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Old 10-01-2012, 01:44 PM   #1
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Joined: Jul 2012
Location: near Danville IL
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Laugh Event Report: Saturday at West Virginia

A Beautiful Saturday in West Virginia

This is a long treck for us – 9 hours one way – and well worth the trip. The drive was surprisingly nice, with great roads and clear directions. I would recommend anyone pulling a camper have 4-wheel drive to make the well cared for but often steep 2 mile entry road. The last hill looked like a roller coaster, especially through the morning fog! It was well worth the distance to get up to the camping area, on the top of a hill, cresting out of the fog, watching a gorgeous sunrise. Plenty of space for parking, for kids to ride bicycles and play -- well cared for areas.

This was a recurring event but held at a new location. T.I. was excellent, as always, about pre-announcing loudly and often the change of location -- at prior events, via email, and other resources.

We were told at rider’s meeting that the loop was short and exceptionally easy, with all of it ridable in a side-by-side. About 90% of the loop was manageable or mildly technical. With one short exception, the loop was very well marked and easily understood, yet another thank you in order here. But boy, I’d not want to be a passenger in the side-by-side that actually manages the scary sections of that loop. Not to be the solo whiner, I heard from several others that the loop had multiple segments that were overly challenging. I even had two upper level riders cheer when they learned I made it through one down-into-a-puddle-then-steeeep-up without waiting for Mike as minder ‘in case’ (Mike was still riding the prior section.) Several spectators commented they would not be returning Sunday to walk and watch their family ride, as it was just too far to the closest sections, and areas of the loop were just too difficult to manage on foot. I spoke with another wife who commented that she rides her vintage trials bike at home, but wouldn’t even consider Minding because of the loop.
And enough whining about loops! Let’s ride some sections!

The event was creatively set up so that half the loop started north of the pits, and half south. This allowed the riders to split up when going out to ride, minimizing early bottle necks and giving riders the ability to take a break at half-loop. VERY NICE! That was also a bonus to spectators who chose to only walk half of the loop.

Mike and I rode out north/west, and started at 6. Section 6’s novice line had a great combination of technical challenge – including a VERY doable but challenging right hand curve around a tree on a mild offcamber, with mossy rock as footing just to add extra fun – followed by a reasonable uphill that had mild challenge of these slick rocks but NOT bowling ball sized monsters. THANK YOU, section creator! It also offered the novices 2 or 3 potential lines, and a fairly open area to adjust and correct, and the favored line was shared with the intermediates, so that it got well ridden throughout the day and was helpful for rookies not so lucky as me (I have a great minder who helps me decipher lines or I would get a LOT more 5s!) The exit, again, had a relatively high technical factor with only a small fear factor – a steepish down into a dirt covered end of a creek, with a hard right at the exit that required control of the bike going down. The upper level riders had a complex and challenging ride up a section of creekbed that had many a rider scratching his head and lots of interesting discussion when walking the section.

Something I really enjoyed about this event is that, while many of the sections appeared to be similar footing , the sections still offered an interesting array of differing challenges for your novice riders. Section 7 had a slippery slightly off camber log but it was small enough so that a nervous novice (ie ME) could simply roll over it – so long as the front wheel was allowed to be light, the bike rolled through comfortably. It had multiple short bursts through some very challenging rocks (time to paddle for me), but without a high fear factor, and then a mildly intimidating exit that didn’t require me to lift the front end over either the log or the rock, but I had to pay attention to both.

Section 1 began with a relatively steep, damp downhill, to a small flat requiring a left curve in a small space, then a mildly offcamber climb arching left. The rider behind us outright laughed as I stood on the flat, looking at mike, saying “but CAN I skid it?” and Mike’s response that I could but it would just make things worse. (I’m learning rear brake control and have fun skidding my rear wheel at home.) For those of you who have seen me ride, you might know that my bike has a name and, well, I tend to talk, well, to BOTH of us, quite a lot. The checker in section 1 got a few extra smiles, as I entered the section each loop, telling Trixie “don’t pull clutch don’t pull clutch don’t pull clutch” and then “throttle now now NOW” at the bottom… seems the bike has no trouble going at the bottom of tight spots for other riders, but with me aboard, she needs a good bit of extra encouragement! Well, one of us does, at least. Did I mention Trixie earned us a clean every loop on section one??

Several sections had significant upward lines – rocks seem to be EVERYWHERE here – but the novice lines were cut so that not all the sections were those brain beaters that just jar your teeth out of your head if you aren’t able to float over them, and where we did have to survive those segments, they were kept mercifully fairly short.

Another section (2, I think?) offered a very technical line – an offcamber access to the entry, a tight right hander that, if the novice let the line fall long, she would find herself sliding down offcamber into some nasty stuff; a 180 degree right that actually was best ridden by shooting beyond 180 and stretching the tape, because it immediately held a 180 left, followed by another probably 150 degree right hand turn. All but the offcamber were very safe, and I appreciated the technical challenge provided without fear factor – THANK YOU AGAIN! -- the double S really stretched my novice skill set. But again, NOT dangerous or even feeling risky.

I always enjoy watching Mike ride his lines, and others of our new friends riding their own classes. The range of types of challenges provided was really exciting and interesting to watch. We walked one section (4 I think), and I saw Mike looking at an odd Sportsman line. A small triangular rock stuck up out of the dry creekbed, pointing roughly at the pair of rocks he had to scale, immediately after which he had to pull a hard 90 degrees on an uphill and then carry the front wheel over the face of another daunting ledge. “You going to use that kicker?” I asked, curious to watch. He said he was thinking about it, and I got to watch my engineer’s brain work through the angles and physics that would be acting on his bike if he took the launch over this pair of rocks, landed at a dead stop, and went on. He told me he would have to land aiming almost perfectly perpendicular to his next obstacle, then hop the front end. I asked if he could float the bike through the turn to avoid the hop, but he said he would hit the tree if he tried. I grabbed the GoPro, hoping to capture a creative approach to the line on video. Mike came up the creekbed, nailed the kicker at an even better angle than he’d anticipated, cleared the 2 rocks, pivoted a bit in the air, and landed (per his words) “a full 2 feet to the left than he thought he could”, and without so much as a full break stop let alone any hop, he rolled on through the section. The checker was almost as excited as I was to watch it, saying ‘no one had tried a line even close to that today!’ Mike said he likely wouldn’t try it again because he nearly clipped the tree, but it had been a fun line. On loop 2, he made the dangerous decision to ignore his own advice and ‘try it one more time’. His bar end and his left pinky clipped the tree, and the bike went one direction while Mike another. A shame I didn’t have the GoPro for that ride, as it was a spectacular get-off! The 2 were just mildly dinged, and on we rode.

Another section had a really scary drop in it for the Sporstman and above classes. We were one of the first riders there, and the CD advised us that he’d removed Intermediate from that line, and told Mike (and the other SPs with us) that the hill was steeper and nastier than it looked. Mike eyed the line repeatedly, then finally rode into the section, through the other obstacles, up the steep bank, floated across the top to an intentionally off-camber line that gave him a less harsh landing off the slick steep hill. Upon exit he blew a huge sigh of relief and insisted the hill wasn’t nearly as bad on the way down as it had seemed from the top!

A real challenge for all CD’s is having adequately trained checkers and properly marked lines. Unfortunately, this event struggled here, in a few sections. One section had a problem with no entry gate for one class, and a second area that was extremely confusing. The checkers elected to remove the 2nd gate, making the section understandable not only for the class in question, but for others as well. The couple checking this section had great attitudes all day, and were so friendly and helpful, as well as firm and accurate in their scoring.

The section 6 checker was obviously completely new to trials. The CD was doing an exceptional job of helping him understand the process during his first riders. A massive thank you (to all the checkers, but in particular) to this checker, who asked great questions, visited with riders all throughout the day, kept a great attitude.

To all riders – please do remember that our checkers are all volunteers. These folks are giving up their day to help us enjoy our sport. I genuinely hope all our riders – and family members, minders, and friends – remember this throughout every ride, every section. Whether or not a checker knows all the rules, makes a mistake or misunderstands a line, remember – we would not be riding without them. Just a single negative comment or person with a rude attitude could make a checker both tell their friends, and also not want to come back. That checker might have become a supporter of our small sport, perhaps even a rider or an ambassador that interested family and friends to ride, to watch, to take any interest. But even if 49 of us are nice to that checker all 4 rides, what he will almost certainly tell others about is the one rider or family member who was snide or rude in ‘educating’ that checker.

Mike and I ride together. That’s what this sport is about for us. Since Novice rode 3 loops today, Mike and I rode 1 & 2 together, then I got a chance to rest up and recover while he rode his loop 3. Today his loop 3 took longer than we’d anticipated, and when he returned we knew we were short on time for loop 4. We rode sections 6-10 together, then I sent him on to finish 1-5 on his own as I knew that my slow loop speed would keep him from finishing. I understand a few other riders weren’t able to complete their 4th loops either, and the CD announced at awards that Sunday would be shortened to 8 sections to shorten the ride time.

As always, everyone was wonderfully helpful – and it was great to meet multiple new comers and people coming back to trials after long hiatus – like our 21 years – at yet another great T.I. event.

Two families parked together beside us; one family has been riding for some time and had brought the friends into the sport; the 2nd teenager has been riding all of 4 weeks. He was here, learning and enjoying himself and having a great day. It was such fun to hear him talking to his dad after his last loop, purely beaming that he’d had multiple cleans this time around. And, his younger brother, Jason, could be heard begging dad to get him one of those “big kid motorcycles like that other boy has, dad, he’s no bigger than me!”

Early in the morning, we met David, who has only ever ridden one trials -- a year ago -- and rides his bike rarely. I encouraged him to ride novice and most of all to enjoy himself. It was fun to see him on the loop all day, and to visit with him afterward. David was tired but happy, and easily admitted that the 4 loops of intermediate would’ve been too much for him. David’ isn’t the obsessive trials-a-holic many of us are, but he was still able to really enjoy himself today.

The fun highlight of the day? The novice class was tied – just 17 points I think – between 60-year-old-casual-rider David and 9-year-old-pure-motorcycle-junkie Elliott. Despite over half a century in age difference, the contest came down to one clean! For all we hear and read about generational gaps, these boys – 3 generations apart – clearly had a common language.

It’s such a fascinating addiction, this thing we call trials. What other sport can a husband and wife ride together all day, tackling challenges that are at least as much about competing against yourself as nearly any sport, spend hours visiting with such great people, and enjoy nature all throughout the day?

One last thank you to the CD and the land owners and all who worked to put together yet another great T.I. event. There are always ideas, suggestions, and frustration points from your riders. But most of all, rider after rider was seen grinning today as they succeeded through technical challenge after challenge. Thanks for giving us the opportunity for that enjoyment in such a fantastic venue.
AnnMarie Cross, permanent Noob! & proud wife of "macattack"
Join us in 2014 at the 2nd annual Tilton Trials, Illinois!
Novice owner of "GheeGhee", '01 GG 80big & also '01 GG280 "TriXTer"
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