THE Scottish is rapidly approaching, in fact I shall be travelling up on Thursday ready for the Pre 65 trial on Friday and Saturday, so unless you will be taking your laptops with you, this could well be the last column you will read from me until after Scottish week.
In fact the whole Scottish business makes it pretty difficult for a columnist as I’m not really sure at the moment exactly when I shall write my columns. Ideally I’ll write them as late as possible to get the latest up-to-the-minute thoughts from the Highlands, but equally, it is my holiday and I don’t want to be tied to a computer when I could be out living it up! Me, live it up? I think not, more likely I’ll be at the laptop.
Anyway, the point I’m making is that I’ll do my very best (as will Andy) to get my column loaded for around 7pm on Sunday nights, but should it be a little late, don’t give us hassle, we are doing our best.
In fact whilst Scotland is my only single full week off during the year, it also represents a busy week as a freelancer as I’m writing for two magazines and of course this website. The plan at the moment is to write next week’s column on Saturday evening, possibly Sunday afternoon, following the Pre 65 trial and the weigh-in, ready for Andy to download it onto here Sunday evening, then the following week’s column will be written, probably Saturday afternoon, just about at the end of the trial.
One of the disciplines instilled into me when a full-time journalist on TMX was never go to bed on a story. Bill Lawless insisted on that, it was a pretty good rule of thumb and one that I have followed religiously. And when the late, great Ralph Venables was alive it was his philosophy to ensure that his column always arrived in time. Publication day was Friday and RGV never, ever allowed his column to arrive later than eight days before publication day. It meant that he always had to be well ahead with his thoughts if he was going to make comment about a particular event or subject.
Many people ask me how long it takes to write this column, which averages out at about 970 words, give or take a few. In fact it takes surprisingly little time, probably no more than 40-45 minutes, but I spent hours all week churning things over in my mind about what to say. Frequently I have an idea about how to start, then veer off into totally different territory, bit like I’m doing now in fact. However, what you get are my thoughts of the moment, for what they are worth.
Currently those thoughts are about Mr Bou. It’s pretty obvious following his World Indoor Championship success that he was going to be a threat outdoors, but for him to go straight out and win the first three rounds unopposed almost, is a fantastic achievement. With a maximum score to start off he really is sitting pretty and it makes life incredibly difficult for the others to catch up. But as we all know, everybody starts the trial with a clean sheet, then it’s up to you.
Many folks will ask in Scotland why the best World Championship challengers are not there. Their answer is always that the Scottish is totally different to World rounds and they fear riding the Scottish will upset their form for the World Championship. It’s not for me to say whether that’s right or wrong, but it does bug me that professional trials riders, paid to win and sell bikes as a result of their success, decline to take part in the one single trial that is reported and discussed wherever the sport is held. Good job I’m not a manufacturer’s representative, they would be lining up in the West End car park on Monday morning whether they liked it or not!
However, not all is lost for World Champions do take part and this year both Tommi Ahvala and Marc Colomer, both of course former World Champions will be riding. They declined to ride when they were winning world titles, so it’s good to see them in Scotland and enjoying the sport that has given them so much success. In fact Colomer could well be a dark horse. Last year was his first and more than one person has suggested that having found his way round last year, this year he could be the winner.
So who am I looking forward to watching the most? Many riders make spectating a pleasure, and I was really looking forward to seeing Steve Saunders on the four stroke Beta. But then last Sunday I heard from Steve that he has had to withdraw his entry due to a recurring shoulder problem. That’s a great shame for the trial as I firmly believe that Steve’s appearance would have been a great fillip to the event (not that it needed one). He was certain to have had some stunning rides, but it’s not to be so we’ll all have to wait until another year.
So, if you are fortunate enough to be there, see you for the Pre 65 on Friday morning. That really is a special day in my personal trials calendar. The chance to renew lots of old acquaintances, look at some fabulous bikes and be part of the scene is one I and 179 other riders cherish, so even if you aren’t riding, savour a rare bit of atmosphere – you know it makes sense.