How did you get into riding trials and when did you start?
Oh good grief, I think I rode before motorbikes were invented…
Trials riding is a family tradition, my dad and uncle both competed, my uncle was the more successful of us and was centre champion a time or two, and Inter Centre Team Trial Squadman and has his name on a trophy or three in the NE Centre. I saw pics of him and my dad riding and thought ‘that looks fun…’ after which it was all down hill to poverty, pain and exasperation.
My first competitive trial was in April 1975, the North East Centre Junior Trophy at Butsfield Quarry on a 250 Bultaco though I’d been practising for a few months before that on the Bulto and had a year or so belting round the garden on some sort of Villiers engine thing before that.
What was your first trials bike?
My first proper trials bike was a 1974 250 Bultaco, one with the Homerlite tank seat unit.
What achievements have you had in trials?
Achievements…hah! Well, I’ve had a lot of fun, met a lot of people, ridden in a lot of events but more formal awards are fewer, it has helped me earn a decent living for 20 years and I was Consett and DMC Non-Expert Champion 1978…I was the only non-expert in the club!
Who do you look up to/admire in the trials world?
Without sounding arrogant, I don’t look up to anyone in the trials world. We are all trials riders some are better than me, some are worse, all are equal. If you pressed me for a straight answer, I’d have to say Sammy Miller, Yrjo Vesterinen and Jeff Smith for pretty much the same reasons, bike and personal preparation plus dedication.
Which venue is your favourite to ride? Is there a major trials event that you enjoy?
I don’t have a particular favourite venue but from choice I would gravitate to longer events and courses – locally Alwinton Two Day, Lambshield, The Baa, The Old Spring Trial and Gulf 50 Miler. More nationally The Pre’65 Scottish, The Manx, the SSDT, the Robregordo in Spain too.
Is there a trials event or venue you have not ridden which you would really like to ride?
Yes, I have not ridden the ISDT and would really like to, these days there is a classic class too and maybe once I get this sidecar thing out of my system I’ll give it a crack on my Can-Am.
What is your favourite memory from trials riding?
There are a few favourite memories.
Getting to the bottom of Pipeline to find Royal Enfield star Johnny Brittain waiting to see me ride! (I cleaned it!)
and tackling all the sections I’d read about in the SSDT.
Or having Mick Wilkinson declare my bike was one of the ‘only real pre’65 bikes int’ bloody trial’ at the Scottish.
The look on Jordi Tarres’ face in the SSDT when he debuted the water cooled Beta and I was next to him in a section queue on my Bulto…everyone was ‘Ooh Jordi, it’s fabulous..’ I just gave the Bulto thumbs up and said in my best Spanish ‘Cemoto por favor’ without any idea what I’d said.
Actually, there is another Tarres thing too, I saw Glen Quinn trying to explain to Jordi Tarres why he, Glen, was the Geordie Tear-arse…I think it lost something in the translation.