History is made

Dan Thorpe joins his dad on the Challenge Trophy and they become the only father/son winners of the pre-65… so far.

Words: TIM BRITTON Photographs: FIONA WATSON

That the hills and fells surrounding Kinlochleven are home to one of the greatest trials riding experiences in the world is a given thing – there are few trials riders who haven’t heard of the ‘Scottish’ (Scottish Six Days Trial, common acronym SSDT) and whatever your particular era is, the event still holds a fascination today.

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Once the UK motorcycle industry stopped producing trials bikes in any great number and the foreign marques took over, there was a movement to create an event to celebrate the older motorcycles, to get the relics out of the sheds or outhouses… enter the Pre-65 Scottish! It started as a supporting half-day trial run during the quiet Tuesday of the Six Days proper, but it is now an event with a kudos all of its own.

The riders’ parade is an essential part of the Pre-65 Scottish. Here Mick Clarke (Ariel, 156) chats to Chris Haigh (Velocette, 193) as they cross the bridge over the River Leven during the parade.

The hills reverberate to the thunder of four-strokes and the ring-a-ding of classic two-strokes as classics tackle the sections (or ‘hills’ as they are still referred to) and, yes, the aroma of freshly-waxed cotton is there too.

Sections with classic names such as Cnoc a Linnhe, Cameron Hill, Mamore and the fearsome Blackwater Moor pose their test for riders of classics fettled to far better performance than even the works teams of the actual pre-1965 era enjoyed.

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Hanna Vesterinen (BSA Bantam) was one of several lady riders in the trial.

That is the paradox of the trial – as bikes were being used, an industry grew up making parts and accessories to ensure the machines would give their best.

They still have to be ridden though and, make no mistake, despite all the improvements, most of these bikes are still a handful to wrestle about.

Read more and view more images in the August 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!

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