WHAT IS A CLASSIC TRIAL?
By definition, a trial is a test of some description. The classic in our use of the term refers to the distance of the test. Since the early 1900’s when both machinery and the MCC itself was formed, rider and drivers fought their machinery along many hundreds of miles to prove that not only was it possible, but that it was possible to compete against your fellow for the honour of being the first to arrive at the destination.
Fast forward to the present day, and the desire to use cars and bikes in a similar fashion is thankfully still much in evidence, with hundreds of entrants in the Club’s three main events.
There are many types of trials these days for two, three and four wheels, and the term ‘classic’ refers to the long distance style of event. The link to those past decades is still very much in evidence however, as whilst modern motoring makes it very easy to set the electronic navigators for the destination and simply stop only for fuel and relief, the MCC style of classic trial ensures that tricky navigation along minor roads becomes an art form.
Where once the unsurfaced roads were a challenge in themselves to our forbears, these days many of the steeper challenges lie hidden in deep valleys and woodland, used only by enthusiastic club members in an effort to prove to the Club that they have achieved the test set for them.
The MCC is unique too, in that competitors compete against the challenges set by the organisers, and not against a fellow competitor. There is a spirit of camaraderie within competitors that is often lost in other disciplines. Many are the stories of breakdowns where fellow competitors have stopped to assist or simply to offer a welcome chocolate bar..!
In order to achieve success in a classic trial, reliability is everything. Machinery, drivers and passengers, and route finding all needs to be second nature in order to arrive at the various places along the route at the designated time. Penalties are for those who arrive early or late, or fail to compete the route within the time allocated, and for making mistakes in areas known as ‘Observed Sections’ or ‘Special Tests’.
In reality, for Observed Section you can substitute steep hill, and the Special Tests are usually of the short timed stop and start style.
Be under no illusions though, the events can be quite an endurance test. Invariably the mileages are high, often around 400 miles in the case of the Lands End, and also through the hours of darkness. Those competitors in vintage cars, or exposed to the elements can have a tough time and the Club has always appreciated this, with statutory rest halts and fuelling points highlighted in the instructions.
If this whets your adventuring appetite, then read on. The MCC is now 120 years old, and the enduring appeal of the early primroses in the West Country at Easter, or the smell of mud on hot exhausts never diminishes.
See you on the hills...