It’s A Time For Gentlemen

It’s the first week of May, so where else can the dedicated trials fan be other than in the Highlands for the Scottish Six Days and the Pre 65 Scottish Two Day – so that’s where this week’s column comes from – as you would expect.

Having travelled from home on Thursday, we were down to the old aluminium works car park in Kinlochleven bright and early last Friday morning, and upon stepping out of the van the first three people I saw were Doug Theobald on crutches (having broken his leg practising), Dave Bickers and Freddie Mayes, all from the Eastern Centre of course.

I know Doug well from my early days of riding in the South Midland Centre, and I know Dave Bickers from my contacts with him at TMX, but I don’t know Freddie at all apart from reputation as a superb scrambler.

With all due respect to Doug and Freddie, and I’m sure they understand, Dave Bickers is one of my all time heroes. Long before I ever rode a bike, indeed long before I was old enough to ride a bike, I used to watch Bick perform on his factory Greeves scramblers, and he without doubt, was the star of all stars. So to meet him in Kinlochleven, totally unexpected last Friday, was a real pleasure.

No doubt he will have heard it many times before, but I told Dave that my abiding memory of him was way back in the early 'sixties at Higher Wick Farm, Tor for a big scramble. It may even have been a GP. I reminded him that he was the rider who turned off the top of the field and gassed the Greeves down the double ledge leading to the start finish field, and he immediately knew exactly to where I was referring.

Dave continued: “Gossy had said to me, it would be much quicker jumping down the double ledge, and I tried it in practice, and he was right. Then I rode back to the pits and passed the ambulance taking Gossy off to hospital. He had tried it and crashed”.

A lovely tale, and I don’t even know if it was true, but it was a real pleasure to meet one of my two all time heroes, the other being Geoff Ward who I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with some years ago at a reunion in Devon.

And all this got me thinking: when Bickers was my hero, I was only around 13 or 14 years of age, yet even now, all those decades later, he still stirs in me memories I cherish. I only hope that the youngsters of today for whom motocross is their sport, are able to have such heroes that can stir similar memories more than 47 years later.

Of course the Pre 65 Scottish is very much a place for meeting friends and acquaintances and on Friday and Saturday of last weekend, it was a pleasure to not only ride the trial (very poorly this year I regret to say), but to meet and talk with so many folks that I have known over the years.

Inevitably, having a poor ride tends to take the gloss off some things, but I’ve been told in no uncertain manner by several well intentioned folk, that the result is immaterial. Particularly in the Pre 65 Scottish, it’s as much about being part of the scene, enjoying the scenery, comradeship, coaxing the old bike round and doing the best you can on the day. I needed to be told that, because rightly or wrongly getting a decent result always matters a lot to me, but sometimes simply being there, being part of it is far, far more important. The Pre 65 Scottish in particular is an event to which that adage applies, so I take their advice in good faith and say that it was a pleasure to be part of it.

Having a poor result is by no means the end of the world – after all it’s only a trial – but having said that, everybody in the event felt for Carles Casas, the most likeable Spaniard who has supported the Scottish for many years come rain and shine. Whilst I have no results at the time of writing this, to go through the trial for the loss of one mark and then five the very last section of the trial in the last three feet must be truly heart-breaking.l But that’s what happened, and Carles, being the gentleman he is, will have been very philosophical about it and taken it in his stride.

Even a one mark score would not have given him outright victory, for he would have had to share it with Tony Calvert who did indeed go through the trial for the loss of that single mark. A well deserved winner, and again, a real gentleman who takes his success and congratulations with modesty, to round off another superb weekend in the Highlands.

Now there’s a week of the six days to come!