Scotland part 8

Scotland part 8

Wednesday evening May

In all the years I’ve been coming to Scotland for the SSDT, rarely have I done anything else other than watch the trial. Once I went to Mallaig on the train with Stephanie Wood and Norrie Whyte, once I went on a boat trip to Mull and then out to see Fingles Cave, once I took my daughter horse riding. So most times I have spent the whole time watching bikes. But not today!!

We did actually go to the second group this morning, Lower Mamore, (we being myself and Angus Jenkinson), but then at Angus’s suggestion we got the pedal bikes out and rode the length of the Caledonian Canal from Caol until the towpath finished at the southern end of Loch Ness. Apparently at this time of year, the Loch Ness Monster holidays in the Himalayas disguised as a Yeti.

Back to the trial now after my ramblings. The second section of the group was a tough one, marked about 20 metres further up the stream than it was last year and whilst there were plenty of cleans, you really had to be on it to get a coveted zero.

There’s always much discussion about the level of observing. The lady marking this section, together with a gentleman, was strict, yet very fair with a sensible degree of tolerance. She gave a three if a rider struggled his way to the ends card and may perhaps have stopped momentarily , no matter the rider’s ability. But come to a positive stop for much more than a couple of seconds, then it was a five.

And she also gave a score for ‘kneeing’ the bank, ‘elbowing’ the grass and even for ‘shouldering ‘ the tree close to the end. All these actions benefitted the rider, but also were as effective as a dab with a foot, so awarding a single mark for any of those actions was right and proper. Several challenging riders will have left the section in the belief they had lost, for example a dab, but will see from the results they will have had a two – or three for an expected two. Totally correct and I believe good to see.

It’s difficult to report exactly how our boys from the Northern Centre are doing at this stage on Wednesday evening as whilst Live Results enables everybody to keep an eye on the rider they are following, retirements and exclusions are not recorded as such situations are only on the master set of results the next morning.

What is a fact is that the end of Wednesday may well mean half the trial has been completed, but I believe that it’s Thursday that can often be the really testing day. Get to the end of day four and the finish really is in sight, but equally, it’s the time when the body is probably at its extreme, and riders, at least at the levels we are interested in, have to dig deep to keep going and plug on to the end.

Lead picture, Jack Dixon gets some words of wisdom from Uncle Roy.