HOW does one start a new column for a new outlet? A difficult question! But as Trials Central wanted me for the product that I have written in the weekly press for the past years, it seems a good reason to keep things very much as they were. I’ll continue to write in my own style, but I do have the feeling that the vast range of trials orientated material that appears on Trials Central will provide me with lots of food for thought, inspiration and contentious topics on which to make comment.
Even so, this column is not going to be exclusively about trials. I pointed out to Andy when we first communicated, that frequently I drift away from trials chat and sometimes motorsport altogether, but he readily agreed to keep the column as it has evolved and has put no restrictions on me at all. You see, I reckon most trials bods have an interest in sport generally, in fact most folks have a passing interest in many things, and my columns, though bike orientated as a rule, have tended to veer off occasionally. If that is necessary at times, then I shall let it continue. But I do promise that virtually everything that appears here will have a trials link to it somewhere along the line, no matter how tenuous.
So, who is this bod that has been given the honour of being the first on-line trials journo? I’ve been around off-road motorcycle sport all my life; many trials riders in the UK will know me from the areas where I have lived and ridden, the South Midlands, Devon and the North West; many will have ridden with me; and many will have ridden in events with which I am associated. Some will have come across me in the world of enduros, as I rode in British Championship rounds for 13 years, and a few will know me from sidecar trials in the early 'eighties when I had a spell with a third wheel hanging off the side of my trialer.
Those that do not know me, perhaps have never even heard of me, will soon pick up the thread of my long-term involvement with this sport of ours, as I rely very much on a lifetime’s experience for my material. I do have some cause for concern as this superb site has a significant number of overseas enthusiasts which could make it difficult for me as a columnist, for inevitably much of the comment here will revolve around UK trials. But I’m sure those of you in cold and hot lands, wherever trials riding is enjoyed, will be able to relate to all that you read. I hope you find these words as they appear over the coming months interesting.
Many years as a journalist have taught me that there is an ideal length for a column, and I hope I know that length. So I shan’t ramble on for ever, creating a column that nobody will ever get to the end of. It’ll be sharp, concise (I hope) and generally of interest to someone out there.
Enough of my plans.
Though it took place two weeks ago, now is a good time to make remarks about the Trials Extreme Race at The Tough One at Nant Mawr quarry near Oswestry. Delays in setting off from home meant that I and my enthusiastic daughter missed the start and first lap, but that didn’t detract from the fact that it was great spectacle.
I can’t pretend that I thought it would be a good idea. After all, trials bikes are not racers, they are meant for steps, streams, banks, climbs and racing them without any penalty system seemed alien.
But it was great fun to watch, and as is always the case, ability levels showed up. I was amazed at how tough the organisers had created the course. Trials bikes with decent riders on them can go most places, but the rock section was totally horrendous. Colley, Braybrook, Hemingway and Wiggy were all very good through there, and whilst I shall not suggest the others were struggling, it was just SO tough. Most found that part of the course horrendous, but all heaved, shoved, tugged and pulled their way through as outside help was not allowed. And I pitied poor Paul Smart who got his back wheel locked in a hole which took all his strength to get out. He’s seven feet nine tall (or seems it to a short **** like me) and expended a huge amount of energy.
In fact it was fitness levels that frequently decided the fate of a rider. But isn’t that just always the case? The fitter you are, the better you are, simple as that I find. Ability takes you so far, but once there, being fit helps no end.
So is there a need for more of these Extreme Trials Races? Don’t know to be frank. On the day, with a good crowd, in good conditions and as an extra spectacle to the main event (which was fantastic), it was good entertainment. I certainly wouldn’t go specifically to see such a race, and I certainly wouldn’t take part, but two weeks ago, it was just right.
So we’ll have another next year please.
And that folks, is my first column for Trials Central. Hope you found it a good start, and if so, look out for my second offering at about the same time on Sunday evening, so, as they used to say on the old radio shows, same time, same place next week.