Nikita Smith is 19 year of age and comes from a family with trials connections.
“My Dad and his brothers rode a few trials back in their day.” says Nikita.
“The Middlesbrough & District MCC national Cleveland Trial runs just above our farm. When I was around two years of age, I heard the sound of trials bikes and was pointing, so my Mum and Dad took me up to have a look. It all really started from that moment, I just wouldn’t shut up about bikes. My Nan and Grandad bought me a battery bike that I could ride around the farm, but I wanted to go faster so at four, my parents bought my a Honda QR 50. I then progressed on to a Yamaha TY 80 and started to ride trials at the age of six”.
“I just moved through the classes, my parents were always supporting me and I can’t thank them enough! When I was ready to move to B class, I joined ‘Ace Trials Team’ run and financed by the Kilhams family. For me this was a dream come true at such a young age. They gave me brilliant support and they introduced me to the European and World trials scene. They showed me how everything worked, as it’s a bit different than entering a club trial! Unfortunately the Ace Trials Team didn’t continue, so I joined up with John Shirt at Gas Gas UK which was fantastic help as I progressed in my riding career.
“My cousins also rode a few trials we all live quite close so we would go practising together”.
“Unfortunately, I suffered a road traffic accident which involved head, chest and leg injuries. This has been a big set-back to me, but my goals still remain the same to ride at the top level. I am currently undergoing physio with my leg and working hard to get where I want to be, on a trials motorcycle”.
Mark Kilhams, Owner of the Ace Trial Team commented: “I approached the Smith family at the final ladies round in the Isle Of Wight as I saw great potential that was not being fully accessed. I knew that Joanne Coles would be the best mentor for Nikita and would make a great team mate. Thankfully the family agreed to compete abroad if supported in the world and European paddocks by Ace Trials Team. This was a very successful arrangement for all involved and Nikita’s achievements and potential brought in a lot of new interest and sponsorship to the team. We have kept in constant contact with the Smith family since Nikita’s terrible accident and I know that the strong-will and single mindedness that bought her so many top podium finishes, will get her back to the top of ladies trials again”.
Now fully recovered from her horrific road accident, and at the ripe old age of twenty years, Nikita Smith makes a comeback on the world stage with her first appearance since 2013 when she was fifteen.
Nikita will take part on a Gas Gas machine and compete in the newly launched ‘Trial2 Women’ class in the World trial series in Kingman, USA in August 2017.
Article Text Copyright: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing – John Moffat 2017
Today is rather a sad one for me. The ‘Gaffer Guru’ John Moffat has told me I can keep going as long as I want, but I feel that I have subjected you to quite enough punishment and its time to go.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have expected the support you have given me. I have had a fantastic time, a really fantastic time believe me. I was kept going by the The Trials Guru’s enthusiasm. That plus your comments and likes were a real tonic to me. Despite my health problems I still consider myself the luckiest person in the world.
I have always been a people person and the spectators who lined the sections were just as important to me as the sections and they have repaid me a thousand times!
Like all of us I had made mistakes but in general I am pretty pleased.
One thing I will miss is checking the comments and likes each day.
I was pleased and a little surprised when Benny Sellman and Thore Evertson contacted me.
Benny was a fellow Montesa rider and Thore a works Ossa rider.
I also received an e-mail from Martin Belair in California.
These plus dozens and dozens from all over Europe have done me more good than any doctor or medicine could hope to do.
The new generation of Thornaby Trials riders have been following my story – Thanks a lot lads.
I hope to get to the Telford Show again this year so please say Hello, tea with milk, no sugar please!
It is impossible to thank everybody who made this possible but Eric Kitchen, Barry Robinson, Iain Lawrie and Luis Munoz who allowed Guru John (my gaffer) to use their pictures.
When readers send in comments like Scottish Heaven you could bet that one of these are responsible.
Keep Clicking and thanks!
Many thanks again to ‘Trials Guru’ – John Moffat and thank you finally to Alberto Mallofre, Pere Pi and Montesa for having faith in me.
A FINAL GOODBYE NOW – ROB EDWARDS
Trials Guru comment:
It has been absolutely fantastic receiving Rob’s e-mails over the last few months with details of his life in trials and to be able to share this with you all on Trials Guru.
Rob’s story now explains why he hasn’t been seen as often out and about at events, unlike most of his peers from the time when Montesa, Ossa and Bultaco were trying to out-sell each other from the late sixties, through the seventies and into the eighties.
As we have seen, if you have been following Rob’s adventures since late October 2014, what a warm human being he really is.
Despite his health problems which undoubtedly cut short his riding career, that he is as outwardly cheery as he was when some of you rode with him, worked in Head Wrightons with him or marvelled at his skill as a factory Montesa rider in the Scott and Scottish Six Days as well as countless national trials throughout the UK and the rest of the trials-riding world.
I can only say this, many grateful thanks to Rob for taking the time and effort to satisfy my request in the start field at Marske on the 18th October 2014 when I said: ‘Rob, how about doing your story on Trials Guru?’
To all of you, keep commenting and keep telling people to read this story here on Trials Guru, the “Rob Edwards Story ” button will be here on this website for a very long time to come! – The Guru.
Having ridden a 250 Bultaco in the 1966 Scottish, I moved on to ride Cottons and rode a 250 Villiers powered bike in the 1967 & 1968 events.
In the late sixties Cotton changed from the 250cc Villiers 37A motor to the Italian made 170cc Minarelli engine. I was given a large gearbox sprocket to carry in my pocket.
The idea was to fit it when we were due to do long stretches of road work.
The problem was, I was always so late on time I didn’t have the time to swap it!
On the final days’ lunch check, the thought of doing 30 miles an hour back to Edinburgh was very daunting indeed. It wasn’t helped by seeing the works Greeves fitted with minute rear sprockets.
Their cruising speed was around 70mph. Bill Brooker was the Greeves competition manager and he really had his finger on the pulse.
On more than one occasion he went out of his way to help me. My idea of a true sportsman and excellent competition manager.
It was short on ‘flywheel effect’ inertia and dreadfully low geared. Thanks to my pals at Head Wrightsons, a brass band was machined to fit onto the flywheel.
This made a big improvement to the engine characteristics, wheel grip and so on.
Entered by Norman Crooks Motorcycles, I rode with this modification in the 1969 Scottish and won the best up to 200cc class.
To solve the low top speed problem, I had sent Cotton a drawing of my flywheel modification but had heard nothing back. I wasn’t surprised when one week after the SSDT there was a half page advert in the Motor Cycle News, telling riders how good the modification was and how much they would sell you one for. I was gobsmacked!
However, I didn’t receive any thanks for the 200cc cup win or flywheel modification!
After winning the Alan Jefferies Trial, I decided to treat the Minarelli to a set of piston rings. I rang the Cotton factory up and in due course they posted them to me.
Unfortunately you’ve guessed it – I broke one when fitting them.
I rang Cottons for another set. Two weeks later they still hadn’t arrived.
When I phoned them, the top man answered the phone. ‘Mr. D’ said that he wasn’t going to send me anymore rings until I explained exactly what I had done with the others.
It was then I decided it was time to move on.
When Pat Onions was in charge of the competition shop there was never a problem.
Things were changing and it was time to abandon ship. But where to? – Rob
To Be continued …
Trials Guru: The factory Cotton Minarelli that Rob Edwards rode was to become the production Cotton ‘Cavalier’which was produced at around five machines per week. Supplied to customers in ‘kit’ form to avoid purchase tax. The 1969 Scottish– Rob Edwards came home in a creditable tenth position and another Special First Class award on 59 marks on his 170cc Cotton. The eventual winner was Yorkshireman, Bill Wilkinson who was to be the last British rider to win on a British built machine, a 250cc Greeves (WWC169F).
Rob remembers! : Isn’t it always the way? You start writing about one thing and another one pops into your head! Anyway, here is something I remembered about my Cotton days.
I traveled a lot with Brian Hutchinson. The problem was that Brian worked on the family farm. I would be at the farm at 4.30pm but it would be 6.30 pm before we started our journey.
One time in particular we set off for South Wales with light snow falling.When we reached the M1 motorway, the traffic was almost at a standstill. This didn’t bother ‘Hutch’ – he went straight across into the fast lane that nobody was using because the snow was too deep.
No problem! he had the Austin A55 pick-up to 80mph in no time and we had the fast lane to ourselves all the way to Sheffield!
We finally arrived at Merthyr Tydfil at 1.30am. No bed and breakfast or anywhere was open. It was freezing cold – you know its cold when your breath freezes on the windscreen. Close to death, we drove to the railway station and as luck would have it there was a gas heater on the wall.
You had to reset it every minute but this was the Ritz compared with the pickup. We took turns pressing the start button.
Unfortunately one time it didn’t ignite. I was woken up by the smell of gas and a hissing sound. The next second, there was a tremendous bang and the heater left the wall it was on and splattered against the opposite one.
We were last seen running flat out along the platform with the station master in hot pursuit shouting: “I’ve rung the police boyo you’ll not get away”. It was back to the “pickup hotel” after that! – Great memories – Rob
Words: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, John Moffat 2014.
To read all of Rob Edward’s story of his life in trials, click… here
By the time the 1964 Scottish came around, I had got over my previous year’s disaster, this time I was allocated number 210 on an AJS 350 bought from Comerfords, this time entered as a ‘privateer’ and riding for the Middlesbrough & District, my home club.
The event still started and finished in Edinburgh. On the Thursday, we went over the Corrieyarrick Pass.
I think I had been following behind Peter Gaunt and what happened next I wasn’t to find out until sometime later.
I found myself sat on a banking at the side of the Pass, which is an old General Wade military road.
I had no idea at all how I came to be sitting there.
Alan Morewood from Sheffield who became a top sidecar driver, came along on his 500 Ariel as he was number 205 that year, he stopped and asked if I was Okay? ‘Yes, fine’ I said, ‘Bye’ he said and rode off.
A couple of minutes later and Alan was back. ‘Rob, are you sure you are al-right, you look dazed?’ said Alan. ‘No problem’ I said and off he went again. Somehow I managed to get back to Fort William to finish the day’s run.
The first person I spoke to asked what I had been doing to scratch my face? Then someone said, ‘never mind his face, look at the back of his bike!’
The rear end was totally out of line. I then realised that I must have hit a pothole in the road with the front wheel over Corrieyarrick, cartwheeled and that explained my rest on the bank.
We pulled the bike back into line with a length of pipe that we found. Apart from a bit of a headache, it was back to business as usual.
Rest of the week was not as eventful and had a good old needle match with my mate Sid Lampkin who was on a factory Cotton that year.For the next year, I had bought another AJS from Comerfords, Thames Ditton built by Jock Wilson. I’ll tell you about that ride next. Bye for now! – Rob
Post Script by Rob Edwards:I’ve just been looking again at this fine Brian Holder photograph of me on the AJS on ‘Ben Nevis’ in 1964. The chap directly behind me is Mick Ward from Scarborough.
He built a bike especially for this event. He had the novel idea of taking the exhaust through the back frame loop to save a bit of weight.
However, when he got stuck, the ever helpful spectators would rush to his aid, not realising the exhaust was the rear frame loop and severely burn their hands in their quest to assist! I’m sure the A&E at Fort William were extra busy that week with burns!
I bet Mick never thought that one day Valentino Rossi would copy his helmet design! – Bye for now! – Rob
TRIALS GURU: – 1964 Scottish Six Days, this edition was won by Sammy Miller riding the much modified and much weight reduced, Ariel HT5. This would be the last time he would do so on the British four-stroke, Miller had already been secret testing the 200cc Bultaco Sherpa which he was later to develop to an increased 244cc and thus created a world beating machine with the San Adrien De Besos factory.
From the 1964 Scottish Six Days Trial Results:
No. 210. R. Edwards, Middlesbrough & Dist. M.C., A.J.S. 350 c.c. …. 124 marks S F C (Special First Class Award)
Rob’s eventful Scottish ‘Thursday’ was May 7th 1964. The route was as follows, let’s follow where Rob went that day: Start, Fort William; Inverlochy; 2 sections at Annat; Banavie; Gairlochy; 8 sections at Laggan Locks; Corrieyarrick Pass (where Rob has his big off!); Melgarve; Laggan Inn; Roy Bridge; Inverlochy – Lunch control; Glen Nevis; 4 sections at Ben Nevis; Fort William – Down Ashburn Lane; Onich; Kinlochleven; 1 section on Pollock Way; 8 sections at Leitir Bo Fionn; Down Loch Eild Path; 8 sections at Mamore; Check at top of hill; Mamore Road; 2 sections on the Town Hall Brae and Finish of day. Total Mileage 132 miles. 33 sections.
SSDT Point of interest: The number plates you see in the SSDT photos were issued to riders by the organising club. The rider paid a fee of ten shillings and forfeited the deposit if they didn’t hand the plates back at the end of the event. In 1964 the number plate official was Bob Adamson who later was to become SSDT Assistant Secretary and Secretary of the Pre’65 Scottish Trial.
Copyright: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, Moffat Racing (c) 2014
Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey for permission to use the photograph of Peter ‘Jock’ Wilson for this article.
Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd for the use of 1964 programme cover.
Rob Edwards for the use of the Brian Holder photo.
Blackie Holden Junior for the photo of Blackie Holden Snr in 1964.
Mrs Ron Thomson, Inverlochy, Fort William for the photos of Ali McDonald & Ron Thomson.
To read all of Rob Edwards’ story of his life in trials, click … here
The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Since 2014'