Ever miss the obvious? You know what I mean sometimes you’re so focused on things the ‘obvious’ can pass you by for a while until a casual comment from someone helps you see the light.
It happens in the workshop, for instance, how many times have all of us adjusted this, tweaked that and chased a problem around the bike until somebody says “you have done XYZ haven’t you…?” and the light is switched on… It happens in a trial too, you’re struggling to figure out where to go in a section when along comes another rider who goes a completely different way, making the whole section seem simplicity itself and ‘now, why didn’t I think of that?’ comes into play.
This obviousness or ‘big picture’ in modern speak happens all over but for the purposes of this column I’m speaking about off-road motorcycling in general and this magazine in particular. I’m not giving any great secrets away by stating most editors of such publications will try to build up a stock of work – tests, features etc – to try to get ahead, but sometimes something crops up and stock has to be used up all in one go but hey, doesn’t stop us trying. Personally I’ve a notepad with my editorial life on it and ideas jotted down for future features based on my knowledge of the scene and notable events happening or anniversaries of events and so on.
Notable things we’ve featured are Les Archer’s European MX 60th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Sid Lampkin’s SSDT win. For next year the obvious is Bill Nilsson’s first world championship win in 1957 which marked the raising of the series from European to full world championship category. These ideas are jotted down usually with a suggested issue for them to go in yet it didn’t actually occur to me that the momentous occasion of our 40th issue was upon me. At least not until a chat with CDB’s production editor, who has the task of keep us on the editorial straight and narrow, said: “CDB Issue 40 eh.”
The light went on. Ten momentous years of off-road motorcycling squeezed into four issues a year. Though I’ve been involved with CDB since issue one when Gez Kane brought the result of a lot of hard work and midnight oil burning to fruition I didn’t take over editor duty until issue eight. The last 10 years have been a period of change in the off-road world and those involved in it – a lot of us creak and groan more than we did back then though it never occurs to us to give it up. In our scene be it trials, MX or enduro in whichever class we ride in the sport is buoyant with events often over-subscribed or having full grids with reserve entry lists. In those 10 years new events have appeared, old ones have evolved and the focus has moved forward a little to bring Evo machines under the classic umbrella as riders who rode them when they were new reached that ‘disposable income’ bracket and wanted to relive the years when they raced. This is what happened with the Pre-65 movement in trials and scrambles, sadly though age catches up with everyone and those who kick-started the classic scene are now pushing 80 and having to accept that youngsters in their 30s have youth on their side… I did once joke that perhaps anyone under 30 riding classic ought to be handicapped with a bag of cement in a haversack on their backs and there were a few nods of approval in the admittedly elderly group I was chatting with… However, younger riders mean a healthy scene with new people coming into it and new readers for the likes of CDB so change is generally good.
Not that CDB hasn’t changed over the years either, sadly two prominent contributors – Gordon Francis and Nick Nicholls – are no longer with us and both were an important link to the scene when what we regard as classic were new machines. Columnists too have changed, Alan Wright was a controversial thought-provoker with his writing but felt he’d run out of things to say a good few issues back. Mick Andrews too stepped back a little though still does tests for us and now Jeff Smith has parked his pen in the ink well and retired from regular writing. This has allowed space for new faces, of course, but magazine focus has changed or evolved too with the rise of twinshock and Evo classes as Pre-65 priced itself beyond the enthusiast.
Despite these changes, or possibly because of them, CDB will continue to grow, change and hopefully reflect our scene and it is ‘our’.
So long may enthusiasts collar me to express their opinion… just not as I’m lined up for the begins cards or on the start line…