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Intotrials

Observation

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I've done a fair bit of observing myself over the years, I appreciate how tough a job it can be. When I ride an event I'm always very grateful for the volunteers who give up their free time and stand out in all weather so that we can all enjoy a days sport.

I know and appreciate that its difficult at times to stick to the stipulated rules. Especially in no stop events where a rider has put so much effort into completing a section which may have resulted in a brief pause. It can be difficult as an observer to make a judgement, that adheres strictly to the rules. I have been at the receiving end of being fived and cleaned for committing the exact same offence. I can except this if i feel that the observer is consistent and fair with everyone. 

The SSDT is a fantastic event, well organised and a cracking week for all. But the observing is shocking! Now I don't want to grumble about it because the good folk who do the job have generously given up their free time, but I feel that the observing is so inconsistent that it often is a farce.

 Mentioning no names certain riders seem to get away with murder, un-fiveable. There is video footage (some has now since been deleted) of well known riders blatantly fiving sections going un-penalised,  I have also witnessed this myself first hand.

I have witnessed a well known rider completely stop, go backwards, briefly struggle to get the bike moving then eventually get out the ends cards and given a clean. Then the same observer dock a unknown rider a five for a very brief stop. 

Although I have known this type of behavior has gone on since the dawn of time, it seems that the corruption is getting worse.    

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Corruption according to google - "dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery"

Personally I'm not sure that's the right word here.. 

We're all enthusiasts first and foremost when it comes to trials. Guys at the top, the clubmen, the officials, organisers, family and most importantly the observers. The're at a section sometimes from 6.30am and sometimes until 6.30pm.. and in the most unpredictable weather system. They have given up a weeks holiday to observe.. for most of them we spoke to, the passion for our sport stands out the most.

I've been going up on and off since 1981.. including this year.. I can honestly say that I believe that every single rider benefits from being 'given the benefit of the doubt' at some point during the week.. That is the nature of our sport. It's observed, it relies on human judgement not technology.

I take my hat of to each and every one of the observers I have ever met. I'm sure the organising club would welcome another observer into the team who's prepared to stand, at their section, at all times in temperatures close to zero with howling wind /rain /snow for 6 hours. I think you do get a packed lunch though. Oh and about every one in every 10 years you get good weather.

As fellow enthusiasts, observers will have their favourite riders but not every observer supports the same one...

Edited by andyrothers
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 Your first post and this is it? Let the riders ride. It all works out at the end of the day.

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Not sure why you would single out the ssdt for your criticism ? I have seen this in many places.  If you want to point a finger, point it at riders and their hangers on who shout "fantastic clean " whoop and holler, applauds etc, when it was clearly a five. 

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2 hours ago, andyrothers said:

Corruption according to google - "dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery"

Personally I'm not sure that's the right word here.. 

We're all enthusiasts first and foremost when it comes to trials. Guys at the top, the clubmen, the officials, organisers, family and most importantly the observers. The're at a section sometimes from 6.30am and sometimes until 6.30pm.. and in the most unpredictable weather system. They have given up a weeks holiday to observe.. for most of them we spoke to, the passion for our sport stands out the most.

I've been going up on and off since 1981.. including this year.. I can honestly say that I believe that every single rider benefits from being 'given the benefit of the doubt' at some point during the week.. That is the nature of our sport. It's observed, it relies on human judgement not technology.

I take my hat of to each and every one of the observers I have ever met. I'm sure the organising club would welcome another observer into the team who's prepared to stand, at their section, at all times in temperatures close to zero with howling wind /rain /snow for 6 hours. I think you do get a packed lunch though. Oh and about every one in every 10 years you get good weather.

As fellow enthusiasts, observers will have their favourite riders but not every observer supports the same one...

Ok, I agree corruption is a bit of a strong word since trials at this level is an amateur sport. 

I have ridden the SSDT many times and have found the folk to be decent and friendly so I'm not aiming my "grumble" at every observer, that was not my aim, though i maybe should have written the post differently. 

I apologize, as i get very passionate about the things I love, and trials has been my hobby for over 30 years.  

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1 hour ago, lineaway said:

 Your first post and this is it? Let the riders ride. It all works out at the end of the day.

My first post is a "grumble" which I didn't want to do.

I actually wanted to post about what an achievement it is that Dougie, even in his forties,  can still show the young guns the way! But for me personally this win was over shadowed by the lack of consistent observing, so I would have felt like an hypocrite rather than stating my true feelings.

Which by the way are very passionate about our sport! 

My apologies   

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2 hours ago, b40rt said:

Not sure why you would single out the ssdt for your criticism ? I have seen this in many places.  If you want to point a finger, point it at riders and their hangers on who shout "fantastic clean " whoop and holler, applauds etc, when it was clearly a five. 

I have ridden and observed at many levels for over 30 years so I know what you are talking about. I totally agree that some observers are "bullied" into making decisions they would otherwise choose to make differently.  I've been on the receiving end of some generous and some harsh decisions myself many times over the years and accept that things even out in the long run. Actually it doesn't really matter in the long run, its just a bit of fun.  But I'm a strong believer in fair is fair and that what is good for the goose - is good for the gander. I witnessed some very biased observing at the SSDT and it put a little bit of a cloud over the event for me, more so than what would normally bother me. 

I just want to protect our sport and want to keep that "gentleman's" approach to it rather than win at all costs attitude. 

Edited by Intotrials
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It’s all strategy. Experianced observers know this but you can only put up with so much abuse. This is where it’s critical to have the support of the sponsoring club. Before you can have a hard line on rules you have to know the trialsmaster will back you up.

Nothing makes me less enthusiastic about observing than knowing if I make a hard call someone in the club organization will overturn it because a “top” rider whined until he got his way. If calling to the rules is not supported then it’s not worth the effort and everything is called like a beginner class. “Good job”, pat on the head, NEXT! 

Years ago I observed a US national and at the observers briefing the NATC rep went into a long diatribe about how everyone was there to have fun and not to be too strict on the rules. One of my buddies raised his hand and said, “So which rules do you want us to ignore?” Pretty much summed it up.

Partial enforcement of any rule is how you end up keeping bad rules. It’s also the fastest way to make a sport unfair.

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I understand where you're coming from, Intotrials. With the top 3 or 4 riders scoring 0-2 most days, who wants to be the person to give one of them a 5? Your one split-second decision is going to have a massive impact on the result. Whereas, when one of the guys who's getting a cricket score every day comes along, who's going to notice?

I have no personal knowledge of how the SSDT is organised, but one would hope that with an event of this stature observers would be given very clear guidance on how to mark marginal situations. It shouldn't be beyond the organisers to provide every observer with one A4 sheet of guidance: it's something to read while waiting for the first bikes to arrive.

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Actually the initial post and the persons subsequent responses perfectly illustrate why top riders don't get fived. As soon as some negative feedback or query of the original post was made the poster begins to backtrack. Not getting at you @Intotrials  but this is just an online chat, the winner of the SSDT is not determined on this conversation. 

Now imagine standing in front of a couple of hundred spectators, fiving Dibs, Doug or Gary Mc and sticking to your guns. 

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It is very tough with a large crowd and most of them hardly know the rules. I have had the pleasure of scoring all of the top riders. Tried to give them the score that they rode. I have had to give all of them a 5, but they flat out did not make an obstacle. That was easy, the hard part last year was Sport 7 and the FIM course clerks trying to rush the pace of the trials when they already chopped World Trials from three loops to 2 loops. These people would whisper in my ear (5) every time a rider hesitated between obstacles as they were doing the slow ride waiting for the minder to get in place. I whispered back, still clean right up to the point they crashed. The rule of only one minder in a section is insane when we now ride with a tether, back protection being developed and there is still talk of face guards. No wonder the Scottish is still so popular! No stop, No Minders, you get to ride all day long! By design, this is for riders that can ride and enjoy the outdoors.

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13 hours ago, baldilocks said:

Actually the initial post and the persons subsequent responses perfectly illustrate why top riders don't get fived. As soon as some negative feedback or query of the original post was made the poster begins to backtrack. Not getting at you @Intotrials  but this is just an online chat, the winner of the SSDT is not determined on this conversation. 

Now imagine standing in front of a couple of hundred spectators, fiving Dibs, Doug or Gary Mc and sticking to your guns. 

Exactly and though I feel strongly about things not being fair across the board its very easy to get caught up in not offending people in the process. I don't want to criticise observers because the vast majority are decent folk who give up their free time to endure bad weather so we can enjoy a good days sport. They also, as been mentioned here, sometimes get pressured into making decisions they probably feel are incorrect. This can also be off putting for the observer and may result in them not volunteering again! 

Most clubs struggle to get people to observe so I believe they should be supported by the organizers and the rules adhered to for ALL riders with no exception. Maybe when a rider or minder complains to the observer beyond what is reasonably acceptable the observer is given the option to give the rider a 10 for getting abused. 

There is an observer at our local club who sticks strictly to the rules. If its no stop and you pause for even a brief second you are fived. This seems a bit harsh and trust me, I have felt victimized when fived by this person for what I thought was a great ride. But he is the same with every rider, no exception. I witnessed him give a five to a "top" rider once for a brief pause. There was hell to pay, but he stuck to his guns and the score stood (not sure if the rider appealed to the organisers).

I just felt that in the SSDT this year a couple of incidents were so blatantly fives, it took off the shine for me personally. I witnessed some myself and I and some of my friends have seen video footage of some, which has now mysteriously been deleted.   Cheating goes on in all sports to an extent, lets face it some people are chance'rs and if they are allowed to get away with something once will often expect it all the time. 

In the grand scheme of things the results may not be much different either way, I'm just appealing to the clubs and organizers to try their best to keep our great sport fair for all.  

Edited by Intotrials

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+To me consistency is the key you can't be easy on the clubmen and then hard on the good lads. I've observed at the SSDT and I feel most  observers like myself try to be very lenient. Remember these riders are all trying hard under very difficult conditions and have paid  well for the privilege. Never had any issues with the observing up there and have never felt the need to question an observer and I've ridden a few times including last week.  

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4 hours ago, breagh said:

+To me consistency is the key you can't be easy on the clubmen and then hard on the good lads. I've observed at the SSDT and I feel most  observers like myself try to be very lenient. Remember these riders are all trying hard under very difficult conditions and have paid  well for the privilege. Never had any issues with the observing up there and have never felt the need to question an observer and I've ridden a few times including last week.  

Absolutely (my bold) though my grumble is I witnessed the opposite to what you mention. I saw a top rider blatantly five a section, he got stuck on a rock, stopped dead, went backwards off the rock to recover and struggled a while to get moving again to continue the section - not a, "well the observer was just lenient" situation in my eyes.  It was videoed and now has suddenly "disappeared" from the web.

I love trials and I love the SSDT I just don't want the scoring to turn into a farce. As you say people pay good money for the privilege to ride the event, surely everyone deserves a fair result at the end?     

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6 hours ago, breagh said:

+To me consistency is the key you can't be easy on the clubmen and then hard on the good lads. I've observed at the SSDT and I feel most  observers like myself try to be very lenient. Remember these riders are all trying hard under very difficult conditions and have paid  well for the privilege. Never had any issues with the observing up there and have never felt the need to question an observer and I've ridden a few times including last week.  

this is probably where the problem lies, being lenient is not always fair. I think it was last year that richard Sadler rode big Dars clean and no stop where as others paused and got the same score.

If observers are individually consistent its better but not really the answer.

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