The Lakes Means Winter

Well, winter has arrived How do I know that? – the Lakes Two Day has just taken place this past weekend and it’s an event that I see as the start of the winter season. There was frost on my van windscreen on Saturday morning, together with a heavy dew on the fields that I passed as I drove to Broughton in Furness and it was a chilly ride to the first group of sections both days. But fortunately, it was dry, bright and acceptably mild throughout the two days. Oh, and the trial was pretty good as well

With Dave Thorpe no longer taking part in this event, I think I can safely say that I was the oldest competitor, so I’m the last person to ask if it was a good trial. But then, perhaps I am the person to ask, because if following the two days I can say “that was a good trial”, and the guys who did the winning say the same, then you have to say that the organisers will have done a pretty good job.

Being a non-stop trial for two years now has certainly taken a bit of the sting out of it for the more humble riders, and it’s safe to say that on the clubman route there was nothing risky – at least no more risky that one has a right to expect in a national event.

As far as the hard course goes, some of the typical Lake District sloping rocky faces looked pretty horrendous to me, but riders seemed to be blasting up them without fear, so presumably they were well within the expected limits of hard course riders. Fortunately, nothing is actually sheer; there’s a slight slope to them all and whilst some slopes became polished they all remained possible for more than just the top aces.

James Dabill was once again a fine and stylish winner; his British Championship victory was over sections much more difficult than those found in the Lakes, so he was able to demonstrate his supreme skill and entertain the spectators who turn out to watch this interesting trial.
I did not live in the north of England when the Lakes was first held (1976) but have been to the majority of them since then. Back in the early days it was held in January and I can recall being at the location called Top 'o Cross (where the Saturday punch card change was situated) in deep snow with the front page picture on TMX that week being of Malcolm Rathmell as he fought his way up a deep, snow filled gully. Eric Kitchen was the photographer that day and he was out photographing the action last weekend as well. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that Kitch has never missed a Lakes Two Day – he’s as much a part of the Lakes as is Nigel Birkett, for it was Nigel’s dad Bill who was the original clerk of the course for the trial.

Now that the Lakes is in mid October, it heralds what I see as the start of winter trialing. It’s getting a bit chilly for road biking (wimp), the evenings are drawing in which makes it too dark at night to do much else around the house apart from garage stuff, the Scott Trial comes up next – on Saturday as if you didn’t know – and then the Northern Experts for trials men above Birmingham, followed by the Southern Experts down south in early December. I was about to make some comment about the December Knut Trial, run by the Bath and West of England Club, but looking at the calendar I see that it has disappeared. It may well have been dropped a number of years ago, I can’t keep up to date with everything

Talking of dates, Alison Devine at the ACU has a mammoth task at this time of year – she has to allocate dates for more than 90 national trials. That means there has to be more than one national per weekend, not that it matters when the events in question cater for totally different categories of rider – which was not always the case. At one time it was national solo trial or a combined solo and sidecar trial, but then along came a whole host of different categories which has resulted in a quantity of national events that is simply mind-boggling.

One last reminder – not that you should need it, it’s the Scott Trial this weekend, on Saturday, starting at 9am from Feldom between Marske and Richmond. There’s a full house entry of 200 riders and it’s a great day out.

Be there