Category Archives: Feature

Colin Bullock coming soon

We will shortly have a selection of Colin Bullock (CJB) images for you to look at on a permanent basis on Trials Guru.

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British Championship action with Yrjo Vesterinen – Photo: Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic

Colin is beavering away in his boxes of photos and will select a number for your enjoyment, so watch this space as they say.

In the meantime, why not read up about the man himself:

Here!

Olga Kevelos and Me

Olga Kevelos and Me

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Olga Kevelos on her ex-John Draper factory BSA Bantam in the Scottish Six Days Trial on Glen Ogle.

Words by: Colin Turbett

In my early teens in Hampshire, friends and I would cycle out to watch off-road events at Weavers Down, and also the Greybeards Trial that would come by our house annually. Although I never got the opportunity to ride off-road properly (that seemed to be reserved to farming families), the bikes fascinated me. However that was all put behind when the magic age of 16 approached and we all began to get road bikes. My first biking was dirt tracks on a road BSA C15 250cc belonging to a friend but by the time my birthday in 1970 came I had my own (at the princely cost of £10), and had already notched up a lot of road miles when parents weren’t looking. Roll on the years and one awful Brit bike after another, but they had to go in favour of a car for work and family. In my early thirties I was able to get an old bike again and my passion for tinkering with, “restoring” and researching the, by now, ageing British marques, revived and gradually gained pace. Off-road interest got as far as owning a nice 1951 AJS 18CS but that was used very much for road riding, taking me as far as Poland for a rally on one occasion.  A CCM came and went and that of course had lots of off-road associations, but again, I never really had the opportunity so never tried…

After forty years of fairly heavy duty and demanding work, and with kids now grown up and away, retirement at the age of 61 meant I suddenly had time on my hands. I had written a lot of stuff, including two books, in relation to work matters, so writing came easy. I also habitually read up on anything that tickled my fancy – often following up on tasters from the classic bike magazines: makes, bikes and personalities. That was where I came across Olga Kevelos, but, to my surprise there was no book.  Further research also revealed that her story was a good one and that a book was overdue if not too late as she had died in 2009. At that point I knew not a single person who had been acquainted with her in any way – not being part of the Trials fraternity didn’t help in that respect.  What I turned up in those initial stages back in 2016 was fascinating, not least because it revealed a complex personality whose own spin about herself had led to a certain amount of myth – the biggest one being that she won two ISDT Gold Medals (she actually won one but thought she should have won another – you’ll have to read the book to find out more!). She was also a “looker”, and had clearly used her feminine charms to the utmost to lead an unusual and very full life.

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The project of writing a book about Olga would probably have got no further than a magazine piece had researches not turned up a hoard of memorabilia on Ebay; this had been found, long abandoned, by builders renovating the Kevelos family home in Birmingham.  Using up some of my hard earned savings I managed to get quite a lot of this – several boxes full of old programmes, results sheets, letters, photographs and odds and ends. This included one or two tasty items but the valuable stuff – her trophies and medals – had long ago been “collected” after her death in Kings Sutton, Oxfordshire. I also made an appeal through the magazines for information and memories, and this turned up some fantastic results, putting me in touch with individuals like Michael Martin, whose well known motorcycling family were from the same neighbourhood as Olga and knew her very well.  Gradually the information came together although gaps and mysteries remained.  Sensitivities also emerged – Olga had, shall we say, an interesting sex life, and many of the personalities of the day fell victim to her charms although few seemed able to remember for one reason or another!  Her vibrant personality clearly made its mark on the Trials scene in her day, especially the Scottish, and the Midlands district – which she helped organise for several years after her retirement from the sport as a rider.

Researches over a year long period turned up enough information to describe Olga’s unusual background and childhood (her father was from a wealthy Greek family), and wartime experiences including the Birmingham Blitz and service on the canals (which never quite lived up to her childhood passion to become a seagoing buccaneer and marry Errol Flynn).  Her motorcycle sporting career started soon after the war through men she met at her father’s restaurant in the city centre of Birmingham, and it was soon clear that she had a talent even though she had never ridden prior to the age of 23. Trials was her forte and favourite, and of course it was open to women unlike other areas of motorcycle sport at that time.  During her years of activity she was associated with numerous makes but in particular the James and CZ factories.  She tried her hand at road racing, scrambles and car racing – showing pluck and determination in all that she did.

Olga ended up running a pub in Oxfordshire along with her brother Raymond. Those years too were eventful and enlivened by her character. She was a TV “Mastermind” contestant and a pub quiz aficionado until the end of her life. I called the book “Playing with the Boys” because that quote of her sums up exactly what she liked doing: she didn’t see herself as a feminist or pioneering woman even though her exploits offer example of both.  I feel fortunate, even though I never met Olga, to have had the opportunity to provide an account of her life.

Olga Kevelos Book cover - CT

The book was self-published and like many such enterprises (I now know!) suffered from layout issues and marketing difficulties despite efforts to widen exposure. I had two-hundred and fifty copies printed and they are nearly all sold. Having had some errors pointed out (thanks to Olivier Barjon!) and with new information to hand, a further edition might be worthwhile. However this time it would have to involve a publisher and one (who produced a more recent motorcycle book by me) has already said no, so this may or may not go anywhere – maybe a case of watch this space!

Colin Turbett, Isle of Arran, Scotland

Colin Turbett is a “Sometime social worker and trade unionist – continuing socialist activist and author – and biker!”

The bike Willie built

Trials Guru is always searching worldwide for interesting facts, figures, articles and photos from the world of trial, past and present for your enjoyment of our sport. That is why we say that Trials Guru is ‘Dedicated To The Sport’.

Words: Trials Guru

Photos: Iain Lawrie; John Honeyman; Grant Family; Peter Bremner; Wullie John Gillespie; Willie Gillespie.

‘The bike Willie built’ is no exception, it’s a domestic story pertinent to Scotland and features a man called Willie Pitblado, a mildly eccentric, but very interesting character from Fife and specifically the historic town of Dunfermline. This article is by way of a tribute to ‘Willie Pit’ as he was known, a true enthusiast.

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Willie Pitblado’s 403cc Pitrite, a combination of an overbored Triumph 3TA twin motor in a Sprite frame registered in Fife as DSP47D. The machine is now owned by the Gillespie family from Dunfermline who were related to Pitblado. We think the rider pictured here on the Pitrite at ‘Sonny’s’ is Sandy Sutherland.

Pitblado was a time served painter/decorator who was also a keen trials rider and a motorcycle enthusiast of note. He was born into a family of ten children.

He was a former rider, then official at the Scottish Six Days Trial, a life-long member of the Dunfermline & District MCC and a lover of the highland village of Rogart in Sutherland, where he found his bride Ann.

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Willie Pitblado in his Dunfermline shop – Photo copyright: John Honeyman, Markinch, Fife

Willie set up the breaker firm of ‘Motorcycle Spares Scotland in Golf Drum Street in Dunfermline, initially with friends Alec Smith and John Davies, themselves trials riders.

Pitblado rode a variety of machines including a Greeves which he acquired in January 1961, registered WWS415 which had factory connections. He rode this Greeves in the SSDT.

Willie had an idea to build a special machine of his own, using a Triumph 3TA twin cylinder four-stroke motor that he prized from a road machine and his plan was to fit it in a Sprite frame. The Sprite was a fairly new brand, sold in kit form.

Pitblado thought for a name and using his own surname and that of the Sprite brand, he came up with The PITRITE.

The PITRITE was registered in Fife with the number DSP47D in April 1966. It was destined to be ridden on loan by a variety of riders, but its ownership was not to stray further than Pitblado’s extended family base, namely that of his nephew, Willie Gillespie.

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The PITRITE pressed into service at the SSDT as the Clerk of Course bike, used by Johnny Graham (seated on Pitrite) ; Willie Pitblado; Tommy Ritchie; Eric MacNamara & Alec Smith – Photo courtesy: Peter Bremner, E&D MC Ltd.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat on Willie Pitblado: “I met Willie Pitblado when I was in my early teens when my father was collecting some parts to help with the restoration of his ex-factory Matchless around 1973.

We visited Willie Pit’s shop in Dunfermline and it was in an old house on three levels. It was an old property and was literally filled with bike parts from all makes and ages. I was surprised that Willie said to my father to go rake around until he found what he was looking for, we literally got the run of the place, but I learned that that was not how Willie usually did his business, far from it. Apparently Dad and Willie had known each other for many years and had a respect for each other, hence the freedom afforded to us.

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Willie Pitblado aboard PITRITE at the White Heather Trial at Rogart – Photo: Grant Family Collection

“Years later, I was restoring a 1954 Matchless G3LS road bike and I needed the correct tank, wheels and a few more odds and sods. I drove over to Dunfermline from my parents home in Whitburn, West Lothian and again I went to Willie’s emporium.  He was at his counter with his old Alsatian dog and greeted me with ‘Hello Mr. AJS what can I sell ye today?” I explained that I needed parts for a Matchless to which he quipped: ‘They are both the same, just badge engineering’. Of course Willie was right.

I was about to be told to go look myself, but ‘watch the dog disna bite ye’ – when a man arrived behind me in the shop. He wanted a camshaft for a Triumph Bonneville, to which Willie asked what year? The man gave the year and Willie turned around and pulled one from the shelf behind him. ‘That will be £25’. The man said, ‘Would you take £20?’ Willie replied, ‘no, I’ll take £30’. The man looked astonished and said: ‘Hey, you are increasing the price!’ Willie replied ‘Aye, and you are trying to reduce it, now do you want this camshaft or no, because I have one and you dinna! Now either pay me what I want or get oot of my shop!’

The man paid Willie the £30 and left without another word.”

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Willie Pitblado was instantly recognisable on the public highway as his vehicle was either blue with the white cross of St. Andrew across it depicting the Scottish Saltire or he had a white vehicle with blue doubled ‘go faster stripes’ up the bonnet. If you waved at Willie on the road he would always give you the ‘peace’ sign, symbolic of American bikers of the era!

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Willie Gillespie, Willie Pitblado’s nephew, aboard PITRITE in the 1980s at the Pre’65 Scottish Trial

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Wullie John Gillespie, son of Willie Gillespie aboard the PITRITE in 2018 at the Pre’65 Scottish – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

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The PITRITE today – Photo: Wullie John Gillespie

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Trials Guru isn’t just for Christmas

We all know that Christmas can be a little boring sometimes with not much happening? Change that, have a peek into the world of trials on Trials Guru, its so easy, either put some words into the search box and hit the little magnifying glass symbol… or have a look at the Index, either way you will be looking at some awesome photos from our photographers who willingly give Trials Guru permission to use.

Before you know it you will have spent many happy hours getting a fix of the trials habit!

Happy viewing from all of us here at Trials Guru.

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Kinlochleven puts it back

The recently reformed Kinlochleven & District Motor Cycle Club ran the Leven Valley Two-Day Trial over the last weekend in September. The event was predominately staffed by local people.
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The Leven Valley Two-Day Trial was well supported for it’s inaugural event – Photo: Trial Magazine UK
At the awards presentation, they hosted a raffle of various high quality items from the motorcycle and local traders which brought in funds and the committee, headed by Chairman, Martin Murphy decided to put something back into the local community as a way of thanking them for allowing the club to run their prestigeous event.
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Trials Guru’s John Moffat (centre, Bultaco. 1) enjoys the craic with Guest of Honour, Sammy Miller MBE and Steven Moffat (Honda Seeley. 3) at the start of the Leven Valley 2 Day in September 2018 – Photo: Trial Magazine UK
The raffle tickets were picked by no less than Sammy Miller MBE who was the trial Guest of Honour.
Club members and the commitee were charged with handing out the well received cheques to Kinlochleven Action for Seniors; Kinlochleven Community Trust; Kinlochleven Community Council; Glencoe Mountain Rescue and Lochaber Mountain Rescue.
Here are the photos of the delighted recipients with the various club members.
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Kinlochleven Action for Seniors received their cheque for £200 from the club secretary, Lorna Dougan (Back centre)
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Kinlochleven Community Trust received £200 from Chairman, Martin Murphy (right)
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Kinlochleven Community Council recieve their £200 from K&DMCC junior member, Chloe Dougan (right), resplendent in her new club tee-shirt.
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The Leven Centre Christmas Party is £200 better off thanks to K&DMCC secretary, Lorna Dougan (left)
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Glencoe Mountain Rescue receive their cheque for £350 from Chairman, Martin Murphy (right)
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Club Chairman Martin Murphy (left) hands over funds to the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team
All photos courtesy of Kinlochleven & District Motor Cycle Club, Kinlochleven, Argyll.
Trials Guru is proud to be associated with this prestigeous event.