Modern Responsibilities

Reliability in the SSDT gets a new emphasis this year for competitors will be required to kick start their machines at the West End Car Park, Fort William first thing every morning. Those who wheel their machines out without kickstarting will be penalised five marks.

The FIM Trials Commission has at last agreed to make 1-2-3-5 marking in trials universal from next year. Prompted by a proposal from the ACU, the Commission agreed to drop the 1-3-5 marking system it has stuck rigidly to for international and world championship events. The move is expected to be welcomed by most riders who feel that three marks given for two dabs is unfair.

Those two stories come from the April 10, 1976 edition of Motor Cycle and together with the rest of the In Balance column written by former trials journalist Dave Willcock, makes for some interesting reading, some 31 and a half years later.

Many of the names mentioned in the column are still very much a part of the sport – equally some have since passed on or seem to have disappeared from trials – though one can never be sure! Adrian Clarke and Colin Dommett both get a mention in the column as they were fighting for supremacy in the British Sidecar Championship, and though Adrian now rides only occasionally, Colin is still around a lot, particularly at Pre 65 events.

Malcolm Rathmell was fined the equivalent of £16 for speeding on his way home from the French world round while Dave Thorpe moved up to fifth place in the Kickham Trial as a result of a clerical error and of course both are still heavily involved, Malc as the Sherco importer and Dave as a regular rider..

I don’t have the full edition of that week’s paper – which incidentally wasn’t many months before it finally died as a publication, but turning a page and there’s a test of the 125 and 250 Bultaco Sherpas, with Mark Holland and Paul Bennett the testers for the paper and there’s a full list of the entries for the Scottish Six Days Trial which totalled 250 riders who were about to enjoy a trial that featured 28 new and untested sections – and two of those groups Liddsdale and Camasnacroise are still used these days,

But that’s enough of the past, according to comments about last week’s column, I’m supposed to make suitable noises with regard to Big John’s posting made on December 3. (read it now) – quite frankly, I was gobsmacked at the time and didn’t know whether to be pleased or annoyed. In the end it was laughed off, but reminded me how careful you have to be and don’t assume anything at first glance – and that’s not just about relationships.

It’s been a busy weekend for yours truly as yesterday (Saturday) I went with a club colleague to Rugby to renew my National Clerk of the Course licence, which has to be done every three years. With the best will in the world, it’s a right bind having to do it, travel to Rugby, sit in a schoolroom for five hours and take several test papers.

There were 26 of us attending the course, and whilst I’m not blowing the trumpet for those 26 and the others nationally that hold c of c licences, but without these folk who are prepared to spend the time and effort attending the courses and taking LEGAL responsibility for the organisation of all trials, the sport would be in a sorry state.

Enough of our contribution; what I really want to comment upon is the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of the ACU trials and Enduro Committee members and in particular John Collins who is the Chairman. John took the course, and whilst I recognise that at one time he was a schoolteacher, (therefore he should be able to instruct in an interesting way), he managed to make a five hour seminar speed by with his clear and concise way of taking the course. It would be very easy for the day to be a complete and total bore, but at least with John at the helm (and Tim Fairbrother on the day), they managed to make it reasonably interesting and perhaps more importantly, instilled in us all the knowledge needed to be a national c of c and the responsibility that entails.

We all know that you turn up at a trial, pay your money, ride the event and tootle off home, happy at having enjoyed the day. What is there to go wrong? Generally nothing, but that doesn’t alter the fact that something COULD go wrong, and if (or when) something does go wrong, then everybody should feel relieved in the knowledge that there is somebody who has the insight to handle whatever situation has occurred.

Hopefully, it will never be me, but at least I feel that as a result of John (and his team) having conveyed the needs of a C of the C with clarity and insight, I will have the confidence to handle whatever problem has occurred.