In Bal­ance

It is the aim of all tri­als rid­ers to go clean…

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents -

The fluid and volatile world of dirt bikes is food for thought as the edi­tor looks back 56 years as Dougie Lamp­kin equals Gor­don Jackson’s one mark win.

… and record the per­fect score, of course the bet­ter the rider then the more chance there is of this hap­pen­ing. As I was busily writ­ing this col­umn or, to be more cor­rect sit­ting star­ing at the com­puter screen and won­der­ing what I could write about, news came in of Dougie Lamp­kin equalling Gor­don Jackson’s ‘one dab’ win in the SSDT.

Im­me­di­ately the fo­cus of this is­sue’s col­umn changed and the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two ‘one dab’ wins be­came ap­par­ent. First off, though the event has evolved con­sid­er­ably since Jackson’s win in 1961, it is still a long, tough event in 2017. It may not start and fin­ish in Ed­in­burgh any­more and those who rode in the days when it did may make com­ment about how short the trial is now. Don’t for­get, though, the Scot­tish was con­sid­er­ably longer than its con­tem­po­rary tri­als in 1961 and as all tri­als are shorter these days the Scot­tish of 2017 is still longer than any other trial.

The ter­rain too is still the un­for­giv­ing high­lands of Scot­land, which can catch out mod­ern rid­ers just as eas­ily as it did 56 years ago… or in­deed any year from the event’s in­cep­tion in 1909.

Yes, we know the ma­jor­ity of even works pre­pared ma­chines in Jackson’s era were not that far re­moved from their road­ster sta­ble­mates and in these days of ul­tra­spe­cial sin­gle pur­pose ma­chines there are no road equiv­a­lents. To view sec­tions of more than half a cen­tury ago with mod­ern eyes and mo­tor­cy­cles is un­fair, as in their day those sec­tions were the top test of a rider then, as are mod­ern sec­tions to­day.

Though the Bri­tish fac­to­ries had a road­ster range to pub­li­cise and wanted their top man mounted and win­ning on some­thing which at least re­sem­bled a road bike from their range, AMC did con­cede the sport was chang­ing and had al­lowed their comp depart­ment to build a bike to Gor­don’s taste and needs. The Ver­tigo which Dougie rides was con­ceived solely as a tri­als bike, there’s no – to my knowl­edge at least – Ver­tigo Cruiser or Knee­down sports bike.

Okay, the rid­ers, both Lamp­kin and Jackson are multi-win­ners of the Scot­tish – four for Gor­don and an in­cred­i­ble 11 for Dougie – and at the time of their win nei­ther was in the first flush of youth­ful abil­ity. Gor­don for in­stance would soon re­tire from top line two-wheeled sport in favour of his farm and the odd-ball sport of car tri­als. Dougie on the other hand seems to be pow­er­ing away de­spite be­ing over 40 and there is lit­tle sign of him re­tir­ing. If any­thing, this al­most­clean Scot­tish is more than likely to fire him up for next year as he came so close to a com­pletely clear run in 2017.

Though Gor­don went on to make his in­deli­ble mark in car tri­als when his twowheeled ca­reer was over, he had also com­peted in scram­bling and en­duros for AMC, though mod­estly claim­ing to be more of a tri­als rider than any­thing else he was cer­tainly good enough to win at all three dis­ci­plines.

Dougie Lamp­kin doesn’t re­strict him­self to the feet-up side of the sport ei­ther, as he is a noted ex­treme en­duro rider and has re­cently com­pleted a non­stop wheelie around the Isle of Man race course… all 37 and a bit miles of it.

Just to back­track slightly to this car tri­als lark, in case you didn’t know, the sport has sim­i­lar­i­ties to the two- and three-wheeled ver­sion we’re fa­mil­iar with. There is a course, with a var­ied ter­rain and it is di­vided into sec­tions where spindly, light­weight ma­chines at­tempt a clean run through. Mark­ing dif­fers as there is lit­tle chance to dab with your foot in a car so the sec­tion mark­ers are graded, rather like graded hill climbs in two-wheeled tri­als, the mark­ers passed de­pict the driver’s score. The skills re­quired to take a car around a tri­als course are quite sim­i­lar to those needed to take a mo­tor­cy­cle round and cen­tre on weight dis­tri­bu­tion and find­ing grip. These are the skills Messrs Jackson and Lamp­kin have in buck­et­fuls so maybe there’s a chal­lenge for Dougie…

Okay, back on to mo­tor­cy­cle sport. Rid­ing kit for the two lads has changed a bit and while a flat cap, Bar­bour suit – its pock­ets bulging with tools and spares – and pos­si­bly ex-fire ser­vice boots was the tri­als rider’s cho­sen wear for Jackson and his con­tem­po­raries in 2017, even Pre-65 rid­ers wear more mod­ern gear. It seems as though ev­ery rider these days has a back-pack stuffed with all sorts of tools and equip­ment, plus a wa­ter car­rier for es­sen­tial hy­dra­tion. It is pos­si­ble the waxed cot­ton gen­er­a­tions would have ap­pre­ci­ated the drinks car­rier… how­ever there is one fi­nal sim­i­lar­ity be­tween Gor­don and Dougie’s one dab win…both dabs were caught on cam­era and it re­mains to be seen if the ‘Lamp­kin Dab’ be­comes as fa­mous as the late Peter How­dle’s shot of the ‘Jackson Dab’ on Grey Mare’s Ridge high above Kin­lochleven in 1961.

If any­thing, this al­most- clean Scot­tish is more than likely to fire him up for next year as he came so close to a com­pletely clear ” run in 2017 Tim Brit­ton

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