So Foot and Mouth Disease has hit the UK again.
Well, no it hasn’t actually, though you could be forgiven for thinking that the countryside is in danger of being wiped out if you read the newspapers, listen to the TV and radio and generally pick up on what is being said in the press.
I’m writing this Friday evening, about 7.30pm on August 10, and the facts of the matter as far as I can make out is that ONE farm has tested positive for the disease in Surrey. Not two farms or even three farms as the press would have led us to believe, for when the results came back from the tested carcasses on the other two farms, the tests were negative. And that one positive result seems to have come about by pure accident, probably due to being located close to the facility where Foot and Mouth Disease is held and where vaccines are made
I’m not saying that precautions shouldn’t have been taken, indeed perhaps because the government took the precautions they did, the isolated case has not spread any further, or at least it hasn’t at the moment, and the way things are going, it seems unlikely that they will.
What I find difficult to get to grips with is the panic that seems to hit in with some folk at the sheer mention of the disease. Being rational appears to disappear out of the window, but it does seem that at least this government with a new leader is being very sensible about it all; at least they haven’t closed down the countryside at a moment’s notice.
Which is all very different from 2001. Back then the disease was able to take control and it spread like wildfire, which put a stop to trials for the best part of a year. I know that on a personal level I didn’t ride a trial for 19 weeks, which proved to be the longest period of time that I had not ridden, and we must all just hope that our sport is able to continue this time without a break. It certainly looks like it.
It was in 2001 that I started writing my weekly column for TMX; I had barely got going when all forms of sport came to a halt and for the next four months I had to churn out a column with no sport to write about. It was a difficult time for a writer, so being selfish, for that reason alone I hope it’s not repeated.
The following piece comes a bit late for it happened last week, but to see James Dabill taking part in a British Championship trial this year for the first time was a treat indeed. The UK scene needs Dibs and he, along with Michael Brown, Shaun Morris and of course the defending champ Graham Jarvis are real stars well worth spending time to watch. The very small Championship class provides entertaining action and Brimham Rocks last weekend was a fine, new venue for the title round.
Purely from a personal viewpoint, I don’t like Addingham Moorside, but that’s not to say it hasn’t got its good points. However, Brimham was a superb replacement. But just one point though, and correct me if I’m wrong as I haven’t been to all the rounds this year, but has there been a stream section in a British Championship round this year?
When you’ve been part of the sport for as many years as I have – and I mean all forms of motorcycle sport, not just trials – there are a few riders that create a major impression, and those riders can be different persons depending upon who you are.
As a kid I remember Lew Coffin on the grass; he was a real star back in the 'sixties and totally unapproachable to me as a mere stripling, so imagine my thrill when I got to know him personally. Likewise on the road racing scene, Derek Minter was a hero and in sidecar trials Ron Langston will live forever in my memory for the way his charged his Ariel outfit up the chalk hills of Hampshire.
But I digress. The point I was getting to is that in recent years motocrosser Dave Thorpe has always been my hero. I first met him at a bike test down south in my very early days as a press man. He was a real nice kid then, and he’s a real nice man now. I thought it was incredibly unkind of the American press to dub him the “fastest novice in the world” following his third World 500cc Motocross Championship, something noYank has been able to achieve since Brad Lackey won in 1982.
So it was absolutely great to read last week that Thorpey won again at Namur in the FIM Veterans Motocross Cup with a second and first place. Just to get my facts right, I spoke to Alex Hodgkinson, a former colleague – and there’s NOBODY who knows more about MX than Alex – and he confirmed my views. When it comes to racing, Dave Thorpe is THE man, and the desire to win is as great now as it was more than 20 years ago when he was at his prime.
So good on you Thorpey, one of my real heroes.