Bit About Brits, And A Bit Of A Whinge!

REMEMBER my column of a few weeks ago Is It Bou Or His Bike? Well who cares what it is except that Toni Bou started off the “proper” World Trials Championship with a great win, so in my book it shows that this year’s championship looks to be a great battleground. (Sorry to have to put proper in inverted commas, but with the best will in the world I don’t see the indoor championship as proper trials. Sorry again, but that’s what I believe).

With Bou first, Lampkin third, Fujinami fourth and James Dabill sixth, it is a great result for the four stroke brigade. Particularly Dabill’s result. OK, we know that Doug and Fujigas are well capable of producing the goods, but I reckon the result by James is superb.

In fact if you look at all the British results, we have seven riders in the three championships and all made it into the top six. Whatever spin you put on it, that is a great effort by everybody and to Dougie, James, Michael Brown, Alexz Wigg, Sam Haslam, Lee Sampson and Ross Danby, a very big well done.

There’s no doubt Mr Honda will have been mighty pleased with the work from his boys in southern Spain, and whilst this website concentrates on the trials scene, I have to confess that I gave the sport a miss last weekend and instead went to the World Superbike round at Donington Park.

As I’ve said in the past, ALL forms of bike sport interest me, but whilst trials are my main interest, there has to be some time for other versions, even though it may be infrequent.

Honda looked to be totally dominant there. James Toseland, a great pianist as well as a great road-racer, had a fantastic first race win, though Troy Bayliss crashing in the heat of the battle certainly took the pressure off Toseland.

Race two also looked to be going Toseland’s way until the big Honda gave up the ghost just a few laps into the race when he had a comfortable if narrow lead. Frustrating or what? What should have been a 30 point series lead turned into just a five point lead, but the good and bad fortunes hit all sportsmen and the great Honda organisation will be well aware of that fact and will have learnt over the years to take the rough with the smooth.

So, why Donington instead of a local trial? Easy really, there’s nothing like actually being there to really experience the atmosphere. You can’t get that from the TV and the last race meeting I went to was back in 2001 when Foot and Mouth was rampant. 51,000 fans at Donington was easy to deal with, getting in and out of the circuit was no great problem though I did have the foresight to park quite close to the entrance. But the cost was a real shock.

I had taken the trouble to find out entrance fees from a well-known weekly, Wednesday publication which quoted £30 on the day. But when I got to the pay kiosk it was a massive £45 with no arguing. I’m not suggesting that MCN got it wrong deliberately, but the cynic in me says that quoting £30, with the opportunity to say it was a misprint will probably have persuaded several thousand more through the turnstiles than if the correct figure had been stated.

Would it have made a difference to me travelling 280 miles to get there and back? Probably! But I’m not complaining (much), I was with good company and enjoyed the day, so what’s 15 quid between friends – a trial entry actually!

As already mentioned and as I’m sure you will know, James Toseland is a classy pianist, but piano players need their fingers – all of them – and as Troy Bayliss proved on Sunday, crashing super bikes can be a quick fire way to mangle them. There’s probably a lot more money to come from being a World Superbike Champion than being a good concert pianist, even so, you can play the piano for ever, but you can’t ride superbikes at that level for ever, so we wish James good fortune with his pinkies!

I don’t ever try to criticise organisers of events; I know it can be a thankless task, but equally, if you take that task on you have a responsibility to provide the goods that the riders want. Fact of life is that when a rider enters a trial he is a customer and you (as an organiser) have a duty to provide the rider with a trial of the type he expects. An easy evening trial can have no criticisms if it is too easy, but make it stupid and expect hassle.

Equally, any organiser of a national championship series should be well aware what the regular riders in that series want, especially when you take into consideration that many will have travelled long distances to take part, frequently paying for an overnight stay. With that in mind, providing a trial in which a significant number of riders go clean is irresponsible. I’ve been around long enough to know that if you put on a trial in which one rider goes clean, you have been unlucky, get half a dozen clean and you have been downright careless.

So I consider five clean sheets in a national championship round to be a poor effort. I’m not going to hedge behind my criticism, I’m referring to the Welsh Trophy, a round of the ACU Classic Series and also the sidecar championship. I was not there, but the comments very quickly came back to me from many of the solo riders who said that travelling up Saturday, paying for digs, then getting a trial so easy that it simply never tested them is not what they want. In my experience putting sidecars and classic solos together does not work unless the two separate disciplines are kept well apart.

No more criticism now, but to all organisers, do please think about your customers. 'Nuff said!