All Things Scottish

Where else can this column be written from than Fort William on the Sunday evening following the Six Days weigh-in which was preceeded by the Scottish Pre 65 Two Day Trial?

Once again the Pre 65 trial was an unqualified success, the finishing results of which will have now been eagerly studied by everybody who has an interest. The trial was hard fought indeed and with three riders finishing on three marks lost, in theory anyone could have emerged the winner, as indeed could have several other riders through the course of the two days.

Well done to those who were in the reckoning and equally well done to those who simply finished the trial. Don’t let anybody tell you it is an easy trial. It isn’t. Sure, nearly every section can be cleaned by a tidy pre 65 rider, but managing that achievement section after section after section is not easy.

Work commitments meant that I was only able to arrive at the trial during the last hour of the event, so I’m not going to pretend that I was there for the duration. However, I did have a number of very interesting of conversations with several folks, particularly with regard to the suggestion that to accommodate the large number of riders who fail to get through the ballot for a ride, the trial should be a three day event, effectively two heats and a final made up of the best 90 from each day.

It’s not going to happen boys (and girls), the logistics make it very unlikely especially as the Edinburgh Club rely very heavily on the goodwill of Kinlochleven School. And at this point, the enthusiasm of the school principles and staff should be applauded. Their assistance to the successful running of the trial by supplying the facilities for signing on, catering and the start area amongst many other things is superb. I mean, where else are you likely to find the head teacher cooking bacon in the canteen early in the morning to ensure riders, observers and enthusiasts can get early breakfasts?

Dry but chilly weather ensured that the weigh in at the West End car park on Sunday went off smoothly, especially as vehicular traffic was prevented from entering the car park for the first time this year. It was a very good move and allowed a very large number of people to enjoy the many trade stands in a safe environment. And those who voiced an opinion were very glad the trial had not moved to the agricultural site out at Aonach Mor which had been suggested as a start area at the tail end of last year.

In fact the Scottish is as it has always been. But has it? What is obviously different from previous years is the vast increase in professionalism with the promotion of the event. There are banners, posters and promotional materials everywhere as a result of financial backing from various organisations.

It would be wrong to blame the club for a lack of this important aspect in past years. To be totally fair, it’s hard enough to simply organise the trial – promotion of the event when it is regularly oversubscribed seemed unnecessary, but bringing on board a local but professional PR company has lifted the profile of the trial and that must be good for the long term future of the Scottish.

Talking of the long term future, as most folks will know the 2011 Scottish will be the Centenary trial, which deserves something special. At the Steve Saunders chat-in with Alan Wright at the trial headquarters hotel on Sunday evening the suggestion was made to invite as many past winners of the trial to attend and ride the first day of the trial as a group.

Nobody is expecting them to do it on bikes of their era, but imagine the pleasure of seeing past winners who have now retired or at least are semi-retired take part. Jordi Tarres, Thierry Michaud, Steve Saunders, Amos Bilbao, Joan Pons, Sam Connor, Graham Jarvis and Steve Colley (have I missed anybody?) on modern machines riding together would certainly celebrate the 100th SSDT and ensure a fabulous spectator attendance next year.

It has been dry for the past three days, but now, at 11.15pm on Sunday evening, the rain has arrived and whilst the weather forecast is not brilliant, with Tuesday expected to be wet, everybody is hoping against hope that the weather is not a repeat of last year. Two soaking wet years on the trot would simply be too much!