If you are a competent trials rider and hold a licence under the SACU, ACU, MCUI or an international FIM licence, then in theory you can ride the SSDT.
However, in practice things may be slightly different! The SSDT is probably the only time that you will ride your bike for six consecutive days of tough riding, so don't underestimate the level of fitness required to get through it, and that goes for both you and your bike! You need to be sure that you are bike fit as the trial requires a good deal of physical strength, and most importantly, stamina.
It is a well-known fact that the fitter you are, the less energy you use, especially in the sections, so the average clubman has to be pretty fit – the fitter you are the more you'll enjoy your week!
Since its origin in 1909 no motorcycle trial has captured the imagination of rider and spectator in the same way as the Scottish Six Days Trial. The SSDT lures entrants from all corners of the globe and has the same status to trials riders as the Isle Of Man TT has to road racers. Throw in some world champion motorcyclists, the most spectacular scenery Scotland has to offer, and a route to challenge the stamina of the fittest, and that's the SSDT.
Every rider should take time to stop at the top of some of the hills that the trial covers to admire the majestic scenery – to walk to some of the places that the route covers takes hours or even days. It is a privilege to be allowed to ride a bike over some of the most breath-taking scenery in Britain. In good weather it's awesome, and in bad weather it is even more so. In a word, it's spectacular.
It is one of the few events where everyday trials riders get to compete on equal terms with professional and world-class riders. The trial has a reputation for being the toughest in the world, and it is the most prestigious event that a trials rider can win. Competing in the Scottish Six Days Trial is the dream of every young trials rider, and long may that continue.
All you need to do to enter the SSDT is submit your entry form when entries open. Traditionally that happens on 1st October – entry forms are available online on the SSDT website or by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the SSDT Secretary. Details are published both online and in the motorcycling press at the time.
Sounds simple, doesn't it! Unfortunately completing the entry form very rarely guarantees you an entry in the SSDT. There are 270 places available every year, but on average we get between 450-500 entries for the trial, so for every entry accepted there's one turned down. That's the first rule of entering the SSDT – don't fill in the form expecting to get an entry. If you prepare yourself for missing out then you can only be pleasantly surprised when you get in! The riders who get in are determined by ballot.
|Start of October||Entries open on the SSDT website|
|Mid December||Entries close|
|Early January||Ballot carried out|
|Late February||Entry payment deadline|
|Early March||Entry packs distributed|
Entries close in mid-December and assuming that entries are over-subscribed, as they have been since the turn of the century, a ballot takes place to allocate the entries. Those who get in will tell you it is a great system and those who don't will insist that it is a fix, but the reality of the situation is that we draw the places in the only fair way that we can, and that is by allocation places at random.
However, there is a catch – not all 270 places are allocated in the ballot. Thirty places are set aside for formal factory teams and fifty are set aside for the Club to allocate at their discretion. There are also some sponsorship deals available which include guaranteed places for our sponsors to allocate at their discretion. All remaining places are drawn at random through the draw. Believe it or not, we really do cut up pieces of paper with the names on them, drop them into a big bowl and draw each place out one by one! It's the only fair way to do it.
The reason that the number of riders is restricted is because we have to make sure every rider has enough time to get round the route of the trial in daylight. Riders are set off at one-minute intervals, and with 270 riders that means that there's a four and a half hour gap between the first and last riders leaving the Parc Ferme in the morning. The route takes anything between six and eight hours to cover, and we need to allow a little leeway for delays, so fitting more riders into that time frame would be impossible.
We do get asked if we can set riders off every thirty seconds, thereby doubling the number of riders we could take in a day, but anybody who has ridden the trial will tell you that many of the sections are already congested with queues of riders....if we double that it would make the trial a logistical nightmare for everyone involved so I'm afraid we're stuck with our 270 limit until such time as there are more than 24 hours in a day.
That is the million dollar question...! The entry fee itself covers your entry to the trial and the cost of supplying your food and your lunch for each of the six days (reduced lunch on Saturday).
However, you also need to consider your travel costs, the costs of accommodation, the spares you'll need to buy during the week, and all the other little things that mount up.... The food, the beers, the little things you pick up at the trade stands. It's not a cheap week by any stretch of the imagination, so make sure you look into it all before you decide whether or not you can take it on.
Get yourself bike fit - you will need a level of fitness that allows you to enjoy riding your bike for six consecutive days. Imagine a one day trial lasting over 7 hours, then you have to do this for six days ! - you will enjoy is so much more if you are bike fit.
Get your bike fit - you do not need a new bike but you do need a reliable bike that will get you round 500+ miles or moor, roadwork and some tough sections. you will undoubtedly need to do repairs or at least maintenance during the week and you are not allowed outside assistance, you are also given limited time to do this, so a basic understanding on bike maintenance is essential.
Pack a sensible backpack with tools, tubes etc and remember to keep some space for your own sustenance - water and some high energy snacks are advisable.
There is very little that can be done to give you a true insight into the SSDT – riding the trial is the only way to find out what it's really all about! However, there are a few things that can give you an insight along the way.
To see the sections themselves, we'd recommend CJB Photographic's SSDT DVDs. They focus on some of the key sections throughout the trial, with commentary throughout. It's a great way to see the sections you'd be riding.
However, don't be fooled by those – many of the sections in the SSDT are relatively easy, because the hard work is in getting there! Kiss The Mudgard productions, in conjunction with Trials Central, have been filming the Scottish since 2007 and their footage has become a firm favourite with SSDT riders and fans alike over the past five years. They cover some of the more out-of-the-way sections and chunks of the route between sections, so their footage is really invaluable to anyone thinking of riding the SSDT for the first time. You can find their extensive coverage via the Video option from the menu above.
Watching DVDs doesn't give you a feel for the pain, exhaustion, cold and sheer exhilaration that comes with the Scottish though. It's always worth speaking to someone around your level who has ridden, preferably more than once, to get their first-hand feedback.
The long and short of it is that the only way you'll find out what it's really like is by riding it yourself. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and no matter how much pain you go through, we guarantee you'll want to come back. It's an addiction.