SSDT 2014 ...

... The 2014 Scottish Six Day Trial has come and gone, and for the first time ever I was a part of it !

 John Hulme at Trials Media had asked me to work at the SSDT as media representative so bags were packed and a flight and hire car booked and come the day I was off. Jo needed to have my car available and to be honest I didn't fancy the 9 hour or more drive each way so hopping on a plane at Bristol airport, which is only 15 minutes from my house, and arriving to jump into a hire car at Inverness airport seemed like a much better idea. The hour or so journey from Inverness down to Fort William took me along the length of Loch Ness so I got a good taster of the stunning scenery I was to experience all week ... I could happily just drive around with the camera for a week up there, whether there was a trial on or not!! A big thanks to Steve Saunders who took most of my baggage and camera gear up there in his van to save me having to entrust easyjet with it .. I figured that losing it on the way home was better than spending a week up theree without anything to wear or use for photos!

hotel view, Ben Nevis

 For the event I had an office in the Nevis Hotel, the window of which looked straight out at Ben Nevis. Sadly for most of the week the top of Ben Nevis, as you can see from the image above, was hidden behind cloud .. but the once or twice it was clear there was a lovely view of the snow capped peak. Although there was rain on and off during the week there was only one day that it hacked it down all day, and I have to say I was suprised at not only how mild it was but also that the rain came straight down almost all the time and not sideways!

On Sunday morning, after signing in the people that wanted official press recognition (Well, most of them. But that is another story!), I was free to pop down to the parc ferme to wonder around the trade stands, manufacture areas and chat to some riders waiting for the sign-on and scrutineering. Having never been before I imagined that the whole of Fort William would be covered from head to toe in ssdt action, posters, signage etc but it was all contanied in the one area and the rest of the town just went about their own business! Just as the riders fired their bikes up for the traditional parade through the town centre in the afternoon it started to rain, but everyone came out to watch before dispersing back to wherever they came from.

ssdt parade

 I met up with John Hird and Matt later in the evening, old friends from the TC days at Hawkstone, and we proceeded to have a few beers and eventually a 2am walk around Fort William looking for a taxi. John and Matt spend the week following the trial with video equipment putting togerther a daily highlights video online ... and bloody good it is too. Check out their videos HERE

The rest of the week was spent getting up early for breakfast, getting to a few groups of sections a day and then by late afternoon being back in the office sorting out some photos for the press and waiting for the results of the day to be finalised before putting together some words for a report. Because of all the technicalities and amount of riders and sections it was not usually before midnight that the results were officially available so 1am was the normal time to eventually get back to my room for 5 hours sleep if i was lucky. John and Matt would usually sit in my office sorting out their video so at least there was company and a steady supply of beer for the evening :)

 If you are from the South it is hard to describe the sections ... rocks are not common down there but at the SSDT it is what you find in almost every section, and the main difference is how large or small the rocks are! I now have a new appreciation and admiration for anyone that has ridden this event ... I know for sure that even if I could afford a new bike afterwards my fitness level is no where near high enough to allow me to complete more than a few days of this type of riding. And if the sections were not rocky enough you also had to cover up to 95 miles a day with many very knackering moor and mountain crossings included. Hats off to you all.

You all know the result by now, Dougie taking his 8th win. When you see him and the other top riders in the sections you really think that it is not as bad as first assumed, they just make it look so smooth and easy. But hang around a few minutes and a less abled rider will crash into the section, reminding you of just how classy the top guys are. They seem to be able to float across the top of the rocks rather than ride into every single hole as I am sure I would.
I have started a gallery of images, which I will constantly update, on Zenfolio .. click on the slideshow link here or Gallery view here

If you rode and dont see an image of yourself here let me know as I got at least one image of almost everyone and may be able to sort one out for you ...

ssdt view