Action From The Best, Present and Past

If my timing is right there should be two main parts to this week’s column, so let’s begin with the first.

I’m the first to recognise that frequently a trials rider may have no other interest in motorcycle sport, but I’m not one of them as by now regular readers of this column will probably have guessed.

So last weekend, whilst there was a cracking local trial on (which by all accounts was as good as expected – it was the Barrow Club’s Zeke Myers Trial), I instead chose to go to the British Motocross Championship round at Brampton near Carlisle.

Surprising? Well, not really, you see I believe that when there is an opportunity to watch the VERY best riders in action, then you should take up the chance, for there may not be the opportunity to do it again for some time. The last motocross that I went to was the aborted Motocross des Nations at Foxhill back in 2000 or thereabouts, when it rained like it would never rain again which totally wrecked the venue and the meeting.

So a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, as the saying goes, and the riders that are at the top today, I have never seen in action and know nothing about. Therefore, going to Brampton with a totally open mind, I looked forward to the whole event, especially as the British series has not been to the North West for many years.

The winners of both races in both classes were 34 year old American Mike Brown and the Belgian Ken De Dycker, who on the day, were both in classes of their own. Brampton is a deep sandy circuit, not unlike Hawkstone in many respects, and like Hawkstone is a physically demanding track to ride on, let alone race.

In fact it was the lack of racing that is the most noticeable thing, once the first few hectic laps have passed, the riders just concentrate at circulating in the positions they have achieved from the gate. A few, most notably Tommy Searle, were able to progress through the field, but in the majority of cases it was a case of staying aboard the bike, maintaining a pace and keeping station.

Brown and De Dycker were able to get the gate each time and once there, they were the masters, particularly De Dycker, who has a riding style not unlike the formidable Laurent Pideaux who was a great motocrosser and enduro rider from the late 'eighties/early 'nineties. De Dycker certainly impressed me. Being a very tall man, he chooses to ride standing up, which is unusual for motocrossers, and though he led both races by a considerable margin, he had the talent that all the very best riders have of seeming to be going slower than those chasing him. His long, languid style belied the speed at which he was travelling, a real talent.

Mike Brown in contrast looked like all the others, but he seemed the fittest of the others as whilst the entire field circulated at a pace only a few seconds apart in lap times, he had the stamina to keep it up for 35 minutes and dominate in the tough conditions.

As I said earlier, a great chance to see the best men in action and I’m glad I took the opportunity.

Just five days later the scene couldn’t have been more different. This past weekend was the Nostalgia Weekend when the Kendal Classic MCC hold their annual Nostalgia Trial and Nostalgia Scramble near Sedbergh, which is no great distance from my home, yet is an event to which I have never been.

However, this year was different as I was requested to provide the results service for the trial which I was happy to undertake – with some help from the club’s members. And on Friday, as part of the club’s weekend offering, they organised a tour of the Lake District mountain passes that featured in the 1913 International Six Days Trial. Some 60 or so riders took part and I was invited to join the second group which followed some half an hour behind the leading and bigger group.

It was a wonderful day in some wonderful company, and if I can name drop here, “my” group included Andy Roberton, Jimmy Aird, Bill Brown, Mick Andrews, organiser Pete Remington, Alan Wright, Tony Calvert, Terry Challinor, the Gates brothers, Eric Kitchen, Barry and Tony Briggs, Tim Britton and several others who joined us at various points along the route. They were on a variety of machines with the newly produced Retro CCMs featuring.

We took in Kirkstone Pass, Patterdale, Honister Pass, Buttermore for coffee, Ravenglass for lunch, then Wastwater, Bootle Fell, Hard Knott Pass, Wrynose Pass, Langdale and Skelwith Bridge before returning to our starting point in Ambleside. We were out all day!

And the connection with Trials Central? Very tenuous I suppose, except that back in those dim and distant days, they were the original motorcycle trials so warrant inclusion here, 'cause that’s where it all started!

This column will run for two weeks as I am unable to produce a column for next Sunday, sorry guys and gals, but that’s the way it is over Manx Two Day weekend.