The annual Highland Classic Trial took place on the fabulous Alvie hunting estate near Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands over the weekend of the 8th and 9th June, organised by the Inverness & District Motor Cycle Club. This year it celebrated the Italian trials marque SWM in fine style with no less than the 1979 World Trials Champion and former factory rider Bernie Schreiber as the event’s guest of honour. Homage was paid to Schreiber from Los Angeles USA, now living in Zurich, who is the only non-European World Trials Champion and the only nonEuropean competitor to have won the Scottish Six Days Trial, a feat he achieved in 1982 on the SWM factory machine. During the sporting weekend, Bernie also launched his line of race clothing with the S3 brand and his ZEROBS trials school on the Alvie Estate on the Monday following on from the two-day event.
It was intended to have Gilles Burgat as the Special Guest, but unfortunately, he was unable to attend due to an injury sustained at this year’s Scottish Six Days. The UK’s historic SWM main dealer, Martin Matthews who supplies spare parts and machines to customers worldwide, was on hand as a ‘Trial Partner’ with two SWM machines, one for Schreiber and the other for Burgat. These machines were offered for sale after the event.
Guest of Honour
As expected, Schreiber, with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport, was the perfect guest of honour signing the event posters, fuel tanks and side panels from enthusiasts’ machines. He was very happy to reminisce with his fellow friends and riders about his life and times when motorcycle trials was very much a part of his life having travelled from the USA to Europe in the '70s. His is still the only American World Trials Champion, which he achieved on a Bultaco in 1979.
No fewer than 30 SWM machines took part, with 182 competitors present for the event. A special ‘Parc Ferme’ was set up to have all the SWM machines in one area for photographs at the start of the trial on the Saturday morning.
The motor club, Inverness & District, arranged for their official piper to play some Scottish bagpipe music just before the start, adding an extra touch of nostalgia to the occasion. John Moffat, General Secretary of the motor club, opened the celebrations by inviting the owner of the Alvie Estate to say some words. The Laird of Alvie Estate is Jamie Williamson, and he enjoys having all the riders on his land and encourages trial competitions there, such is his enthusiasm for the sport.
Other famous personalities were also at the trial, which included road racers Nick Jefferies, Iain Duffus and Donnie McLeod, trials riders Yrjo Vesterinen and Bill Wilkinson, and many more were introduced, including more riders who had travelled many miles to attend. There were entrants from Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Germany and Southern Ireland; this makes for a nice continental feel to the now well-established event. Berry Gemelkoorn of AJG Twin-shocks from the Netherlands was also there showing his special alloy swinging arm kits; he sold many and took orders for many more.
Cheese and wine
Clean sheets were posted by both the top Scottish classic rider Gary Macdonald (Triumph) and from the southerner Chris Koch (Fantic) who rode the Red route sections. Owen Hardesty (Honda TLR) picked up the best Post’77 twin-shock award on the Blue route.
It was good to hear such positive reports on the level of the hazards, where the standard is set to suit riders of all abilities. There is no outright winner at the Highland Classic, it is a class winners’ event, and this year the club gave all class winners special pit caps along with prizes from the Trial Partners: Putoline,
Classic Trial Magazine and Rockshocks. A nice feature of this trial is the ‘Section 19’ where the club has cheese, wine and Scottish speciality ale available for all the riders and spectators, bestowing some real Scottish hospitality. It is very popular with the riders and spectators and helps make this truly the ‘Friendliest Classic Trial in Scotland’ something the club is very proud of.
Schreiber Experience Days
Bernie Schreiber also held the first of his series of ‘Schreiber Experience’ days which was attended by 20 riders, some of which rode the previous two days. It started at 10.00am with an introduction session, where all participants introduced themselves and went on to a 70-minute classroom-style presentation by Schreiber who proved that he had forgotten little of his vast experience as a world champion, having been involved with other life experiences in the 30-odd years since he quit as a full-time motorcycle professional.
After the classroom instruction, it was lunchtime, and the participants were treated to a sit-down meal provided as part of the package. The participants were joined by Alvie Estate’s factor, Mr David Kinnear as a special guest.
After lunch, it was machine-time with Bernie, putting the theory into practice. Schreiber’s Experience was well thought out and planned; it went without a hitch and was enjoyed by all, who learned something new during the day. The participants also received an instruction pack, certificate or attendance and a commemorative pit cap to round off the experience.
Bernie is hosting his ZEROBS Experience days in the USA, Canada and Spain this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his World Championship win.