All For One, One For All

I frequently have to search through papers, magazines, websites, forums and of course keep my ear to the ground to get an opening to my weekly column here on TC, but this week it’s been easy to find as Trials and Motocross News, my former employer have provided a suitable thread.

Editor John Dickinson was relating one of his favourite tales in his column about Monday morning phone calls to the office from complaining riders/parents/organisers, and whilst that certainly happened in my days there, it wasn’t that frequent – perhaps things have changed.

Also in the same edition, Gordon Francis was on a similar vein; basically they were saying that once you introduce “Championship” into the equation, the problems start and the vast number of categories often makes it difficult to cater for everybody’s requirements in the same event.

At the moment it’s the Traditional Trials Championship series that has the focus of my attention, principally because there are two very good rounds coming up next weekend and it’s my club that is organising one of them.

Whether it’s by good judgement, good fortune or having a suitable area of land, both these trials will run exactly the same route for all six classes in the series; i.e. whether you are riding a Pre 75 British bike, an air-cooled monoshock, a twinshock or are over 40/50/60 on modern bikes, you will all ride the same sections.

Some will say that is never possible, there’s such a wide variety of machines and abilities, but trust me, I reckon both those trials will prove to be absolutely spot on in all cases.

Whilst I’m not in a position to judge last weekend’s Colin Dommett Trial down in Cornwall, the report says that there were so many different routes for the varying classes (and sidecars were included), that it was very difficult to ensure you rode the correct route for your class. That resulted in some grizzles I understand; riders hate losing marks for going the wrong side of flags.

This set me thinking back to my early days as a trials rider – yes, I know they were many moons ago – and the era of which I am thinking is the late 'sixties. Back then I was only very average on a trials bike, you could say I’m only average now, but I still think that in those far off days my overall level was lower than it is now. Yet in those days, when I rode nationals, and I rode a good many, everybody rode the same sections. I can well recall looking at a very difficult section in a Devon national in which Malcolm Rathmell, Martin Lampkin and Rob Shepherd were all competing, and thinking to myself even then, what on earth am I doing trying to get up this gully.

But it all proved to be a steep learning curve – in fact you could say it made a man of me, or at least that’s what I thought then. I well know that it is no longer possible for everybody in a trial to ride the same sections, as the ability range has widened even further, and the danger and severity of sections has increased considerably, but there are still many, many trials in which everybody could ride the same sections. It would mean some were way too hard, but they were back in my day and I frequently lost well over a hundred in a “big” trial. Take that number of marks off folks these days and they would soon stop coming to your trials.

So at least with this coming weekend’s two nationals, all will be riding exactly the same course, and for that alone I’m pleased as not only are they in the Traditional Trials Championship, Lancs County and Bootle are at least sticking with the traditional format of all on one course.