The View from Ba-House
Sometimes you don’t mind being proved wrong,so it’s good to see that my opinion, that the A class in Wessex trials was doomed, was way off the mark. No sooner had I written that no-one seemed to want to ride it, than at the next trial all the riders who had left for good returned .Colin Crease escaped over the wire, Andy Noad and Ian Fortune were issued with passes to ride by their leaders, and Jonathon Bees returned after a long absence. So it’s not dead after all and Lee Hassall has got some real competition again.
The situation on the organising side is not so rosy, for in all the trials I’ve visited this year it has been the same old story, not enough observers. Nothing new in that, I suppose, but this year has been particularly bad with as few as three willing observers available at the start of some trials.
So why will nobody observe these days? I think it’s because it ain’t no fun anymore. If you go observing you’ve got to watch at least three different routes, be aware of all the latest rule changes, and be prepared to take a bit of verbal abuse from some of the better riders. If your observing a four-lap trial, with fifty riders, that’s four hundred decisions, which can make your brain hurt. (When I was little you would only have to watch a hundred or so go up a simple hill, and if they stopped they fell over. It was boy’s work in comparison.) So,at the risk of being proved wrong twice in a lifetime ,I don’t think we’re ever going to solve this problem, we’re going to have to live with it.
At the moment we’re making the best of a bad job, by leaving the riders to self-mark the sections that aren’t manned. It’s obviously open to abuse by the cheats amongst the entry, but at least we get a result of sorts to which nobody seems to object. If we continue to use this strategy, which we will until something better comes along, then I’ve got two suggestions that might help make it run smoother.
First of all we could stop the unpleasantness, between observer and rider ,by making it an offence for the rider to try to discuss his mark with the observer. Secondly we could ensure that all the sections marked by the riders are the real easy ones,thereby lowering the effect of their “over- generous” decisions to the result.
When I started riding in trials they were organised as all-day affairs, with single-lap routes of thirty miles and more. Most of the pleasure came from riding the route, going to places you’d never seen before, and the sections were there just to add spice to the day. Modern trials are held in one small area and are over in about two hours. That’s what people want, the motorcycling equivalent of a round of golf, and home before three. So perhaps we should take a cue from our golfing friends and seek to run the majority of our trials like a round of golf. We could take the rider’s money at the start, point him towards the first section and let him get on with it. For the organiser there’d be no observers to find, no results to post,and it would be a nice little earner for the club or individual.
But we need not abandon competitive trials altogether. We could still organise one once a month during the Winter for those who want to compete, and we should maybe return once again to the better old ways. We could make them single-route, non-stop and put in as many sections as is possible, but we need only count those sections that have been observed by an official. Just to make it really fair we ought to stop the riders from walking in the sections,thereby lessening the effects of all that gardening that goes on.
PS. There’s a chance I could be wrong again, I’ve just come back from a closed-to-club trial and they had plenty of observers. Still there you are, being a prophet has always been a bit dodgy. Ba