Early History of the Tasmanian Motorcycle Trials Club
1985 was not a good year for trials in Tasmania. The Launceston Motorcycle Club (which was primarily a motocross club) had just run the national trial and it had been a total disaster. The night before the event there was a huge storm and a massive dump of rain. This not only made the sections almost impossible, but even getting between the sections was too much of a test for many of the riders! No doubt the locals were disappointed, but riders who had come from interstate were really unhappy and vented their anger at the organisers. The poor volunteers who had put so much effort into running the event must have been devastated and this unfortunate debacle was to mark the end of trials being run in Tassie for a while to come.
Towards the end of 1990 an enthusiast called Louis Stevens put an advert in the local newspaper to see if there was any interest in starting a club for vintage motocross or trials. Mike Wellman had come to Tassie from Western Australia with his TLR in 1986 only to find that the trials scene had been wound up, so Louis’s advert looked like an opportunity too good to miss. The two had a meeting & hatched a plan to try and get trials running again in Tassie. Notices were made up & distributed around the local motorcycle clubs and a get together for anyone interested was quickly organised at the Wellman’s property at Underwood. On the day there were about a dozen interested riders, but only few bikes – one TLR, a couple of Bultacos (one of which didn’t last the day) and a Montesa. Not a really good start, but after a BBQ and a few beers everyone was starting to get fairly optimistic about the idea.
On the 10th February, 1991 the first trial since 1985 was held at Underwood on the side of Mt Arthur with a grand total of 6 riders. The event was run over 4 laps of 8 sections, followed once again by the usual BBQ and beers. Many potential riders were also there for a look and the reality began to dawn that this thing might actually get off the ground! Following the trial, Greg Cook started to spread the word in the north west, many riders were looking around for trials bikes to buy & section marker pegs were being cut & painted.
The next event was at Beaconsfield in March and the number of riders had increased to 14, but the Turners Marsh trial on 28th April 1991 was a turning point for what was now known as the Tamar Valley Trials Club with 24 riders arriving from all over the state. So the club name was already starting to seem a bit out of place, but was retained for a couple more years before being changed to the more appropriate Tasmanian Motorcycle Trials Club. By the August trial, entries had already increased to over 30, we now had A & B grades and riders were starting to look at bringing new bikes in from the mainland.
These were the days of trials results being done manually on a master sheet, but by the end of the year Ellis French had started to look at putting the results on spreadsheets. We needed some convincing that these new fangled machines called laptops could not only record points lost by riders, but also work out the results and sort them into positions! This was cutting edge technology at the time, made all the better by Ellis having access to a laptop and printer for trials days. So at the start of 1992 the club switched over to computer-generated results that were quickly available at the end of the trial and few hard copies printed out that could be taken back to the different parts of the state.
Many people were involved with getting trials off the ground again in Tassie, some of whom have been mentioned above. Others that deserve recognition are Moira Wellman (newsletter, observer, results & much needed support for Mike); Stu & Denise Buckle (making riders numbers, pegs, signs etc.); Neil & Jenny Berne, Colin & Christine Berne (infectious enthusiasm from the boys & tireless observing from the ladies) and Bob Young (spreading the word & whipping up support in the Hobart area). At the end of the day though it’s Louis Stevens that deserves recognition for getting the club off the ground – after placing the advert in the newspaper, he was tireless in getting support from local dealers, finding new venues to ride, organising trials and getting others on board.
(Written by Mike Wellman)