Rob Edwards – Part One – The 1963 SSDT

2014-04-07_11

1963, Monday May 6th. Rob Edwards leaving the start of the SSDT, riding number 168 on the Doug Marshall supplied 250cc Cotton. (Photo courtesy: James Young, Armadale, Scotland.)

1963 – My Disastrous First Scottish!
Back in 1963, the Scottish Six Days, the most famous of all trials, started in Edinburgh and we rode up to Fort William on the first day from where the event was centered until the following Saturday.
Almost all the opening day was by main road. From just leaving the start at Gorgie Market, it rained and rained and more rained. I rode the 250cc Cotton that year, which was supplied by my sponsor, Doug Marshall Motorcycles from Marske-By-The-Sea, North Yorks.
By the time we reached Rannoch Station I was very numb,
but at least we were about to do a bit of cross country to warm us up a bit.
We  couldn’t have been going for more than a mile when we came to a river that could only be described as a raging torrent.
You know things are bad when you see groups of maybe six riders up to their waist carrying a bike aloft then going back for another.
One person looked as though he had the job sussed it was Peter Gaunt.
After walking along the riverbank he had found a boulder that was part submerged in the mud. “That’s my launch pad!” he said. Peter jumped on his bike and disappeared.
When he returned, I estimated his speed at around 30-35 mph. Gaunt hit his ‘launch pad’ spot on, but due to a slight miscalculation instead of flying horizontally across to the far bank, he went straight up in the air, finally about mid-stream he plummeted into the river in a huge cloud of steam. Peter soon joined the ranks with their spark plugs out trying to dry out their engines.
I was sat wondering what to do next, when a farmer and tractor appeared out of no-where! “Two bikes and two riders at a time”, he shouted. He had a trailer, the type you would carry milk churns in.
We were a lot further down stream when we got to the far side. At times it felt as though the current was going to tip us into the drink.
In the meantime it was still pouring with rain.
When I finally got to Fort William I handed in my route card. “You have not done the two sections at Ben Nevis”, the official told me. “Give me my card back and I will nip back and do them”, I said. “Sorry!”,  the official said, “If your card is handed in, there is no getting it back, so I am afraid you are out of the Trial, rules are rules”.
I was bitterly disappointed to hear this, but I had to accept it. Many riders had traveled to the finish of the day in Fort William on the West Highland Railway with their bikes for company.
As well as this, they were allowed to get their bikes started and continue with the Trial.
And they were not penalised for missing Ben Nevis!
I was told I could ride with a R plate meaning retired, but that was not for me.
My dad Bob, came up by car and trailer, so we loaded up and I went home, feeling rather sorry for myself and back to work at Head Wrightons.
Ah well, never mind it happens I suppose … roll on next years’ “Scottish” … Bye for now, ‘Moaning’ ROB EDWARDS!
TRIALS GURU: The 1963 Scottish Six Days – The eventual winner was Arthur Lampkin on his factory 250 BSA C15 ‘XON688’ a machine that Arthur still owns to this day.
Alan Lampkin'00 Caolasnacoan

Arthur Lampkin’s factory 250 BSA (XON688), the bike that won the 1963 Scottish, seen here in 2000 in the capable hands of Rob Edwards’ good friend, Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin (Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland)

The details that Rob gives us are very true in that it was a wet week generally and many rivers were in spate. Missing a section or group usually meant instant exclusion in 1963, as having failed to complete the course. Nowadays, riders are awarded extra penalty marks for missing sections, within set limits in the regulations, but rarely excluded.
Rob would have ridden the following first day route to Fort William:
Start, Gorgie Market (now called the Corn exchange); Kincardine Bridge; 2 sections at Culross in Fife; Blair Logie (Check point); Braco; Comrie; Lochearnhead; 8 sections at Glenogle Hill;
Killin SSDT

Killin, Perthshire with riders making their way to Fort William on the first day of the Scottish. The village looks similar to this photo even now.

Killin; Bridge of Lochay (Petrol & Lunch control); Bridge of Balgie; Innerwick; 8 sections on Meall Glas; Dall; Rannoch (where the riders met with a raging torrent!); Fersit; Roy Bridge; Inverlochy; Glen Nevis; 4 sections at Ben Nevis; 2 sections at Town Hall Brae, Fort William.
Total mileage Day one: 170 miles; 24 sections for the day. The route-markers over Fersit was most likely to have been Johnny Clarkson from Skirling, Biggar and Bob Paterson from Airdrie, both former Six Days riders in the nineteen fifties.
SSDT PR1963

Front cover of the 1963 Scottish official programme, Rob Edward’s first SSDT attempt.

Copyright: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, Moffat Racing (c) 2014

With acknowledgement to Trial Magazine UK/Classic Trial Magazine UK for their assistance with this series of articles.

To read all of Rob Edwards’ story of his life in trials, click … here

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