Believe it or not, but I always read the comments posted in reply to my column, usually before I start writing the next one. Rarely do those comments encourage me to continue the subject, but having just read the fourteen replies (by Friday evening) relating to last week’s column, I shall continue the theme for just a few more words.
Last week’s column you’ll recall was about Oset electric bikes and more pertinently about the relationship between parents and children when taking part in sport. Those fourteen comments encouraged me immensely, because it means that my views are shared and we all see how important it is to allow little Johnny (or Joanna!) to progress at their own speed – without father bellowing in their ear.
Many of you will have met my daughter who frequently accompanies me to trials. When she was about ten I had an interest in archery and she came along too, wanting to have a go. That was fine, but I flatly refused to have anything to do with instructing her and let other club members take on the task. They did and she progressed well, eventually winning the Lancs girls under 12 championship – all without the slightest bit of help from me, though I gave her lots of encouragement. Even then, I was very well aware of the often strained relationship between parents and children when sport is involved and was determined not to be a shouting dad.
Getting kids into trials can be done in numerous ways and cycle trials are probably as good as any. Lots of events take place around the country and those who saw the cycle trials event at Hawkstone at the world round can’t have failed to have been impressed by the abilities of those taking part. Go to any trial and there’s a fair chance you’ll see kids there with their cycles, hopping and bopping as they make use of every available obstacle. It’s all good training which is probably why they can do all the tricks that are totally alien to riders of my generation.
Going back to when I was a kid, I used to go trialing on my push bike, up and down muddy banks (which is probably the reason I prefer mud sections to rocky ones), and even now I can recall the very first picture I had published. It was a picture taken with my camera, of me and a couple of schoolpals sliding through the snow that covered a frozen pond that we passed on the way to school. The year was 1963, and even then I was crafty enough to get one of my mates to take the picture which I then sent to the local newspaper (the Slough Observer), which of course featured yours truly heading the drifters in the snow.
Talking of father and son relationships, one of the most successful that we have seen develop over the past few years is the one between Paul Sagar and Tom Sagar. Tom, as you may know proved to be the best British rider in the recent ISDE in Chile, taking fourth in the E1 class, having finished third in the European Championship this year. Tom has only recently taken up enduros after tackling trials, ever since he was a kid (winning the Novogar Championship) and it’s obvious he’s a natural trials and enduro rider.
In fact dad Paul has excelled at both disciplines, and I don’t suppose many folks will know that when I rode the 1988 ISDE in France for the MCC of Cheshire team, Paul and his brother Colin were my team mates – hence my particular interest in the success of the Sagar family.
Instead of riding last weekend, I went to the NEC for the International Bike Show, primarily to buy some road riding kit for aforementioned daughter, as I bought a road bike back in the summer (VFR 800). Nothing strange in that you may well say but I have to say it was a real eye opener. I certainly don’t want to upset the trials dealers, but when you compare the retail price of road bike clothing with the retail price of trials bike clothing, well frankly, there is no comparison. I bought a Shoei helmet for around £100 less than than I would expect to pay for a trials Shoei, and superb quality, waterproof, windproof jackets and trousers were on sale for bargain prices.
Yes I know there is a far larger road bike market than there is for off-road, but even so, the difference in cost is staggering!