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On Tuesday 27th December 2016, Red Bull TV released their documentary film on ‘Dougie Lampkin – Wheelie Man’ – exclusively on their web network.
Produced by Scots born film-maker, Stu Thomson, a trials rider and Downhill MTB competitor, this gives a fantastic insight to the preparations undertaken for the wheelie attempt around the world famous Isle of Man TT circuit.
Red Bull’s press statement read:
“This is an enthralling and must watch documentary like no other. This unique production provides an exclusive behind the scenes insight and much previously unseen personal footage, including some moving scenes as Dougie deals with a close and personal tragedy.
In late 2016, Red Bull athlete and twelve-time FIM Trial World Champion Dougie Lampkin attempted to make history by becoming the first rider to successfully wheelie the entire 37.7 miles of the iconic Isle of Man TT mountain course, live on TV.
Red Bull TV follows the Trial legend’s preparation as he rides the highs and lows of his most ambitious project yet.
Blending archive footage with never-seen-before interviews, the documentary delves into the dynasty of the Lampkin family. This includes Dougie speaking for the first time about the death of his father, Martin Lampkin, earlier this year. A man who would have normally been at his side throughout the challenge.
As the attempt draws ever closer, the pressure of stepping into the unknown with a World-first challenge begins to sink in and take its toll, as cracks in Dougie’s usually unfaltering confidence begin to show.
When the big day finally arrives, gale force winds batter the island resulting in an unwanted and unscheduled twenty-four-hour postponement of the attempt.
Soon it will be time for Dougie to take centre stage and write his own chapter in motorcycling history with the biggest physical and mental test of his career.
Watch the drama unfold as Dougie Lampkin – Wheelie Man takes you on what can only be described as the ultimate emotional rollercoaster ride.“
Trials Guru takes this opportunity to congratulate Dougie Lampkin MBE (12 times World Champion) on completing his ‘one wheel’ ride of the entire TT course on the Isle of Man on Sunday 25th September 2016.
Twelve times FIM World Trials Champion, Dougie Lampkin added another achievement to his long list of attainments, when he successfully ‘wheelied’ his modified Vertigo around the 37 ¾ mile Isle of Man TT Mountain Course on Sunday 25th September. This is the first time it has been done continuously without the front wheel touching down until he crossed the finish line.
Previous attempts were made as early as 1976 by stunt rider, the late Dave Taylor on a Yamaha XS650. Taylor made various attempts over the years during TT week, however it was never documented and therefore assumed that he failed to complete a full circuit with the front wheel off the ground.
Known as The Wheelie King, his last attempt was in 1993. His daughter, Katie Taylor spoke to Trials Guru:
“Dad did his last wheelie attempt in 1993, but he did it with a broken wrist. He touched down because the rear brake link broke on his machine. By then he was suffering with terminal cancer quite severely. He had stomach cancer but by then it had spread to his throat. He also did this attempt all in the name of charity, riders for health, he was never paid for it”.
Taylor died in 1996 aged 53, he had been for many years a leading road safety campaigner in an effort to make motorcycle riding safer.
The Lampkin/Vertigo/RedBull attempt was watched live by many thousands of people on Red Bull TV, Lampkin’s main sponsor.
Many months of training and machine preparation went into the attempt. The Vertigo Combat machine was modified slightly to enable a serious attempt at the feat. The bulk of the modification work was undertaken by Hope Technology of Barnoldswick, Yorkshire with considerable input by life-long friend, Blackie Holden, himself a former trials rider.
Valuable input was received from the Vertigo Technical Manager, Francesc Romani.
The modifications included a special footrest set up with hydraulic brake mechanisms mounted on the rear wheel spindle to allow Lampkin to stand bolt upright and to lower the centre of gravity when the front wheel was pawing the air.
A 36 volt electric motor was attached to the front wheel hub, with a special twin rear brake caliper set up designed to cope with the excess heat generated during the extensive downhill parts of the Isle of Man TT course. The two-separate brake systems were operated by Dougie by both a foot pedal and a hand lever, which was mounted on the handlebars where the front brake lever would normally be fitted.
The front wheel was effectively kept spinning throughout the attempt by the electric motor, thus maintaining the ‘gyroscopic effect’ which assists in stabilising the plot when being ridden on the rear wheel.
The special handmade, large capacity carbon fibre auxiliary fuel tank was mounted on the rear mudguard area to extend the range of the 300cc, fuel-injected two stroke Vertigo trials machine. It also allowed Lampkin to steer the machine with his knees by gripping the fuel cell when the machine was in motion.
Gale force winds on the Isle of Man on the Saturday, 24th September forced a re-think and the attempt was postponed 24 hours to allow for more favourable weather conditions.
Prior to the attempt, critics poured scorn on the effort, likening the modified Vertigo to a ‘Segway’ (the two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric leisure vehicle invented by Dean Kamen), on social media . However, this was somewhat misguided as the machine was very much a trials machine with some suitable modifications and adaptations described above and bore no resemblence to the leisure vehicle.
It was noticeable that Lampkin had complete input to maintaining the front wheel clear of the ground and had to use all his trials skills learned over thirty years of intense competition. It was not only a feat of balance but also endurance, he was visibly exhausted when he crossed the official finish line in the early evening.
Doug Lampkin showed his usual gritty determination to succeed, a well-known trait of the Silsden based family who have literally dominated off-road motorcycle sport for over fifty years. There is no doubt that his late father, Martin who passed away after a battle with cancer in March this year, would have been proud of the attempt and Dougie’s ultimate success and achievement. This endeavour follows on from a tenth victory at the annual Scottish Six Days Trial in May, an event that the Lampkin family have featured in the winning of many times in half a century.
Current international motorcycle stunt performer and former Scottish Motocross champion, Kevin Carmichael told Trials Guru: “I think what Dougie Lampkin has done was absolutely awesome. It required huge concentration and lots of preparation! – Anyone who thinks it was easy should try it!”
Doug Lampkin’s wheelie of the entire 37.73 mile circuit is a feat in itself, but still a bit far short of the World’s Longest motorcycle wheelie which, at the time of this article, stands at a staggering 205.7 miles, set in 1991 by Yasuyuki Kudo at the Japan Auto Research Institute!
Tribute to H.M. Lampkin – By Colin Bell (former Irish Trials Champion)
In 1977-78 I found myself living in Silsden, It was not by accident that I wanted to live and compete in Yorkshire with some of the best trials riders in the world.
Martin knew I was coming from Belfast so it was a great relief when I arrived late one evening in the dark that Martin was there to soften the transition and get me settled with digs.
Although we had only met a few times at a couple of events we immediately hit it off, he was so generous to give me the time to show me the ropes . I got to know Ping, Sid and Martin who pointed me in the right direction, I was soon learning the local dialect and was introduced to words I had never heard before like beck, fettle, Buffs, Tetley’s and Geoffrey Boycott – it was a crash course in Yorkshire-isms for an Ulster man.
I was soon trained to say- ‘All right lad’- and I was given the nickname ‘To be sure’.
1977 was an amazing year for Martin he seemed to win everything that year The Scott, The Scottish and The British Experts and more. I remember the morning after the British Experts, I hadn’t heard the results but met Martin outside the engineering workshop in Silsden washing my bike when he came up with a smile on his face and congratulated me on a 6th. That was typical of Martin even though he had won the event he still had time to say well done and offer encouragement. Martin was a larger than life person, a true and proud Yorkshire man for whom I had great respect and admiration. I send my sincere condolences to all the Lampkin Family and the wider Trials Community – He will be sorely missed – Colin Bell
Tribute published with kind permission of M.C. Rathmell, Harrogate (8 April, 2016):
“It is with the greatest sorrow and one of the saddest of sad days when I received the ‘phone call to say Martin was no longer with us. We have been mates almost a lifetime, about fifty-three years to be more precise.
I want to say at the very start of this article, that I have written it in the spirit of how Mart would have wanted me to be. Our whole life together was full of banter and he would not have wanted me to write this in any other way now.
We first met as young lads running around the local scramble tracks. Mart was there with his brothers, ‘Ping’ (Arthur) and ‘Sid’ (Alan) who were both top scramblers. I just used to go with anyone who would take me, he always had it easy. The rivalry had already started!
We got to know each other well in the mid to late 1960s when we were both riding local trials. We played cricket for Blubberhouses, darts for the Hopper Lane pub and dominos in the Lion at Silsden. Two common things here, competition and pubs!
Through the late 1960s, we played hard but we also learned all the basics of competition on motor bikes, trials; scrambles; grass track and Mart even dabbled in speedway. Then we started ten plus years of our intense rivalry in the British, European and World Championship but what a fantastic time it was. Tense and cut throat through the event, then all was forgotten and a couple of beers at night.
Around 1970, Mart had this bright idea to buy a coal round. He didn’t really like his job and I was on the verge of getting the sack from the forestry for having so much time off riding. Seemed like a good plan and all went so well we added a second round. All was great for the first few months when we were at home but then the championship started. We hadn’t thought about that when we discussed it over a few games of dominos in the Lion at Silsden and it didn’t seen such a great idea once the Trials kicked off. So off we went to the European Championship for a few weeks. We had a lot of very cold customers and had to pay someone to do it for us!
The memories that spring to mind in all our years of travelling have to be the fishing in Finland to see who could catch the biggest fish, the boating in Sweden where he tried to drown me (I can’t swim), the girls in Czech (he s*** himself!), the cars in the US. We got the biggest car we could find on our first trip to America, but I once sent him to buy a pizza and it was so big he couldn’t get it in the bloody car. The troubles in Northern Ireland (he hated it); the poverty in the Eastern bloc where you had to change a certain amount of their money on arrival but there was nothing to spend it on. We once brought back forty-five pairs of desert wellies justto spend the money. In France when he set the van on fire making chips and then all the brilliant times we had at the factories in Barcelona with the Bultaco and Montesa families. It’s really just impossible to list every memory, I would need a book and if ‘H’ was here there would be a lot more I have forgotten.
After we both retired from riding, I bought a hotel with Rhoda in Grassington and Martin and Isobel bought a pub at Greenhow, a mere five miles apart. Well we figured we had both lived in hotels for twelve years and had certainly spent a lot longer in pubs, so it seemed the ideal answer to what we did in our retirement.
We should have known then that motorcycling was in our blood and it wouldn’t be long before we were back involved with it again.
So after our stint in ‘The Real World’ just a few years later, it all started again with another ten years plus where Mart was with Dougie and I was with Graham only this time we could have more beer!
Some of my greatest memories through this time have to be the Trial Des Nations where against all the odds we managed to pull off the wins with Mart and myself leading the troops, so to speak!
Our first win was in the Isle of Man in 1997 but 1999 was a classic as the organisers had mistakenly thought Steve Colley had a five on the last section but in fact cleaned it. The guy at the end had put a five as that was his riding number! I just remember Mart standing on a chair with a huge jug of beer singing ‘We are the Champions.’ We followed this in 2002 in Portugal and 2003 in Italy; the memories of those wins, against all the odds, where Mart and I worked together with our GB team were unforgettable.
To any outsiders Mart came over as a big, rough Yorkshire-man. In some ways he was. He didn’t stand fools, but found one in every bar we went in but he had the biggest heart and the softest spot possible. A great, great friend and a brilliant mate and an exceptional competitor (but I usually won)! You have to remember that if ‘H’ had written this it would have been the total opposite of what I have said. That’s how it was between ‘H’ and me. The friendship I had with him was special and unique. It didn’t matter if we were seeing how many stones we could throw into a bucket at the SSDT waiting for Doug and Graham or whether it was to see who got to the pub first when we were out having a meal in later years, it was a competition. However, it was a competition which we both hold in great respect of each other and that one thing that can never be taken from me, ‘memories’ which will stay with me forever.
Mart will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him but especially by his close friends and family. The Lampkins are known for their closeness and I can’t imagine the affect this will have but they are strong and will hold together throughout this sad and cruel time. My love to all of you.
God bless and rest in peace mate. I’ll see you up there”.
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