Is Ours A Northern Sport?

Is trials riding becoming a northern based sport? Indeed, has the sport of trials riding already become almost exclusively northern based. And I ask if long term, will trials riding die out south of Birmingham? Interesting questions, but of course they apply only to the UK.

Why do I ask? Let me explain.

Today’s trial was the fantastic Gerald Simpson Trial, a one lap, 30 mile, 40 section jaunt deep in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales organised by the very popular Richmond Club. And I could have ridden the Westmorland Club’s Astley Trial held over a road based course in the heart of the south Lakeland Fells. Two big road based trials within 60 miles of one another.

And they are not unique to the north. Fortunately, there are a significant number of such trials. Westmorland run several, Richmond run the Reeth Three Day, Ripon run the Jack Leslie Ellis, there’s also the East York Two Day and of course the Lakes Two day, and there’s two new events in July, also from the Lakes MTA with a British Championship sidecar round followed the next day by the National Twinshock Team Trial. All on the road.

When I lived in Devon some 32 years ago, there were a number of road based trials from the Lyn Club, Otter Vale, Moretonhampstead, Devonport, Tiverton, Yeo Vale and Somerton plus those visited occasionally in Cornwall. In addition many of the Southern, South Eastern and South Midland Centre clubs ran big road trials.

Nowadays, I suspect the majority of these have gone entirely off-road though I would be glad to learn if any are still road based. The point I’m making is that for several reasons, land availability, determined organisers, a good level of support from the riders and generally a forgiving relationship with the locals, is allowing clubs in the north to continue to run, big road based trials, whilst down south, for whatever reasons, such events have slowly died out.

I do know that being northern based is very fortunate if you are a dead keen trials rider, with some fantastic events to support.

And long may they continue.

I was intrigued to read the Joanne Coles report from the Ace Trials Team following her excellent first ride in the Scottish. Her reaction to the first two days when she said that they were not trials as she knew them indicates to me that the youth of today are taking part in a sport that is totally different to the original idea of trials riding. Let me remind everyone that what we ride are Reliability Trials in which the emphasis is as much on keeping the bike going for the duration of the event as much as cleaning sections.

However, I was also very glad to read that after the first two days she began to see the SSDT for what it really is, understood the task required of her and knuckled down with the excellent support from Chris Kilhams. I was certainly impressed with her efforts. It’s easy to understand Becky Cook, Emma Bristow and Katy Sunter coping well with the Scottish, they’ve done it before and perhaps understood better the requirements of the trial. However Joanne knows now and is obviously up for a much improved ride next year.

It is also good to see that Alexz Wigg has moved on from no-stop in Scotland to win in Poland at the European Championship trial. He can obviously ride to both disciplines and gets better and better.