I have mentioned in this column fairly recently that big, single lap, 40 section trials are becoming ever scarcer for reasons that are obvious to all. Of course there’s still a reasonable number of such events, particularly in the north of England, however once you start getting into the Midlands and the south of England they dwindle in number.
However, let me add to the list a trial to which I ventured for the first time this weekend – an event that has previously escaped my notice. It’s the South Shropshire Club’s Long Mynd Trial and it took place last Sunday and started from a school at Church Stretton – yes you did read that correctly, a school
A trials riding friend entered me and my regular riding partner in the Long Mynd, relating as the reason that he had heard it was a good one-lapper with 40 sections. It’s a fair way south for us northerners, but we agreed and come half five Sunday morning I set off for Shropshire by way of Skipton.
Let me not mince words – it was a brilliant, fantastically well organised trial over a single, near 50 mile lap of the minor country roads, trails, tracks and open hills of the Long Mynd west of Church Stretton.
To somebody who regularly rides the big events of Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Cumbria, plus the occasional foray north of the border, the Long Mynd could never match the north for section quality. Quite simply it’s not there; but the club made brilliant use of what they do have and linked it all together with a marvellous route over hills that were totally unknown to me.
It’s no surprise that the 120 entry limit had been reached many days earlier, for those in the know had the rare opportunity to ride in the Midlands what us lucky northerners can get to ride many times a year. The entry had plenty of quality to it as well. I don’t mean the British Championship chasers, this would be chicken feed to them, but the good standard centre and minor national riders were there by the ten dozen and the fare they were offered was superb, with a very sensible clubman course and what looked to me to be a hard expert route, but no doubt the trick riders will have made it all look very easy.
There’s a forum piece on the go at the moment from a guy who wants to make a return to trials after a 20 year break. The Bradford Club have replied and suggested that he visits their upcoming Wednesday evening trial to see what it’s like these days. I couldn’t agree more, for I too get phone calls, as a club secretary, from folks wanting to make a return to or take up trials.
My club – and this is not a plug – run four Wednesday evening trials a year and a Saturday afternoon event and as part of these trials we have a dead easy beginners/returnees route. No matter how easy they are – and they are pretty easy let me tell you, riders on this route will always lose marks. Lancs County is not alone of course, many other clubs run similar events and I know for a fact that they are all well supported.
Most riders are able to move on after a few goes on the dead easy routes, having gained their confidence, but there’s always new faces to take their places. So if your club doesn’t include a dead easy route in at least some trials, I suggest that they give it some consideration as there’s no doubt, they bring in new faces to the sport, and ultimately, bums on seats is what we all need.