Niall and Whit's Trial & Error

Niall Mackenzie and James Whitham rediscover their racing rivalry - this time on trials bikes at the Lampkin Action Day Experience in Yorkshire

Niall Mackenzie and James Whitham rediscover their racing rivalry - this time on trials bikes at the Lampkin Action Day Experience in Yorkshire

Could you ever imagine Kenny Roberts senior and junior spending a day at Donington teaching you the finer points of track craft and road racing? If you choose trials bikes instead, then father and son combo Martin and Dougie Lampkin (with even more world championships between them) will show you how much fun can be had on these low speed off-road machines.

Could you ever imagine Kenny Roberts senior and junior spending a day at Donington teaching you the finer points of track craft and road racing? If you choose trials bikes instead, then father and son combo Martin and Dougie Lampkin (with even more world championships between them) will show you how much fun can be had on these low speed off-road machines.

NIALL MACKENZIE

Martin Lampkin had been a teen hero of mine, so getting the chance for him to assess my riding at the press launch of the Lampkin Action Day Experience at Skipton in Yorkshire was an opportunity I couldn't miss.
I once had some adolescent fun on trials bikes when I owned a TL125 Honda that was much too big for me at the time. Embarrassingly, my bigger mates always had to start it for me.

I also remember being continually trapped underneath it, usually in bramble bushes during the hot summer of 1976. God, just thinking about that again is traumatic. I then progressed to a chrome framed Suzuki RL 250, which was more powerful and lighter, but I soon realised a career in trials was never going to happen. So I acquired an RD350 LC to try proddie racing instead.

It was good to catch up with Whit again and we resumed the usual rivalry when motorbikes and blokes are mixed together - all in good spirits, of course. When we fought all year for the British Superbike Championship in 1996, Whit won 10 races to my five. Somehow I won the title, so now it was his chance for revenge.
I was still confident of pushing him all the way, even in this totally different discipline. He admitted to having quite a lot of trials experience but said he was still 'shit'. I knew this was just to psyche me out, so I never dropped my guard all day.

The day started just after nine with tea and bacon butties while everyone met each other and the structure of the day was explained. Then it was time to get kitted up with the riding gear that the school provides and grab one of the new Montessa Hondas or Beta trials bikes for a quick warm up and play around.
At this point, the instructors watch you to get an idea on everyone's ability. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are, as the whole day is geared for all levels of experience.

With everyone nice and supple and bikes up to temperature, it was on to the marked out sections where we parked up while Dougie walked and talked us through them, assisted by his father Martin and cousin James, who is also an Expert trials rider and third place finisher in this year's Scottish Six Days.

NIALL MACKENZIE

Martin Lampkin had been a teen hero of mine, so getting the chance for him to assess my riding at the press launch of the Lampkin Action Day Experience at Skipton in Yorkshire was an opportunity I couldn't miss.

I once had some adolescent fun on trials bikes when I owned a TL125 Honda that was much too big for me at the time. Embarrassingly, my bigger mates always had to start it for me.
I also remember being continually trapped underneath it, usually in bramble bushes during the hot summer of 1976.

God, just thinking about that again is traumatic. I then progressed to a chrome framed Suzuki RL 250, which was more powerful and lighter, but I soon realised a career in trials was never going to happen. So I acquired an RD350 LC to try proddie racing instead.

It was good to catch up with Whit again and we resumed the usual rivalry when motorbikes and blokes are mixed together - all in good spirits, of course. When we fought all year for the British Superbike Championship in 1996, Whit won 10 races to my five. Somehow I won the title, so now it was his chance for revenge.

I was still confident of pushing him all the way, even in this totally different discipline. He admitted to having quite a lot of trials experience but said he was still 'shit'. I knew this was just to psyche me out, so I never dropped my guard all day.

The day started just after nine with tea and bacon butties while everyone met each other and the structure of the day was explained. Then it was time to get kitted up with the riding gear that the school provides and grab one of the new Montessa Hondas or Beta trials bikes for a quick warm up and play around.
At this point, the instructors watch you to get an idea on everyone's ability. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are, as the whole day is geared for all levels of experience.

With everyone nice and supple and bikes up to temperature, it was on to the marked out sections where we parked up while Dougie walked and talked us through them, assisted by his father Martin and cousin James, who is also an Expert trials rider and third place finisher in this year's Scottish Six Days.

After Dougie demonstrated the sections it's practice time for the 12 riders. There was a good variety of sections, ranging from grassy hill climbs to small rivers and tricky logs.

As usual, the experts made it look easy. But the morning is all about being given lots of advice to get the best out of you and your bike. Like every discipline of bike sport, throttle control, body position and timing are the important factors and the Lampkin family will constantly help and encourage you all day long.

Lunchtime involved a tasty barbecue al fresco before the (mildly) serious bit began in the form of a mini trials competition. Each rider revisited the sections from the morning and was given three attempts to ride the sections without any foot down dabs. With the rest of the group watching, there's an extra sense of pressure, which made it more enjoyable.

I was level pegging with Whit and British Supermoto Champ Christian Iddon early on, before running outside of the tapes on one of the river sections. That gave me a disastrous five, which put me out of contention.

James and Christian continued neck and neck through the afternoon, before doing a section in reverse as the final shoot out. Showing no respect for young Iddon, Whitham ruthlessly took the honours of the day.
We stopped for tea and cakes mid-afternoon and Dougie handed out the various awards, before gaving the group a demo of what he can do on a trials bike after the last tea break. You then realise that although you've learned a lot and improved your mud plugging skills through the day, you still have only one per cent of the ability of a multiple world champion.

That can't change the fact that you can have a cracking day out with just the right amount of mud, sweat and laughs for less money than many track days. With food, drinks, riding gear and bikes included in the price, it's actually amazing value. On top of that, you also get the Lampkins teaching and encouraging you all day long and that's something you just can't put a price on.

After Dougie demonstrated the sections it's practice time for the 12 riders. There was a good variety of sections, ranging from grassy hill climbs to small rivers and tricky logs.

As usual, the experts made it look easy. But the morning is all about being given lots of advice to get the best out of you and your bike. Like every discipline of bike sport, throttle control, body position and timing are the important factors and the Lampkin family will constantly help and encourage you all day long.

Lunchtime involved a tasty barbecue al fresco before the (mildly) serious bit began in the form of a mini trials competition. Each rider revisited the sections from the morning and was given three attempts to ride the sections without any foot down dabs. With the rest of the group watching, there's an extra sense of pressure, which made it more enjoyable.

I was level pegging with Whit and British Supermoto Champ Christian Iddon early on, before running outside of the tapes on one of the river sections. That gave me a disastrous five, which put me out of contention.
James and Christian continued neck and neck through the afternoon, before doing a section in reverse as the final shoot out. Showing no respect for young Iddon, Whitham ruthlessly took the honours of the day.

We stopped for tea and cakes mid-afternoon and Dougie handed out the various awards, before gaving the group a demo of what he can do on a trials bike after the last tea break. You then realise that although you've learned a lot and improved your mud plugging skills through the day, you still have only one per cent of the ability of a multiple world champion.

That can't change the fact that you can have a cracking day out with just the right amount of mud, sweat and laughs for less money than many track days. With food, drinks, riding gear and bikes included in the price, it's actually amazing value. On top of that, you also get the Lampkins teaching and encouraging you all day long and that's something you just can't put a price on.

JAMES WHITHAM

For those not familiar with motorcycle trials, being given instruction by Dougie, James or Martin Lampkin is no less impressive than being shown how to get your knee down by Rossi, except there's more of a language barrier with the Lampkins... luckily, broad Yorkshire is my native tongue.

The days are held at a beautiful country house north of Skipton (inbreeding among the gentry clearly pickling their brains to the point where they don't mind a load of peasants digging up the grounds with bikes). Me and the old trout skidded up just in time for bacon butties, before getting kitted up.

I'd done a couple of winters competing in club trials events back in the '80s, when Mick Grant made it a condition of racing in his Suzuki squad (better than riding for Rob McElnea - he makes you play golf!)
Niall told me he'd never done any, so I was quietly confident I could have my revenge for the 1996 British Superbike title he robbed me of when we were team-mates on the Boost Yamahas. Then, just as I'm figuring out how to start my allocated bike with a kickstart that's only two inches long, I look up to see Mackenzie riding clean over a two foot diameter greasy log with a grin on his face. Someone's told him about the bottle of Pomagne that's up for grabs and he's been out practicing!

The Lampkins had laid out six sections, a mixture of greasy grass banking, fast flowing stream beds, tricky logs and an easy looking but fiendishly slippery hill climb. We rode each section three times with advice/abuse flung in from the gallery. It turned into a three-way fight, with me, Niall and supermoto star Christian Iddon refusing to part with a single mark.

Then, with only a couple of sections to go - and with that £1.95 bottle of fizzy almost his - the pressure got to Mackenzie as he failed to get out of the stream section. That just left me and Christian going for the win.

It took a tiebreaker section (the hardest section run backwards) to split us. I just did him by a single mark. Fair play to the lad, he'd never even sat on a trials bike before that morning (I hate people with natural talent!)

The day was rounded off by Dougie and James showing us how it should be done. What a top trials rider can do with a bike beggars belief and they don't come any more top than this pair. James is British Expert Champion and Dougie is quite simply the best rider ever to wear Lycra.

I'd forgotten how much fun trials riding is.

A couple of grand buys you a good second-hand bike, they don't make much noise so you can practise almost anywhere without upsetting anyone and learning the bike control you need for this can only help you when you get back on your road bike.

I was still feeling pleased with myself when I arrived home, my little chest all puffed up as I announced to the wife that I'd won the competition and been awarded with a bottle of plonk for my troubles. She replied; "Who were you up against? People who've never been on a bike before?" Then she told me the grog was only good for cooking.

Thanks love.

Then, with only a couple of sections to go - and with that £1.95 bottle of fizzy almost his - the pressure got to Mackenzie as he failed to get out of the stream section. That just left me and Christian going for the win.
It took a tiebreaker section (the hardest section run backwards) to split us. I just did him by a single mark. Fair play to the lad, he'd never even sat on a trials bike before that morning (I hate people with natural talent!)

The day was rounded off by Dougie and James showing us how it should be done. What a top trials rider can do with a bike beggars belief and they don't come any more top than this pair. James is British Expert Champion and Dougie is quite simply the best rider ever to wear Lycra. I'd forgotten how much fun trials riding is.

A couple of grand buys you a good second-hand bike, they don't make much noise so you can practise almost anywhere without upsetting anyone and learning the bike control you need for this can only help you when you get back on your road bike.

I was still feeling pleased with myself when I arrived home, my little chest all puffed up as I announced to the wife that I'd won the competition and been awarded with a bottle of plonk for my troubles. She replied; "Who were you up against? People who've never been on a bike before?" Then she told me the grog was only good for cooking.

Thanks love.

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