IVAN J. WAGAR
I cannot imagine any ISDT organizing federation choosing a more beautiful setting for a motorcycle event than E1 Escorial. Rich in history, the beautiful little Spanish town claims the famous monastery where the 12 kings of Spain rest in their highly polished marble caskets, neatly stacked on one side of the room, while the queens occupy the other side of the tomb.
That may seem gruesome, but one thing becomes obvious very quickly in Spain: they pay a lot of attention to what happens after death. Although it may take a bit longer to sink into the American mentality, eventually the realization comes that the Spanish are also concerned about the living.
At first many of the 80-odd Americans taking advantage of Pat Hogan’s half-fare trip for the ISDT thought that
everything would be Manana: the Spanish seem unconcerned with your problems. They shrug and pass along a “don’t worry, it will work out” type comment, but quietly and without fuss, they proceed to set the wheels in motion for a solution.
Personally, I love the Spanish. They create very little excitement as they go about the task of building 50 or so motorcycles each day, hold up airplanes when they feel it is necessary, and insist on an uninterrupted two-hour lunch break from all business matters. While this seems frustrating to us, I don’t see any of them taking Tunis.
And this apparent lackadaisical attitude existed during the two days of weigh-in and scrutineering for the ISDT. As mentioned in the ISDT report in this issue, several of our riders were in trouble because of lost entries and international licenses. Fortunately, the Spanish do not worry about such trivialities that would, in some countries, produce somewhat of a catastrophe.
Thanks to Juan Soler, clerk of the course, lost machines were found. Lost licenses and entries required only an official statement to enable the riders to compete and I, for one, look forward to seeing a future ISDT held in this beautiful, hospitable country.
The accommodations in El Escorial
were excellent. For the scribes of the various motorcycle publications, the Spanish federation chose the Victoria Palace, with its expert waiters and elegant brass-railed marble stairway. 1 most definitely recommend this beautiful old hotel to anyone planning a visit to Spain.
As it turned out, the Victoria became the home of the American and British teams. It was only necessary to book a special breakfast the evening before to receive a healthy steak and eggs, even at 6 a.m. During these early-morning encounters the true meaning of the ISDT, the establishment of a rapport between international competitors, became ailparent. England’s Ken Heanes took the time to natter with C'alifornian Bill Friant. Later, out at a check, an Fast German rider put on his best English to try to congratulate Malcolm Smith.
Our 40-man rider contingent was double our previous efforts, and the number of people to support the riders at checks increased as well. Like most of the newer riders, however, many of the people did not understand the various ways that a rider can lose marks, points, or even be liable for exclusion if the support people are not wholly competent.
Unlike our enduros, there is a pen-
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alty for punching in early at a time check. It. however, a rider stops outside the clock zone, marked by a yellow flag 20 meters before the clock, he can use his spare time to work on the machine. Several riders made tire changes at mid-way checks on the “free” earned time from the previous run.
What is most important about early arrivals is that the rider has to watch his time very closely. If he checks in after his minute at any of the 60-odd checks during the week, the gold medal is gone, even with the loss of only one mark. So it is understandable that a rider running in gold time will be very apprehensive about whose word he takes about his time.
Fortunately our more experienced riders, through previous ISDT training, know exactly where they stand on time. To also make things easier. Husqvarna of Sweden helped our Trophy team. Sachs took complete care of our Penton Vase A effort, and Cemoto Fast helped the manufacturer’s team. Still, it is impossible for the factory crews to man all checks, and it is essential that check personnel be easily indentifiable to the
approaching rider, and that they be completely trustworthy for keeping track of the time.
Check control for the European factory riders is practiced with the same degree of skill as the most professional Indy crew. There is a control chief, often a former ISDT rider, who stands just outside the time zone and tells every rider exactly when to go to the clock. In some cases it was apparent that the rider had little or nothing to say about when he should go in.
Our situation is very different. In the first place, our riders are not used to the military-like regimentation that exists among some of the European teams. And we do not have professional check people to accept the full responsibility of a rider’s time. This year, in fact, it was a case erf looking around the evening before each run to see who would man the checks.
Even so, there were very few unmanned checks for our riders throughout the week, thanks to a lot of good people, many of whom gave up their vacations to help the team. The gratitude on the face of a cold, tired rideras he came to a check, received a hot drink and saw a friendly face, was reward enough.
We can solve the check personnel problem, however, at the same time as we are grading riders for future ISDTs.
It is necessary to have at least two ISDT-type trials, such as the Berkshire Two Days, in both the Eastern and Western regions. Not only could we train people on check procedures, but we could also familiarize them with the riders and the riders' individual needs in a long distance event. Riders and checkers would also learn more about the needs of one type of machine over another, for instance, some motorcycles required chain lube at almost every check.
The time to start is now. By midsummer we should know which people are going to be trained and available to work. These people will serve as trained check managers who will man each check and supply it with inner tubes, air bottle, tank sealant, chain and cable lube. For the rider, apart from food anil drink, he should have available emergency goggles and gloves.
We will never reach the level of professionalism displayed by the central European countries where the riders, team managers and support people work all year for the ISDT. Regimentation is the keyword for our improvement. Sr. F.X. Bulto, that grand old man of motorcycle racing, feels that our “splendid” effort this year can easily be surpassed in the future because of the enthusiasm and the love for motorcycling shown by the Americans. [Ö]