Shetland Two Day


‘Sim­mer Dim’ is a phrase from the north­ern is­lands of Scot­land which refers to the part of the year around mid­sum­mer when, thanks to the fact that the Shetland Isles are closer to the Arc­tic Cir­cle than they are to Lon­don, you can en­joy 23 hours of day­light dur­ing mid­sum­mer. This is far from the only thing that makes the Shetland Is­lands such a spe­cial place though! Over the week­end 29th and 30th of June, or­gan­ised by the Aberdeen­shire based Bon Ac­cord Mo­tor­cy­cle Club, 110 riders from all over the UK plus one in­ter­na­tional en­trant en­joyed a unique op­por­tu­nity to be among the first to come and ride a com­pet­i­tive mo­tor­cy­cle trial in the north­ern­most part of the United King­dom, the Shetland Two Day Trial.

We first found out about this pro­posed new event at the 2019 Scot­tish Six Days Trial over a ‘pint’ with our good friends John Hird and Matt Betts, two very keen off-road en­thu­si­asts who are also be­hind some of the most spec­tac­u­lar film­ing and pic­tures you will ever see from the SSDT. The two-day trial would be set out on com­pletely un­used ground among the stun­ning coastal scenery on the west and sunny side of Shetland, this was a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence tri­als rid­ing at its finest. An all off-road course, of ap­prox­i­mately ten miles in length, with moors, bogs, hills, rocks,

burns but no trees — Shetland is well known for hav­ing vir­tu­ally no trees — so make sure you have a side stand on your ma­chine! And they planned to make use of that ex­tended day­light.

With cater­ing and en­ter­tain­ment pro­vided on the Satur­day evening, this was go­ing to be a week­end to re­mem­ber. The event would con­sist of three laps of 15 sec­tions on the Satur­day and two laps of mainly dif­fer­ent sec­tions on Sun­day.

A good en­try

One-hun­dred-and-ten riders from all over the UK, plus one in­ter­na­tional en­trant, ar­rived to com­pete. The lap was an all off-road, ten-mile route on what most riders de­scribed as a jaw­drop­pingly stun­ning venue at West Bur­rafirth. A small band of Shetland tri­als en­thu­si­asts had set up a start field that would shame some far larger in­ter­na­tional events. They were sup­ple­mented for the week­end by mem­bers of the Aberdeen­shire based Bon Ac­cord MC who ran the sport­ing side of the event and laid out 15 tough sec­tions on both days. There were three routes in each sec­tion aimed at suit­ing riders of all abil­i­ties, but the blue hard route was con­sid­ered to be too hard by many ex­pert clubmen. This was mainly caused by the ground not hold­ing up as well as ex­pected.

Al­though the ma­jor­ity of sec­tions were on solid grippy rock they also had grass parts which cut up badly and be­came ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to find grip in. Bear in mind though that this was the first run­ning of the event and many lessons have al­ready been learnt. Yeadon Guise­ley rider John Ly­damore com­mented: “I was hav­ing to take ex­tra care whilst rid­ing on the route as I couldn’t stop star­ing at the beau­ti­ful scenery rather than look­ing where I was go­ing!”

Ev­ery­one one who was in at­ten­dance en­tered into the spirit of the event which also gave a wel­come boost to the tourism fig­ures as many had never been to this far-fetched part of the world be­fore.

Day one

At the end of the day on Satur­day, day one, the cur­rent Scot­tish Tri­als Cham­pion An­drew An­der­son on the Scorpa was lead­ing the premier class on an out­stand­ing score of only four marks dropped. This in­cluded a clear lap of the last and most slip­pery one. He was fol­lowed up by a group of English riders with Russ Rooksby on 11, Tom Mid­dle­ton on 14, James John­son on 23 and Boyd Web­ster on 31 be­fore there was a large gap to the sixth-placed rider with over 110 marks dropped.

The green Club­man route saw a much tighter spread of scores across all classes rid­ing this route, with the over 50s class be­ing par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing with old foes Billy Mathews, Ali Ste­wart and Billy Ross hold­ing the top three places and con­tin­u­ing a com­pe­ti­tion that’s been play­ing out since they were school­boy riders. The yel­low Easy route cer­tainly wasn’t easy given how slip­pery the ground was, but at least these riders only had two laps to worry about.

Bon Ac­cord MC Club mem­ber Gav Lewis, sport­ing ‘Vik­ing’ horns on his hel­met, led the way at the end of day one.

Day two

Sun­day’s trial was cut to two laps for all riders fol­low­ing overnight rain which meant an early start for the Clerk of the Course and his team who went out to sim­plify the course, given how much the sec­tions had cut up on Satur­day. A mile was also cut off the lap length to aid tim­ing and al­low peo­ple to head off to the ferry back to the main­land on time. Even with these changes an ex­ten­sion to the first lap com­ple­tion cut-off time had to be put in place and riders were given the ‘Hurry Up’ for lap two.

Though the weather be­came over­cast, the com­pe­ti­tion stayed as hot as ever across all classes. Russ Rooksby and An­drew An­der­son rode to­gether, keep­ing a very close eye on one an­other. Russ looked par­tic­u­larly se­ri­ous and slowly ate in to Andy’s lead but not by enough to over­turn it, which meant the very first S2DT tro­phy stayed with a Scot.

The green route also stayed very com­pet­i­tive with York­shire­man Harry McLough­lin (Youth A) tak­ing the over­all hon­ours from over 40s Alan Mudd, with over 50s Billy Mathews of In­ver­ness tak­ing third.

On the yel­low route David Edes (be­gin­ners) over­came Gav Lewis (over 50s) to take top spot on this route, with Shet­lander Gor­don Tul­loch well chuffed to take third on home soil. A con­ducted route with ten sec­tions each day was set up near the start field for the young­sters to en­joy, which was well re­ceived by the small group of riders. Ruby Lawrie took the win with an ex­cel­lent score of only seven marks dropped. Se­cond was Graeme Whit­taker and third Al­fie Wright.

Clerk of the Course John Hird: “I am quite open to ad­mit that the blue sec­tions were a lit­tle on the tough side es­pe­cially on the Satur­day, but was de­lighted to see ev­ery man, woman and child I spoke to beam­ing with smiles hav­ing thor­oughly en­joyed their week­end. A spe­cial men­tion needs to be made of ev­ery­one in­volved in the chal­lenge of ar­rang­ing an in­ter­na­tional trial on this re­mote is­land but es­pe­cially the lo­cals who came out in num­bers to ob­serve and were cheery all day both days, to the point that many riders made a point of com­pli­ment­ing them. It’s al­ways good when lo­cal peo­ple em­brace what’s hap­pen­ing close to them. We have learnt so much this year and look for­ward to putting an even bet­ter event on in 2020”.

Trial Sec­re­tary Carolyn Young: “We owe an in­cred­i­ble debt of grat­i­tude to the peo­ple of the Shet­lands, not only for the warm wel­come we re­ceived from them but then turn­ing out in droves to help us ob­serve over the week­end; none of us can re­mem­ber see­ing so many at once. We are truly grate­ful for your help, there are far too many of you to list. Huge thanks also to the Shetland Tri­als Group and their re­spec­tive ‘WAGs’ and kids for their ef­forts in all the lit­tle things that make a trial a suc­cess. My thanks to Di Stu­art and Jacque­line Muir for their help in keep­ing on top of the trial chaos over the week­end and we hope to see ev­ery­one again soon.”

The Shetland Isles

Get­ting to Shetland doesn’t take five min­utes so, hav­ing made the ef­fort to get here, why not stay for a few days in 2020 and have a look around?

De­scribed as the last un­tamed cor­ner of the UK, there is plenty to see and do for all ages and tastes. Wildlife lovers will savour the chance to see killer whales, por­poises and ot­ters, or­nithol­o­gists will want to spot the amaz­ing seabirds in­clud­ing Puffins, Guille­mots, Ra­zor­bills, Ful­mars, Kit­ti­wakes and Shags which can all be eas­ily viewed. His­tory lovers will head to Jarl­shof, a Norse set­tle­ment dat­ing back some 4,000 years or maybe Old Scat­ness, the UK’s largest ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tion. Sports fiends can play golf, go fish­ing or kayak­ing.

An evening in Ler­wick, with live tra­di­tional mu­sic, good food and craft beers, can only be the per­fect way to round off your stay.

Get­ting to Shetland will re­quire a bit of com­mit­ment on the part of the riders, with the only prac­ti­cal way of get­ting there be­ing the overnight ferry which leaves once a day from Aberdeen har­bour. It can be ex­pen­sive, but a van can hold many tri­als ma­chines and ferry foot pas­sen­gers are rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive. The key to rid­ing this trial is to try to ar­range to get to­gether in groups and share trans­port to spread the cost.

Thanks to our gen­er­ous friends at North­link Fer­ries we were able to of­fer 2019 Sim­mer Dim trial en­trants an ad­di­tional 30% dis­count to the reg­u­lar ad­ver­tised ve­hi­cle and pas­sen­ger fares, and hope to be able to do the same in fol­low­ing years.

The cur­rent Scot­tish Tri­als Cham­pion An­drew An­der­son (East Neuk Scorpa) made sure the first event win stayed in Scot­land. Just look at the stun­ning back­drop as Gary MacMil­lan (Gas Gas) wheel­ies up the rocks.

Young Lo­gan Tul­loch (Beta) re­ceives some en­cour­age­ment from the even­tual win­ner An­drew An­der­son A con­ducted route with ten sec­tions each day was set up near the start field for the young­sters to en­joy, and was well re­ceived by the small group of riders. En­joy­ing the week­end with his friends, Tom Mid­dle­ton (Inch Per­fect Beta) re­mains calm as Boyd Web­ster pre­pares to catch him. Jonathan Wren (TRS) in full con­trol. All the haz­ards were well marked out as Alan Mudd (Beta) ne­go­ti­ates a stream sec­tion. The Shetland Two Day Trial was open to ev­ery­one.

Openly ex­posed: you can see the rugged ter­rain found on the Shet­lands Isles here on this hard-route sec­tion. Us­ing ev­ery ounce of throt­tle con­trol to keep go­ing for­ward is Cal­lum Gam­mie (TRS). It’s a full-on at­tack of the rocks from Con­nor Pa­ton (Scorpa). Carolyn Young: “We owe an in­cred­i­ble debt of grat­i­tude to the peo­ple of the Shet­lands, not only for the warm wel­come we re­ceived from them but for then turn­ing out in droves to help us ob­serve over the week­end; none of us can re­mem­ber see­ing so many at once”.

The awards were very fit­ting for the Shetland Isles.

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