Brian Barson, Welgelegen Farm Kuils River:
Events like these take months of preparation, and there is a certain amount of concern when on the day before the event, a black south-easter batters the peninsula with high winds and lashing rain. The thought of having to put observers out on exposed sections and keep scoresheets dry fortunately vanished as the Saturday morning brought pleasant warm clear weather.
All the bikes were scrutineered by Johann, and the observers all issued with their scoreboards, radios and bibs and shown to their sections. The riders meeting went quickly and smoothly and we were able to start the trial 15 minutes early. The different classes all started on different sections in order to avoid hold ups, which also helps the observers get used to the different lines.
The only downside of this arrangement is that the riders themselves get to see very little of the top riders in action.
The trial progressed well but it soon became apparent that the Pro riders would be heavily pressed for time. Clerk of the course Trevor extended the time by fifteen minutes but some time penalties were still incurred by the top riders.
On completion of day 1, the sections had to be reversed and certain riders were tasked to do this. All red and blue flags had to be swopped and some other colours repositioned, and the section start and end boards changed as the course was also reversed. The second day boards were left at the section in preparation for this. Many of the observers did the changes for us and it was then just a simple matter of checking it had been done.
On day 2 the weather was good if not a little on the warm side. The observers all knew how to get to their sections and the riders meeting was called early enabling the trial to start at 09h30. The time was extended by half an hour.
Some say the second day was easier than the first, to me it was, though the scores were pretty similar across all the classes. There certainly were stars in all the classes. Bruce and Brent were the obvious stars in the Pro A class and traded wins as they did last year. Devon Mackenzie had a rough time and had to take several fives on sections he was not comfortable with, but he feels he has to compete in that class in order to reach the level of the Le Riche brothers.
Our Michael Krause was the only competitor in Pro B and also found the going tough, but then he did set the sections.
In the expert class it may have not been so easy to predict the winner, as the class had several potential winners, but as it turned our Russel Heger did the winning both days.
In intermediates the winner was most likely to be either Vince van Eyck or John Le Riche. Vince normally rides experts but decided to ride intermediates for personal reasons. A wise decision I’m sure. Robert Lloyd and Clinton Mills decided to drop to intermediates for the second day. For me the star of the class was John Le Riche. We rode together a lot of the time and I was hugely impressed with his effortless riding style and whole attitude to the event. The two of us by the way were the oldest riders.
In the clubman’s class anyone knowing youngsters Aidan Mills and Paul Mayer may have known what to expect, but I didn’t. Aidan’s score of 1 on the first day was absolutely outstanding.
Our own Steve Shearer did very well to get second place on day two. If there had been a trophy for fastest finisher he would have got it. Once again the two young girls Alison Simson and Jessica Orrey demonstrated enormous determination on sections that are difficult for them, but they remain the crowd favourites who applaud their every effort.
No time penalties were incurred on day two and as soon as the last rider finished the tapes and flags were removed. At this point it is appropriate to thank the observers for what they did. Not only the scoring, but much of the flag swopping and cleaning up afterwards was done by them even though they didn’t have to. I didn’t hear any grumblings about scoring, so it’s a huge thank you to them for all they did.
Then it was over to Mary who sat quietly in the shade adding up the scores which she did without a blunt pencil (it’s an old joke).
And finally the prize giving. Mark did a fantastic job of thanking everyone, handing out the awards and sponsors products. The whole vibe in the tent was amazing and was followed by an excellent spit braai and salads.
That the event went off without the need for the paramedics and only one retirement due to a mechanical problem was a great relief.
I think the whole event was adequately summed up by Mike Sydenham who said he needed a lemon to wipe the smile off his face.
Brian Barson, Nomads Trials Secretary