With over four months still to go until the start of the 2012 London Olympic Games, Scotland can look forward to the much more imminent homecoming of a world-famous sporting event of a different kind. From 4th to 12th May 2012, nearly 300 adrenaline-seeking competitors and hoards of spectators from around the globe will flock to the Scottish Highlands for the annual extreme motorcycle-sporting holiday, the Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT).
Since the sport originated in the UK over a century ago, motorcycle trials have enjoyed a rich association with Fort William and the Lochaber region, which hosts the SSDT. ‘The Scottish’ as it is more commonly known, celebrated its 100th anniversary last May and continues to be one of the most prestigious events in the international competitive motorcycle trials calendar.
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 SSDT sees its competitors ride across the challenging terrain of the Lochaber countryside on special lightweight trials bikes, negotiating steep gullies, slippery rock steps, rocky streams or boulder-strewn gorges. Competitors can cover more than 100 miles on some days of the event, making it the ultimate test of skill and endurance.
The SSDT is also unique in that it brings together riders of all ages, skill and experience levels, with everyday hobby trials riders completing the same course as their international championship heroes. It is free to go along to watch this fantastic spectator sport.
Amongst this year’s competitors will be last year’s winner, 25-year-old professional trials rider James Dabill (Beta) from Leeds. 2011 marked a double victory for Dabill, as not only did he win the SSDT in its centenary year, it was the second time he has won the event having also taken home the trophy in 2007. He comments:
“It was a great feeling to win the Scottish Six Days Trial in its centenary last year. The SSDT is one of the best trials events in the world. It’s every young trials rider’s dream to go up there and do it. Winning the SSDT was definitely on the list of things I set out to achieve in my career and now I’ve done it twice. It would be great to get a hat-trick this year and become a part of that select club.”
Impressively, both of Dabill’s SSDT wins earned him a place in SSDT history books. In 2007 he was the first competitor since 1966 to win the SSDT on a four-stroke engine bike and last year he became one of only two riders to win the SSDT on both a four-stroke and two-stroke engine bike. For non-motorcyclists, four-stroke machines were commonplace in competitive motorcycle trials until the late 1960s but were then largely replaced by two-stroke engine bikes.
“It’s always a bonus when you do make it into the history books, but the most important thing with the SSDT is to get out there and have fun,” says Dabill who has been competing in the event since 2003.
“I don’t think you could have an event like it anywhere else in the world. It doesn’t matter if the weather is bad or good, it always feels great to be there.”
Dabill admits to having the ‘Scottish Highlands bug’ having recently returned to the region on a cycling trip: “It’s a beautiful place and the people are always so welcoming. I’m definitely looking forward to being back in May.”
To find out more about the Scottish Six Days Trial and spectating opportunities, please visit the website at www.ssdt.org.
- ENDS -
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 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.
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