To Stop Or Not To Stop

One of the problems when writing this column is that at times the views I put forward are my own and at other times the views I air are those of others – which I may or may not agree with.

So before continuing any further, let me state my personal views.

I don’t particularly like riding to no-stop rules, but having said that, I ride plenty of no-stop trials and it makes no difference what rules a club runs with, if the trial is good and I want to ride, then I’ll enter.

So that’s clarified the situation and I’ll leave it up to you to form your own views about what follows.

If a club – any club – wants to run a trial that’s observed no-stop, then there should be one golden rule for the section plotters; every section in the trial must be plotted in a way that the majority of the entry can ride without stopping. If that ruling is applied, then by all means observe the trial as strictly as you wish.

However, if the club desires to have mega tight turns, vicious becks and every other obstacle that makes riding no-stop for the majority impossible, then don’t call it a no-stop trial.

Simple as that.

Now what has brought this all on? Last weekend’s Manx Two Day Trial, that’s what.

First of all let me say that the 2007 Manx was a fantastic trial, certainly as good as recent years, maybe even a bit better in places, but a no-stop trial it certainly wasn’t – despite what was printed across the face of every single one of the 84 observers cards.

The first section of the trial on Saturday morning set the standard. It was the same for all, both hard and clubman course riders, but no-stop it certainly wasn’t. You had to drop down a greasy bank to a bit of a ditch, put on the front brake and swing the rear wheel round about 150 degrees then ride the rest of the section. No doubt there were plenty of “cleans” – assuming the observer gave zero for feet up rides.

And that was just the first of many sections that required hopping and therefore stopping to get round tight turns. Does it matter to Joe Sprogger?, probably not as long as the observer either observed EVERYBODY to exactly the same standard, or was generous in his/her interpretation of the attempt.

On a personal level I enjoyed both interpretations. On one section through which I was struggling I could see out of the corner of my eye that the observer was marking his card before I had even stopped – and I even said so as I struggled a bit further before falling off. He gave me a right b******ing, and rightly so, for I was out of order – but it’s only a game.

Then later on, having fived several times up a series of nasty steps before reaching the ends card, I said to the observer (rather stupidly on reflection!), “I suppose that’s a five”. “No, it’s good enough for a three” he replied. “Thanks, you’re a star” I said before struggling out of the beck and away.

It’s very easy to read into the above severe criticism of the Manx; well let me say categorically it’s not. It was a fine trial, and if another was to have started two days later, I would happily have lined up for more. What I’m saying is what many riders have said to me, not just at the Manx, but also at other no-stop trials, if the organisers want it to be no-stop, then for heavens sake mark the sections accordingly.

Continuing on the theme of the Manx, as we know, everybody was very fortunate to have a trial to ride in as the Manx Government considered the risk from Foot and Mouth to be great. Between everybody involved, the Government and the organisers, the Manx went ahead. It was a very different trial to recent years and in many respects the route was much better for it. Being restricted to quarries, plantations and beaches, we visited many new locations which produced some great and entertaining hazards, and I’m sure it goes without saying, even though I shall do so here, thanks everybody for another great weekend.


I see from the weekly press that the British Motocross Grand Prix was held at Donington Park last weekend where the GP track was bulldozed through the infield of the road race circuit.

Whilst I have no idea what the circuit owners plan to do now, it does seem to me a trifle surprising that they have chosen to use for motocross, the huge area of land which accommodates many thousands of spectators that gather on the infield to watch bike racing.

I went to the World Superbike round at Donington back in April and the best viewing was from the infield where you can see both the track and the big TV screen. Having had to pay £40 for the privilidge, I, and presumably many others, will be a bit miffed in the future if that infield, churned up by motocross, is a morass of mud rather than civilised grass.

Or have I got it totally wrong and they used somewhere else?