It never ceases to amaze – at club level at least – how important the over 40/veteran class is to our sport of trials riding. I’m not suggesting for one minute that the oldies are the backbone of the sport, or perhaps I am.
Take a case in point. A couple of weeks ago, I rode the Gerald Simpson Trial over in Yorkshire. Riders aged over 40 totalled 48 in number who were riding the easier course whilst another five, possibly six, were riding the harder course, so from a starting total of 136, well over a third were from the more mature class.
This pattern is repeated fairly frequently in many of the trials I ride, but particularly in those events that include riding on the road – as the Simpson was.
Which brings me to a point. Securing a road bike driving licence is becoming increasingly difficult. No longer can a rider simply get a bike and start out on the road. Back in my youth when I passed my bike test, I turned up at the test centre on my trials Triumph Cub, rode round the block one way, then the other, saw the examiner twice during the lap, and upon that showing was declared fit for the road. Nowadays, he/she has to attend Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and the process to getting through that, out onto the road and passing the test is a long, and comparatively expensive one. And I understand that from October, this process is going to prove more difficult and more expensive, according to the posters on view at many bike dealerships. Quite what is going to be involved I do not know, but I’m sure that somebody on here will reply and let us all know.
No doubt that this government (don’t get me started on that!) is keen to put a stop to bike riding in whatever form it can, and this new requirement will make the obtaining of a licence even more difficult. So perhaps road trials long term will become more infrequent simply because there will not be the riders with a licence to take part.
As I see it, in a few years time, all events will be off road except for a very small minority that try to survive.
Talking of survival, I ask how much longer has the British Championship in its current form got? Last week’s Mitchell Trial attracted an entry of just nine riders to the main championship, of whom only eight started, whilst the expert and youth classes had 21 and five riders, so there were just 34 riders at the event. Sorry folks, but I wouldn’t organise a club trial for 34 riders, let alone a British Championship round with all the extra work that entails.
This is not for the first time that I have aired this subject in some form or another, and the arguments apply equally to the World Championship scene. Trust me, it can’t go on, as it’s simply not worth it. However, there will be an answer and I have every confidence that the BC will continue in some form or another, but not as it is at the moment. The current format may well struggle on for a few years yet, but change will have to come about sooner or later.
The following may well be bad news for you dear reader, or it may well be good news, depending on your thoughts about this column. There will NOT be a column next week!. I’m currently writing this column on Wednesday evening, some four days before it appears, hence the general nature of its contents, and if anything important should happen during the next four days, I will have missed it!
The reason that there will be no column next week is that I am taking a rare holiday and will have neither the opportunity, nor the desire to write one and get it to Andy for publication. Together with my good friend Scott Rowland and five of his pals, we are roadbiking down through Germany to spend four days in the Dolomites, prior to returning via the French Sidecarcross GP that is next weekend – when the next column should have appeared. It’ll be a totally new experience for me and one that I hope to enjoy immensely before returning to the grindstone.
Whilst this trip has nothing to do with trials, no doubt as avid bikers all, you will permit me to regale you, upon my return, with any tales and happenings of note that take place whilst I am away.
So, bye for a fortnight. (Bet the headline made you read this to the end!)