Non-Players Are The Great Scourge

When writing this column I have absolutely no idea what subject is likely to generate the greatest number of hits for any particular column or the number of postings it will attract during the following weeks.

Frequently I write something that I think may generate a fair amount of interest and it struggles to attract much over 800 hits (still not too bad on a specialist site), then another week the content appears to me at least fairly uncontroversial and it is inundated with hits and postings.

Beats me why that happens. Anyway. Last week’s column about the “secretary’s job is not a happy one etc” seems to have generated loads of interest, not because you lot out there are secretaries but because the subject of getting entries into trials was highlighted.

Of all the postings it was one of the later ones from Scorpa 3 that hit the nail on the head, i.e. if you have a popular trial with say 200 entries, all taken in advance, there’s a fair chance the non-starter list could reach a dozen or more, and in a trial like the Lakes which is a two day event, retirements may well add another dozen to that number.

Now I don’t know about you, but on a personal level I always turn up to a trial in which I have pre-entered, and if by any remote chance can’t make it (just once as I recall in recent years), I ensure the secretary is told well in advance so that a replacement ride can be offered. So I can imagine that Mick Wren (or indeed any other secretary) will be mightily cheesed off when he has settled for 200 riders and on the morning of the event finds only 190 have signed on. That is SO annoying.

What is also equally annoying, particularly at a two day event, is the small number of riders who go out on the beer on the first night and then can’t be bothered to drag themselves out of bed for day two. Believe me, it happens!

You may well think I’m anti having a good time. Not a bit of it, but riders have some responsibility to the organisers, just as the organisers have some responsibility to the riders. OK, so with a 200 entry, no matter how many riders “can’t be bothered” there will always be a far greater number who make the effort. But that doesn’t alter the fact that those that don’t make the effort are taking the p*$$ out of the sport.

It is also a good idea to have secretaries who have a fair idea of what’s going on generally. Have to be careful here, but there are some riders who enter some events when they have either no intention of completing the trial, especially if it is a two-dayer, and there are other riders who simply do not have the ability to complete the event.

I know this opens a can of worms and I will probably be inundated with postings from those who say that trials, by its very nature is a sport for all abilities. Equally, I say – and I have said this before so it’s not new - - as a rider you need to know your own abilities and when you enter an event that is regularly over-subscribed when you know darn well it is beyond you, then you are taking a ride off a more capable person.

I know full well that there are a number of trials in which I could almost certainly get a ride that are now beyond me. The Scottish, the Lakes, Loch Lomond, the Jack Wood and numerous others are outside my current capabilities, equally there are plenty that I can still do, the Manx, the Reeth Three Day, the Colonial, the Dave Rowland, Bemrose etc. I think I am being responsible as well as sensible in picking my events.

As I see it, a responsible secretary who knows his stuff can be selective in his choice, especially if the event is over-subscribed, though it’s difficult to expect that to apply when the entry list is not full.

Controversial? Yes of course this is, but don’t let my rantings stop you from having your say.

At this time of the year, with the Scott Trial just five weeks away, comes my annual suggestion to get yourself out there into the Yorkshire Dales and support this wonderful event. The entry list is now full, 200 have been selected and with Dougie Lampkin set to go for his third win, the second in succession, whilst seven time winner Graham Jarvis is aiming for a record breaking eighth win and Spaniard Jordi Pascuet joining Amos Bilbao in the classic time and observation extravaganza, makes it for a fascinating trial to watch.

So plan your Saturday, October 20th now and join the vast throng to see the fantastic action.