Winter Has Arrived

“You haven’t written a column for ages” said the Cowley brothers at the culmination of the Lakes Two Day. “Well,” said I, “I’ve written for years and I’ve run out of words”. “Write any old crap and we’ll read it” was their reply.

So here it is, any old crap!

Winter in the trials word has come. Not winter weather yet, for the past two weekends have been pretty good for mid-October, but with the advent of the Lakes Two Day and the Scott Trial on successive weekends, we enter a six month period of increasingly colder days, frequently loads of rain and in deep mid-winter, often frozen ground. Welcoming? Not sure, but you need to analyse each weekend as it comes and see if the conditions are to your taste.

Quite intentionally I haven’t ridden as much this summer, preferring instead to enjoy road biking and getting the best out of each weekend. It’s so easy to ride every Sunday and do nothing else, which is what I have done for so many years, until you get to a point where you suddenly realise that one is missing out on other enjoyable activities in preference to riding a trial.

However, with winter fast approaching, the road bike is put away and it will be trials for the next six months or so.

The Lakes is always a good start to the season and once again they had a full house entry of 185, but I know the organisers were disappointed to have 19 non-starters. It’s not unusual with a pre-entry trial to have a number of lads that fail to turn up, but it seems to me that was considerably more than I would have expected were I the secretary.
I have been asked how I treat non-starters with regards to their entry fee. That’s a simple one to answer. If the rider concerned contacts me in advance, then I refund his entry (or destroy his cheque) but if he just fails to turn up on the day, then it’s a case of thanks very much for your donation to the club funds!

There’s no doubt that the Lakes was quite a bit more difficult this year than it has been for the past couple of years, and loads have asked me if it was too difficult. I’m definitely not the person to ask – too old, not fit enough, arguably no longer good enough, but asking around, opinion came back that the overnight rain made it quite testing and for a non-stop trial there were some sections that were definitely a bit tight for a good many riders.

I did enjoy it come the following Wednesday, but struggled to cope a bit on Sunday morning having found Saturday very tiring. But as I say, I’m really no longer the person to ask.

But you can ask me about the Scott. Along with the Scottish, it’s my favourite trial of the year and if you want to narrow it down to one day, then the third Saturday of October is definitely THE day to be out spectating, or as has been the case in recent years, observing.

I’ve read in TC forums the past couple of days the thread about being legally licensed to take part. Of course you need a road license. The Scott may not use much roadwork but that doesn’t mean you should be able to take part without being road legal.

Which also brings me to the point about the legality of trials bikes. I certainly can’t condone anybody taking part on a machine that is not taxed, but whether it is or not, at least make it look legal with a number plate. It is not up to the club to check machines for legality, riders sign to the effect on the entry form that they conform to legal requirements.

Scott Saturday was the best weather the trial has enjoyed for years, proven by the fact that the section where my team observes, Black Hills, exactly half way round, had 150 riders pass through which is around 15 to 20 more than we’ve witnessed in past years. It was just as difficult, for even though it was dry, once mud had been spread liberally over the rocks, it became vicious.

John Sunter was simply awesome with his pace in setting standard time which was the fastest anybody has gone round for 15 years and I bet Gerald Richardson was absolutely over the moon when he heard the news that son Jonathan had emulated his dad’s Scott victories of 1983 and ’85. Son matching father’s achievements has only previously been achieved within the Lampkin family, so well done to Jonathan.
You have to feel sorry for nine time winner Graham Jarvis who must have been hoping that he could add a tenth win to his total. A puncture and tyre off the rim ended his effort and quite possibly the chance forever of notching up ten victories. Anno domini eventually catches up with everyone!

And once again, the Richmond Club were totally supreme with their organisation of this classic time and observation trial.

I was sorry to learn that there will not be a world round in Scotland next year. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the financial logistics about promoting such an event to the level required by the FIM, and no doubt L and M Promotions, despite doing a fantastic job with the two rounds held in Scotland, could see that a third was not viable.

However, it does leave the door open for John Kirwin’s organisation to return to Nord Vue near Carlisle for next year, having successfully run there in 2009.

But I see that there are only seven world trials in 2012, and judging by what I pick up about the whole future of off road World Championships in general, the costs involved in promoting, whether it be a trial, motocross or enduro, are now so vast that there could come a time when they disappear from the calendar unless costs are forced down by those expected to meet such huge liabilities.

And finally, we are very fortunate that our sport, tough though it is, remains relatively safe. We don’t lay our life on the line in any shape or form to enjoy trials, so it came with great sadness when we saw the fatal accident in Sepang last Sunday, and I’m sure that all will concur when we offer our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Marco Simonchelli. He was part of one big family, bikers.