We were terribly worried about the conditions as we traveled through flooded town after flooded rivers ... but we needn't have worried. The gravelly/sandy soil here had happily swallowed all the local rain and was ready for a simply gorgeous day. As those of you who suffer thru my ramblings know, I am a nervous novice in the Trials Inc series. I've been practicing all winter and made some real strides in some previously struggling areas (i.e. wheelies), but I'm still not particularly confident with my bike, particularly compared to the boys that are younger than my youngest daughter! I was frustrated to walk sections Friday afternoon, and find novice lines containing fairly difficult logs and other challenging and potentially dangerous pieces. The first event of the season - and with a rider with us that is just starting out coming to her first event -- I was concerned about the 2 days ahead. Having a great chat with a MOTA rider, however, I learned that MOTA offers beginner class ... and that in most sections beginner means, simply "Find your way through the in gate and out the out gate on whatever lines you prefer". Liz and I walked sections Saturday morning with a VERY different eye ... looking at the novice lines in each case, and then also looking at what other options beginner offered to us. Having seen several areas that worried me from walking Friday night ... and so I chose to ride beginner. The terrain here is an interesting bit of rollies and sand mounds, and the loop was an amazingly nice, literally a ride around a pasture/hay field!! The loop was simple and offered ZERO fear factor for a nervous newcomer ... in fact the youth riders were able to be 'minders' with the adults riding the competition! With a beginner option, the CDs had room to make novice a bit more difficult. There were some tighter logs and steeper off cambers than a TI event would typically have in novice. I did succeed on the novice line, however, in every section during one loop or another thoughout the day. Intermediate was VERY difficult compared to what we see at an average TI event, with Mike commenting that some of the lines were very similar to a sportsman line at TI. Most sections were stadium-style, many with man made obstacles for the upper classes such as tires and spools. the labor of love was VERY clear in the setup work done for all these complex and "national sized" sections. My favorite of the day would've been the challenge of section 5. The beginner's had the option to weave through the section without riding any significant logs; on the novice line, I was given a log of about 12" diameter with a nice, nearly perpendicular run-up as long as I managed the prior turn well. I heard more than one rider who was walking the section giggle as I came around that turn, took my fingers off the levers and, apparently, not-so-under-my-breath, said, COMMIT YOU IDIOT! It wasn't always pretty, but i did manage to clean it all 4 loops. There was a fabulous turnout of more than 70 riders, youth included, and I was honored to come home with 2nd in beginner today. Will I take the step to novice tomorrow? Most likely... we'll see what daylight brings. ---- PS: SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT! The Trials Inc contest at Tilton IL is just TWO weeks away now! Our sections are built, conditions should be exceptional so long as the biblical rains don't return, and we've had several upper class riders come visit and nod in approval on the surprisingly varied terrain and section layout types. SEE YOU TEHRE!!!