Time to Retire the Old-Timers

Unfortunately I shall never ride a Scottish Six Days Trial again. Too old, not fit enough, not good enough, though probably the order should be not good enough, not fit enough, too old. The first I can do little about, but I could overcome the second, whilst the third doesn’t actually matter that much if the ability is there.

Anyway, just like the 275 fortunate riders that have been allocated a ride, I was onto the SSDT website (via Trials Central of course) last Saturday night eager to see the final, definitive list and the riding numbers.

Many of the regular names are there as one expects, but shock, surprise, I spotted the name of Glen Scholey, and sorry if I pick out Glen for this little story, but hard luck, it fits the moment.

I’ve no idea when Glen last rode the Scottish, though he has been to Scotland in recent years, looking very fit, capable and very interested in the trial. That’s obviously the case, hence his entry, and I have no doubt he will cope very well with the trial. He always had loads of ability, but I have to warn riders that have numbers close to his and will be riding the trial with him.

Now, I very much hope he will not take offence at this, but Glen is shrewd. Nothing wrong in that you may say, but when I rode the trial back in the early 'eighties, I rode with Glen all week, or more accurately, we had numbers very close together and inevitably were at the same section at the same time. So what am I getting at?

Glen has a real knack (or had!) of getting his bike parked right at the start of the section, and it was usually right where I was trying to line up for the start of the hazard. Many times over the week I had to give him some stick about where he had parked, and it all fell on totally deaf ears, after all I was the scrubber and he the ace. I truly hope that now, some 25 years later, Glen can see the funny side of all this, but watch out you riders close to his number, if there’s a bike in the way, bet it’s Glen’s

Anyway, the final effect is that now, and for the 25 years since, I too park right close to the front of every section, ignoring the occasional complaint with a remark passed off as humorous about age and infirmity!

It’s only mid-February but Scottish fever is very much upon the trials world. At recent events several riders and families have been remarking upon whether they have got a ride/not got a ride, and there have been a significant number of good lads who have not been successful in the ballot. We are assured it’s the luck of the draw, but whether it is or not, sometimes doesn’t matter as with a potential entry of over 450, inevitably there are going to be disappointments.

Do you drop some of the good, but capable riders who have ridden many times in favour of newcomers, or do you keep all the regulars in the entry and ignore, again, those that may have been trying to get a ride for years? Can’t tell you I’m afraid – I’m simply glad it’s not my job to sort it all out.

But, whilst I never try to be contentious, it has to be said that there are some names in this year’s list that definitely should not be there. There are a number of old stagers who have been riding for year after year after year and many of them should have given up long ago.

If I had less sense, I could have entered every year for the past ten years and probably got a ride. But I recognised that the last time I rode was one too many (sorry if you’ve read that before), and it’s time some of those that struggle round now realised the same.

So, let me say here and now, any rider in this year’s trial who does not make a bona-fide attempt to ride every section of every group should be out. I’ve stood at sections for years and said and listened to the remarks made that say in effect, why is he bothering when he’s taking the place of a good rider who hasn’t got in. Riding the Scottish is not about following the flags and when you get to a section, putting the front wheel in, take a five and press on. Riding the SSDT is about following the course, stopping at every section, walking it, planning your attempt, joining the queue and making a bona-fide attempt at getting up it.

Gosh, got that off my chest, I’ve been wanting to say that for ages. No doubt some will agree and some will not.

As this is now the third column for Trials Central, I was most pleased to see the previous two columns have attracted some very sensible forum discussion pieces. Naturally, I’ve read them all, and will continue to do so. However, don’t expect me to follow up each column with an in-depth answering session on the previous week’s missive. That way, the column never gets off the previous subject. I will pick up on points, but don’t be offended if you’ve taken the trouble to post and there’s no reply. Rest assured I will have read them and inwardly digested them for possible discussion in later columns.

And next week will feature…wait and see!!!