A Trials Guru ‘section’ dedicated to photographer Colin J. Bullock of CJB Photographic.
Featured riders Index:
Andrews, Mick – Birkett, Nigel – Browning, Arthur – Dabill, James – Dommett, Scott – Edwards, Rob – Lampkin, Dougie – Lampkin, John – Lampkin, Martin – Lejeune, Eddy – Lejeune, Eric – Norris, Adam – Reynolds, John – Rathmell, Malcolm – Shepherd, Rob – Shirt, John Snr. – Saunders, Steve – Thorpe, Dave
One who has been around a long time but who remains as keen as ever is Colin Bullock, the man from the Midlands who has been covering motorcycle sport since the early seventies. He is also a ‘Silver Surfer’ – read on!
Words: John Hulme
Pictures: CJB & Yoomee Archive
Colin’s introduction to motorcycling came in his last year at school, when, walking home one day a classmate pulled up on his Honda 50cc step through and offered him a lift. Despite the poor little thing being flat out at 30 mph he was taken to two wheels, much to his parent’s horror.
After some weeks of constant badgering for a similar machine one came up for sale locally. The lady who owned it had forgotten to unlock the steering head security lock and a trip into someone’s garden when she was trying to turn right put her off the whole idea. The cost was thirty pounds but it was not his idea of a motorcycle, but it was a start and despite the parental objections, they thought he would grow out of the fascination, like many he never did.
From the 50cc to the first of the 500cc Honda fours, he got hooked on road riding and then motorcycle sport but it was not trials but road racing that grabbed his attention. It was off to the Leicestershire circuit at Mallory Park for every meeting followed up with regular trips to Oulton, Cadwell Park and occasionally Brands Hatch. The 1971 Race of the Year with John Cooper and Ago was probably the standout of them all for Colin and he remembers the sight of Mike Hailwood in his heyday which was just magic. As you will have noticed there is still no mention of a camera or off-road events at this point in his life. His first camera was a little Agfa which he started taking to all the meetings, taking many pictures which he still has, but they are in the old size printed format and need a magnifying glass to see who they were.
His first off-road event was a Grandstand International Scramble at Clifton in Derbyshire which he remembers for the wrong reasons. He and a friend had seen the TV series which the BBC used to run and thought they would go and see one live. The machine he owned at the time was a Honda 150cc (always Honda) and he managed to cook the spark plugs when they were within a mile of the circuit which required them to have a fifteen minute wait while it all cooled down. He soon decided that the 150cc was insufficient for his needs and bought a 450cc twin cylinder he named the ‘Black Bomber’. This was much more fun for getting around and for the fortnightly trips to watch Luton Town FC on a Saturday (he laughs about this) and then a motorcycle meeting on Sunday. All of his machines came from his local dealer, Sherwood Garage, which was owned by Peter Rose. Peter was indirectly responsible for a couple of things that changed his activities for the next forty years. First, whilst mooching around the workshop area he found a strange looking machine that was in fact a BSA C15T that was being sorted for the Aston Auto trial that coming weekend. Peter Rose suggested he went and had a look at a trial and as they say, the rest is history. He took his camera and found that he could actually fill the frame of the little camera with a machine and rider due to the slow speed action of trials. Secondly, Sherwood’s often advertised in the Birmingham Mail and somehow he talked Colin into letting him write the advert. Seeing his ideas in print for some reason made him quite excited. Around that time he upgraded to a fixed lens range finder for the camera, still nothing special but light years ahead of anything he had previously owned. Another road racing moment he members well is when he took a Paddock picture of Barry Sheene and then asked him to autograph it and much to his shock Sheene’s father, Frank, asked him for a copy of the shot. This prompted him to purchase a better camera. One of his early jobs was selling photographs of the Birmingham Speedway riders though one of the officials down at the Perry Bar Stadium who he told him he wanted a head and shoulders shot of the Captain Arthur Browning. Knowing Browning’s reputation as a fierce competitor, Colin panicked. The track official said, “Right after his next race, in the pits you go”. Arthur promptly fell off, had an altercation with the opposing rider and then Colin had to take his picture, which fortunately turned out fine.
They know each other well these days and always have some friendly banter and if you ever meet up with him his tale of how to get a round of drinks in a crowded Isle of Man bar is classic according to Colin.
Although going to all types of meetings was a huge part of his weekend’s interests, he was heavily involved for many years in the RAC/ACU training scheme for learner riders. They used to run twelve week courses covering theory, basic maintenance and road riding. Everyone was an unpaid volunteer and the schemes, which were held all over the country, were hugely popular and great fun to be a part of. Colin found it very rewarding to see the riders actually pass the test and go out on the roads a safer and more competent motorcyclist. By the mid-seventies he came across a character well known to trials, one Alan Wright, who besides being a very good national runner used to do work for the now defunct Motor Cycling Weekly. Alan lived half a mile from Colin and he got him some commissions for the paper and the dye was set. It was a different world back then though. There was none of the digital nonsense and often he would come back from a meeting, develop his rolls of films and then have to drive down to deliver them to Oxford, the home of staff member Nick Harris, who would then take them in on Monday morning. When Trials and Motocross News, the weekly off-road paper, went into colour pages he would head down to Jessop’s camera shop very early on Monday morning, pick up the prints at lunch and then take them to the post office for special overnight delivery. As all photographers will agree, life is much easier these days with digital equipment where you can take as many pictures as you like and then play around with them at home on the computer. The one bit of advice he always remembers though is from an old army man, who was more than a bit useful with a camera, who told him to make every shot count and he has never forgotten the advice, although sometimes it never quite happens of course. In 1979 ‘Wrighty’ was freelancing for TMX and he got a job covering the opening national of the trials season, the Vic Brittain. On his own admission though he almost completely messed it up with a shocking set of negatives and no picture of John Reynolds, who, if memory serves him correctly, came home second to Chris Sutton by just a couple of marks. Colin admits he still gets nervous in case he misses ‘The Shot’ at the major events.
The Social Side
The one thing that sold him on trials over everything else was the riders and the social side of the sport. He had heard of the top riders and often taken pictures of them but considered himself as accepted amongst the ‘Pro’ riders when after a few events, Malcolm Rathmell said ‘good morning’ to Colin. He was becoming part of the scene in a small way. This is something that is still important today as you go out to a meeting, whether a club or a current British Championship event, and the riders whatever the age difference talk to you.
In what other sport would you get that? In the mid-eighties a chance of something completely new came along with the Coventry local radio station deciding to put in a ‘Motorcycle Slot’ in its Tuesday night ‘Rock Show’. Somehow or another they heard about Colin and he did that for around three years, during which time he got to meet Barry Sheene again at the NEC Car Show of all places. He had a twenty minute interview time slot that ran over to forty five minutes, Sheene was superb. You will note that we have said nothing at this point about riding a trials machine himself. Well he did, but it was nothing short of abysmal. ‘Wrighty’ tried to teach him but to no avail and he has watched all the training films he has made and taken advice from Mick Andrews and Dan Thorpe but without success. The only thing he ever achieved was breaking his leg and ankle at the Frank Jones Pre-65 in the late eighties and he did it properly. He was two miles from the nearest road and had to be carted back in the rear of a Land Rover. The local farmer told him to swear a bit to ease the pain! In the early nineties, with his videos getting well received on the trials scene he would diversify and started in at the deep end with the Weston Beach Race.
The following year he filmed the Scottish Six Days and British World Round events, as well as producing their first training film, ‘How to Ride Trials’ with Mick Andrews. Further training films with Steve Saunders and Dan Thorpe gave him more than an insight into why these riders have been so successful. He noted that the riders were completely different in that Mick just looked like the machine was an extension of himself, whereas Steve was the total perfectionist, ‘let’s do that again’ was his motto. Dan on the other hand would quietly analyse everything.
The second DVD with Steve was very successful but after two days of filming down at Joe Baker’s patch in Lynton they looked through the footage and he put so much on the cutting room floor that they had to go out and do it again. It was certainly not a problem but an indication of Steve’s commitment to having everything spot on. Near enough was not good enough and ten adult British Championship titles did not happen by accident. Thorpey is also the main man for the commentary work on the DVD’s these days but he has found it fascinating to sit down with so many people over the years and listen to them talk trials for a few hours. Messrs Saunders, Wayne Braybrook, Colin Dommett and Martin Crosswaite have all kept Colin entertained with their wise words and humour. Colin thinks that they ought to get ‘Crosser’ on the Strictly Come Dancing panel as he would knock Bruno Tonioli on the head for sheer enthusiasm. He and the Archer family have always been good friends and without their support, especially at the ‘Scottish’, it would have been very hard work to say the least.
He will openly tell you that his favourite events are the Scottish Six Days trial, Scott trial and the North Berkshire Super-trial. He considers the latter to be a photographers dream with so many interesting and accessible hazards available to take some superb action shots. His first encounter with Scotland was in 1979 and he has been back every year since, except 1982 when his daughter Elaine arrived in late April, many weeks early.
Over the following years she would travel with him all over the UK as she also became keen on trials and he enjoyed these dad and daughter trips. She is now married but still keeps an eye on the trials scene. Colin’s wife Barbara has also shared his passion for trials, travelling in the back seat to many events. Away from trials and photography he still plays the drums a dozen times a year in a ‘silver surfers’ band. It’s mainly classic covers stuff but he still finds it very enjoyable.
Sincere thanks to John Hulme, editor, Trial Magazine UK for the use of this article and to Colin Bullock of CJB Photographic for providing the accompanying images.
© – All text copyright and Images as indicated: Trial Magazine / Trials Media / John Hulme & Yoomee Archive – All Rights Reserved – 2016
© – Images as indicated: Colin Bullock / CJB Photographic – All Rights Reserved – 2016
Colin Bullock the photos:
COLIN’S TOP FIVE
FROM THE SCOTTISH SIX DAYS TRIAL
Words: John Hulme & Colin Bullock – With permission of Trial Magazine UK
Colin: “Whilst talking to John Hulme at the Colmore Cup Trial, I thought why not take a look at the SSDT. I hasten to add that these are just my thoughts which have remained special to me since I started visiting the event, this is my top personal five: 1979 – 1980 – 1985 – 1988 – 1995”.
Scotland: just the mention of the Six Days Trial starts me looking at the calendar to see how many days it is before the first man is away. I think it may have started with the photographs in the weeklies that got me interested in going. They always looked magical and it just had to be visited. 1979 was the year we decided to go but it did not start quite as well as we would have hoped. First we got lost in Glasgow and somehow ended up on a car ferry across the Clyde. There were no big link roads to Stirling or the Erskine Bridge back then. Once we made it to a lunch stop at Duck Bay on Loch Lomond suddenly everything was all right with the world. Well, it was, until we arrived at Fort William. I had booked us into this self-catering lodge just outside of town. My reference map was however a little misleading as we were over twenty miles outside of town on the Moidart Peninsular and pretty close to the sections at Glenuig! The Scandinavian type chalet was nice enough but the heating and lighting were run on a generator from the owner’s farm and they must have been rationing the fuel that week. The old Renault 5 took a daily bashing back to town and surrounding areas but who cared, this was the most spectacular place I had ever seen. Since then we have been back every year, apart from 1982 when our daughter arrived just before the Scottish seven weeks early – she was obviously as keen to get up to the event as us! I was due to get some pictures that year for Motor Cycle Weekly and with not being able to go we had a problem at the time getting anyone else to cover it. Being a road paper in the main they only needed a couple of pictures and decided to use some stock ones. I saw that Malcolm was riding number 139 in 1982, when he had had been 189 the year before. I duly got the retouching brush out and painted out part of the number 8; think I got away with that one!
1979: The first Scottish I had ever seen and it turned into a big battle between Malcolm Rathmell, Martin Lampkin and Yryo Vesterinen. ‘Vesty’ was the new kid in town and at this point in time the Scottish had never been won by a foreign competitor; could the unthinkable happen?
Staying so far out of town and new to the whole SSDT experience the big questions were where to go, what to see and who was winning, which took some getting sorted. Laggan Locks sticks in my memory and I still love going there today. Jim Sandiford on the Montesa and John Reynolds on the Beamish Suzuki were the two people I remember seeing through as I stayed for the entire entry.
In the afternoon it was Muirshearlich, or Trotters as we now know it today, and I got a picture of eventual winner Malcolm Rathmell on the top step. Thursday was the day around the peninsula and from our accommodation at Glenuig it was literally a walk down the road. The battle was now between Martin Lampkin, Rathmell, Rob Shepherd and ‘Vesty’. Lampkin had won it for the last three years but I wanted at the time to see Rathmell or ‘Shep’ win on the four-stroke Honda.
After Friday’s run out to Kinlochleven and the Mamore Road it would all come down to one final day, with the Ben Nevis sections being the deciding factor. The programme to this day puts in its notes about these subs deciding the event but in 1979 they actually did, with Martin incurring a five and his great rival Malcolm taking the advantage to win by two marks. It was also the first win for Montesa at the event. That was it for me as the Scottish was to become, as with so many other people, the only place to be the first week in May.
Results 1979: 1: Malcolm Rathmell (Montesa) 69; 2: Martin Lampkin (Bultaco) 71; 3: Yrjo Vesterinen (Bultaco-FIN) 87; 4: Rob Shepherd (Honda) 87; 5: Charles Coutard (SWM-FRA) 100; 6: Manuel Soler (Bultaco-ESP) 106; 7: Jamie Subira (Montesa-ESP) 108; 8: John Metcalfe (Bultaco) 124; 9: Mick Andrews (Ossa) 135; 10: John Reynolds (Beamish Suzuki) 136.
1980: If 1979 was a sign of things to come 1980 was the year it happened as the ‘Scottish’ was won by an overseas rider. ‘Vesty’ was the man, which I don’t suppose came as a great shock to anyone. He had that air about him, one that true champions wear with their demeanour. In the paddock, his machine preparation and the sponsored apparel it was all there in bucket loads.
It was Laggan Locks where I first saw him on Tuesday, having missed him on a poor day for viewing Monday. After walking and inspecting ‘Laggan’ about four times the great man was stood a few yards from me when a young lad asked his dad why Vesterinen kept looking at all of the rocks. “He is not looking at them”, said the dad, “he’s bloody well counting them!” such was his eye, which covered every eventuality in the hazard. Needless to say a fine clean followed. Later in the day his clean of Muirshearlich was just as steady and that end step was no smaller than it is today.
The main highlight of the week though was a trip out to Ba House from the A82. We parked up and set out on the walk across which was just magical and it was the only time our dog seemed tired at the end of it. It was just the silence of being out there, something as a ‘townie’ I had never previously experienced. The sections were not half bad either and every year as we go up we try to remember exactly where we left the car. Malcolm Rathmell would eventually end the week in second place, just six marks adrift, with Rob Shepherd third. The best newcomer would be no less than Eddie Lejeune on a Seeley Honda 250cc.
Results 1980: 1: Yrjo Vesterinen (Montesa-FIN) 78; 2: Malcolm Rathmell (Montesa) 84; 3: Rob Shepherd (Honda) 108; 4: Mick Andrews (Majesty Yamaha) 111; 5: Jamie Subira (Fantic-ESP) 114; 6: Bernie Schreiber (Bultaco-USA) 118; 7: Martin Lampkin (Bultaco) 121; 8: Nigel Birkett (Montesa) 132; 9: Alberto Juvanteney (Ossa-ESP) 148; 10: John Reynolds (Beamish Suzuki) 149.
1985: We were now in the middle of the great continental takeover when between 1980 and 1990 no less than eight out of the ten winners were not from these shores. Thierry Michaud was the main man and as we drove into Fort William there he was on the loch-side getting some practice in as he familiarised himself with the Highlands and its conditions.
Britain’s main hope was one Steve Saunders on the four-stroke Honda; could he take the win? It certainly created a huge buzz and no one had won on a four-stoke machine since Sid Lampkin on the BSA way back in 1966. It was a great week with the home crowd rooting for Saunders to take a popular home victory but Michaud had won the previous year and was probably the favourite once again. Two riders I remember witnessing not having the best of weeks were John Lampkin on the Rotax powered Armstrong and Mick Andrews on a four-stroke Honda TLR 250cc.
Monday’s route included Ba House and Chairlift but it was Altnafeadh on the way back to Glen Coe that caught my attention. I took pictures of most people there, including some nice colour shots of Steve and some black and white ones of Frenchman Phillip Berlatier. Berlatier was always worth watching, a bit fiery if I remember rightly but a tremendous talent. Saunders put up a tremendous fight, making the best performance on two of the six days, but it was the Frenchman Michaud who once again won taking three ‘Best Day’ performance scores; one of the days was shared with Saunders as Berlatier and Chris Clarke on a mono-shock Yamaha took the other days.
Results 1985: 1: Thierry Michaud (Fantic-FRA) 43; 2: Steve Saunders (Honda) 56; 3: Philippe Berlatier (Aprilia-FRA) 82; 4: Renato Chiaberto (Fantic-ITA) 88; 5: Giles Burgat (Yamaha-FRA) 89; 6: Fred Michaud (Fantic-FRA) 96; 7: Tony Scarlett (Yamaha) 97; 8: John Lampkin (Armstrong) 98; 9: Udo Lewandowski (Yamaha-GER) 102; 10: Diego Bosis (Montesa-ITA) 117.
1988: You may have gathered over the years that I was always a huge fan of the Cotswold star Steve Saunders, and after being runner-up again in 1987 he would take the first of his four wins in 1988. There was a distinct lack of top continentals that year except for a certain Jordi Tarres who on the Beta looked the favourite to give Saunders a run for his money.
Steve was now riding for Fantic and, into the second year on the Italian machinery and after spending the last three years in the runner-up position at the event, he was now fully expected to deliver his first win. He was only ten riders apart from his main rival Tarres in the entry at riding numbers 144 and 134 respectively. Both were on their early day on the Wednesday and it was the English rider’s time as he turned in a performance which would see him take the lead. Lagnaha was the place to be on day four as you can usually expect some tough stuff on the unforgiving hazards but both the riders were in top form giving nothing away; apologies to everyone else in the entry but these two were the main act. Saunders had the better of the last part of the week and we had a new SSDT hero after Tarres lost marks in the morning when he turned up late for the start knowing that he could not catch Saunders who would go on to four victories in total, earning his place in the history books of this event. Phil Alderson needs a mention as he had his best ever Scottish result with a fine third place. John Shirt Jnr also made his debut at the event on the four-stroke Honda moving up to as high as fourth place at one point during the week.
Results 1988: 1: Steve Saunders (Fantic) 56; 2: Jordi Tarres (Beta-ESP) 90; 3: Philip Alderson (Yamaha) 100; 4: Tony Scarlett (JCM) 102; 5: Gerald Richardson (Yamaha) 109; 6: John Lampkin (Beta) 110; 7: Harold Crawford (Yamaha) 119; 8: Renato Chiaberto (Beta-ITA) 121; 9: Ian Weatherill (Aprilia) 127; 10: John Shirt Jnr (Honda) 137.
1995: It’s a bit of a jump in years but this was when Dougie Lampkin showed everyone, as if they needed it, that it was his time. Lampkin had won his first SSDT in 1994 but to go back the next year with all of the expectations on his young shoulders must surely have been every bit as hard as he established himself in trials as a potential world championship contender.
The opening day was dry and bright and in fact I recall it was the same for most of the week, which is pretty unusual. Doug was clean all day; even when he had a spot of trouble at Camasnacroise he just dug (no pun intended) for grip and off he went again to post a clean day. Tuesday would include a visit to Trotters Burn but no one was there at 07.45 am – it’s a bit different now! There was this Australian rider Andy Sutcliffe in jeans and shirt completely oblivious to the cool conditions. I think he nearly always rode like that, crazy or what! Wednesday saw Steve Colley drop a five at Chairlift on the bottom sub but that was Steve. He could clean anything but you never knew how he would go and his time would come but not this year. By Thursday evening Dougie was 12 marks in front of Rob Crawford in that red-and-yellow one piece, it’s strange what you remember. Friday was Dhoire Dhamh day. If you have never been it is well worth a visit but it can blow a bit, and then it was on to Pipers Burn which had that horrible big slab at the top. Shirty got well and truly stuck and with stops being allowed he was there ages. You could hear Jake Miller shouting ‘big effort’ at him. He must have been there another year when Phil Alderson spent ten minutes perched on top of his Yamaha trying to rock it out. That would have given us the ‘stand on it’ instruction possibly. That sub took so long goodness knows how long the delay the observers must have given out. At the end of the day Colley had moved into second place but there was to be no showdown on the Ben this year. Dougie was imperious and promptly posted his second win. One more and he would be equal with father Martin.
Results 1995: 1: Dougie Lampkin (Beta) 5; 2: Steve Colley (Gas Gas) 18; 3: Robert Crawford (Yamaha) 37; 4: Steve Saunders (Gas Gas) 38; 5: Adam Norris (Yamaha) 56; 6: Wayne Braybrook (Montesa); 7: John Shirt Jnr (Gas Gas) 71; 8: Philip Alderson (Yamaha) 79; 9: Jason Lawer (Gas Gas) 95; 10: John Lampkin (Beta) 98.
Colin Bullock at Large is copyright Trials Guru
Additional material copyright: John Hulme/Trials Media/Trial Magazine UK
Photos Copyright: Colin Bullock (All Rights Reserved)
More Colin Bullock images to follow shortly!