The Problem Of Being too Popular

Here’s a question that I thought I could answer easily, but after some consideration, perhaps it’s not that easy after all.

What makes one national trial regularly over-subscribed, needing a ballot to select the entry list, whilst another national trial, that to all intents and purposes is just as good, is never over-subscribed, and where you can possibly get a last minute ride?

Here are some examples. The best known of the regularly full to bursting trials will be the Scottish Six Days for which the entry applications regularly exceed the available rides, this year by over 200 keen riders, eager to enjoy their Highland Holiday. Riders are almost prepared to go to war to get a ride.

The Pre 65 Scottish Two Day Trial is another for which one hundred and eighty riders are permitted. Applications regularly double that number and more and more and more riders try to get in every year. Riders even travel to Kinlochleven in the hope that they can get a ride at the start.

The Eboracum Club’s Colonial Trial is perhaps less familiar to many riders yet as it is limited to about 135 competitors, Denise Ellis frequently has to turn away another eighty or so, sometimes even more. Then there’s the Reeth Three Day. Angela Sunter told me that last year she sent out over 500 sets of regs (what a job, stuffing and stamping all those envelopes), all for an entry of about half that number.

The Cleveland Trial, held in mid-March over on the far east coast of Yorkshire, is an event where any number of riders get their entry returned once the total has been reached, and of course there’s the Lakes Two Day where 180 are allowed but secretary Mick Wren usually has to send back a couple of dozen or so. I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point .

Then there is any number of good nationals where getting an entry is absolutely no trouble at all. The forthcoming Bemrose is a cracking trial, held in cracking countryside, but entries are regularly sought in the weeks preceeding the event. The Alan Trial in June, up in the north east part of the Lake District is another that never gets a full house. Cumberland County would love to have 125 riders take part, but they are lucky if they get 80 turn up.

Then there are some of the Midland, Welsh and South Western based nationals like the Colmore, Welsh Trophy, Knut, West of England, Lyn Traders, Otter Vale Presidents; some are reasonably well supported whilst others barely attract enough riders to make it worthwhile. All the trials have their good points, but there’s no way they are anywhere near as popular as some of those mentioned earlier.

So is there a common factor which makes one trial a candidate for over-subscription, whilst another is always searching for entries? It’s difficult to analyse.

The two Scottish events, the Six Days and Pre 65, are probably self-explanatory. They are used as holidays, and “the place to go, ride and be seen”, hence the reason they are always full to bursting. There may well be other reasons as well, some say that returning the Six Days to no-stop was a defining factor, but I believe that decision occured at a time of greater enthusiasm for the sport as a whole, and wasn’t necessarily a crucial moment.

I can never see why the Colonial and Cleveland are always so full. Both are excellent trials but both can be prone to some atrocious weather, and they are in fairly remote locations, not easily reached without lots of travelling. But having said that, they are both very good trials with sensible sections that suit the majority which is as good a reason as any for me and a good many others ensuring they get their entries off in plenty of time.

The Reeth is an obvious candidate for a max entry, quite simply it’s the best single trial of the year – at least it is for those that no longer desire a SSDT ride. Three days around some fantastic Yorkshire Dales makes for an unforgettable Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July. Incidentally, don’t forget that this year Reeth regs will not be posted out, they will only be available from the club’s website from March 4.

The same applies for the Lakes Two Day, and whilst it is now sound and secure, it did suffer a bit with the section plotters trying to outdo each other in severity, however, that has now been addressed and it’s no problem getting a full house down to Broughton-in-Furness.

Perhaps one of the reasons some trials are heavily over-subscribed is due to their location. Generally they are in the north of the UK, which provides the best trials terrain and also has the greater number of riders. That makes it unfortunate for southern based clubs trying to get a decent entry, though having said that, I can well remember the days when events like the West of England, Otter Vale Presidents and the much lamented Clayton and Beggars Roost trials had huge entries – 275 in the case of the two latter Wood Green club events.

Following all the above, what’s the single factor that makes them as popular as they are? For what it’s worth, my opinion is that they are all eminently rideable. Not one of them has sections that are “iffy” for the class of rider on whatever course they are tackling.

Some might say it’s down to good countryside, good organisation, the events being easily accessible or even tradition, but I don’t agree. Sure these features have their good points, but in the end, I think it’s down to rideability.

As this is now the fourth column for Trials Central, in a few weeks it will be possible to see how this column is developing. Already my ideas about the subject matter has changed, primarily because I can read the forum comments and can understand how the reader adapts the subject I have written about into his/her personal situation.

A case in point was Highland Lassie’s long analysis of how she selects the riders for the Scottish. I was aware of the selection process though not in quite so much detail as she described, but I guess few others were similarly familiar. It has helped open up the subject and perhaps allowed us as a group of enthusiasts to understand better the whys and wherefores of that particular subject.

And with every subject on TC having a readership count, I can tell when folks get on-line to read. Certainly a column hit of over 1400 in the first 27 hours of its appearance was satisfying. Naturally it slows down a bit mid-week before attracting more views in the couple of days before the next one appears.

So, wait now for Sunday afternoon when version five appears – when I get round to writing it!