As we move into another year the “same old, same old” saga kicks off on Trials Central with
comments not dissimilar from last year, the year before that, and no doubt next year. Every year the disappointed air their views and whine about those that are in. I can only imagine they don’t read the
entry form where it states the way it will be.

The Trial is the property of the Edinburgh & District Motor Cycle Club, they lay out the rules, and have
the right to decide who will ride. Their “discretionary bucket” can be as big or as small as they choose
and once they have those riders they want to ride then the rest can go into a ballot. Of course it will be oversubcribed, as will the main event, the SSDT.

I have seen many good points over the years and equally some dumb ones from people I feel
should have known better and perhaps I will get personal here and take one person to task. A certain columnist  who states the Pre 65 scene is not his bag, but has ridden this event 11  times in its 26
years, feels the riders should be graded on their ability ???  Isn’t that being over selective ? Imagine
having your entry returned marked “insufficent ability or track record” ? Good heavens man are you
advocating a Pre 65 boot camp with a 2 mile run to see who has the requisite fitness ?

Make no mistake about it, “IT” is a tough event, but for the vast majority it is a dream just to compete
and be there and drink in some of the Scottish mystique. Let’s remember a good number of Pre 65
competitors may never have had the opportunity to ride the full Scottish in their earlier years as it takes
a lot of support and financial where withall to do either event as a true privateer. They may now, with advancing years wish to compete on a twinshock machine from the theoretical Pre 65 scene. They
may have course gone the whole hog and gone for a “new one” in Pre 65 style built out of unobtainium
and are dying to try it out  with a Scottish flavour.

Nothing like this ever left the James factory in the 60’s

A DOT ? I don’t think so ! It has the “stickers” but everything else is NEW

Going back to my 8 rides and 8 finishes of the 70’s I was lucky to have RAF backing and several manufacturers support so basically many of the day to day problems and worries were taken care of
by the excellent support crew……. and bearing in mind back then refuelling was an individuals
responsibility to keep yourself going on the 200 mile daily routes.

Refuelling man and machine 1974

This year there have been some changes to the route and I can understand the Edinburgh Club
perhaps not wishing to overuse some parts of the course but to, as rumor has it, throw out Callert
“up & down” as being too hard and the subject of rider complaints strikes me as not being quite true. Certainly going up the goat track with constant slippery rocks at perfect wheelbase length knocks the
stuffing out of you and the seemingly never ending long steepish downhill on the other side to the Kinlockleven road is equally tough on the arms but it is part of the event and dare I say it what a lot of
riders came to be part of and experience.

Coming up Callert with the Mamore Road on the other hillside

The rock strewn path up Callert

At the top of Callert with the long downhill to come

If this is now considered too hard as part of the route then other mighty climbs and descents will
never get back on the schedule.  The Uphills and Downhills of Loch Eilde Path and Lieter Bo Fionn
must be clearly out and Ben Caillich has NO CHANCE !! I can remember the mighty other Ben and
scrabbling up the 8 sections of browish loose rocks having crossed the rotten bridge at the bottom
of the gorge. The way up was never easy and was usually on Friday afternoon as the last sting in the
tail after nearly 1000 miles of Scottish riding.

As I remember it, and no doubt Big John will correct me if I’m wrong, we left the Mamore Road and
arrived at a perilous narrow bridge crossing a fast flowing burn in a gorge about 12 feet below. The woodwork was slippery and rotten in places and I must have walked it two or three times before
plucking up the courage to ride it.

With the high wire act behind it was onward and upward climbing the 2000′ goat track and trying the
8 sections dotted up the trail, some solos, and others in double subs and nearly all with tight hairpin
bends. At last, the sight of the “Finish of Hill” sign and then still ever upward to the crest of the
mountain. From the top you could see the Loch way below on one side and on a good day the
Mamore Road wending its way back to Fort William on the other. There were many who were at their
wits end going up Ben Caillich just sitting in the heather or collapsed over the bars gulping in air like
Goldfish out of their bowl.

Finally up on the ridge, you feel a bit like Sir Edmund Hillary

Up on the crest, and I wish I had some pictures of it, the ride was easy along the trail but of course the
mind was wondering what the organisers had next and sure enough the next item was a large yellow DUNLOP sign pointing straight DOWN ! If you didn’t like coming down Callert you would have retired
seeing this one !!!

The summit of Ben Caillich………”what goes up must come down”

The one and only arrow says it all!

No track, just heather and rocks in the grass on about a 20-45 degree gradient and 2000′ of vertical
descent. When you finally arrived at the bottom and crossed the river you could look back at it from the
relative safety of the Mamore Road and ask yourself “Did I really just come down THAT ?”

Many of you will know that I was, shall we say persuaded, to ride the Silver Jubilee event in 2009 and
I’m very pleased I did despite the atrocious weather and a very poorly prepared machine. I suppose
the biggest shock was the sections and certainly not the route which did use the up and down of
Callert. I had imagined we would be using actual Pre 65 sections from that period in and around Kinlochleven, but No these sections were nearly all very ambitious National standard and not at all
what I was expecting….. perhaps I was not well enough prepared mentally. Route yes, sections NO.

I’ll never own a BSA as long as I live !

Near the end of Day 1, 2009 Silver Jubilee Pre 65

If the organisers wish to change the event, and I hear they are thinking along these lines, then
perhaps some of the true Pre 65’ers of Grey Mares Ridge and Loch Eilde Path could creep back in,
and those on Altna Feadh if permission can be acquired would be good traditional “true” Pre 65 test.

Day 2 on the delightful 350 BSA

The last sections of Day 2 at Lower Mamore for two good cleans

Well I’ve thrown in my two penneth to the mix so for those taking part …… congratulations, enjoy it,
as it will have been worth it, …….. and for those that didn’t get in  …… keep trying.


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