Dougie Lampkin - The most talented biker...

Probably. But it's unlikely that you'll hear no-nonsense Yorkshireman and eleven-time World Trials champ Dougie Lampkin making a big noise about it

For a man who spends so much of his time with his feet up Dougie Lampkin MBE ('My Bloody Effort not some Other Bugger's Effort') has both his feet planted firmly on the ground. There's none of that prima-donna sulking, no high-and-mighty attitude problems, no impossible demands. Dougie, despite his success is, to all intents and purposes, just a normal bloke. It's not just the Yorkshire way, it's the Lampkin way, too.

"My first trials was at six months old when my Mum took me to the Scottish Six Day," says Dougie, matter of factly. "As I was growing up

I was always at trials meetings. When I got old enough to help there was my dad Martin and then cousin John to support so it was really just a way of life." There's nothing surer than inevitability.

The Lampkin trials mafia is a sizeable operation. "Our family is massive. We went to a christening a bit back and there were forty six blokes in the family there and, I think, only two of those aren't involved professionally in trials riding or bikes. The support I've had off all of them has been massive."

But support comes in a variety of means. What's really helped keep Douglas Martin Lampkin 'normal' is surely the extensive piss-taking and merciless ribbing from his family and 'friends'.

"Silsden (home town in North Yorkshire) isn't the kind of place that would let anyone get big headed," says Dougie. "It's funny but when I walk up the street the day after I've got back from losing a World round or maybe making a bad mistake in an indoor round or something, the streets are full of people asking me, why? And what happened? They're all keen to offer their opinions and to take the mickey. But when I win nobody says owt. There's no pats on the back or congratulations. Nobody says 'you were brilliant last weekend.' It's just how it is."

But surprisingly, bearing in mind his thick Yorkshire twang, Dougie is only second generation Yorkshireman. "Don't tell anyone this," he says, "but me Grandad came up from London on his motorbike and sidecar to work in a munitions factory during the second World War and we've stayed put ever since so, as a family, we're not quite so North Yorkshire as you'd expect."

Dougie Lampkin Interview

But Yorkshire has allowed the Lampkin Mafia two crucial canvasses with which to carve their authority and reputation upon. Firstly there's the geography - mile upon acre upon hectare of perfect trials country. Deep rivers, rocky outcrops, woodland, mountains, hills and dales. You couldn't really find a better location for a budding trials rider. Secondly, as a grounding for anyone in the public eye, there's that severe mistrust of anyone with a big gob, a big 'ead or big ego. As the ancient proverb goes:

"See all, 'ear all, say nowt, eat all, drink all, pay nowt. And if tha' ever does owt for nowt, all' us do it for thi' sen."

Keeping grounded is important when the World trials scene involves such high pressure and a punishing travelling routine. The money may be good at top level but this is most definitely not a world of chauffeur driven limos, Jet Rangers and penthouse hotel suites.

As I write this Dougie's on his way to Motegi in Japan for round four of the ten-round outdoor World Championships and Honda's 'round-eye' star will be out to kick ass in the very back yard of the big H. That's pressure. He's packing his bags in his Isle of Man apartment (opposite Neil Hodgson) for the trip as we speak.

Japan is probably the second biggest market for trials riding in the World - after Spain. Here it makes big news in the broadsheets and on prime-time TV. Flamboyant Japanese star Fujinami has certainly helped raise the profile but, as a nation, they just plain respect the feats of these top athletes doing the seemingly impossible on motorcycles. Their appreciation may take the form of polite hand clapping but the Japanese public are in awe of the top trials riders. Quite bloody right, too.

But it's not just the World outdoor series that keeps Dougie away from his two homes. Stir in the ten round Spanish indoor series and some Spanish National rounds, plus at least half a dozen trials schools, personal appearances at WSB, TT and numerous engagements for sponsors and you'll begin to understand why, by late May, he's only had three weekends off since Jan 1st. It's also why he keeps a pad near Barcelona.

But it doesn't seem to be taking its toll. "I just love riding my bikes as much now as I did when I was eight or nine. If I have to have two weeks away I really miss it. Riding all the time is the best training by far and I just love doing it. But to succeed you only get out what you put in so I've dedicated my whole life to achieving what I have. I can still remember my teachers saying 'don't be relying on your bikes Lampkin' and it just made me more determined."

So if it's taken an absolute life-style commitment to achieve his goals doesn't it rankle slightly that he's not a household name in the UK? Eleven World titles, after all, is a phenomenal achievement in any sport. "Well, yes it does a bit," says Dougie with noticeable restraint. "I was on Sports Personality three years back but you had to really look hard to notice me there. Since then I haven't even had an invite. I shouldn't complain too much, though, I suppose, because there are so many bike sports. I do get recognized in Yorkshire, Spain and Japan but I can pretty much go unnoticed anywhere else in the UK. I quite like that."

Does Dougie prefer the circus of indoor or the more natural outdoor scene, as clearly he's fairly good at both? "I suppose I prefer the challenge of the outdoor scene more as you've got to keep your head on for seven or eight hours instead of eight or ten minutes but there's no denying the rush you get when there's ten thousand people chanting your name and stomping their feet on the floor in a packed stadium. Stadium is the way forward to raise the profile of trials, for sure. It airs live on Spanish TV at peak time for maybe two or three hours and that's the appeal - it's a spectacle that's much easier to televise."

Towards the end of the interview I alter my tactics in an attempt to prize out the hot information, but Dougie's having none of it. "What was the four-stroke HRC trials bike like to ride then, Dougie?" I say, trying to trip him up. "I haven't even seen it yet," he laughs - clearly telling the truth. "I think they might let me have a peek if and when I re-sign for HRC at the end of the year - I don't think they'd risk showing me it in case I go and sign for someone else and take their secrets with me! It does exist, though. My stock answer is that I'll be riding a four-stroke when it's better than my two-stroke. Simple as that."


"Just get yourself a bike and go and have a go. It's really cheap," says Dougie. "You can pick an old trials bike up for £500 and have a really good laugh with your mates. Most mountain bikes cost more than that." He's not wrong.

Nothing on two wheels will give you a better grounding for riding skills. Balance, grip, throttle, clutch and brake control - it's all there. But it gets better. It doesn't piss anyone off because it's quiet and slow. Anyone who's ridden a WR450 on a busy trail will know what I'm talking about here.

You don't have to compete but if you make the (slight) effort you'll find that entry fees are under a tenner and you're allowed to ride in some of the most incredible scenery that's out of bounds to even the Rambler's Association. Hurrah.

If you choose to ride with mates, let me tell you this: there is nothing more slap-stick funny than watching a 'friend' somersault over their bars at walking pace to go arse-first into either thick mud or a bed of stinging nettles. The most serious injury you'll experience after a day's riding will be your aching sides.

But rather than rushing out and buying a trials iron, the best bet - just to get a taste - is to enlist on one of Dougie's Trials days. For under two hundred quid you get the use of a fully fettled Montesa Honda, all the clothing and instruction from the Meister (and his Dad) himself. It even includes lunch.

Put it this way - this is the trials version of spending a day with Valentino on a loaned 2002 RCV211V at Donington Park. It's not every day you get to ride with an eleven times World Champ. It's a great laugh, you learn heaps and, if my experience is anything to go by, you'll end up hooked. The Gas Gas in my garage is the proof. S'all the Lampkin's fault.