The November ‘View from BA House’

The eagle eyed among you will have spotted the last ‘View’ seemed to just ‘stop’ without the punchline Ba usually pulls. Well Ba blames the computer – who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? – I bet he’s been a past master at ‘the cheques in the post’ – for not sending his complete missive, so here is the full version


The View from BA House

I went to the Mitchell Trial recently over in South Wales.The Mitchell has to be one of my favourite trials,I’ve been watching it for ages.In the early days it started in the town of Neath,the start being in an  engineering works,which has sadly gone now.I remember that the riders were treated to a proper  Breakfast,eggs,bacon and fried bread,and the Mayor of Neath turned up to flag everyone away.Like all the Nationals in those days it was a day-long ride for the competitors,and they would have had a lovely time,visiting hidden valleys and riding over miles of trackless mountain  moorland.
Sadly that’s all gone now and like every other ” Modern” National the Mitchell is held in just one place. This year the course was near Newbridge in South Wales,at a farm with an unpronouncable name beginning with M,and you reached it by way of a five-mile drive up a single-track lane.The place was super,set in a steeply wooded combe with a little rocky stream running through it.There was everything you would need to lay out a perfect short National course.
But watching a British-Championship trial these days is like going to the Pantomime.Sadly it’s not a serious contest anymore.It’s now all about free-style riding.You can still enjoy the skills of the riders for a while though,but eventually it gets boring,all that jumping up and down stuff,so I left early and went home the pretty way.
Unfortunately when you get back to your own Centre,if you agree to observe,then you have to be prepared to put up with all this nonsense in your own back yard.As is usual the great majority of the riders these days are trouble free,it’s just in the A class route where all the grief is to be found.When I’m observing my heart sinks as the experts appear,because I know that they will be looking for every way,short of threatening me with a gun,to gain an advantage.I’ve stood there watching the usual stuff, footing with feet on rests,using the knee and elbow to convince the observer that you are still riding the motorcycle,etc, but in the last two trials they’ve tried something new,well new to me anyway.
What they all did was ride up past where they wanted to be,stop and turn through 90 degrees,then hop sideways back down the hill.At the time I thought it was my birthday,for they’d all gone backwards,job done,fives all round.
But really I suppose it depends on what “going backwards” amounts to in the modern game.I’m pretty sure that the experts would argue that they can’t be going backwards if they’re hopping sideways,but some would say that returning down a hill to the place you’ve just left is going backwards.Still it doesn’t matter that much,the only problem is that observers like me aren’t really able to keep up with all these cunning plans,so perhaps it’s time to let the experts do their own marking.We can trust them to do that  surely ?
Watching trials over the years you get to collect quite a lot of pleasant memories.A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch Ian Fortune’s latest triple-salko accident.( How he does it without hurting himself is a mystery to me.),and I did also see a most unusual incident at a charity trial in Somerset.It was run without observers,with the riders in teams of three and marking each other,so it was obviouslywide open to all sorts of things.Well there was some serious gardening going on,and by the time the first rider had finished preparing the section a large rock and a nice little Beech tree had been cleared out of the way.Satisfied he got on his bike,rode two yards on flat ground into the section,and then dived straight over the handlebars.That was good to see.
It’s sad to hear that we’ve lost another promising rider from our game.Evidently she was sick and tired of getting beaten up by the trials sections.I can sympathise with that for I packed up riding for that very same reason.Really organisers of Youth trials have got it all wrong.Instead of trying to find a Dougie Lampkin replacement quickly they should go longer term and concentrate on entertaining the majority of the entry.Good riders will rise to the top naturally,we don’t have to try to force the issue.In my opinion the Youth organisers would do well to lay out a course similar to Classic trials where the competition is won on nought,where no-one falls off and everyone goes home losing less than twenty marks.Most of the little ones would lap that up.   Ba

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