Dutch Rid­ers at the SSDT

With over 100 years of his­tory, this le­gendary tri­als event stands on its own in the world of mo­tor­cy­cling. Six days of pitch­ing man and ma­chine against the el­e­ments in the High­lands of Scot­land. Sec­tions in small streams, which can change into deep river

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The Scot­tish is in­com­pa­ra­ble; it grabs you by the throat, you are ad­dicted to it, love it or hate it. The real fans go time and time again, re­turn­ing to this rugged place on the earth. Per­haps first as a par­tic­i­pant, later as a spec­ta­tor or sup­porter, but in the first full week of May, you al­ways re­mem­ber the Scot­tish if you have ever been at this event. You’re touched by the first notes out of a bag­pipe played by a Scots­man, and you recog­nise the tune Amaz­ing Grace, you are in love with this event. For those who hate the Scot­tish bag­pipe mu­sic it is noth­ing more than ‘cats whine’, but in re­al­ity, it is a song writ­ten by John New­ton in 1725 when in Lon­don who later be­came a slave trader and fan­tas­tic mu­sic for the bag­pipes to make!

ELECTED

You need to be lucky to get to the start be­cause only 275/280 rid­ers can ride, and ev­ery year the trial is over­sub­scribed by at least 150-200 rid­ers. So the bal­lot has to de­cide if you are in or out. When you are ‘elected’ and re­ceive an en­try, empty your money-box, find some spon­sors or get some over­time at work be­cause it takes a lot of time and money to ar­rive at a well-pre­pared ma­chine. Then, as a for­eign com­peti­tor com­ing from the main­land, you need ex­tra money for the ferry cross­ing, your en­try fee, ac­com­mo­da­tion and travel ex­penses. Also, start to bud­get for tyres and parts dur­ing the week. Read books about the Scot­tish, of which there are many, and have a look at films on YouTube. You will then be bet­ter pre­pared be­fore you sign on to this unique trial.

The SSDT is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the World Tri­als and Na­tional Cham­pi­onships. For ex­am­ple, in the Dutch Open Cham­pi­onship, there are mul­ti­ple classes guided us­ing coloured ar­rows in the sec­tions. The colours in­di­cate the level of dif­fi­culty, which is com­pli­cated for the par­tic­i­pants and also for the spec­ta­tors be­cause they have to know the rules very well. The World Cham­pi­onships is very se­lec­tive and open to a small group of rid­ers to show off their skills. The haz­ards are quite danger­ous, and the rid­ers need a con­stant ‘min­der’ to help the Acro­bat or catch him when he falls off the ma­chine. The fac­tory rid­ers — such as World Cham­pion Toni Bou — have formed a whole team that helps them in the case of a me­chan­i­cal break­down or other in­con­ve­niences. A World Cham­pi­onship round can take up to two days per event and spec­ta­tors of­ten have to pay an en­trance fee.

What’s the dif­fer­ence with the SSDT, you may ask? The man­u­fac­tur­ers use it to prove the re­li­a­bil­ity of their ma­chines and the rider must do ev­ery­thing him­self, such as rid­ing and the ‘span­ners’ work on the ma­chine which proves the qual­ity of the brand of his ma­chine. No out­side help is al­lowed. It can hap­pen in se­cret and, if caught, the penalty is ex­clu­sion.

YES, IT IS SIX DAYS

Six days of con­tin­u­ous rid­ing, with around 30 sec­tions per day in a sin­gle lap. Each daily route is be­tween 120-190 kilo­me­tres (75-120 miles) long, which takes any­thing from six to eight hours on a mo­tor­cy­cle with no seat. Ev­ery rider at­tempts the same route and the same sec­tions. No dif­fer­ent ar­rows, as the ob­sta­cles are the same for ev­ery­one. That means big dif­fer­ences in the re­sults, for ex­am­ple.

Dougie Lampkin, a many-times win­ner, never parted with any marks on the Tues­day in 2016 but in com­par­i­son, the only Dutch rider, Peter Mil­tenburg, parted with 113 marks on his way to fin­ish­ing 179th on 586 marks lost. It’s just like the Olympic Games in some ways.

To com­pete and fin­ish means so much to the par­tic­i­pants, like you can never imag­ine; you be­come part of an ex­clu­sive club. But it’s not just rid­ing your ma­chine un­der ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances, no there is more to it. For ex­am­ple, there is a ro­tat­ing start sys­tem. On the first day (Mon­day) num­ber one starts first. The or­gan­i­sa­tion makes up groups of more or less 50 rid­ers; the first group starts the next day at the back of the field and the first rider of the se­cond group goes in front of the pack, and so on, just to make sure that ev­ery rider has the same op­por­tu­nity. Then you get a time card with all the ob­served sec­tions on it with your start and fin­ish­ing time. That’s no punch card for penal­ties.

As you ride each sec­tion, the ob­server records your score man­u­ally in his book. You will never know un­til you re­ceive the re­sults each night how many marks you have lost. You can ask them, but nine out of ten times the an­swer will be ‘carry on’. You can­not ques­tion the ob­server’s de­ci­sion. Com­pli­cated but fair is how the de­lay time is added to your time card if there are prob­lems such as queu­ing at the haz­ards, ar­riv­ing at a sec­tion where other rid­ers stay in a queue wait­ing to ride the sec­tions. A mar­shal will write down on the card your ar­riv­ing time when you en­ter the sec­tion, and he will give it back with the en­ter­ing time on it as well. At the end of the day, you can count the dif­fer­ences in time, com­par­ing with your to­tal rid­ing time. Dif­fi­cult but hon­est, and you get used to it.

It’s es­sen­tial that each day you plan and check your route and where you are go­ing. For the spec­ta­tors, it’s free to watch, but you will need a de­tailed map and a pro­gramme, so you know where the best van­tage points are. Even as a spec­ta­tor you will need all the cor­rect walk­ing gear, and wa­ter­proofs are es­sen­tial. You will also need to be rea­son­ably fit as the walks to the haz­ards are not al­ways easy. This Scot­tish Six Days Trial is cer­tainly for gen­uine lovers of the sport of mo­tor­cy­cle tri­als.

For the Lamp­kins it’s be­come a fam­ily af­fair, such is the suc­cess they have had in the event. They can boast wins from the three broth­ers; Arthur, Alan and the late great Martin who passed away in 2016. His legacy lives on though, with his two sons Harry and Dougie, who is also a many-times win­ner.

OLD DUTCH

I com­peted once; it’s ev­ery rider’s dream to com­pete and for some to win; for my­self it was a sur­vival test! Mon­tesa rider Eddy Mo­er­man did win a cov­eted Spe­cial First Class award in 1984 and, to­gether with two Bel­gian rid­ers Eddy Le­je­une (Honda) and Bernard Cor­don­nier (SWM), they also won the Club Award. Two other Spe­cial First Class awards were won, by René Op­stals in 1990 and ten-times Dutch Cham­pion Alex van Den Broek. Rene Op­stals’s first at­tempt in the Scot­tish was in 1988. He rode un­der the name of Rinie Ni­jssen and fin­ished in 85th at just sev­en­teen years old. When he re­turned two years later, he fin­ished 20th in the fi­nal re­sults, and he be­came a men­tor for Marco Reit, another Dutch Cham­pion. Marco Reit did not un­der­stand the ‘Scot­tish’, and he was prac­tis­ing be­side the sec­tions when de­lay time was awarded, and he ran out of petrol later that day… Alex van den Broek rode to a Spe­cial First Class award in 2000, but he did not have the real Scot­tish feel­ing.

That real Scot­tish feel­ing was found by the late en­ter­tainer/mo­tor­sport jour­nal­ist Cor Ter­maat. He brought his friend and also Dutch Champ Hans van Mar­wijk, who is now a fa­mous tri­als bike builder, to Scot­land for a hol­i­day in 1976. Van Mar­wijk hated the rain and cold, and af­ter a cou­ple of bad days, he missed Town Hall Brae in a hurry to fin­ish. His ma­chine was al­ready in the Parc Ferme when he found out. He bor­rowed a ma­chine from a Dutch spec­ta­tor, im­pro­vised his rid­ing num­ber on the front, and did Town Hall Brae. If he had been caught he would have been ex­cluded but he wasn’t, and he fin­ished!

Mart Bu­uron, another Dutch SSDT fan, did not even fin­ish the first group of haz­ards at Cal­lart Falls on day one in 1977. He dropped his Mon­tesa 348 and his petrol tank split, and the ma­chine was on fire. Plenty of wa­ter and mud stopped the fire, but the whole elec­tri­cal sys­tem was wrecked. He came back as a tri­als char­ac­ter with a spe­cial, painted petrol tank later 1978 — they called him the ‘Fry­ing Dutch­man’. 1978 has recorded on the list of par­tic­i­pants, the name of ‘Toon van de Vliet’ — that’s me rid­ing num­ber 207 on a Mon­tesa Cota 348.

Just two weeks be­fore the Scot­tish an Ital­ian SWM 320TL ar­rived and my spon­sor Vos-Oss, a mo­tor­cy­cle busi­ness, de­cided I had to ride it for the pub­lic­ity in the SSDT. Next, to my rid­ing skills as a top-ten fin­isher in the Dutch Cham­pi­onships, I was a free­lance jour­nal­ist. It was a good op­por­tu­nity, but I had no time to prac­tice on the SWM, and then I had to change the rear shocks to Dutch Koni’s, and a Twin air fil­ter had to be fit­ted be­cause at that time I was in­volved as a de­vel­op­ment rider to those brands. Then, I had to visit the fa­mous Bel­gian doc­tor Jo­han DerWe­duwen. I had ‘Ten­nis El­bow’, which he helped me with, and I had to ride, no ex­cuses. A ‘magic spray’ from the world of foot­ball helped a bit. I could open the throt­tle but not shut it!

I have many fond mem­o­ries from the week’s rid­ing, such as SWM Team Man­ager Sammy Miller re­fu­elling my ma­chine as I was in a small group of rid­ers us­ing the new Ital­ian ma­chines. One of them was a young John Hulme, with his dad Ron help­ing him. He was sev­en­teen years old, against me at thirty-four. The dif­fer­ence in age never dis­ap­pears of course, but we be­came close friends over the years. Both ad­dicted to tri­als and the SSDT writ­ten in cap­i­tals. And Mick and Jill An­drews were stay­ing next door in the Mer­cury Mo­tor Inn. Mick An­drews was suf­fer­ing from a back in­jury, and he had heard of the ‘magic spray’ I had. When he saw my wife with the cam­era and the spray he dropped his pants im­me­di­ately. Friends for life!

At the end of the week, I fin­ished some­where in the mid­dle of the re­sults. And yes I was pissed off; I got a Se­cond Class Award, but the other fin­ish­ing Dutch­men, Mart Bu­uron and Johnny van Delft, did win First Class Awards. I got over thirty-time penal­ties by fin­ish­ing more than half an hour too late at a lunch stop. I got a small sil­ver medal, not big­ger than a penny. They went home with a beau­ti­ful tankard but never re­turned. I did on more than twenty oc­ca­sions, not as a rider but as a jour­nal­ist, un­til the year 2000.

We had booked for 2001, but the Foot and Mouth dis­ease meant the event was can­celled. By then we were quite busy with the pub­lish­ing of our off-road magazine 2x2 Nop­pen­nieuws.

NEW DUTCH

As I al­ready said, we went back many times as re­porters, sup­port­ers and coach­ing young rid­ers. In our area lived many Dutch cham­pi­ons, and one of them was Peter van Enck­evort. He be­came seven times Dutch Cham­pion, and I can’t count how many times he rode the Scot­tish, rid­ing sev­eral ma­chines in­clud­ing Ossa, Fan­tic, Honda, and JCM.

The first time, at the begin­ning of the eight­ies, we were pre­par­ing him for his first ‘Scot­tish’. We made a plan af­ter we’d had a good look at the list of rid­ers, and seen that just in front of him was Ted Br­ef­fit. I told Peter to stay with him dur­ing the week; such was his vast ex­pe­ri­ence in the event. On the first day Peter ar­rived well in front of Ted, I asked ‘Where is Ted on the yel­low Ossa?’ Peter replied ‘That man is too slow for me. I passed him’. The new­comer had missed a com­plete hill — three sec­tions — on his first day ever in the SSDT. It took me two hours and a bot­tle of Dutch Gin to per­suade Jim McColm, the sec­re­tary — well be­fore Mieke Vos, a Dutch woman mar­ried to a Scots­man be­came the sec­re­tary in more re­cent times. With a laugh and a tear in his eyes, the Dutch cham­pion could fin­ish his first Scot­tish. No Award though, no chance with his ex­tra 150 penal­ties for miss­ing the three haz­ards — 50 marks per haz­ard. Van Enck­evort be­came a reg­u­lar com­peti­tor in Scot­land, most of the time to­gether with his friend Hugh Meier­dres.

Also, Mart Bu­uron took his friend Ruud Wal­rave to Fort Wil­liam many times, and on dif­fer­ent ma­chines. Most of the time the whole Dutch crew stayed in a B&B run by a Turk­ish woman, Lady Kiss­met. She had a spe­cial room re­served for clean­ing close to the cen­tral heater for the build­ing where rid­ing boots were also dried. Wal­rave took the dry, spare boots of Van Enck­evort by mis­take for an early start as Van Enck­evort had a late start and was still in bed. Peter van Enck­evort had size 47 boots that would fit every­body. They didn’t have din­ner to­gether that week any­more!

Peter van Enck­evort had a good ride on a Honda RTL250, fin­ish­ing the first day in the top ten on his way to fin­ish­ing 31st. His best ride was in 1987 on a Fan­tic fin­ish­ing 23rd. Meier­dres be­came the im­porter of the French JCM brand and Hugh Meier­dres, Peter van Enck­evort and Mark van der Lin­den to­gether made a JCM team — but not a very suc­cess­ful one. The link­age sys­tem broke on Van der Lin­den’s ma­chine, and he had to re­tire.

A lot of Dutch club­men from Hol­land rode the event just once, club rid­ers from the Baar­lose Trial Club (BTC) from nearby Venlo. This club is an or­gan­iser of Clas­sic Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship rounds as­sisted by Tjeu Schreurs, who be­came the Clas­sic Cham­pion a cou­ple of years ago on a BSA B40. Other Dutch Cham­pi­ons such as Peter van der Sluis, who had a spon­sored ride on a new Greeves, and Ewoud Lalkens have rid­den the event more re­cently.

In Hol­land, tri­als com­pe­ti­tions are more or less in­door tri­als in the coun­try­side. These are very dif­fer­ent from the re­li­a­bil­ity tri­als from yes­ter­year, which is a shame. The real cham­pi­ons like past SSDT win­ners Thierry Michaud and Gilles Bur­gat are still com­ing to Scot­land. Yrjo Ves­ter­i­nen rides in the fan­tas­tic Pre-65 event and doesn’t say Jordi Tar­res was the last World Cham­pion who won the Scot­tish, as Dougie Lampkin is a twelve-time World Cham­pion as well as a many-times SSDT win­ner!

Will my wife and I ever go to Fort Wil­liam, with a bag full of cam­eras, walk­ing for hours through the Moors? I don’t think so but never say never again. Two years ago we met, on the top of Mont Ven­toux, two Bri­tish tourists on mo­tor­cy­cles. One of them asked: ‘Sorry Sir, but is it pos­si­ble that I know you from the Scot­tish?’. Goose­bumps of course, but on top of that moun­tain? It is very cold.

Six Days of gru­elling rid­ing and fight­ing helped Toon to bring the SWM to the fin­ish of his one and only ride in the SSDT. Toon helps to pro­mote Hol­land and the fa­mous Clog shoes with Jill An­drews. Sammy Miller, on the right, was the SWM team man­ager in 1978. It was a priv­i­lege to have his help with the sup­port at the event. The best ever Dutch rider at the SSDT was Eddy Mo­er­man (Mon­tesa) in 1984.

Mart Bu­uron is bet­ter known as the ‘Fry­ing Dutch­man’ af­ter his Mon­tesa caught fire at Cal­lart Falls in the 1977 SSDT. Ted Br­ef­fitt on the left, with Dutch Cham­pion Peter van Enck­evort. John Wei­jers on an Orange Ossa 250. A young John Hulme in his first SSDT on his SWM. Yes, you meet your best friends in Scot­land. John and Toon re­main friends to this very day, with Toon a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to both Tri­alMagazine and its sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion Clas­sicTri­alMagazine. Liv­ing in the same vil­lage in Hol­land as Toon, Tjeu Schreurs, seen here in the SSDT on his Ossa, is still rid­ing in tri­als on his BSA.

Rob Snelder from Arn­hem in this beau­ti­ful land­scape. Shake a leg, Marco Reit – 12 times Dutch Cham­pion – not in love with the SSDT. Peter van Enck­evort, the best man of the Van Nunen JCM Team. Another Dutch Cham­pion, Frans Kooiman, finds out just how dif­fer­ent the SSDT is. Ruud Wal­rave, Dutch Brabo Team, in the ’stolen boots’ of Van Enck­evort.

Hugh Meier­dres rode many times in the Scot­tish; here he is on the JCM. His fa­ther was the im­porter for JCM in Hol­land. The third mem­ber of the JCM team did not fin­ish his one and only SSDT. He had to stop with a bro­ken link­age sys­tem. Another Dutch­man Eric Bu­ursema (Fan­tic) on Town Hall Brae. The Van Drunen JCM team at work chang­ing tyres. The blond guy is Rene Op­stals, alias Rinie Ni­jssen. Alex van den Broek – 10 times Dutch Cham­pion and trick-trial-rider – could not make any money in the SSDT, but shows off his rid­ing style. The Fer­sit sec­tions are fan­tas­tic but for sup­port­ers and press peo­ple ‘A long but Fair Walk’ as you can see…

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