How Devilish Nice To Meet You Again

It seems to me as if everything that can be said and written about the current state of the World Indoor Trials Championship has been said and written on here, so perhaps the time has come to head off in another direction with this column.

But before that happens, I really appreciate Alexz Wigg posting on here his views – top riders putting their views forward in public are few and far between so it’s great when one has the guts to do so. I find it strange at times that our sport, which with the best will in the world is little more than a small number of lads riding over a few rocks at the weekend, appears to be so divided. As far as I’m aware, none of the top lads contribute to this site, leaving it to the lesser lights to make their points, which is surprising, because we can all be in the same trial, chatting to each other, but with each having such diverse opinions of what happens within our Sunday sport.

Happened upon an old sidecaring pal the other day at Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale. I had been working in the Cumbrian town and had just popped down to the infamous bridge over the River Lune where I spotted Bruce Rushton at the burger van having a cup of tea. Bruce was out trail riding with three pals and had stopped for a brew and warm up on a very cold January day. It must have been at least 15 years since we last met, though many years ago we met regularly when we were both chasing championship points in the British Sidecar series back in the early 'eighties.

Now retired, Bruce looked very well indeed and told me that he is still manufacturing the occasional sidecar outfit to attach to a modern trials bike, and building a few wheels as and when folks require them.

The whole world of sidecar trials in the UK is very closely knit, and regular readers of this column will recall that together with Andrew Scott, I made a one-off return to the three wheeled version of trials by taking part in last year’s Manx Two Day on a borrowed 330 Gasser. The last sidecar outfit that I actually owned was a 1986 Fantic, the red and white plastic tanked version which I think was designated 303, but forgive me if I’ve got that wrong. I bought it new and Bruce manufactured a chair for it. Frankly, it was rubbish and was nowhere near as good as the 325 Suzukis which I had ridden previously. In fact I kept it for less than six months, fed up with its poor performance and returned to riding enduros for the next dozen years.

But riding sidecars is something that never quite leaves you and back in 1994 I yearned to have a go again. Bruce was good enough to oblige and lent me his Gas Gas of the time together with his regular passenger, Neil Watson. We rode the Frank Hooper British Championship round down in Shropshire and did all right, and until last August when I tackled the Manx, that had been the last time I had ridden a sidecar outfit in a trial.

Riding the Manx last year brought it all back. Andrew and I were not particularly brilliant though I felt we showed the occasional flash of ability. But what it has done is encourage me to do a bit more for the chair boys. Robin Luscombe tackled me at the Manx presentation by saying he thought there should be a sidecar round in the Lake District. That set me thinking and to cut a long story short, the Lakes Motor Trial Association, organisers of the fabulous Lakes Two Day, are promoting two trials in July which should be of major interest to a lot of folks.

On Saturday July 17, there will be a round of the Challenge Lusky British Sidecar Championship which will also include a non-championship class for Pre 65 solo machines riding the sidecar sections, followed on Sunday by the National Twin-shock Team Trial, which will be exactly what it says. Any team of three twin-shocks representing clubs, centres, one-makes, in fact whatever you want it to represent.

The trial will be set out by the regular Lakes lads who do such a good job, with yours truly advising on the sidecar sections. The start will be at a pub in Torver near Coniston.

So that can be an addition to your diary if you are amongst the sidecar, pre 65 and twin-shock brigade.