned out to be the most difficult trial by a long way, but that was as I expected.

To a great extent I felt sorry for the organisers of all four trials as all will have put in a significant amount of work preparing the course and to be rewarded with a small entry is disheartening. But as far as the Wetherby event was concerned, 30 riders was plenty considering the way the land became cut up and how the sections deteriorated.

Whilst I wasn’t at Bassenthwaite, I know the venue well, and undoubtedly they will have been blessed with sections that probably didn’t alter significantly in the conditions. Both Wetherby and Bassenthwaite had rocky sections, but the land in which they lie is so very different. One cut up badly, the other was unlikely to have altered significantly. However, it is also very exposed up there and I imagine the entrants had a rough day weatherwise.

Living as I do in the far north west corner of Lancashire, the choice I enjoy is trials in the North Western Centre, the Northern Centre and the Yorkshire Centre. Those of us who live in this area are very fortunate, but it also means that we tend to spread our favours.

That was never the case when I lived in Devon more than 30 years ago. Back then, there was always just one trial per Sunday, and if you intended to ride that day, that was the trial you went to. Obviously, those who lived close to the borders had the option to travel west into Cornwall or east into the Southern Centre, but it was strange how riders always tended to be very loyal to the Centre in which they lived.

I rather suspect that a good many riders stuck their heads out of the bedroom window on Sunday morning and then crept back under the bedclothes. And who can blame them? Me for one, there’s only one Sunday per week and it’s for biking in some shape or form.