Classic Motocross Survey 2013 : results and comments

Introduction

The online survey ran for around 10 days and was a personal project not linked to any association, club or governing body. It’s primary is to get opinions from riders on the 2013 season and in particular get some insight why there were a spate of non-weather cancellations, in particular in August.

Submissions

There were in total of 94 submissions. Advertising for the survey was primarily on the MXTrax website and therefore non visible to the internet literate. The URL for the survey was also distributed to the email addresses of Llanthony Classic Club members.

Responses

The full set of question-by-question analysis provided below, and specific responses are provided in the attached spreadsheet. Any personal information has been removed, though the actual ‘free text’ answers have not been edited (they are highlighted in yellow in the sheet). The questions requiring text responses, rather the multiple choice answers have had a summary provided, though the whole set of answers is in the spreadsheet.

For Organisers/Clubs

There are some very interesting messages for organisers, both looking back at this last season and when considering 2014 events.

Tracks :That it’s the track that’s the major determining factor for many riders, followed by good organisation and if a riders friends are going, then they are also likely to go. That Farleigh and Hawkstone get mentions as the best events of 2013, is partly to do with history, but also because they are great tracks. Whilst Foxhills is a classic track, it was seen as not appropriate for Twinshock racing, so fit for purpose if also key.

Type of Event : The classic rider (ie pre60 and pre68 classes) prefer classic only events, in particular with tracks and classes that fit their bikes. If it’s a predominately classic event, then you are likely to get a classic rider. On the other hand, twinshock riders like ‘classic’ tracks and don’t tend to mind running as a support class at classic meetings. However, better and more committed twinshock riders really like specific, good-quality events. That the Three Counties Club Tirley meeting got voted the best meeting of the year, and the worst, shows whats good for Evo’s isn’t good to classic bikes.

Number of Events : Whilst the survey showed that people are generally okay with the number of events, there is a feeling that reducing the number of conflicting events,ie similar classes running on the same day at two different meetings will be a good thing. Clubs and the events they run are of course vital to the sport, and at the clubs discretion, but they do need to consider whether they should really run an event if it’s been poorly supported in the past, including in 2013.

Dates : As well as fixture congestion, a couple of other comments of interest. Meetings in August, and in particular the Bank Holiday didn’t conflict with other meetings, but did conflict with other plans the rider (and possibly their family) had. Running events in the ‘holiday’ season, such as the North Devon Atlantic meeting at Combe Martin can be very successful, both in terms of riders and successful. However, it does need advertising, long notice periods and being near a beach and other attractions helps. The Kevin Costner ‘build-and-they-will-come’ approach isn’t enough, it needs advertising and over time, to build up a good pedigree. It does always seem that whilst May and September are busy, June can be a bit quiet for some events.

Japanese Bikes : Overall the pre74 rider wasn’t that concerned with riding at twinshock events or classic ones, however being excluded by some clubs was a cause for concern, who only allow pre74 British and European bikes.[[Note, the author of the report does have a vested interest in this issue, but comments were not in my submission :-)]]

Entries : If you are not one of the big events, entry closing dates that are two weeks ahead of the event are nearly always doomed to be cancelled, i. As the survey shows, the vast majority of riders plan in the must do events (Nostalgia, Farleigh etc) at the beginning of the year, and the others are very much dependent on finances, geography and the usual factors. If an entry can be made up to 5 days before an event, then they’ll do it, especially if racing the previous weekend and to check the bike and themselves are still intact. Also, moving on from postal entries is needed in order to speed the turnaround time [[I’m currently looking at a secure webform, with a Paypal backend. Paypal now supports a ‘pay after delivery’ method. Maybe the AMCA should have a web shop, with different ‘event’ products that can be purchased online, including the day license.]]

Types of Events: In the main people are happy with current motocross formats, usually 3 blocks of racing, with each race lasting under 10 minutes usually. However, there is a hint, that alternative events, like hare-and-hounds and endurance events that give people more track time and generally something different, may be on the rise. The Narberth Hare-and-Hounds in September, where the venue could accommodate a long lap, was successful and further advertising and spread by word-of-mouth will increase it’s popularity in 2014.

Classes : Maybe try to cater for the range of rider abilties and potentially run a Sportsman class for all bike types, especially if there’s a full twinshock line. Whilst some clubs run Age Related classes (in particular in Scotland), they are one way of giving people more racing, if they want it.

Promotion : Obviously running good events in the past is the best way of getting people to come to future events. Advertising online (not just posting regs) and locally in the press (for spectators) should be something clubs do as course. In France any motocross, trial or motorsport event, however small, gets posters, radio and a lot of general promotion.

For Governing Bodies / Associations

Fixtures : The general feeling is that there should be more direct involvement to ensure that events are coordinated and that fixture clashes are avoided where possible. This both within a specific association, as well as between different bodies. For example, one thing that happened during 2013, was that June was a pretty fallow month for the pre74 riders, as events like the Bonanza excluded a lot bikes. Taking a holistic view of the schedule from the view of the different class of riders and making advice of the schedule would be a good idea.

Support : One of the things mentioned was about financial support for some clubs and the national championship(s) if needed. However, providing more assistance with advertising and promotion, as well as helping improving organisation might be well received.

For Championship Organisers

Bikes : See comment on Japanese bikes.
Qualification : The vast majority of riders think that a championship should be ‘open’, and not only available for selected riders. Even if a rider has no chance of winning, then there actually participating in a championship of some form can be a motivator to attend an event they wouldn’t normally attend.

Other Comments

For riders, one pertinent messages was that you can’t please everyone. The best meeting for some, is less good for others. Also, the weather is variable in the UK and riders should try to ride in all conditions and support an event. Also greater understanding of other classic riders in other classes would also be appreciated.

In an ideal world, each class would have a full entry on the line, with 4-6 blocks of racing, on a track that’s good for classic and twinshock bikes. The sun will be shining and every rider gets the holeshot in at least one race. We can but dream. The reality is that there are somethings to be sorted out in the sport going forward, but it’s still a lot better that modern motocross. Bike’s don’t depreciate (though starting in the sport is getting more expensive), the tracks and social scene are good and that it can be a satisfying sport, even if you come in the last third of the field. The latter comment is true; I experience it most weekends in the summer.

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Survey Responses
Spreadsheet with responses

classicmxsurvey2013.xls

What is your location in the UK ?

|North West England| 8|
|North East England| 1|
|Midlands, England| 30|
|South West England| 23|
|South East England| 21|
|Wales| 9|
|Scotland| 3|

Where do you go to for events ?

|North West England| 10|
|North East England| 7|
|Midlands, England| 36|
|South West England| 48|
|South East England| 24|
|Wales| 26|
|Scotland| 6|
|Northern Ireland| 1|
|France| 6|
|Belgium| 4|
|Rest of Europe| 6|

What type of classic bike do you ride ?

|Pre 1960 British| 5|
|Classic , (pre 1968)| 20|
|Pre 1974 (or similar, ie 75 in Scotland or Wales)| 21|
|Twinshock (usual qualification)| 43|
|Evo (up to 1989)| 15|
|Super Evo (1989-1999)| 1|
|Sidecar| 6 |

How many events did you ride in 2013 ?

|None, 1 or 2 events| 10|
|3 to 6 events| 25|
|over 7 events, but less than 12| 33|
|over 12 events in 2013| 27|

What type of rider are you ?

|Expert, I can win a race at a club or championship meeting| 6|
|Good, I can win and regularly come in the top 3 in my class| 18|
|Not bad, I’m in the top half on the field| 33|
|I’m Okay and can be competitive |17|
|Having fun, usually in the second half of the field| 18|
|I’m new and still working out how to beat the other guys|2|

What’s your primary consideration on selecting a meeting to go to ?

|My friends/mates usually go to this event| 6|
|I know that the event is likely to run| 4|
|It’s local and not too far to travel| 12|
|It’s a great track| 30|
|The organisation is excellent| 4|
|The classes they run suit the type of bike I ride| 16|
|It’s a British/Welsh/Scottish or other relevant championship event| 13|
|The best competition, other riders, at this event| 1|
|Socially its a great meeting| 9 |

What are the other reasons you choose an event ?

|My friends/mates usually go to this event| 25|
|The event is likely to run| 10|
|It’s local and not too far to travel| 11|
|It’s a great track| 28|
|The organisation is excellent| 22|
|The classes they run suit the type of bike I ride| 30|
|It’s a British/Welsh/Scottish or other relevant championship event| 12|
|The best competition, other riders, at this event| 9|
|Socially its a great meeting| 24 |

Do you like meetings with combined classic classes ?

|Yes I don’t mind combined meetings| 53|
|No, Each type of classic should have it’s own meeting| 13|
|Don’t mind, it’s no important to me| 29|

How do you plan which meetings you will go to ?

|I plan ahead at the beginning of the year, and stick to it| 6|
|A combination of both; I plan some “must do” events and work in others if I can| 89|

When thinking of entering an event, what makes you more interested ?

|Cost, entry fee is reasonable| 41|
|Late Entry, I can enter late by calling the organiser (and paying a reasonable late entry fee)| 11|
|I know that the event will run and not be cancelled| 48|
|The closing date is relatively near to then event, rather than more 1 week beforehand| 21 |

Number of meetings in a season ?

|Too many meetings in the year and there are too many clashes |44|
|There are not enough meetings| 5|
|The number of meetings currently is about right for me.|46 |

How many events to do plan to rider next year ( ie 2014) ?

|None, 1 or 2 events| 3|
|3 to 6 events| 21|
|over 7 events, but less than 12| 38|
|over 12 events in 2014| 33 |

Do you think central management of fixtures would help ?

|Yes, some central ownership and management of fixtures would be a good thing| 62|
|No, every club should be able to run a meeting when it feels like it |15|
|Don’t have an opinion on this| 17 |

Do you think the variety of events is good ?

|No, would like a greater variety of type of event (hare and hounds, enduro’s etc)| 7|
|No, same type of event but more mixed types of races, age related races, for example| 32|
|Yes, the variety of events is good as they are| 54 |

Do you think Championships are currently elistist ?

|No, Championships should be for best riders only and by selection| 22|
|Yes, Championships should be for everyone.|72|

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For future surveys
There are a number of questions that could have been asked, but weren’t
– age of rider
– transponders, thoughts on use in classic motocross
– what type of license do you hold ?
– are you a member of a Club ?

Also the advertising for the survey was limited, though it was to one of the most popular web forums in the UK.

Maybe for consideration for future surveys.

Further Interpretation

The information in the spreadsheet provides the opportunity for more further detailed analysis and appreciate any feedback on this, or on the report provided. Email malcolm@bwlch.net.

Many thanks to the people who took time to fill in the survey and hope you find the responses and analysis of interest.

Zen and the Art of Classic Motocross

I’m just in the process of re-reading Robert Pirsig’s 1973 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for the umpteenth time. I first read it as part of a class given by Red Des (cant remember his full name) as a Science Technology and Society module at the Polytechnic of Wales in 1987. It’s the most publish philosophy book ever, mainly because it’s interesting, readable and makes some very relevant comments of the impact of technology on society. Some people comment that it’s content now seems dated; personally I feel its especially relevant as internet technology dominates all our lives.

What makes the book interesting for some in that it uses a road trip taken in 1968 from Minnesota to San Francisco in 17 days as it’s backdrop. Pirsig and his son, Chris, initially accompanied by friends John and Sylvia encounter good roads, bad roads, good weather and bad weather as they journey across the plains, Dakota’s and the Rockies.

Of particular interest is that neither pair were Harley mounted. Pirsig’s criticism of friends John’s approach to maintaining his BMW (he doesn’t and relies on the reputation of reliability) is very much in contrast to his regular servicing and understanding of his own bike, a Honda.

Whilst the main theme of the book explore the subject of quality and Pirsig’s own exploration of the subject that resulted in him receiving electric shock therapy in the early sixties, there is a sub-theme that touches on some recent discussions I’ve had those classic motocross events I’ve been to.

There should be sound logic and a good hypothesis for all questions and their solutions. There is always of course more than one hypothesis and this is what got Pirsig thinking.

What got me thinking was the British Classic Motocross Championship (okay this is a bit of leap, but hey anything is possible). I’ve a Zen approach to racing; it’s not about winning, its about participating, loving the bikes, working on them and participating in the society that surrounds it. The comments below shouldn’t be taken personally; criticism is the analysis of something, not having a go at something or someone.

This year, one of the British Championship classes changed from pre-1972 to pre-1974. What didn’t change was that it’s invite only and that if you want to ride a Japanese bike, you are not going to get an invite. Not that I’m going to win anything, but also I’m not going to do any harm and I know there are good riders who could win an event on a Japanese bike (all names withheld to protect the guilty). I guess I’m surprised by the Ecclestone-iansec approach to a national championship, having for a number of years particilated in the National Sammy Miller Trials Championship without ever troubling the podium, but enjoying the event, the people and the scene that saw me tackle great sections between Devon and Cumbria. You could ride any brand of bike, as long as it either met the age criteria or had twin shocks on the back. Trials was always the place to find the oldball, 118cc Alta Suzuki [[ Made in Wales, Neath I think, around 1970 during the ultralight era of trials that killed the HT5 and other British bikes.]]anyone ?

There’s plenty of discussion on online about the health of the sport and entries ( for example, this thead ). Japanese bikes are cheaper than British and in the main are cheaper than European two-strokes, so make them affordable to riders, both to purchase and run. They can be competitive in the right hands and a £400 bike can be a winner. Is that the problem ?

I know that there are other exclusions on Japanese bikes (and carburetors) at some clubs, and I’m glad that even people in Essex appreciate 1974 Japanese bikes (taking one over next week).

However, please don’t see these comments as personal criticisms. This is one view, may not be correct. I guess I’m arguing for the Darwinian evolution in classic motocross now, replicating what took place in the early 70’s.

I wrote an article for the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club’s journal, Tansha, last year. I took some photos and made some notes at Clyro. Whilst everyone knows that Japanese bikes had a big impact post 1975, it was surprising to see so many Japanese pre74 bikes including Elsinores, KX’s and TM Suzuki’s. Though my MX was the only Yamaha on the line a couple of seasons back, I’ve seen a lot more recently and not just MX’s, but some competitive DT1’s [[Theorectically you could race a pre68 Yamaha, maybe a project for the future]], RT2’s and DT2MX’s (the former available in the UK) as well as a couple of early (and quick) YZ125 and 250 A’s. It’s a healthy scene and maybe I’ll run my own pre74 Japanese-only series. Ah bollocks, I’ve just contradicted my own argument. Robert Pirsig wouldn’t approve.

Not enough racing, too many meetings ?

The bikes are languishing in the garage, and whilst it’s a good chance to catch up on maintenance I decided to go racing, but with my 1975 Scorpion boat something that wasn’t possible last year.

However, enough of this melancholia; lets look at the problem.

I’ve had more returned and cancelled cheques this year than in the previous 3 seasons and its been a good summer weather wise. It’s not the weather then, so on to some other facts

– good meetings, at good tracks, get entries; therefore the Nostalgia, North Devon (Atlantic), Thornhill, etc get good entries.
– regions with few clubs and meetings get entries (Pre65 and Mortimer for example)
– well advertised meetings, with firm dates at the beginning the year, get entries.
– flexible, approachable entry secretaries also help
– the 20 quid late entry fee is pointless; rather than getting a late entry, you won’t get one..
– distance is usually irrelevant if it is a good meeting;

Onto my own personal view, it all comes back to the meeting at the beginning of the year to discuss fixtures; needs a benevolent dictator (or cricket like selection committee) to actually _decide_ what is running and when.

Some simple rules:
– use previous years figures on entries, cancellations etc to see what has happened. If an event was cancelled in 2013, why this happened and what might be needed to be done to avoid it in the next year.
– look at the map; and make a decision on geography on where meetings are running.
– restrict meetings if you think there are too many, with similar classes running at same time

The entry fee at £30.00 seems reasonable, at least if you get 3-4 races and more if you have second bike. Getting to the venue is potentially significantly more expensive and it’s still cheap motorsport. Ah, whilst a few people have commented on the increasing cost of bikes (in particular pre68 ones) you can still go racing relatively cheaply, and classic motocross bikes are unlikely to go down in value.

For the decision after a few seasons is to go for Quality, which is always a difficult thing to quantify and measure [ you can always go off and read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Published in 1974, its a bit about bikes and a bit about the period, but it’s mainly the [ most published philosophy book ever. ]].

What makes quality :
– obviously a good track
– good organization
– good number of races, and classes to suit your bike

However, there are other factors:
– is it near the beach or shops, or other attractions for the family if you are going for weekend
– are you mates going, to share transport and have a laugh with
– how far is it ?

I’ve raced in England, Wales, Belgium and even Scotland this year (and I can safely say the Thornhill meeting was one of best I’ve been to), but it’s always good to get dates in diary early, as in my case it lets me plan around the kids, girlfriend and what country I’m going to be in.

I don’t know will chair the date meeting for 2014, or who is responsible from AMCA, but before letting clubs have the dates they want, evaluate 2013 performance and use this as input. Too many bad, cancelled or date-changed meetings are not helping.

As for encouraging people to race classic motocross, more on this later, as I’m saving it up.

A newer version of SPIP

I’d meant to do this ages ago, but SPIP (the Content Management System) was a little out-of-date and didn’t support some nice new features.

Upgrade to 3.0.4 has been done and I’ll continue to tidy it up and add the new features and functions as promised.

RAF Monument in Lier, Belgium

The monument is to the crew of a Lancaster bomber of No 156 Squadron, RAF that was shot down on a bombing mission to Cologne on 17th June 1943. The memorial was designed and made by Roger Schoofs and there is an article on the monument as part of a larger article on Lier monuments. (It’s in Dutch, but some of the information translated below).

IMG_20120408_183700.jpg

i guess like a lot of these small monuments, they are now overlooked and less relevant, but poignant all the same. The Lancaster had it’s bomb-load when it crashed so the explosion destroyed most of the houses in the neighbourhood.

Inscription on the memorial

A translation of the local website.

This artwork was an initiative of the war researcher, Wim Govaerts and was unveiled in the presence of relatives of the crew.

On the night of June 17, 1943 at 1:15 crashed beside the Mechelsesteenweg Lier, an Avro Lancaster bomber (number ED840) of the 156th squadron of the Royal Air Force down. This was on my way to Cologne, but the route was badly effected by the German FLAK. The RAF lost 15 bombers on that night on their way to Cologne. The havoc on the ground was considerable as the bomber had not dropped his load. The Lancaster was loaded with a “cookie”, an exceptionally heavy bomb, without shrapnel, which was intended to maximize shock wave in the target area, so that roofs were blown away. This enabled the cargo incidendary phosphorus bombs to set the buildings on fire more easily.
.
Of the 7 crew, 4 were killed and 3 were taken prisoner.

Those who died:
Squadron Leader J. C. Mac Intosch
Pilot Officer E. Monk
Flight Sergeant R. Dobson
Flight Sergeant P. Woodcock
They are buried in the Schoonselhof in Antwerp.

Sergeant RC Drinkwater was interned in Camp L6/L4, Prisoner #.122.
Sergeant LG Ledamun was interned in Camp L6/357, Prisoner # 328. He was wounded in the head and legs but was not hospitalized.

Flight Sergeant EEWeare could escape after the crash and after evading capture for a while, he was eventually betrayed by a certain “Captain Jackson” and was arrested Aug. 3, 1943 in Paris. He was detained in Camp 4B, Prisoner No.222540. He escaped on April 6, 1945 and arrived in Britain on 18 May 1945.

Gutted !

It seems that Classic Experts trials action isn’t going to make it to ITV (and there won’t be 250 quid to out drinking with).

Dear Home Video Maker

YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED!

Clip Reference Number : W1976425
Clip Title : Tredegar Twinshocks in Action

Thank you for sending in your home video clip.

Unfortunately, we are unable to use your clip in our programme.

Please note, due to the very high volume of clips sent to the programme every year, I am afraid we are unable to give you a specific reason for not accepting your clip. Please don’t be put off, and if you have any other clips that you think we might be interested in, please don’t hesitate to send them to us. Remember you could receive £250 if we use your clip in one of our programmes

Thank you again for your interest in the programme and taking the time to submit your clip to us.

Turning off forums

Because of the inordinate amount spam, I’ve had to turn off the forums and comments. I’m going to look to upgrade SPIP and see if there is a better filter; if so i can turn it back on

Apologies for the inconvience

New news item

After some trouble with my hosting provider UKHosts having one of their web servers compromised, I decided it was time for a change. I’ve move the website to a Linux VPS hosted by Linode . Its a virtualised Xen server running Linux (Fedora 9) and gives me full root access via ssh and the chance to set things up my way and hopefully more securely.

I’ll still be using the SPIP content management system for now. Its proved to be pretty robust and managed to recover it pretty easily after the hack at UKHosts.

The hungerstone.net domain is still active, but I’ll also use the opportunity to bring in the twinshock.org.uk domain as the primary domain for website access.

Thanks for using the site (there are already around 2500 page views a month) and if you would like to contribute to the site, with classic trials reviews or about bikes you’ve worked on, then let me know and I can add you as an author.

PlanetRock : playing with Linux

Getting PlanetRock playing with Linux

Took about 10 minutes to work it out, but should be fairly straightforward.

The PlanetRock stream in an .asx file, which mplayer supports directly. Therefore to get the best rock station in the UK (on DAB or Internet) some simple steps below:

1. You need to have the mplayer package install on your Linux distro (mine is Red Hat / Fedora). To install it “yum install mplayer” which should pull in any dependencies also.

2. From the Home page http://www.planetrock.co.uk click on the “Listen Now” button.

3. New pop-up page; you have a compatible player installed, so right click on the “Click Here” link and select “Copy Link Location”

4. Switch to a terminal / command line on your system (easiest way, honest) and type “mplayer -playlist “. You should be able to paste the URL but will have something like “mplayer -playlist http://mediaweb.musicradio.com/Playlist.asx?StreamID=23”.

5. You will get some messages but then the player will fill the buffer and depending on the speed of you connection, should then start playing.

I live in the wilderness and struggle to get a connection about 1Mbps, but have no problem listening to PlanetRock. Keeps me insane. Rock on