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|Lochaber riders rightly proud of their region's famous trial|
|Written by MJ|
Every year riders from around the world flock to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands to compete in the famous Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT). This year has seen riders travel from as far away as Japan, America, Australia and New Zealand to take on the oldest and toughest motorcycle trial in the world, and to ride for miles around the stunning Scottish countryside. But for four competitors - Kevin Dignan (number 114), Michael Fothergill (number 115), Gavin Brown (number 163) and Gary MacLennan (number 164) the action is right on their doorstep, as all are residents of Fort William or the surrounding Lochaber region.Of the 276 riders competing in the 2012 Scottish Six Days Trial, 36 of them are from Scotland. For these native few it seems that there is something very special, even patriotic, about taking part in the SSDT, or 'The Scottish' as it also fondly known. Scottish riders are especially proud of their country's beautiful landscape, which is widely regarded as the best trials terrain on the planet.
Speaking earlier this week, 43-year-old Fort William rider Kevin Dignan commented: "Nothing can compare to riding about in the Scottish countryside. Even when you live here, you don't always appreciate the scenery that we live in. It's just fantastic."
Fellow Lochaber man, 42-year-old Michael Fothergill agrees with Kevin: "We are just so fortunate to have all of this around us. We take a lot of it for granted as we live here, but then we appreciate why you get so many Japanese, French and Spanish coming over to do it."
Each route over the six days incorporates various private land and conservation areas, so it is a rare privilege for competitors to ride their bikes in these locations. In a recent statement, the Edinburgh and District Motor Club, which organises the SSDT, expressed their sincere gratitude to all the local landowners and authorities, including Scottish Natural Heritage, for granting special access to these areas and making the SSDT possible each year.
Kevin is riding in his eighteenth SSDT this year, and as a resident of the event's host town, he regularly helps out with various planning aspects of finding new routes and sections for the trial. When asked how the SSDT compares to other trials he has ridden in over the years, Kevin answered: "This is a one-off, it is amazing. It's like a drug, it just gets you. It's not just the trial, but also the camaraderie amongst all the people out here. You meet people year in year out, and it's just great. It's like one big family."
Michael has been one of the week's contenders to claim this year's award for the highest placed Scottish rider. "I have ridden in the SSDT around ten times now. Last year was supposed to be my last, but it didn't go too well. It's a hard trial, but when the sun is shining it's great fun," he added.
Typically, the Scottish weather has been very interchangeable and unpredictable over the last few days. More rain and even snow is forecast in the region, but let's hope that 'mother nature' sends the riders some sunshine before the week is over.