Good News For Little Johnnie

One of the problems when writing a weekly column is that sometimes when I sit down at the computer, I genuinely haven’t a clue what I am going to write about. At other times I have a good idea of the theme and the words will roll off easily.

But tonight is the first scenario! So, in search of inspiration, I ploughed back five years to a column that I wrote for the corresponding week in 2002, just to see if there was a subject that could be used, and blow me, there is!

Five years ago I was bemoaning the fact that tiny trials bikes for really young children had virtually disappeared since the demise of the TY 80. I know there are plenty around still, and I know there are plenty of youth machines from Beta, Sherco and Gas Gas, but a TY 80 replacement, i.e. a really small bike that provides everything including gears and longevity still hasn’t happened.

Some weeks ago, when I was interviewing Graham Jarvis for Trial Magazine (got yours yet?), Graham asked my views on whether he should get involved with the Oset electric machines. I was definitely the wrong bloke to ask, as I couldn’t really see the point, in fact I quietly thought he would be throwing good money away. But on reflection my first thoughts were wrong, and whilst Graham was not in a position to let me print details about his involvement with the Oset bikes when I wrote the interview, since then it has been confirmed, and Graham, along with Steve Saunders in the south, are the famous names chosen to help launch these bikes.

I don’t know anything about the quality, reliability or value of these machines, but they may well be a very good starter machine, which can lead onto the current bikes that are now available.

Graham has been taking a bike to every event he attends and those who have seen him riding it know that it pulls him well enough and Graham can perform some impressive tricks aboard one. With Christmas approaching, no doubt a number of these machines will be finding their way into kids’ Christmas stockings, and with a bit of luck they will start youngsters along a path in sport that should keep them entertained for many years to come.

One of the problems with introducing kids into sport (trials) at such very young ages, is that by the time they are ready to break into the world of adult trials, roadwork and big sections, many of them have had enough, often having ridden for 12 or 13 years at that point. Like me, you will have seen fathers of schoolboys push, cajole, threaten, shout and get angry with their kids over their perceived failure to achieve what dad thinks is possible. The result can often be that as soon as the youngster is old enough to make his own decisions, he’s off and doesn’t want to ride any more. Girls, beer, cars, nights out take precedence, and that’s the end of the trials career.

Equally some continue and become tidy riders and find a level in trials which they can enjoy for many years to come.

And if you are wondering where I’m going with this – so am I! No, seriously, I know what I think, and it’s this. The riders who have been allowed to enjoy trials at their own pace, are the ones that continue. Ability is not the deciding factor. There are some, Dougie Lampkin and Graham Jarvis are the prime examples of riders who were allowed to develop at their own pace. Others, who enjoyed the same stress free progression, may not have reached the same level of ability, but can still enjoy their trials in whatever category they have reached.

Then there are others who have been pushed and pushed all the way, and once they have the opportunity to say no to dad, they do, and that’s the end of their trialling until the time in the future when they fancy another go. And unfortunately, they seem to outnumber those that stay.