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|No Other Event Like It|
|Written by MJ|
The Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) is special in so many ways, and one such part of the event that makes it unique is the diversity of the competitors who take part each year. Indeed, the SSDT is famous for being that one trial of the year that enables amateur riders from around the globe to compete alongside, and to complete the same challenging course, as their professional heroes.
276 riders (male and female) of all ages and backgrounds are competing in the 2012 Scottish Six Days Trial this week, and together represent more than 20 nations. Fifty years separate the oldest and youngest competitors - Austria's Walthur Luft, 67 (number 98) and Great Britain's Josh Atkinson, 17 (number 152) - and some riders have even travelled from as far afield as Australia to take part in the Scottish Highlands' century-old trial.
Among the professional riders competing this year are twelve-times FIM World Champion Dougie Lampkin (Gas Gas), seven-times British Ladies Trial Champion and 2012 FIM Women's World Trial Championship contender Becky Cook (Beta), and reigning British Trials and SSDT Champion James Dabill (Beta).
This year has also seen the welcome return of 50-year-old Giles Burgat (number 193) from France. Burgat won the SSDT back in 1981, and then went on to win both the French and World Championship in that same year. It is more than 20 years since Burgat last rode in the SSDT. Speaking during the trial earlier this week, he said:
"I have always wanted to come back here. I almost came last year for the centenary, but I was unable to take the time off work. So, I decided to practise a little more and to enter this year instead. The event is quite the same as it was 20 years ago, although I'm older now so it seems harder. It's different as now I am able to enjoy the views and the people more, instead of just looking at my front wheel as I did before. My objective this time is to just finish and enjoy it."
At the other end of the spectrum is 37-year-old James Connor (number 71), a London investment banker who is riding in the SSDT for the first time this year. James' younger brother, Sam Connor (number 70) is an SSDT regular and won the event back in 2005.
"I run my own finance company in London, so this is a completely different environment from what I'm used to Monday to Friday," said James. "It's an amazing event, I'm really happy to be here. Right now I'm not thinking any further than the next section, I learned very quickly that's all you can do at this event - hope you get round. But I'm really enjoying it, I'm making lots of friends and there is a lot of comradeship among the riders which is really nice."
The SSDT also has a very special place in the heart of 49-year-old Steve Lloyd-Cox (number 119). Steve is originally from the Midlands, but emigrated with his family to Australia 10 years ago. Steve had ridden in the SSDT twice before leaving the UK, in 1991 and 1998, and made it his ambition to return to compete alongside his son, Sam Lloyd-Cox (number 118). Father and son rode in 2010, but were unfortunately unable to finish the event, and so they are both back again this year. Steve and Sam's travel and entry expenses totalled over £12,000 this year, which highlights just how much this event means to them.
"Nothing else in the World compares to it, where you can get on your bikes, see all this beautiful scenery, and ride for miles across the moors and tracks. Now we travel 10,000 miles around the World to do it," explained Steve. "I said to my mates when I left the UK in 2002 that I'd be back in 2010 for Sam to ride. We did, but we didn't finish, so I said we'd definitely come back again, and here we are. We're loving it and the bikes are doing really well."