Had a GREAT day yesterday at Byron IL. the motocross / motorcycle park is a great facility, and it was fun to watch the motocrossers practicing during some down time! Camping was great, we were the only trials-ers who camped overnight. Saturday morning, Mike and I walked the sections with NITRO's own Ray P, who was checking line difficulty, safety, clarity of markings, etc. As we walked, Ray needled me about whether I was planning another single-digit day, or was I ready to give intermediate a try. I told him I was "on the fence" ... and as we walked line after line, I saw only one intermediate line I thought I might need to simply 5 all day...so I took the leap and moved up to intermediate. At "mid sized" events, NITRO uses a scoring system I've not seen elsewhere. Every rider is assigned a section and a "rotation #". Mike and I were 7A. which means, section 7, we judged first, the "a" loop, while the B and C groups went and put down their first loops. When the B team returned, we went on to ride our first loop while B checked, then next C checked, then back to us until everyone rode 4 loops. Works quite well, really! Thins down bottle necks, you get to meet and tlak with and help every rider, and learn so much by watching others!! Anyway ... let's go ride it! Section one was a bit of a distance into the woods. It was a narrow ravine, starting with an entry on the right side. All but onvice began with a hard left over a small log, starting on a very mild offcamber, pull a hard 90 across the hill, across a log running up/down the hillside, and back onto the main trail. Intermediate immediately wrapped around a tree in a nice straight 90 degree left with minimal fall off to it, and straight down the bank. the other classes had various other drops into the creek bottom. For intermediate, I had a 90 at the bottom then a sweeping 90 more until I was climbing a little 'feeder' dry creek line up and out of the ravine again still on the right bank, then a 'drop in and climb right back out" that put me on the left bank, run close to the tape on the flat, pull a hard 90, cross a 10" log on a slight down slant and out of the section! I rode it with a 3 on my first loop...and ugly 3 for sure, but never out of control or in danger just nerves and sloppy. Down the loop a bit and we're at #2. I was SOOO proud of #2 that I was still beaming an hour lataer .. and heck still am now as I think of it! Intermediates entered a thicket of larger trees, made a hard 90 right at the end of two massive felled trees, rode alongside them, and then dropped a step bank 6' or so down into a very narrow little ravine that was a bit sandy and dry. Down that creek a dozen yards, and then it was a narrow space to make a 45 degree left, and shoot up a segment of the 6' bank that was somewhat rutted and had a few roots, but not dangerous -- followed by a pretty yellow ribbon just about 1-1/2 bikelengths from the top! I'd considered not riding that line initially ... just wanting to stay safe and comfortable all day, but when it came time, I chose to try the ride. I dropped into the creek ocmfortably on teh nicely worn line, down the creek, looked at the cilmb, and COMMITTED! when reaching the top I had the sense of mind to be able to roll off the power and ease the little bike to a crawl across the top, make the left hander away from the tape and beam from ear to ear!! At whic point the checker was kind enough to remind me wehre the heck my next marker was as I'd not seriously thought through the rest of the section!! I weaved through the saplings, and out the gate, CLEAN!!! YIPPEEE!! #3 was a fun little section -- all but novice entered by driving onto an off-camber bank. Intermediate immediately did a fall off around a sapling into the dry creekling's belly. We drove up the creekling a little, climbed a minor offcamber up the right bank, the a 'drop down and back up and OUT' again to cross the little gully. Honestly, except for teh fall off tree, I preferred the looks of the intermediate line over novice, who rode up the base of the creekling and then had to climb up and out without runup! Almost immediately, we reached section 4. This was a fun block of a massssive clump of felled trees. Novice had a very fun "twisted lizzy' to work their way around several tightly placed markers and then over an 8" or so log and out. Intermediate entered straight ahead, made an immediate tight 180, and were instantly staring down the end of a pair of downed logs about 12" in diameter, and a choice... pull the turn TIGHT, hit the logs farthest left, and have room for the tight right turn; pull the turn wider, hit the logs farther right at the proper angle, and squeak out of the turn opening; or ... well ... like this rookie, hit the turn improperly, come up to the log suddenly, not square, and not at the right spot; stumble our way over, and come to a screeching halt with both hands on the brakes! Fix the line, easily cross the log, and out of the section happily to have managed a 3 and not a 5! The section wasn't nasty or dangerous, it just required more precision than I was managing at the time! A quick jaunt to the edge of the pitts and stadium section 5! This was a verrry fun "twisted lizzy" for both novice and intermediate. Intermediates had 3 very tight corners that were nearly full lock and are the fun sections where my slightly smaller 80 has a really nice fit (CLEAN!)... as I was reminded when, later in the day, I tried to ride the section on mike's 1990 Aprilia Climber just for fun! There were no 'obstacles' in this one for either class, just precision twisties and some scruff on the ground. time to leave the pitts again for the second half the course. For some reason I don't understand, we were sent up a creekbed away from the pitts, which involved a rather nasty climb over some wet slick roots, only to drop back into the creekbed a hundred yards later. Hopefully the partners to the 2 novices found a way around rather than hassle with this very odd loop choice. Into the woods, and soon we're at section 6. This is a sandy creekbed with tall banks on both sides ... and is the only section my little Gizmo and I never rode all day, due to our breakdown. The intermediates had what looked ilke a very doable but good challenge of a line, involving an offcamber little bank off the right side of the creek, back across, and the a nice sized climb/fall off around a sapling on the left bank. Sad I missed it! The second odd point of the loop happened between 6 and 7. There was a step out of the creek to the left that would hold some challenge for a newbie ... and literally 2 bike lengths later was a pair of logs laying across the trail, with a slight downhill slant on them. For this newbie, I found the logs a touch intimidating and was proud of clearing them iwth a clutch wheelie the first ride, something i've worked VERRY ahrd on at home. the second loop i tried to rush them (had a rider behind me), smacked them hard and had a bit of a slide down the log before 3-ing my awy down loop. Now to the section we checked, the tough ride of the day, section 7! This was a fun mix, beginning with a small segment of that sandy rocky dry little creekling and some twisties in and out the bank for all except novice. Then most classes had to align themselves one way or another to come up a nasty little bank step which had a runoff rut perpendicular to it, and the tree that held the left marker also had roots jutting through the 18" step. Finally, just for fun, a long small log (6" or so) lay just about the right distance to stop your front wheel just as your rear hung precariously at the edge of the lip. for the upper classes, there was a challenging BRAAAP up a short hill with a skidding drop off, and for the top 2 classes, they had to drop off that bank into a tight little cluster of saplings, make a hard left somewhere in the mix, and then hop up and over a 5" log-turned-springboard hanging somewhere between 18 and 36" off the ground! No one took a fall off it, but boy did that bugger cause dabs! finally, all but novice had to do a tight 150+ degree irght turn around a small tree in some really jutty nasty soil, then make a hard left turn to sneak out the exit gate. this, too, drew far more dabs than expected. Off to section 8, the last of the day! This was a fun section in a different type of wet creek area. Intermediate rode down the 10-ft-across creek iwth its slippery and wobbly small baseball-esque rocks; we then made a seemingly simple slight jaunt left followed by a full 90+ degree hard right in a defined space, still on the bugger rocks, then step out of the sections. I aws QUITE proud of getting out of the section with a 1, even if Mike was nagging me about getting my danged knees off the danged bike! SADLY, with an overheated little 80 on my hands (the fan's thermostat had stuck), I didn't quite finish one loop, and walked to my section to allow the other riders to go on riding, my first intermediate day done. Based upon my points taken, though, if I'd continued on that path, I would NOTTT have been last for intermediate for the day. YIPPEEE!! PS: My partner and best friend, Mike (macattack), rode Expert for his first time (equivalent to Advanced in T.I.), and had a GREAT ride. His hopping has really come along since he bought the 2010 GasGas Race and got the right springs to manage his size and style...and it sure showed yesterday ... as he finished the day in 3rd out of 9, beating 4th place by ONE CLEAN! Another great day on the bike...so much fun. Thanks, NITRO!