Taking Notice Of Girls

Six weeks on from my last trial and I’ve come to the conclusion that to keep in trim, six weeks between rides is too long, three weeks is about the maximum if one is to retain your personal level of achievement and ability.

The longest time I spent out of the saddle was back in 2001 when we had foot and mouth, as I recall it was 19 weeks without a ride and back then getting back into the swing of riding was really difficult after such an extended break. Of course it has been forced on me by two weeks of terrible weather and cancelled events and a week playing on enduro bikes, so with the Lakes next weekend to get back to trialing was most important.

Enough of what I’ve been doing, congratulations to Joanne Coles on clinching her first Ladies British Championship with such a nail-biting finish on the Isle of Wight from where her closest rival Becky Cook resides. As you will see on the front page of TC, both girls tied on the same number of marks and it came down to the greatest number of dabs before Joanne could be declared the winner.

As a columnist I should be paying more attention to the Ladies Championship but I have to confess I am remiss in that respect. As I’ve said before, watching the girls ride the Trial des Nations in the Isle of Man a few years ago (and also their round of the World Championship) was fascinating spectating, so perhaps I should be taking more notice of their series. However, several girls take part in the events in which I ride up here in the north of England, and to see the likes of Katy Sunter, Emma Bristow, Becky Rennison, Kathryn Wardle, Harriet Peacock, Robyn Alderson, Saskia Baxter and many others is a revelation. They are determined and so positive in their desire to succeed in a sport that is primarily seen as one for men.

Of course women are not new to trials; the earliest names that I can remember were Mary Driver who was a very good rider and also the secretary at the ACU back in the 'sixties, plus of course Penny Page who always rode in a pink outfit as I recall. And there were others before them, perhaps the best known being Olga Kevelos who later went on to feature as a successful contestant on Mastermind. And there are five girls taking part in the Scott Trial on Saturday 23rd, so best of luck to them all.

Whilst talking about specific classes of rider, I can confidently say that in a significant number of the trials in which I ride, if it were not for the Over 40 category, there would hardly be enough riders to take part. Whilst this certainly doesn’t apply to all events, there are definitely some, where riders between the ages of about 20 to 40 simply don’t exist. It’s all youths, still at school or fresh out of school and those over 40; riders for whom you would expect the event to be organised are just not there.

To some extent I suppose it’s because the youngsters are supported by the bank of Mum and Dad, the older riders can support themselves but the age group that is missing have other commitments like girlfriends, wives, houses and other financial reasons for not taking part. Certainly the prices of machinery are becoming prohibitive and that’s not a criticism of the importers, just a statement of fact about the way the nation has become.

However, I hope that what goes round, comes around as the saying goes and trials as we know it are able to continue. There are still events that are deserving of big entries. My trial today was over land that was once used in the Alan Trial at Haresceugh, miles and miles of barren (windy and cold) fell, with loads of sensible rocky sections – but only a small entry of less than 50