Lochaber riders rightly proud of their region’s famous trial
EVERY year, riders from around the world flock to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands to compete in the famous Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT).
This year has seen riders travel in from as far away as Japan, America, Australia and New Zealand to take on the oldest and arguably toughest motorcycle trial in the world, and to ride for miles around the stunning Scottish countryside.
But for four competitors – Kevin Dignan (number 114), Michael Fothergill (number 115), Gavin Brown (number 163) and Gary MacLennan (number 164) the action is right on their doorstep, as all are residents of Fort William or the surrounding Lochaber region.
Of the 276 riders competing in the 2012 Scottish Six Days Trial, 36 of them are from Scotland.
For these native few, it seems that there is something very special, even patriotic, about taking part in the SSDT, or ‘The Scottish’ as it also fondly known.
Scottish riders are especially proud of their country’s beautiful landscape, which is widely regarded as the best trials terrain on the planet.
Speaking earlier this week, 43 year-old Fort William rider, Kevin Dignan, commented: “Nothing can compare to riding about in the Scottish countryside. Even when you live here, you don’t always appreciate the scenery that we live in. It’s just fantastic.”
Fellow Lochaber man, 42 year-old Michael Fothergill agrees with Kevin: “We are just so fortunate to have all of this around us. We take a lot of it for granted as we live here, but then we appreciate why you get so many Japanese, French and Spanish coming over to do it.”
Each route over the six days incorporates various private land and conservation areas, so it is a rare privilege for competitors to ride their bikes in these locations. In a recent statement, the Edinburgh and District Motor Club, which organises the SSDT, expressed their sincere gratitude to all the local landowners and authorities, including Scottish Natural Heritage, for granting special access to these areas and making the SSDT possible each year.
Kevin is riding in his 18th SSDT this year, and as a resident of the event’s host town, he regularly helps out with various planning aspects of finding new routes and sections for the trial.
When asked how the SSDT compares to other trials he has ridden in over the years, Kevin answered: “This is a one-off, it is amazing. It’s like a drug, it just gets you. It’s not just the trial, but also the camaraderie amongst all the people out here. You meet people year in year out, and it’s just great. It’s like one big family.”
Michael has been one of the week’s contenders to claim this year’s award for the highest placed Scottish rider. “I have ridden in the SSDT around ten times now. Last year was supposed to be my last but it didn’t go too well. It’s a hard trial but when the sun is shining it’s great fun,” he added.
Typically, the Scottish weather has been very interchangeable and unpredictable over the last few days. More rain and even snow is forecast in the region, but let’s hope that ‘mother nature’ sends the riders some sunshine before the week is over.
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Notes to editors
Motorcycle trials – the sport
Motorcycle trials is a competitive sport that tests riding skill over a course of observed sections (or hazards/obstacles). Competitors must negotiate steep gullies, slippery rock steps, rocky streams or boulder-strewn gorges, and are penalised if they put their feet down to help them to ride the section or if they fail to complete the section in its entirety.
Motorcycle trials are unique in the world of motorsport, with it being the only discipline where the winner is decided on skill alone and not speed.
The Scottish Six Days Trial
The annual Scottish Six Days Trial is managed by the Edinburgh and District Motor Club. It is a particularly challenging motorcycle trials event as it tests competitors’ stamina, endurance, strength and consistency over long distances, with 276 riders completing more than 100 miles and 30 sections on some days of the six-day event. The routes cover a combination of rough moorland, rocky tracks and public roads.
The SSDT started in 1909 and, with breaks during the two World Wars, celebrated its 100th anniversary in May 2011, making it the oldest and also one of the most prestigious motorcycle trials events in the world.
The SSDT is based in the Lochaber region of the Scottish Highlands and is traditionally held in May every year. Each day of the trial starts and finishes in Fort William, providing a major tourist attraction for the town.
Admission to watch the SSDT is free on all days. Full event details, including the best spectating points throughout the week, can be found in the official event programme, which will be available to purchase in April 2012.
An independent economic impact survey commissioned by the event organiser and funded by Event Scotland in 2011 showed that the Scottish Six Days Trial provided a direct economic impact of around £1,100,000 to Fort William last year.
Event overview and history: http://www.g2fgroup.com/html/ssdt/html/SSDT12-addinfo.html
The Scottish Six Days Trial is supported by EventScotland.
EventScotland is the national events agency.
EventScotland is working to make Scotland one of the world’s leading event destinations. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org.
The Year of Creative Scotland 2012 will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage and is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.
More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at www.visitscotland.org/yearofcreativescotland-toolkit
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