BETWEEN 2 and 7 May the revered Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT), considered the oldest-surviving motorbike trial competition in the world, celebrates its 100th anniversary.
With this in mind it is surprising that during its rich and celebrated history the event, which has become synonymous with the country that hosts it, has only seen one Scottish winner – the late Bob MacGregor, who lifted the trophy in 1932 and 1935.
However, Gary MacDonald (27), a weekend motorcycle trials rider from Kinlochleven in Lochaber – The Outdoor Capital of the UK – is looking to change this by beating some of the most skilled endurance trials riders in the world on home soil.
And Gary definitely has the pedigree to beat the pros in his own backyard.
He is the current British Expert Champion and six times Scottish Champion.
His best SSDT result was third in 2003.
“I always go to the SSDT thinking I can win,” said MacDonald.
“There are a lot of really good riders this year. The guys like Dougie Lampkin, Alexz Wigg, James Dabill and newcomer Jack Sheppard are all professional riders, whereas I’m a joiner by day and trials rider at the weekend.
“The Scottish Six Days is a long event and involves miles of riding between sections and is unlike any other on the international calendar.
“Anything can happen and luck always plays its part. I know the area well and I know what to expect. That local knowledge will hopefully be a real advantage.”
Born in 1899 MacGregor, who passed away in 1975 at the age of 76, rode his first Scottish Six Days Trial in 1926 before his wins in 1932 and 1935.
Back then the gruelling event, which is now considered a right of passage for any hardened trials rider, was an entirely different animal.
As were the stubborn machines that the steely and often equally stubborn entrants competed on.
With suspension that was uncomfortable at best, and engines that bear little resemblance to the lightweight and punchy motors of today, for those brave enough to tackle it the SSDT was a soul-searching battle against the elements, the uncompromising Highland terrain and their bike’s reliability.
Indeed, it was during these formative years that Trial earned its reputation as one of the most physically demanding and technically challenging propositions on two wheels the world over.
In 2011 The Scottish Six Days Trial has the additional test of reliability over long distances, with riders completing up to 100 miles each day over a combination of rough moorland, rocky tracks and public roads.
Each daily route is designed by the Clerk of the Course to challenge the ability, experience, strength and stamina of each rider.
To ride 100 miles and negotiate 30 sections each day for six consecutive days requires strength, expertise and exceptional reliability from both rider and machine.
Marking its centenary, the 2011 Scottish Six Days Trial will take place in and and around Fort William in the Outdoor Capital of the UK between Monday 2 and Saturday 7 May.
Check out http://www.ssdt.org for event updates and details of the best places to watch the Trials action.
Paddy Cuthbert – Podge Publicity – M: 07968 699636 / E: Paddy@podge.co.uk
Notes to Editors:
Funders, sponsors and supporters
Event Scotland – www.eventscotland.org
Highland Council – www.highland.gov.uk
Putoline Oil – www.putoline.com
Lift Control – www.liftcontrol.co.uk
Birkett MotoSport Ltd – www.birkettmotosportukltd.co.uk
John Lee Motorcycles – www.lee-motorcycles.co.uk
Off Road Moto – www.offroadmoto.co.uk
Thistle Access – www.thistleaccess.co.uk
Highland Leisure Sport – www.highlandleisuresport.co.uk
Talon Engineering – www.talon-eng.co.uk
Oximoto – www.oximoto.com
The sport of motorcycle trials is a test of riding skill over observed sections where the winner is determined by skill alone. When competitors ride each of the 30 testing sections every day their feet must remain on the footrests of the bike. They must negotiate steep gullies, slippery rock steps, rocky streams and boulder-strewn gorges. Sections vary in length and severity, and riders are penalised if they put their feet down to help them ride the section, and more so if they fail to negotiate the section in its entirety.
The Scottish Six Days Trial has the additional test of reliability over long distances, with riders completing up to 100 miles each day over a combination of rough moorland, rocky tracks and public roads; designed to challenge the ability, experience, strength and stamina of each rider and the reliability of the bike. There is also a set time within which each day’s route must be completed.
100 years of the Scottish Six Days Trial
The event actually originated as a five-day reliability trial back in July 1909, before being extended to a six-day competition a year later.
However, the start of the Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) proper as organised by the then newly formed Edinburgh and District Motor Club began in 1911.
In those early years, the trial started and finished in Edinburgh with the route taking the riders to John O’Groats and back over the course of the week.
Fort William was introduced as the hub for the event in 1938, although the start and finish remained in Edinburgh, which continued to be the case until all links with the Scottish city were cut in 1977. Today, the SSDT consists of six different daily routes that total approximately 500 miles, which begin and end in Fort William each day.
The Edinburgh and District Motor Club will once again be at the helm of this fantastic competition and will be responsible for upholding an event where club riders and the world’s best compete together over the same course that will include 30 boulder-strewn sections on each of the six days.
For more information on The Scottish Six Days Trial go to: http://www.g2fgroup.com/html/ssdt/docs/SSDT100.pdf
Previous winners of the Scottish Six Days – 1972-2010
2010 – Alexz Wigg – Beta 2009 – Dougie Lampkin – Beta 2008 – Dougie Lampkin – Beta 2007 – James Dabill – Montesa 2006 – Graham Jarvis – Sherco 2005 – Sam Connor – Sherco 2004 – Graham Jarvis – Sherco 2003 – Joan Pons – Sherco 2002 – Amos Bilbao- Montesa 2001- Cancelled – Foot + Mouth 2000 – Steve Colley – Gas Gas 1999 – Graham Jarvis – Bultaco 1998 – Graham Jarvis – Scorpa 1997 – Steve Colley – Gas Gas 1996 – Dougie Lampkin – Beta 1995 – Dougie Lampkin – Beta 1994 – Dougie Lampkin – Beta 1993 – Steve Colley – Beta 1992 – Steve Colley – Beta 1991 – Steve Saunders – Beta 1990 – Steve Saunders – Beta 1989 – Steve Saunders – Fantic 1988 – Steve Saunders – Fantic 1987 – Jordi Tarres – Beta 1986 – Thierry Michaud – Fantic 1985 – Thierry Michaud – Fantic 1984 – Thierry Michaud – Fantic 1983 – Toni Gorgot – Montesa 1982 – Bernie Schreiber – SWM 1981 – Gilles Burgat – SWM 1980 – Yrjo Vesterinen – Montesa 1979 – Malcolm Rathmell – Montesa 1978 – Martin Lampkin – Bultaco 1977 – Martin Lampkin – Bultac 1976 – Martin Lampkin – Bultac 1975 – Mick Andrews – Yamaha 1974 – Mick Andrews – Yamah 1973 – Malcolm Rathmell – Bultac 1972 – Mick Andrews – Ossa
More information on Bob MacGregor:
MacGregor was the first SSDT participant to be officially classed an individual winner as, prior to 1932, no single victor was declared. Instead, all finishers were awarded either a silver cup, if they completed the Trial with no penalties, or a gold, silver or bronze medal depending on the number of penalties they incurred during the course of the six-day marathon.
“My dad was extremely fond of the Scottish Six Days Trial,” said Sheila Cattell, Bob MacGregor’s daughter.
“He really loved participating at Fort William, it was a very special event in his calendar. He would obviously be very proud to know that, in its one hundred year history, he is still the only Scottish man ever to have won this event. Naturally, all the family is very proud of his achievements too.”
The first SSDTs in 1909 and 1910 were simply a route around Scotland with time checks throughout to ensure that all entrants kept to the required speed schedule.
There were no special hill climbs or any sections involved, the surface of Scottish roads and the natural terrain they cut through were considered to be enough of a trial.
In 1911, the Edinburgh and District Motor Club took charge and there were some changes to the format, then in 1914 time cards were introduced before a four-year hiatus due to the First World War.
The rules did not change significantly again until 1926, when four categories were established for recording penalties: reliability, hill climbing, daily condition of machine and brake test.
It was not until 1931 that something resembling the present format was introduced, as hills were observed for the first time with penalties incurred for putting your foot down, and awards were allocated on a percentage basis at the end of the Trial. There was still no individual winner recorded, though.
In 1932, that changed and the decision was taken to create an award for the best individual performance. Scotland’s very own Bob MacGregor won that accolade and despite the best efforts of local rider, Gary MacDonald, in more recent years, MacGregor remains the lone home victor.
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