A New Type of Rider

Thousands of people welcome the revival of the International Six Days Trial after the Second World War that is raced in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, in 1947. This 22nd edition of the ISDT is remembered as a very well organised competition which also benefitted from sunny weather without the threat of rain. It is won by the Czechoslovaks who are better trained on their home’s dirt roads. The International Trophy’s victorious team is composed of Jaroslav Simandl, Richard Dusil, Václav Stanislav, Jan Bednář, and Karl Hansl.

In 1952 Jan Novotny, Jiri Kubes, and Richard Dusil on 250 cc, as well as Cenek Kohlicek and Jaroslav Pudil on 150 cc are dominant. They drive CZ bikes which are the first choice of many Enduro riders at the time because they are powerful models with extremely reliable engines. Despite this and despite their guaranteed presence at all off-road races, from the Baja 500 to the ISDT, the manufacturer has to cease production in 1991.

The internal rivalry is between CZ and Jawa riders, the latter being the oldest Czech motorcycling company still active today. It was founded in 1929 and won fifty-one international trophies before the Second World War. During the global conflict it produced weapons for the Third Reich and, in the 1950s, it developed prototypes like the 250 Type 11. However, the company becomes internationally famous and more economically stable with the Jawa 350 Californian model, which is sold also in the United States and Western Europe and is serially produced both in a classic and in a sidecar version. Later on, it is one of the major brands in Speedway and is chosen by legendary riders like František Šťastný and Gustav Havel.

Every now and then the ISDT returns to Czechoslovakia, to Gottwaldov in 1953 and to Spindleruv Mlyn four years later. This edition is very much characterised by the global tensions between the Western Bloc and the signatories of the Warsaw Pact: in fact, no official British team signs up. The competition features a very difficult route, heavy rain, and fog, and is one of the hardest ever since this type of event was held for the first time. The general headquarters are in a ski resort close to the border with Poland, where each chalet is assigned to a different trade union so that workers could go on holiday with their colleagues from the same sector.

Czechoslovakia remains one of the major centres of the sport, especially with the Silver Vase, the contest that foreign bikes are allowed to participate in. With an unprecedented seventeen victories, Czechoslovak riders overshadow their rivals also here. They stand out because of their skill in the discipline, their attention to detail, and their precise study of the racetrack. Even the specialised American press praises these qualities.

For example, during the 1975 edition, Cycle World highlights how one rider of the Czechoslovak team, that also includes a brilliant Jiri Stodulka, overcomes a particularly challenging rocky uphill passage, where many athletes had got stuck, standing up on his motorbike in a similar way to cyclists when they shoot up mountains. The magazine starts its account of the race with the image of this unusual pose, riding flowingly past his immobile rivals. It becomes symbolic of a success model.

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