I did wonder if I was ever going to get a column written this week. I do take pride in getting one sent to Andy by Sunday night, but I’ve been sorely tested this weekend due to deep involvement with the Angela Redford trial (with my fellow club members of course) and then riding the Bemrose on Sunday.
However, even though this is 24 hours late, here goes.
Mr Plod, i.e. the Derbyshire Constabulary, were out at the Bemrose on Sunday, craftily parked up on a side road leading to the first group of sections. They were busy with two riders at the time I passed by, so I wasn’t pulled in for a check – not that it mattered if they had pulled me in as I’m taxed, licensed and insured. But unfortunately, I rather suspect there are others who were not judging by a number of worried remarks being made at various points around the course.
This is one of the problems that clubs face when running a road based trial; how do you ensure that your competitors are all legal. Well of course you don’t have to because when you as the rider, sign the entry form and at the start of the trial the signing on sheet, you are in fact declaring yourself to be fully legal in all respects, therefore removing all responsibility from the organising club.
As I understand it, the police officers approached the club officials at the start declaring that riders were not taxed and insured and allegedly suggested that the club could be aiding and abetting any offence. However, production of the signing on sheet removed any suggestion of responsibility away from the club onto any individual rider who may have been offending.
Which brings me to the point of why it is so important that riders always sign entry forms and why it is important that club officials ensure they have a signed form. The ACU have gone to great lengths to ensure that the standard entry form complies with legal requirements, and it is up to clubs to use these forms in order that they stay well within the ACU’s requirements.
It is all too easy and say that the ACU don’t provide anything for the income they receive, but in actual fact they go to great lengths to help clubs organise events properly.
I’m not about to suggest that a trials bike on the road is totally road legal in all respects, but to be sensible about it, they have good brakes, the tyres hold the road well and whilst the number plates are always far too small to be legal, in most respects they are there and can be read by a police officer who has stopped any such vehicle.
But what beats me is why the police feel they need to be involved. The mere fact that the event is taking place, under ACU jurisdiction should be good enough for any right minded officer. If they know anything, they will know that it is being organised properly, riders will have good road sense, and the nuisance factor is minimal. The trouble is, the motorist – any motorist – is easy game, as was so factually reported in last weekend’s Daily Telegraph Motoring Supplement.
Two years ago when this column was written following the Bemrose, I remarked about the huge number of used tyres of all shapes and sizes that had been fly tipped from the road above the gully known as Cheeks. Some are still there, despite clean up operations in the past, and I repeat what I said two years ago, what type of moron disposes of old tyres in a Peak District beauty spot?
And finally, Hollinsclough was once again included as a section in the trial, and whilst it is not the horror it was many decades ago, it is still a tricky series of slippery steps and took marks. I feel sure I’m not alone, but this year was the 50th anniversary of the first time I saw Hollinsclough. Back in 1960 I watched riders in the Clayton Trophy Trial ride the hazard. It has changed significantly, but it is still good enough to be in a national trial and deserves to be kept in as long as possible.