The final rider in our exclusive series in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish Six Days Trial really needs no introduction. Twenty eight year old Beta rider, James Dabill not only has two SSDT wins already under his belt, but is also a former British Champion, Scott Trial winner and a rising star in the FIM Trial World Championship. Having lost out on the SSDT win for the past two years to veteran, Dougie Lampkin, can he reclaim the crown in 2014?
TC: James, not long till Scotland now. How have you found it trying to fit in preparation for that with the Australia and Japan World Championship rounds?
JD: Quite tricky really. Obviously with riding the World Championship it’s hard to get home and get some practice in, especially with the two fly-aways that we’ve had. But I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got a riding number right next to my good buddy Steve Peat so it will be a good week, I’m sure and we’ll just have to see what happens.
TC: How important is Scotland to you? Obviously the World Championship is your priority, but how big is Scotland to you?
JD: Obviously the World Championship is what I get paid to do and Scotland… well I get paid to go there as well, it’s part of my contract, but I do actually really enjoy riding the Scottish. It’s good to ride round with friends and you still go there and want to win, but it’s always nice to have a bit of a giggle and a good ride round, though it is important and it’s always nice to win as well!
TC: You told us earlier how Dougie’s been boasting about his seven wins and how he won the important centenary, but it’s been a couple of years now since you last won. You were very close in 2012 and then Dougie had quite a large margin last year. Can you stop him making it eight wins?
JD: Yes, I’d like to think so! We’re going to have to see how the jetlag after Japan affects us, but I’m not making that as an excuse. Scotland still has to be ridden whether you’re tired or not. I’m sure it’s going to be a tough week as always and Dougie always rides well up there and I’m pretty sure he’ll be giving it some hammer at home now, getting ready for it, but Dougie’s been as busy as we have so we’re on a level pegging really. I’d like to think I can stop him having eight and make it three for myself, but I always tell him the elusive one hundredth World Championship win was the important one, so it doesn’t matter now!
TC: Is there a favourite group through the week in Scotland that you particularly enjoy?
JD: I always like the road day (Thursday). There are always some good, hard groups towards the back end. The ones around Meall Nam Each. Those sort of groups. Some real long sections that you can really get stuck into and have a good go. You know, Scotlands one of those you can never tell. It’s full of all sorts of different rivers and sections which are all really enjoyable to ride. I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet.
TC: Is there a “bogey” group for you? One every year that you dread or that brings back bad memories?
JD: Yes, the first group. The first group is always a tricky one. You get there and you’re always a little bit “cold” and there isn’t really anywhere to warm up a bit before, so you ride in there “cold”, but if you can get through there pretty clear then it sets you up nicely for the week.
TC: What, for you, is the best thing about Scotland? What makes it unique?
JD: I think just the fact that it is so totally different from every other Trial. Your bike and yourself have got to make it through a full six days and I think it is the ultimate test of man and machine. It doesn’t just prove who the best rider is, it proves who’s got their head switched on a little bit and is good with the spanners if they get into trouble. It’s a one-off event and, for me, it’s one of the best events in the world.
TC: And what’s the worst thing about the Scottish?
TC: Just rain?
JD: Just rain! (laughs)
TC: Steve Peat, downhill mountain bike champ is riding round with you again. Is he looking to improve on his result from last year? How’s he riding? Will you be helping him?
JD: Yeah, I rode round with him a little bit last year, but it was quite tricky as he had to catch us up first, but this year we’re consecutive numbers, so (laughs) it’s going to be a good week! I’m sure he’ll entertain us all! Steve is a very competitive person so I’m pretty sure he’ll be trying his hardest to do as best he can and I’ll help him along the way. It’s always good to have somebody like Steve because we’re really close buddies and he’s really good with the nutrition and things like that and he always keeps an eye on me – making sure I’m eating and drinking enough so he’s always a good guy to have around and it’s always good to ride round with one of your best friends.
TC: Of course there’s a baby on the way. We know it’s not due till June, but will that be in your thoughts during the week, maybe if it turns up early?!
JD: Not really at the moment. I know it’s always a possibility, but being at these events is part of our job and we just have to deal with it. I’ve spoken to a lot of riders both past and present that have had to miss the birth of their children. I am excited about it though.
TC: Is Emma coming to Scotland?
JD: No, Emma’s not coming up this year. It’s something she doesn’t need to be getting stressed about and driving about in a van all week would just be uncomfortable. It’s getting close though, very excited, a new adventure for myself and Emma and I’m looking forward to it, but I’m pretty sure there will be some sleepless nights along the way!
TC: We’ve heard you’ve put big wheels on the pram already!
JD: (laughs) I know I’m known for having nice wheels on my van and that, but we’ve been fortunate with the pram. Manel (Jane) from Spain, who everybody knows now as being Mr. Vertigo has kindly helped us out with a Jane pram and it’s exactly the one we wanted so a massive thank you to him.
Copyright Trials Central. Produced in partnership with G2F Media. Images from Trials Central collection, 2013 SSDT.