Make Flag Collecting Your Hobby

ACU licence holders will have received their copy of the ACU Handbook this past week – or if they haven’t yet, it’s in the post. And it’s good to see that the cover picture this year, instead of being a montage of top performers from many aspects of bike sport is of Britain’s winning 2009 Ladies Trial des Nations team which was Joanna Coles, Emma Bristow and Becky Cook. It’s easy to forget that our girls took the top spot last year and featuring on the front page of the ACU Handbook will recognise their victory for many years to come.

Whilst the ACU Handbook could be seen by some to be a waste of money, the information it contains should be invaluable to a vast number of riders of all disciplines and answers to many of the questions that organisers are frequently asked can often be found within the comprehensive pages of the Handbook. However, finding the answers is often the difficult part but as the years go by, the layout is becoming crisper and easier to read.

Last week’s column certainly stirred up a hornets nest and following all the postings and many readings of the column and comments, I think we are all very well aware that road based trials run on the bare cusp of legality.

They also run thanks to the determination of a few enthusiasts who wish to continue a tradition that has been with the sport over many years. When I first rode trials (December 1963) there was no such thing as a closed circuit trial, every trial was road based, utilising public roads to join up various groups of sections. Organisers simply never considered the need to have events all on one piece of land. However, times have definitely changed and I suppose that now 90% of all trials are confined to private land without road work being involved.

Having a trial on a single piece of land certainly makes life easier for the organisers. For a start they avoid any potential problems with riders not being road legal whilst containing their event into a relatively small area which makes it easy to mark out and to get observers to the sections.

So for those of us that do still ride trials on the road we have to thank those who organise them. Whilst I don’t want to pick on one trial in particular, last week’s Bemrose is, I guess, a good example. It ran over a course that probably totalled in excess of 30 miles and was put together by a relatively small group of trial organisers from various clubs and centres. The problem, as I see it, is that those that were out there doing the work were – shall we say – mature individuals. And we have to ask whether they are able to or indeed are prepared to do such an onerous task for very much longer.

The trouble is that there are no young riders taking on the task. And by young I mean under 35 or so. I know the problems, work, wives/partners, young children etc, but in my opinion something has to give because soon there won’t be many folk left to undertake these tasks, and perhaps more importantly, have the contacts within the local community to ensure that these events can continue.

What’s the answer? Easy, get some younger riders involved, but that is far more difficult to achieve than would seem. Thankfully, the Westmorland Club and the Barrow Club in the Northern Centre do have a good group of current, younger riders helping out, as do Richmond over in Yorkshire. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it could soon be if we don’t take action now.

So make it a late New Year’s Resolution, offer to help your local club, even if it’s only picking up flags after the trial.