ARE YOU READY BOOTS ?
Yes,…… no not helmets, that was YES-terday, (sorry) today its boots, perhaps it was the crunching
over squeaky snow while walking the dogs, or perhaps just dealing with safety equipment,
anyhooooo……for some reason the mind is replaying the Nancy Sinatra song…………….
“These Boots are made for walking……”
Boots ??? returning to the little village of “Wayback” not far from the towns of “Trialsbackthen” and
“Wheniwas” I’m reminded of what we used to wear on our feet to get this trialing business done.
Seems primitive now but we all wore “Firemen’s thick leather boots” with the big pull straps and had
the flat leather soles studded with cricket shoe cleats to get some traction, or even football boot studs
or maybe some golf spikes. ……… I can remember being chased out of the kitchen on many occasions
for screwing up the tiles or lino !
“Going Commando” with no barbour trousers, but at least you can see
the Fireman’s Boot we used to wear (1969)
So these fireman’s boots must have been at least a 1/4 inch thick leather and hours would be spent
with “dubbin” trying to achieve a waterproof finish (it never did but it came close) but these were your
best friend and without you were in for a miserable time. Should you forget to clean them after the event
or have left them outside in the cold then the next time you tried to put them on the leather would have
gone soggy around the ankles and collapsed before freezing and now you had to endure at least 10
mins with your foot in a vice like grip until the leather relented and warmed up. Back in those days
we would blast on down the road and stop at the village pub for a couple of pints and it would not be
uncommon to see muddy trials bikes in the pub car park and rows of boots with barbour trousers still
attached lined up by the entrance door like garden gnomes. Inside we were supping ale and
wandering around in our seaboot socks.
Crumpled leather around the ankle
The next thing in the footwear evolution was the appearance of the Dunlop Industrial Wellington and in
no time at all we were all wearing the “Trials Welly” and enjoying dry feet! These Wellingtons were
developed for the mining industry and had a steel toe cap, a metal bar under the instep which was
great to combat the bear trap footrests which were being fitted to all the new bikes. They also had
rubber fins on the ankles and all the way up the front offering pretty good shin protection as well. They
retailed for about $25.00, a far cry from what we pay today for a stylish pair. Being Wellingtons they had
a wide top and would flap about behind your calf but as they were all wide fitting another Christmas
present of seaboot socks fixed that.
The “Man” with Dunlops on his feet
Tops crimped up with tape, rubber fins all the way up the front
Doing a little research for this article I see these boots have come on a pace and they are now colorful
and look pretty comfortable and robust and after last years very wet Pre 65 Scottish I wished I’d been
wearing something similar to deal with the conditions. In all my years trials riding I can’t think of any
leather boot that is fully waterproof but there again other than Scotland very few trials are run in
constant running water!
The same thing from Dunlop in today’s styling
Whoa ! ……. just what I need to match the Enfield !!!!
There are some excellent leather lined Wellingtons which are zip sided and fully waterproof which I
wear for pheasant shooting. These are cut narrower around the calf and don’t flap around but of course
you don’t see them at a trial, other than a Sheep Dog Trial! Does it matter ? ….. unless you are in the
SSDT or living in Yorkshire most trials don’t involve wading through streams using your boots as sonar
to detect underwater hazards so the World has moved on into the hi-tech, hi-cost, purpose made exotic
3 strap flexible trials boot. A good treaded sole, hopefully a well stitched welt, not much in the way of toe
protection but with sole overlap I can’t remember really ever hurting my tootsies that much. 3 adjustable
straps, the critical one being for the ankle like a ski boot, ankle cup protection to stop the “rollover injury”
and a lot of shin guarding against rocks and trees, and all topped off with an annoying bit of velcro to
seal up the entry.
Sidi for me, good design, very comfortable, but NOT waterproof
Over the years I think I have tried most but now my personal favorite is the Sidi for design, comfort and
quality of manufacture. I also use their products for all forms of motorcycling and instructional duties
and when I have a mind to I have a pair for cycling too.
My full range of Sidi’s, love the ratchet straps on the cycle shoes
Whatever footwear you use remember to take care of them, and clean them just like the bike after the
event, it will save money in the long run and if you turn up with a clean bike and polished boots its
usually worth about 5 marks as it annoys the opposition and while they are mentally thinking what a
“poser” you are they are not concentrating on the job in hand!
A Gentleman does not turn up with dirty boots !
….. and finally when to use them ? Simple answer, always, many accidents happen in the yard in the
classic “I’ll just kick her over and trundle round” the number of times that plain kickstart has gone up
the inside of legs taking divots of skin, or even walking the bike out of the shop and getting the
footrest on your shin are legion! tennis shoes are for tennis !!!
For a long time now I’ve been expecting to see a more advanced approach to boots almost along
the lines of a ski boot. Granted we need more flexibility, especially fore and aft, and in the toe and
sole zone but believe me it won’t be long before we see something like this…….
Only a matter of time, cleated sole and a bit more toe flex ?
Something new from Nike
Well with the riding done you can always try a different kind of boot…………as Nancy Sinatra told us
“These boots are made for Walking” or in our case Trialing, but boots are made for all manner of
things and during my Royal Air Force years once in a while I took on the challenge of a Very
different type of boot !
The German “das boot” = the British “yard of ale”…….yum, yum ! Is it
Boddington’s Laughing Bitter ???