Another Veteran Joins The Throng

I feel sure that I must have covered this subject in the past, but being a trials secretary can, at times, be a frustrating task.

As you will have seen from the most recent news postings, I’ve recently put the details of the Angela Redford ACU Traditional Trials Championship round programme details on this site, having spent much of the past two days producing two sheets of A4 which will have to pass as a programme.

That’s not the issue at stake, what makes it hard work is the difficulty in deciphering the information – and indeed the lack of information – provided by riders on their entry forms. My name is Mike Rapley, not M Rapley – I’ve never been called M (or indeed emm), and whilst I’m rarely called Mike or Michael, everybody has a version of my name by which I am called – so riders, please give a Christian name, and whilst you are about it, a full address with postcode, a telephone number and if you include a e-mail address, write it legibly so that there’s some chance of my e-mail reaching you.
Rant over

My last column was some weeks ago now and since then the highlight has been Alan Wright’s classic bike show at Telford. Covering all aspects of bike sports, trials, motocross (scrambles) grass track, ice racing, enduros and road racing, once again Wrighty managed to attract a fantastic host of machines for display in all states of appearance, from a burnt out four cylinder classic racer engine and frame for sale to £25k’s worth of G50 engined Matchless Metisse, not to mention Sammy Miller’s lovingly restored 350 AJS 187 BLF which Gordon Jackson rode to win the Scottish on one mark lost.

I could go on and on, but there’s no doubt that Wrighty’s show has rapidly become one of the highlights of the year, not just for seeing classic machinery, but also for meeting loads of wonderful folk from one’s past and present.

Birthdays come round all too rapidly for us all and it seems incredible to learn that one of Trials Centrals most ardent supporters, John Shirt (Junior) turned 40 last Friday, and having known Young Shirty since he was nobbut a kid (about nine years old), I can’t believe how quickly time flies.

Whilst I can’t be accurate on dates and years, I reckon that it was about 1979 that I first met John, when he was out with his dad (also John of course) at a trials bike test that I was conducting for TMX all those years ago. It will have been on a Majesty of course, the machine that John Senior produced from Yamaha components and I well remember then that John showed much promise as a rider.

Whilst I can’t recall all his victories, and there have been many, he started off on TY80s, then went via Majestys, monoshock Yamahas, a works Honda RTL 250 before riding his first Gas Gas in the 1987 Red Rose trial and of course since then has ridden nothing else. Wins have come in various nationals including the Manx Two Day, whilst his best Scottish result has been second and third in the time and observation Scott Trial.

Shirty has been a superb trials and enduro rider, having finished fourth overall in both the British Trials and British Enduro Championships – though not in the same year of course.

Enough of his past, his present position is as head of the UK Gas Gas importership together with his dad who takes a bit of a back seat these days whilst keeping an eye on the business. And whatever you may think, at least Shirty tells it as it is. He reprimands his riders on this site and praises them too and anybody who rides a Gas Gas for the UK importer knows full well that only total commitment will do – and there’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

Gas Gas and the Shirts are synonymous with success and support for many riders over the years which leaves me to say “welcome to the Over 40 Veteran’s club”