Competitors from as far afield as America, Japan, Australia, Canada and representing more than twenty nations, gathered in Fort William earlier today as they completed the formalities ahead of the first day of the 2013 Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) tomorrow. The West End Car Park, which will serve as base camp for the event over the coming six days, was a bustling Mecca of motorcycling throughout the day despite the damp conditions, as riders carried out their final preparations for the almost week-long adventure that awaits them.
The entry of just under two hundred and seventy riders from diverse countries such as Sweden, Kenya, Estonia and Andorra is made up of a mixture of amateur and professional sports persons who will all compete over the exact same course, which will total almost five hundred miles come next Saturday afternoon.
The lure of this real and traditional test of man and machine against the natural elements remains as strong as ever with the entries for the SSDT, which is now in its second century, being over-subscribed once again. The lucky riders who survived the ballot process now just need to survive the next six days as they line up alongside 2012 SSDT winner Dougie Lampkin, who put himself in the record books last year by becoming the first rider to win this historic event six times.
Lampkin joined his fellow competitors earlier today as they took part in the traditional opening parade through Fort William town centre to mark the official opening of this year's SSDT. Speaking ahead of tomorrow's first day of competition proper Dougie was in good spirits. "It's great to be back at the Scottish, rain or no rain, and to be defending the title I won last year. It has always been a special event in my schedule, but now with me only riding a few selected events, it has become my single biggest event in the year. So perhaps you can now understand why I am so motivated to win again this year. It's always a long week and you do need a bit of luck, but I hope come Saturday I will still be in with a shout."
The man with the responsibility of heading up the organising team, who will plot the course that will ultimately determine the 2013 SSDT winner, is Clerk of the Course, Jeff Horne from the Edinburgh and District Motor Club. Explaining about the sheer scale of the event Jeff said. "Running the Scottish is a huge undertaking for an amateur body such as ourselves, but one we are immensely proud to continue on behalf of the club. It is fantastic that riders from literally all over the world queue up to take part in the SSDT and that we still continue to attract world level riders along with the many club riders."
"Without the continued support of the various authorities, sponsors, volunteers, riders and spectators we would not be able to maintain the Scottish Six Days Trial as the greatest trial in the world, which is not only important to the event itself, but also in terms of the history and heritage of the sport as a whole" continued Jeff.
Jeff added one final comment. "If today is anything to go by even with the rain, then we are in for another great week. On behalf of Edinburgh and District Motor Club I want to wish all the riders a safe and enjoyable event and look forward to seeing them at the finish, hopefully with a smile on their faces."
The SSDT is free for spectators to watch on all days. The official event programme, containing details of riders, routes and spectating opportunities, is available to purchase in the Fort William area and also via www.ssdt.org.. Route maps for each day of the main trial can also be viewed on the website.
Trials Central images from out and about sunday can be found here