A Weekend In Scotland

It is really good to see that there’s plenty of Scottish Six Days news on the opening page of this website, especially the Beta and Gas Gas bike preparation and riding gear recommendations for the SSDT. I’ve read through all of them and every single word that Shirty and John Boy have written is appropriate – they know the score and nothing they have written is superfluous. So take the advice and enjoy your Scottish.

I shall be there as usual, it’s one of my favourite weeks of the year and since I’ve been self-employed, it’s now possible to spend the whole week in Fort William and that’s a week I enjoy immensely.

I see that in addition to Jamie Dobb riding, so too is Rob McElnea. Rob Mac was in the Bemrose, saddled with the number one plate and I rode with him for a few groups of sections and as he is more my age, I can appreciate just what he is attempting to do for the first time at the age of 50.

My last Scottish was undertaken at the age of 49 1/2, and whilst I was a regular trials and enduro rider then, it proved to be an extremely difficult week so I understand exactly what he will be going through. However, Rob looks to be a lot fitter than I ever was so with a bit of luck he’ll cope with the experience well. Dobby of course was a world motocross champion and is sure to be fit enough, however, these two racers will add a definite spice to the line up and they’ll get loads of support right through the week. Enjoy it lads.

I was in Scotland over the weekend at the Ian Pollock Memorial Trial and didn’t get back home until nearly midnight, hence the 24 hour delay in this column appearing. The Pollock is at Kinlochleven and I’ve been there for three visits now as it’s my only chance of getting a legal ride over a part of the SSDT course these days. (The SSDT is beyond me and a Pre 65 ride is a lottery!)

This year the trial ran to three sections behind the aluminium works, then Pipeline itself, followed by four sections off the Pipeline gravel road, then two across the front of the Blackwater Dam with the remainder down the north side of the river using the infamous Blackwater sections. The trial this year was more difficult than it has been recently, not only with the choice of sections, a number of which were as used in the six days itself, but also the extremely wet conditions.

I did give some consideration before travelling north as to how wet the land would be and half expected it to be fairly dry. Not a bit of it. In my opinion, the ground was as wet as I’ve ever known it and I guess that’s because of the huge amount of snow they had this year. There’s no snow left to speak of, but it looks to me to have thawed slowly, leaving great pools of water everywhere, added to the fact that it rained hard for most of the day. Water was running down the narrow stoney path that regular SSDT riders will know so well. So whilst the big trial is still a month away and the land has time to dry out, in my opinion, expect it to be a very wet Scottish – at least underwheel.

Whilst considering riding in Scotland, a significant number of riders ran out of petrol on the run back into the aluminium works, but having been there before we gave this some consideration. Keeping the engine running whilst waiting in a queue for riders in front to ride the section can prove expensive and we only kept the engine running when we needed to i.e. we were silent in queues and only started up when it was our turn to ride the hazard. This seems to have paid dividends as we didn’t even go onto reserve whilst other riders on identical machines were running out a looooong push from home. It’s a point worth noting as Betas in particular have only a small fuel capacity, though personally it has not been a problem having ridden the Bemrose recently as well which is also a long way between fuel stops.

And of course folks will also be travelling up to Kinlochleven again in a few days for the second Colin Appleyard British Championship round which I’m told is well advanaced and will once again be a tough and testing trial.

But in my opinion, it should not be as tough and testing as round one – though as always, opinions will differ on this point.