Star Gazing

I haven’t contributed to TC for a while, but I’ve just been reading through some of the forums and there are two significant subjects that are on the go at the moment.

Whilst I don’t want to get into deep discussion about section marking flag colours – even though I do approve of a standardised set of colours throughout the UK – the point I am picking up on from these discussions is how many of those posting (presumably trials secretaries) are making remarks to the effect “our club can’t afford “ to do whatever is being suggested.

Sorry folks, but I simply do not see how any trials club can be short of money. I think I may have brought this subject up in the long distant past, but by charging £12 or £15 for a trial entry, clubs MUST make money – unless they are giving the surplus away to landowner’s or making payments to their club officials for their time and commitments.
The cost per rider of organising a trial is fairly standard across the country – or so I believe – as insurance is a set amount, the ACU Levy is a set amount, the ACU Legal Fund is a set amount, with the only variables being the amount local centres levy on a trial entry.

Let me give a breakdown on figures: Insurance £2.70, Legal Fund Levy 50p, ACU Levy £1.50, Permit (assuming 60 riders in the trial) 25p, Centre Levy (for the North West) 30p, Centre Team Fund Levy (again for the North West) 20p, odds and sods (postage, observer sheets) a generous £1. That’s a total of just £6.45. Add to that what, if any, the club pays to the landowner and there has to be a £2.55 profit per rider on a £12 entry fee and a £5.45 profit on a £15 entry fee. Multiply that by even a small entry of 45 riders and there’s still £114.75 profit from the trial. So how come some trials clubs say they are not making money?

No doubt I have got it all wrong in the eyes of some secretaries, but those are the figures as I see them and I would be delighted to learn how an entry fee is broken down by other clubs.

Do let me know where I’m wrong!

My second subject of discussion is regarding the ACU’s suggestions about licencing systems/club memberships. Again this can only be a personal opinion, but as a club secretary club memberships are a pain in the backside. For a £5 membership fee, there is simply too much work to do, keeping a spreadsheet of member’s details, issuing membership cards, requesting to see them at a trial and checking to see if a rider is a member and therefore eligible for end of year championship awards.

My club has simply decided to grant all riders automatic membership when they enter our trials and if they want their application for a Registration Card signed and stamped, then I am happy to do so.

Here’s one to get you going. I say that in general trials riders are NOT motorcyclists. By the term motorcyclist, I mean a person who is interested in all forms of riding motorcycles. In my opinion, he has to have a deep interest in at least two forms of the sport and a passing interest in all other aspects of bikes, both sporting and road riding, and in my view, most of the guys I mix with may well have trialing deeply engraved into their psyche, when it comes to other biking aspects, they have little or no interest at all.

This is not a criticism, just a plain statement of fact, though I accept some are full blown bikers at heart, most are not, and in my opinion they are missing out.

Over the past month, as well as being involved in regular trials activity, I enjoyed a four day spell at the TT in the Isle of Man, and whilst weather conditions spoilt one day of racing, it was once again a great break from the usual hum-drum working week. There is no doubt that the TT remains a fantastic experience, and for me at least it was a real pleasure to see the real road racing aces tackle the infamous TT course. If you saw the ITV4 coverage, the names Keith Amor, Guy Martin, Dan Kneen, Conor Cummins, Micky and William Dunlop and many others will be familiar. But, as so often is the case, one man stood out from all the others, and he of course was John McGuinness who increased his TT results tally to 17 victories, 51 race finishes and 33 podiums; second only to Joey Dunlop who has 26 wins to his credit.

McGuinness is the real class act. Not only the fastest rider around the course, he remains the smoothest and most intelligent, knowing when to race for the win and when to play it safe. It’s only when you are actually there does one realise the enormity of what they do and they all have my total admiration.

McGuinness of course lives in Morecambe, just down the road from where I live and though he only knows me as “you’re the trials man” via one of his friends who travelled to many enduros with me, on the Monday after the TT, I was passing his house where said friend was doing some work for him.

As they enjoyed a coffee break, I offered him my congratulations on his week’s achievements and asked a few questions, in particular why he raced at number one this year; what were the advantages and disadvantages. The plus points were numerous – first on the road, nobody to get in his way and everybody else has to do the chasing, in fact he felt that he had the entire circuit all to himself. All sensible and understandable comments.

And the minus points? “I hit four birds during the week and the pheasant that caught me in the ribs really hurt”.

A great guy and a true, personable star.

And the best place to watch was Bishopscourt where our group chatted aimiably with trials men from Lincoln, Paul Marwood and Adam Frith and their friends. An enjoyable afternoon.

As you will know from previous columns, I like all aspects of bike sport, but it’s 33 years since I’ve been to speedway and last weekend, our road biking quartet went to Cardiff for the British Speedway GP at the Millenium Stadium. Another great night, but I never spotted a trials rider that I knew, though I bet some were there.