Our next port of call was in Kansas at the home of ‘Wick’ and Marilyn Wicker. Like everybody we had met along our route, they gave us a fantastic welcome and really made us feel at home. The area where the school and trial was held was a bit on the dangerous side. All the trees were covered in thorns. “So what?” I hear you say.
These thorns were American! Everything is big in the USA, they were about 125mm long. I wondered at the end of the week if the trees would be festooned with trials riders impaled on them? It’s the only place I have been to where the riders use tyre weld as the thorns could pierce a trials tyre with ease.
Fortunately, we had no casualties and after saying our goodbyes, we set off towards Michigan. Unfortunately on route, the van developed a ticking noise and soon after the engine blew. We were towed to a garage where we were given a choice wait a couple of days and they would fit a new engine, or swap everything into a Ryder truck rental van and continue in that. We took one look into the rental van and the decision was unanimous, wait two days.
From Michigan we headed for Rhode Island for our final school and trial. The school went very well and so did the trial. The event that was put on by the Rhode Island Motorcycle Club was really good and by winning it, I had won every trial during our trip. More important than that, Jordi and myself had put a lot of effort into the schools. We gave each other a slap on the back for a job well done. After six weeks, we had become really good friends and despite the language barrier we never stopped talking! Thanks Jordi Permanyer for your help and support. – Rob
Trials Guru: Ron mentions Norval E. ‘Wick’ Wicker and his wife, Marilyn were trials enthusiasts who made the annual pilgrimage to the Scottish Six Days to be official Observers at the event. Wick, was a commercial airline pilot by profession. The event and school Rob talks about was organised by The ‘Liberty Missouri Chargers MC’.
The Wickers officiated at the Scottish Six Days from 1973 until 1996. The Wickers were the first non -British observers at the annual ‘Sporting Holiday in the Scottish Highlands’.
In 1988, they became the first non-British nationals to be granted Honorary Life Membership of the of the organising Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd.
The Wickers were also inducted into the North American Trials Council ‘Hall of Fame’ for their significant contribution to the sport of trials.
Sadly ‘Wick’ left us on 2003, aged 76 years and Marilyn passed away ten years later aged 84.
Hello everybody! I am both amazed and thrilled at the response you have given to my story. John ‘GURU’ Moffat has been working flat out, because I was so busy around this time in my life, I didn’t have time to record what I had achieved or where I had achieved it!
John has been super-busy wading through old magazines, programmes and his knowledge, to match the number on my bike to a particular event. For example in 1970, I was number 124 in the Scottish Six Days etc etc. Well done John and thank you very much! And now I see it’s in Spanish, thanks to co-operation between John Moffat and his friend Horacio San Martin of Todotrial.
Now on with my story… I teamed up with Jordi Permanyer in Los Angelese at the Montesa distribution depot. It was here I met Javier Burgos who ran this department and whose idea it was to make this trip. He took us to look at our transport for the next few weeks. It was a Dodge van with aircraft seats auto-transmission, air-con and so on and so on. The next day we set off north. Our 1972 trip was finally under way. Everywhere was so different to home. It was warm and pleasant, my life had changed direction in a way I could never have imagined or dreamed of. Our route was pre-planned and at each destination, the people were so pleased to see us. It was a real pleasure to work with them.
On arrival the first thing they wanted to know was “Have you been beaten yet at one of the schools in the Salt Lake City area?”. I said: “no not yet”, “well you will here” they said. We were in an old sand quarry that looked like a great place for a school. All the time, I was bombarded with people telling me how good Donny is. Most of the moveable sand had gone, leaving an apple core shaped column with a telegraph pole in the centre. “See that? Rob Donny can go up there!”. This is the sort of thing you dread.
It was possible but the apple core shape meant if you didn’t get onto the top there was a good chance of the bike falling onto you and causing serious damage. I wasn’t so much worried about that, as if things went wrong the rest of our trip would have to be cancelled. I got onto my bike hoping to get it warmed up and then go for it. I decided “right go for it”.
Big steps were never my speciality. I hit it as hard as I could in second and I got up it. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the crowd! I inched the bike around the telegraph pole, getting down was trickier than I had thought. It was too high to jump off so I eased the front wheel over the edge but when the sump banged on the edge it kicked the back wheel up. By now I was decending fast and for one moment I thought I was going into a forward roll. I managed to land safely and suddenly I was everybody’s hero. Jordi looked relieved. The next thing to happen was Donny arrived. We will never know what went wrong but he did exactly what I was desperate to avoid his front wheel kicked back. Donny landed first, closely followed by his bike and the end result was a broken leg. Oh well, that was that then! – Rob
Trials Guru: Rob was by 1970 a true ambassador for the Montesa brand. He was traveling the USA and getting a great reception from the trials riders, who had read about Rob in motorcycle newspapers and magazines. Remember, this was in the period before the rise of Lane Leavitt, Martin Belair and of course Bernie Schreiber. But there was raw trials talent in the USA, that was to be proven later.
Walther Luft, former Austrian Trials Champion, Puch factory rider and exceptional machine developer and innovator is 70 years of age!
Happy Birthday Walther from Trials Guru!
Walther’s first Scottish Six Days Trial was in 1970 on a 169cc Puch which he made himself. He was accompanied by his good friend Peter Bous and Puch manager Hans Maiditz a former ISDT rider for Steyr-Daimler Puch A.G. (Graz).
Walther won the Edinburgh Trophy for the best foreign rider at his first attempt.
Luft developed the Puch trials machine virtually on his own with parts supplied by the factory at Graz. He took the Puch 169cc six speed motor out to a full 250cc displacement. It was a machine which was nearly 20 years in development.
Luft was always making components lighter, in fact well before his time the same processes were used many years later my mountain bike riders and manufacturers.
Walther was a talented engineer and exceptionally good at metal working as this was his trade or craft.
Much of the Puch was made from Nylon 66 material, such as the sump guard and chain tubes which was a feature of Luft’s machine and was copied by Montesa when they brought out the production Malcolm Rathmell Replica 348 machine in 1976.
Luft also went on to develop along with German champion, Felix Krahnstover the KTM trials machine. However the growing KTM concern decided to pursue motocross and enduro markets, as they were more lucrative and profitable for the Mattighoven based organisation.
A story here from the premier Austrian ‘Trial.at’ website:
Emma Bristow, Lincolnshire, England was presented with the 2014 FIM Womens’ World Trials Championship during the FIM Gala at Jerez, Spain. Emma is also ACU British Ladies Champion 2014. Well done Emma what a year you have had!
We continue Rob Edwards’ story of a lifetime in trials. This is the part you have all probably been most interested to hear about – the Rob Edwards/Montesa connection!
My First Trip to MONTESA! The day finally arrived to set off to Barcelona. I met up with the lads at Charlie’s home in Redhill (Guru: Charlie Harris, Montesa UK based development rider) then off we went. It was the first time I had met Charlie. Previous to this, I only knew him as a top trials rider in the south of England. A friend of his was travelling with us, so we had a car full. There was plenty for me to see Paris: The Eifel Tower; Citroen cars and so on. I had not been abroad before, as I spent every penny I had on trials. Plus, I would be bored to tears! We arrived at the Montesa Factory in Barcelona and I felt as if I was on another planet! Two days later, it was the trial in Terrassa. The events for the European Championship were totally different to anything I had ridden before. The time limit was six hours, plus one hour with time penalties. Two laps had to be completed, approximately 50 sections (zonas) in this time. I was not hanging about, but it took five hours to complete one lap, leaving one hour to get to the finish. I didn’t think it was possible, but by riding flat out, I reached the finish losing only a couple of time penalty points. I finished second position overall, a result beyond my wildest dreams!
The following morning, we went to the Montesa factory before setting off for home. Alberto Mallofre and Pere ‘Pedro’ Pi took me into an office. After telling me how pleased they were with yesterdays results, Alberto spoke and I couldn’t believe my ears! Could I go to America for six weeks to promote Montesa and trials in the States? Montesa were owned by Permanyer s.a. and Senor Permanyer’s son Jorge would be travelling with me. He didn’t speak a lot of English and my Spanish was no better… if not worse! A month later, I had my American visa, my ticket and I was ready for the off. I only had one thing left to do – to tell Head Wrightsons that I was quitting! I jokingly asked the workshop manager if I could take six weeks unpaid holiday. “You have got to be joking”, he said but he did pass on the news to the top factory manager who decided it was time for me to be put in my place!
“That’s it”, he said, “I’ve had enough, I’ve had as much as I can take of you and motorbikes – YOUR SACKED!”. “I’m glad about that”, I said “because I’m going to America tomorrow for six weeks!”. I am sure I heard him whisper under his breath – “thank god for that” – Bye for now – Rob
To Be Continued…
To read all of Rob Edward’s story of his life in trials click… here
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