With 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 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.
“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.”
“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.”