MY SPORTING HOLIDAY
Emailing my entry for the SSDT from the comfort of my warm office seemed such a great idea at the time, after all it is only like six one-day trials! Clearly my memory was playing tricks on me and I had forgotten the previous seven times, especially now being the wrong side of 55!
With the machine fully fettled, a Gas Gas 300cc as I had always struggled on time during previous occasions, and the van packed it was off to Fort William. Monday morning dawned and I was feeling good as I had a late start – number 266. I was riding with my friend, Marcus Faulkner, number 281.
It started off well and I felt rather chuffed as I didn’t five the opening sections as Nigel Birkett had when I was watching in 2013. I was glad to finish on Monday, albeit very tired.
Tuesday was twice the mileage of Monday at 95 miles. I rode half of the day with no back brake as I managed to smash it on a rock. The ‘new’ Witches Burn proved to be difficult.
Little did I know that Wednesday was going to be the day from hell! It rained persistently. The sections were too hard for me and I was way out of my comfort zone. To top it all the ‘stream’ crossing had turned into a torrent and the only way to get across was to carry the machines by teaming up and then after all that, the section after that was another nightmare! At this point I would have happily had root canal treatment with no injections – and asked for more!
Riding down the road to Lagnaha it hailed, stinging both hands and face. Water levels had risen significantly there and you could no longer see the rocks.
Thursday was a welcome relief as it didn’t rain, but the moors did seem relentless.
The rain returned Friday first thing for ‘Road Race Day’. It hammered down all the 21 miles to the first group. The sections were bigger and longer resulting in 3.6 marks per section – something I would only associate with riding sections at the Scott.
Saturday at last arrived. The sections were easier compared with Friday and I chalked up a few good cleans, although to my dismay I had a five at Town Hall Brae, the last section – I would have liked to finish on a high. Although glad it was all over I had completed eight Scottish trials without a puncture.
The Scottish Six Day is an easy trial to underestimate and not give the respect it is due. It is the best trial in the world when the weather is nice but, as in 1986, it is like having painful cold showers for six days when the weather is bad. I will be back to the SSDT again, but it surely will only be as a spectator! Thank you to everyone; organisers, observers and support crews alike.