Chantal and I…stealing a lil kid’s bicycle?
Sometimes you just need to take a day off and get out of town. So, last Sunday me and some friends from NYC Vin Moto and The Miss-Fires loaded up the trucks and headed up to lovely, lush Connecticut and the Meridan Motorcycle Club….
Me. ready to ride?
The destination? the New England Trials Clinic (NETA) Trails Cross training Clinic. These clinics are run entirely by volunteers and wholly for the love of the sport. Their theory? How could you NOT want to ride Trials after trying it out. so, the first time’s free kids!
Kim looking like a pro?
What is Trials?
Moto Trials (formerly “Observed Trials”) is now the pinnacle of off-road riding, as the riders tackle the most severe terrain capable of being conquered by any two wheeled machine. When someone looks at the obstacles before the riding starts, a frequent comment is a simple “No way!” A big plus for the spectators is that they can watch from just a few feet away as the riders attempt seemingly impossible obstacles. Trials competitions consist of “sections” that are physically defined by marker tape. These sections contain challenging features, both natural and artificial. They may include stream-beds, boulders, logs, and slopes. Tape markers identify different skill class levels for competition; the better the competitor, the more severe the obstacles will be in the corresponding class. A trail loop connects the sections for the event. A typical event will have 8 to 12 sections and the competitor must ride the loop and complete the sections three to five times. Riders cannot practice the sections but may inspect each section just before being judged (or observed) on their ride. Then, one at a time, the riders will enter a section on their motorcycle, as an observer scores the rider’s performance. Like golf, where the least amount of strokes on the course wins, trials are won by the person who touches their foot to the ground the least amount of times over the course of the event. The rider with the lowest score wins. The score goes to a maximum of 5 points for that section if they fail to reach the end gate in time or crash. Riding a section “clean” without footing is the ultimate goal of all riders (score of 0).
Trials motorcycles are very specialized. Years of development have produced a very lightweight (i.e. ~150lbs), very slender, extremely well balanced machine with a powerful 2 or 4 stroke engine. The bikes have high ground clearance, minimal fuel capacity and no seat, creating a highly maneuverable motorcycle capable of overcoming nearly any obstacle.
There are many local clubs around the US that host events locally, with some putting on as many as 15 events per year. A listing of NETA’s clubs and events is provided under the “Events Tab” on our website. The United States National Series, governed for the AMA by the North American Trials Council (NATC), hosts the best riders of various classes in America, and consists of 6 to 12 events held in various parts of the country. There are a few select riders in the USA that have the skill to compete at the World Championship level and these riders compete for a spot on the American Trial des Nations Team. The Trial des Nations is held in various countries in the fall of each year, and is a nation vs. nation team competition.
Summing it up
While Trials can be a very challenging and dramatic sport, events by NETA’s local clubs have competition classes for riders of “all” abilities, from beginners on up. Of all the motorcycle sports, it is probably the most
“family-friendly”, and kids can enjoy healthy competition alongside their Moms and Dads and share in an activity that they love. Additionally, trials is easy on the environment. Because of the nature of the bikes and the competitions, environmental damage is minimal, and some clubs have riding areas that have been used for decades with little evidence of any damage to the environment. Trials is also viewed a safer alternative to other forms of motorcycle competition due the lightness of the bikes and the very low speeds (i.e. 1 to 4mph) involved when traversing sections. For this reason alone we continually see veteran enduro and motorcross riders switching to trials competition, and why we commonly to see riders as young as 6 and as old as 70 competing. Lastly, Trials riding also serves as a great cross-training tool for all types of riding such as enduro, endurocross, and motocross. This evidenced by the successfulness of our nation’s top endurocross, and motocross riders (Jeff Aaron, Cody Webb, David Knight, and Taddy Blazusiak) all of which are top trials riders.
Summary courtesy of NETA. READ MORE ABOUT TRIALS FROM THE NETA WEBSITE.
Charles, Neta President
Though i’m sure they regretted ever inviting us first the first five minutes of the dingbat Miss-Fires girls trying to figure out how to mount a Trials bike with no seats…Charles and the staff were incredibly patient, and knowledgeable.
By the end of the clinic…just a few hours later (though it felt like days we were so hot, worn out and beat up), every single one of us could not only balance on the pegs, but manage the slow speed turns, wheelies and rock climbs. Pretty F’in cool for some city slicker motor bike riders!
Kim, counting points
After the clinic, and a bag lunch provided by Neta. Yea, they’re that awesome…They put us to work helping judge that days Trials competition. One of the reasons I got into Motorcycles so heavily and that they are now my life, is the community of it. Events like these are only possibly with volunteer support and we were more than happy to help out.
how it should look.
The riders competing ranged in age from 8 to 80 and as with all moto sports, everyone is patient and supportive. Truly incredible to have been part of it, learn a new skill and challenge myself to be a better rider, risk taker and face my fears. God damn those rocks are scary when you’re staring them down from the pegs of a Gas Gas!
1962 Ford Ranchero, 1968 BSA 650, 1971 Yamaha AT1, 2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT