Northerners in Scotland – a personal view

Northerners in Scotland – a personal view

Before another word is typed, apologies if I have missed somebody, but this little piece is a very PERSONAL review of the Northern Centre riders who took part in the Scottish Six Days Trial this year, writes MIKE RAPLEY.

As far as I can see, there were 16 Northern Centre based riders in this year’s trial and the only retirement, much to his regret with a seized engine was Nick Shield, which was a great shame as he along with Michael Irving were riding as a charity duo for the Make-a-Wish fund which was Nick’s wife Diane’s wish before she passed away in January last year. It happened on Wednesday morning coming down off the tops above the Mamore Road, and though it could have been repaired overnight for Nick to ride for no award, he chose to support his friend Michael Irving with the help of Andrew Bingley, with Mike finishing the trial with a second class award in position 142. But Nick did have a great Pre 65 trial result the previous weekend.

Best of the Cumbrian riders was Steve Dixon with 38th place and perhaps surprising was Sam Myers just missing out on a Special First by two placings whilst his brother David also got a First Class but a further 55 places lower. Good efforts from two riders who don’t ride trials so regularly these days.

Richard Gaskell managed to get a ride at fairly short notice, and so he should as he’s one of the stalwarts that support the event and who takes it all in his stride. His clean of Lower Mamore on wet Wednesday morning was undoubtedly one of the neatest seen.

James Postlethwaite was another rider to be phoned by the club and offered a late entry after father Steve told me just a few days earlier that they had cancelled their bookings, convinced he would not get a ride. But James did and made the best of it to finish 74th, some seven places ahead of Jimmy Johnson with only eight marks between them, 181 to 189.

Paul Dixon rarely rides these days and is basically one of the support riders to eventual 13 time winner Dougie Lampkin. Whilst mentioning Lampkin, who is obviously not a Northern Centre rider, I do wish to make the point that the adverse social media comments that have been made about him are totally out of order in my opinion. Perhaps fortunately, I saw several of the alleged controversial losses and  I would have observed him exactly as the observers in the trial did. Those who make comments with the benefit of phone cameras should realise that observing judgements are made on the spur of the moment and are generally based on judgements made about the results from less able riders. Because the guy is better, doesn’t mean he has to be judged more critically. Lampkin was simply brilliant and a most deserving winner. Thirteen wins in a 27 year time span will never be beaten – unless Dougie makes it 14 another time.

Also in the First Class Awards list were Stuart Gaskell and Jamie Bingley, both with a steady performance in what was undoubtedly a difficult SSDT.

Nobody at the age of 68 should be capable of riding the Scottish, but of course nobody else is Nigel Birkett riding his 49th SSDT. The Scorpa importer just missed out on a First Class by three places and six marks. Will Nigel go for his 50th ride in 2023? Don’t bet against it.

John Holland is not a Northern Centre resident, but he would like to be and of course rides in our Centre regularly so for the benefit of this piece, he’s being included. Johnno was 196th, complete with 2 replacement knees so good on him for doing the trial yet again.

Drew Morten swapped from his Vertigo to a Montesa for the trial and in my opinion it was not the best move to make. Watching from the banksides makes everybody a  bench racer and there’s no doubt that the 4RT, unless it is in the hands of someone special, doesn’t seem to be the best weapon for the job. It may be ultra reliable and a machine to thrash on the road but few can manage them as well in the sections as they would with a two-stroke.

Which comes now to the father and son duo, Jim and Tom Hudson. Both have ridden the trial previously, though the last time Jim suffered a nasty crash which took him some time to get over. Along with Tony Wild, the three were planning a group ride but despite arriving with his bike to try and get an entry on Sunday weigh-in day having failed through the ballot, it was not to be leaving Jim and Tom to battle it out together. So well done to both, Tom with 152nd position and well up the Second Class list and Jim a Finishers Award after a determined effort to get the trial done. Well done which also applies to all the Northern riders who took part.

You all have my admiration.