The Marcus Blain Trial on The Mighty Slieve Croob.
Saturday 8th of October saw the return of blue skies to County Down and the ever popular Marcus Blain U.C. Trial Bike event on Slieve Croob, Dromara, hosted annually by the Temple Motorcycle & Athletic Club. The event has remained a prominent fixture in the Northern Irish Trials Bike calendar since it began in 1999. This year was to prove no different with an 80 strong turn out of competitors, young, old & somewhere in between. The event is held in memory of Marcus Blain who was a lifetime member, friend & contributor to The Temple Club and the sport of Motorcycle Racing.
Marcus was renowned for his particular care and attention to detail when setting a Trials Bike course, he understood that you needed maximum return from the terrain to fully enjoy the experience of riding it, familiarising with and understanding it, in the hope of mastering it.
This year’s trial was for all involved an early start, on a crisp and clear Dromara morning that offered up ideal conditions for a day of challenges and checkpoints. An allowance of 5 hours 30 mins @ 1 mark per minute over 4 laps comprising 10 sections was the task at hand.
The huge sense of camaraderie within the Trials bike community is apparent, and it’s obvious the riders are in their absolute element let loose on the hills of County Down. Shouts of encouragement echoed across a patchwork of fields peppered with wind turbines and sheep. Punch Cards flapped in the breeze as riders faced thistles and thorns, rivers and shucks. Bouncing and balancing with determined concentration on faces which shared an expression that said ‘Challenge Accepted’.
Stuart McClurg took first place in the Elite+ category ensuring his name in the coveted Marcus Blain trophy winners hall of fame. Josh Hanlon was close, but not close enough to catching him, while Jake Hanlon scooped first place in the expert class and the semi-expert class saw Sam McCallion take first place by one point over Philip Hanlon
Desmond Leckey took first place overall in the Clubman Class with Kyle Turner taking first in the Classic division. Michael Adams & Thomas Crothers were winners in The Sportsman classes with Youth A class won by Shane Abraham, Youth B by Mason Crawford and C Class by Ollie Reid, with Ella Stevenson owning the Youth D Track.
John Heenan, was the main course bullworker on the day with Craig Allen building the youth course, they were assisted by Eddie Henderson and David Gault.
The competitors applauded the design of the course, mentioning the fluidity from point to point of a track that encapsulated everything required of an epic day of trials bike riding. Although wet between sections from previous weeks of rain the riders praised the Temple Club for building a course and putting on an event that they described as ‘Fantastic’, ‘Brilliant’, ‘Class’ and ‘Great Craic’.
The Marcus Blain Trial proved to be another great success for the Temple Motorcycle & Athletic Club and those who took part, an array of talent from across the province showed up and showed us all the level of expertise to be found at Northern Irish Trials Bike meetings.
There is no doubt that the unsung heroes of these fixtures are the observers, course builders and club members without whom the events would not be possible. The Temple Motorcycle Club wishes to extend their gratitude to the landowner Desmond Herron and family.
Observers Jimmy Dickey, Harry & Walter Price, David McKnight, Eddie Henderson, David Gault, Dougie Reid, Alaister Bann, Billy Rodgers, Stephen Cromie & Mark Scott. Our thanks to the riders, spectators, supporters and volunteers.
Photographs courtesy of Cromlin Images.