Rapper's View On The World Of Trials


rapleySome things can make you feel really humble. Three weeks ago I was up in Scotland again, at Aviemore for the Highland Classic Two Day Trial on the wonderful Alvie Estate when Spanish rider Javier Cruz took me to one side.


“I really like to read your column on Trials Central, but now, you do not make one. Why is this?”


So how does one explain that after writing more than 480 columns one wants to give up. In fact I decided to reduce my output simply because it was so difficult, week after week to come up with something new. And then of course, once you don’t have to do it every week, it’s easy to drop out altogether. But I’ve never wanted to do that, so I do promise to continue, if only on an occasional basis.


So for you Javier my friend, here’s another 1000 words or so – and for the many other trials fans who have asked me the same question.


So where do I start after such a long lapse? First of all let me say that I have recovered very well from my heart surgery and am back to somewhere approaching 100% fitness.

I do all that I want to do (and am able to do), working for as long as I wish, riding trials, riding my road bike, in fact just about everything as it was before. So thanks to those very many folks who have asked. Your concerns have been very much appreciated.


Having started back riding at Easter, it wasn’t long before Scotland came around and despite the 2013 event being my 37th visit to the trial, it is still as engrossing as ever. However, whilst many of the previous 36 have faded from my memory, I guess that this year’s event will remain at the front of my brain cells for many a long year.


By heck it was a wet week, beginning on Thursday as we travelled north for the Pre 65 trial where motorway signs warned of atrocious weather ahead. They were totally correct and as everyone who has the slightest interest in the sport will know, the first day was cut short and the second day of the Pre 65 was cancelled all together.


I’ve been asked many times my opinion and I’ll repeat it here without fear or favour. The decision to make major alterations to the Friday route and to eventually cut it from two laps of 15 sections back to one lap was totally the correct decision. However, the decision, made on Friday evening to cancel the second day was, to my mind, an appalling judgment, and even now, some eight weeks later, nothing that has happened or been said will change my mind.


As I saw it on Saturday morning – and this is not with hindsight, it’s what I said at the time – the sections along the Mamore Road were still marked out and if the organisers had considered a one lap using the small rock gully below Pipeline (can’t remember it’s name), then Pipeline, plus Garbh Bheinn plus the groups along the Mamore Road that are normally used (and which were already set out), I believe the trial could have gone ahead and everybody there would have been satisfied. As it is now, the club have a major confidence rebuild to manage before next year. And I’m glad to report that from what I have heard, that has already started and I am confident will re-establish the trial in the eyes of the Classic scene.


In complete contrast, despite the weather, the main Six Days was great with a load of new sections and changes of route that gave the trial a new setting. Clerk of the course Jeff Horne did a good job in my opinion and we took the opportunity to visit some sections that were both new and ones well off the beaten track.


The World Trials Championship seems to have settled down into the no-stop format, though I haven’t yet been to a no-stop British or world round. It looks as if the Spanish organisers got it wrong, but it’s easy to get setting out a trial wrong no matter whether it is a World round or a club evening trial.


The video posted on this site just before the Worlds started, to indicate how riders should be observed was interesting to say the least. I’m prepared to reserve judgement except to say that I remember when trials that allowed riders to stop, but not go backwards or forwards, for the loss of a mark each time was, arguably, the easiest to observe. It’s still the way the North West Centre observes (or should!) and works well in my humble opinion.


I’ve been observing quite a bit this year, having picked up a board or held a punch maybe ten times since January. In no-stop trials I’m generally generous, as being a rider I know how frustrating it is to be docked a five for a truly minor infringement when you are doing your very best to keep moving, equally, I have no hesitation to award a mark for a momentary stop when the rules allow. Quite simply, from the observer’s point of view, you don’t feel quite so guilty by awarding a one mark penalty as you doing giving a five!


You will have picked up from my mention of the Highland Classic Trial that I am Pre 65 mounted as well as modern bike mounted these days. Mixing the two disciplines is much more difficult than I anticipated. You may well think that at my age of 66 I would have loads of Pre 65 experience, but apart from the odd outing over the last four decades, I haven’t ridden a Pre 65 bike since I first started trialing and even then, it wasn’t long before I went the Bultaco route after a short spell with a Cub, an Enfield Crusader and a Cotton.


I spent some of my enforced recovery months fettling a 250 James that I bought a year ago and I’ve gone from hating it, to beginning a slow courtship, to quite a strong courtship, though time will tell if we ever fall in love!


I promise, the next column will be much sooner than this one has been to my previous effort. I’ve actually enjoyed sitting down writing this and I’ve done it in less than an hour. Hope you’ve enjoyed it Javier!


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