Losing two old stagers

Andy gave me “permission” to post my column a day late this week as he was without internet access for a while, which has given me the chance to think further about what to write for my 183rd epistle for this website..

Having perused my various sources, this week’s column concerns the loss of two great institutions, the Richmond club stalwart Dick Horner, and the Old Mine at Kinlet. Please excuse the analogy, but both Dick and the Old Mine were gnarled and grizzled veterans of the sport, but in totally different ways. If you consider that I am being rude about somebody who has just passed away, I am confident that were Dick able to know in advance how I would write about him, he would not be offended. I had the pleasure of knowing Dick for more than 30 years, and while our paths crossed only occasionally in recent years, obviously at Richmond trials, he was a fantastic character.

I first got to know Dick from back in my sidecar days – he was a great enthusiast of the sidecar scene and as keen as anybody when it came to the Gerald Simpson two day sidecar trial, an event in which Mannix and I cut our teeth in sidecar trials. When our sidecar exploits came to an end and I headed off to the enduro scene, I guess that Dick and I did not meet for the best part of 14 years. When our paths crossed again, it was obvious that he was suffering greatly from arthritis but he pressed on as best he could, enjoying the sport and the club he loved. I saw him as recently as last month at the Reeth Three Day, indeed, he was very much part of the Richmond Club scene and there’s no doubt he will be sadly missed.
He passed away last Wednesday in the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, having been taken ill only the day before – but he was able to enjoy the Nostalgia Scramble just two days earlier, so his passing will have come as a shock to a great many people.

The loss of the Old Mine at Kinlet has come about because of illegal riding – there’s a full report elsewhere on this website which explains the facts more fully and far better than can I. In my journalistic days, sub-editing news stories from the Midland Centre, the Old Mine at Kinlet came up so frequently that there was a good case for putting the venue on a “hot key” on my keyboard, but until last year I had never ridden there.

Following on from Alan Wright’s Classic Show at Telford, I went with my regular riding partner to the Dudley Club’s trial at the Old Mine in February 2009. Having trialed in the north for the previous 30 odd years, it came as a bit of a shock as the venue was mud, mud and more mud, with gnarly tree roots, banks and cambers thrown in, liberally spiced with mud In fact it was great – for a change – and despite losing a huge number of marks, I did in fact have quite a good ride, and whilst I can’t pretend that it’s a venue that I would wish to ride at frequently, it was a great experience.

So to lose it because of illegal riding is a great shame, for as has been explained, permission being withdrawn won’t stop the illegal riding, it will simply put an end to the well organised, licensed and insured events. Indeed, land in that part of the world is undoubtedly difficult to obtain for the use of trials so this loss will be felt greatly by Midland Centre riders.
As I wrote earlier, comparing the loss of Dick Horner and the Old Mine, may well seem irreverent, but both hold an affection for me and I know full well that Dick would have seen, and appreciated, the connection.

Whilst discussing the Richmond Club, I have been reminded that the Scott Trial, sponsored this year by this very website, Trials Central, and organised by Richmond, is little more than eight weeks away and entries for the trial close this very Sunday, September 5. Already 150 riders have committed themselves to tackle the Yorkshire time and observation classic, but a trial of this magnitude fully deserves a full house, 200 strong entry, so all you fit and able lads that have not entered, but SHOULD be entered, get on with it now and book your place in this classic. I shall be there with observer’s board and pencil, keen to record your passage through my section, so make my day and let’s have a full 200 take part.

Dick would insist, so do it for him.