After the name of Lampkin, one of the most well-known names on the British Trials scene is that of Hemingway. The family is currently represented by brothers Dan and Ben, but previously father John was also a familiar rider at the Scottish Six Days Trial, making his debut on a Sprite back in 1968 and continuing to ride in Scotland throughout the 1970’s and into the 80’s. From what we’ve seen recently the name Hemingway will continue to be known in the sport well into the future with Dan’s two lads, George & Harry currently making names for themselves in the British Youth C&D Championship.
As we continue our series of exclusive pre-SSDT interviews with some of the top names and competitors, we catch up with the younger and better looking (we’ll collect the cash on Saturday) of the two Hemingway’s, Ben to get his thoughts ahead of this year’s competition. Ben made his Scottish debut back in 1994 and has only missed three Trials in the 20 years since. He has come so close, and yet so far from lifting the prestigious North British Rubber Company Trophy as winner of the SSDT, being runner-up no less than three times, on one occasion missing out by just a single point. Could 2014 finally be his year?
TC: Ben, the Scottish Six Days Trial is rapidly approaching. How have your preparations being going?
BH: Really well! I’ve been to the Australian World round, then I came home and rode The Tough One and then it was straight off to Japan for the second round of the World Championship, minding for Dec Bullock. So no, not a great deal of time to practice, but it’ll be all right. I’ll be going to Dob Park to get some practice in before heading up to Scotland.
TC: Not many streams or boulders in those last three venues then?!
BH: No, not really. It’s been very dry and grippy. You don’t get to ride your bike much anyway. Just blasting round with a rucksack on. I think it’ll be okay. I’ll settle in by about Wednesday.
TC: By that response you maybe don’t take the Scottish as seriously as you once did? Three times a runner-up in Scotland?
BH: Yeah. Three times the runner-up. I lost out by one mark to Sam Connor one year. I do still take it seriously, but it’s difficult to get the time to do everything. Scotland is still one of my big passions. That and the Scott Trial. The other Trials I’m not so bothered about these days, but definitely Scotland is one that remains a favourite.
TC: What makes the SSDT so special to you?
BH: It’s one of those one I always went to as a child, from watching my father and my uncles ride and I think it’s one of those ones… It’s just special. Add in the scenery and the sections are fantastic too. Having a nice holiday and riding round with your family. I just love it. It’s brilliant.
TC: You finished twelfth last year. Can you go better this year?
BH: That’s a good question! It all depends on how Monday goes. It can be swings and roundabouts. I can still ride well enough up there. It all depends on your start. I don’t know, we’ll see. A top ten would be nice.
TC: Talking about no-stop. The no-stop you’ve seen in the World Championship in Australia and Japan. How would you compare that to the no-stop we’ll see in Scotland?
BH: It’s very difficult because the sections are completely different. Scotland lends itself to the no-stop rule completely and it works up there. As far as the World Championship is concerned, my personal view is I don’t like it. That’s my personal view, but I don’t want to go too far into that. I personally feel that the World Championship has taken a slight step back. In the progression of all sports we do, even down to Motocross and everything, I feel that Trials is taking a little step back. I don’t agree with it, but that’s the way it is and we’ve got to keep working to the rules and obey the rules that we’ve got.
TC: Back to the Scottish. Tell us the best thing about the Scottish Six Days Trial?
BH: The best thing is getting to ride round with your friends and your family and there are some places in Scotland that are just incredible. The scenery is absolutely fantastic and generally the Observers – you can have a good laugh with them and like I say, the no-stop rule works very well there. The sections are brilliant and it’s just a really good holiday in the Highlands.
TC: And do you have a favourite group of sections?
BH: My favourite group of sections would be….. That’s a very difficult one because I generally have one nearly every day, but I can’t really think of one particular group that stands out above any other. I quite like the ones on Ben Nevis. They’re quite special because by then you’re nearly home, but I definitely don’t like Chairlift (laughs).
TC: What’s the worst thing about Scotland?
TC: Apart from Chairlift!
BH: The worst thing is if it’s raining and cold then the road work. That’s the worst thing, but generally once you get onto the moors… I don’t want to sound too much like John Lampkin, but the rain isn’t a big issue. I would say when you’re on the road and its cold, that’s the worst thing.
TC: Are you going to let Dec (Bullock) beat you in Scotland?
BH: Not a chance!
Copyright Trials Central. Produced in partnership with G2F Media. Images from Trials Central collection, 2013 SSDT