Bikes on The Box

GENUINE fans of motorcycle sport will almost certainly have been glued to their TVs around 9pm every night last week to see the broadcast of the latest action from the Isle of Man TT races which this year celebrated the centenary of the first race in 1907.

The action has been on ITV4 whereas in past years it has been on Men and Motors. Is there a distinction? I think there is because as I see it, Men and Motors is a digital channel that attracts a very limited audience, whereas ITV4 is a channel attached to one of the main broadcasters, therefore the TT races have “moved up market” in my opinion, which has to be good news for bike sport.

In fact if you analyse it all, bike sport gets quite a decent airing these days. MotoGP is on BBC1, World Superbikes is on Eurosport, British Superbikes is on ITV1, and there is even World Championship Motocross, which I think is on Eurosport, but correct me if I’m wrong. Unfortunately I never get time to watch motocross as it tends to be on Monday nights when I’m otherwise occupied, but I make time for the road racing as I reckon it is really cracking at the moment.

So what has all this got to do with trials? Well nothing really except that when bike racing is viewed as significantly important to be on the major channels, there is a chance that other disciplines will reach those channels as well. World Indoor and Outdoor trials could well be next, which should be good for us all, though it does bug me that when I’m mentioning trials riding to a person who does not follow bike sport, they always relate to me riding over cars and such like. Ah well, you can’t win them all.

The past few columns seem to have stirred things up a bit, particularly the SSDT column (To Tough To Tackle) and the column about the classic scene which was aired just two weeks ago.

The classic column brought in a huge amount of very sensible comment, particularly the very long and very detailed reply from John Collins, Chairman of the ACU Trials Committee. I did plan this week to have another go about the Novogar Championship, but John’s reasoned response has put me right (and probably prevented me from making a fool of myself, so thanks for that John!)

I totally agree with the comments which indicate to me that all the championship series suffer from several problems, but also recognise that they have developed to the current point over a period of years, and whilst they not be totally right, that is how they are and making significant changes to one could well adversely affect another, so perhaps John is right when he infers that at the moment they are best left alone.

If you look at the trials that feature in the series in which you have a particular interest, the fact of the matter is that you go and ride those that you enjoy. Those that you don’t enjoy, you tend not to attend, which is why some events always get decent entries whilst others frequently struggle. I know which trials I like and will always ride, equally I know which trials I have been to in the past and considered them not worth returning to.

Incidentally, I did pick up on the fact that John Collins is planning on a one-off return to enduros. For those that don’t know, when I rode enduros on a regular basis from 1984 to 1997 (only tackling the odd trial in the winter), John was a frequent adversary, particularly in Welsh events. He even rode a machine similar to mine for some years when we were both on KDX200s.

Following my retirement from enduros in 1997, when I decided that with the passing of the years it was unlikely that I would start to go faster, I returned to trials riding, and to be honest, never missed enduros one bit, which I found surprising. However, in 2003 I decided to make a one-off return and entered the Epynt Enduro, a British Championship round held in early August.

That particular weekend proved to be hottest weekend on record with temperatures reaching 190 in the shade (or something similar!), and for the first time ever, took myself close to exhaustion on day one. So beware John, the mind may well be willing, but the body is frequently weak. Don’t overdo it, because we, and I mean the sport, need you, as you are a first class Trials Committee Chairman with a deep understanding of the sport who is not afraid to communicate very publicly with the riders. A rare occurence.