Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Square Your Shoulders To The World... Trials Technique... or ...Life Lesson??

Having purchased the SWM, and it being a trials motorcycle, and the wife and kids conveniently being out of town.  I decided to try my hand at a trials event.  I looked online and at various YouTube videos to try and gauge what I had roped myself into.  I looked at some of the AHRMA trials videos. 

Ohhhh.. this should be fun.. Not too terribly difficult..

I wrangle up my camping gear as this is a two day event.  Got it all sorted out and packed up for a Friday departure as the event was in Connell Washington, which is over 340 miles away.

Yes, that is frost covering everything... It's still March after all


Scout not too sure about this travelling thing.. last time in the car he went to the vet...

Drove all day and finally reached our destination.. set up the tent, (which has not seen the light of day in 7 or 8 years), in about 20 minutes.  I then set up the remainder of camp and unloaded the SWM and did a little bit of last minute prep.  I then lit my Portable Propane campfire and just chilled out for a while.  The nice thing about it is that there is no smoke blowing in your eyes and you don't smell like campfire for 3 days after.
As the night settled in, I snapped these pics of the firelight bouncing off of the SWM.  It reminded me of something primal.  The melding of fire and metal, a tribute to Vulcan, or Hephaestus.

The night was cold, temps dropped to the mid 20's. I definitely brought the wrong sleeping bag for that.  The next morning, I awoke, cooked some eggs and bacon for breakfast and tried to stretch out these old bones.. It sounded more like I was having cereal for breakfast, with Snap, Crackle, and Pop.. Finished making coffee, cleaned up breakfast, and got signed in.

With Trials events, the sections are laid out so that multiple skill levels can use different lines within the same section.  You have to follow whatever skill level your line is.  As this was my first event, I signed in as a Novice.  This turned out to be a very good thing as I could have signed up for Vintage.  However, Vintage had to ride the Intermediate lines.  Oh yes, and there is a time limit to complete it.. 3 loops, 10 sections each loop, 3 hrs to complete it.

I get my little scorecard and head to the first section. Sitting there waiting, and watching and trying to figure out the which side of the little 6x6  gate indicator cards I am supposed to be on..

My turn.  This is nothing like the video I watched.. Oh crap... drop off the edge of the bank, hard off camber left, up and over the rock, hard right down 4 ft down the rest of the bank, off camber right back up the bank, cut through the v channel in the rock, and make the immediate 90* left through the out gate...

Oh yeah,  we done screwed that one all up... I didn't feel too bad though, a lot of people carried to much speed in the last bit and couldn't make the 90*.. I you don't get the front axle out the exit gate, you get a failure for a 5 score. Did I mention that this was only section one...and it got harder as it went.

Section 3...I struggled and wriggled and screwed it all up as well.  However, the observer also taught trials riding and passed on some advise.
"Square your shoulders to the world and look where you want to go.  Let the bike do what it wants, but stay centered over it."  So, I tried doing that the rest of the day. 

I get back to the scoring booth and turn in my card for the first loop... mostly 5's with an odd 3 in there.  "You have 1 1/2 hours to complete 2 more loops." says the lady at the scoring table.. I was already worn out, frustrated and ready to pack it all in right there. 

Screw it.... I came here to do this... It's go time..
Back to section 1.. I got out of my head, knew the line, and just went for it.. Loop 2 ended with mostly 3's and 2 fives.. there were 2 sections that were way beyond my current skill level and I got more tips from the observer at 3.. "You have got to commit.. Let go, don't pull the clutch in, ride over the obstacle."  I pulled into the Scoring table with 45 min left.. Last Loop... Strung my card and kicked the starter...
Loop 3.. I dropped into my sections with more confidence each time... and my score reflected it.. one 2, six 3's, and the two 5's... pulled into the scoring table with 3 minutes to spare..

I went back and ate some lunch and reflected some on the day.. Then my muscles all started to knot up and I realized it was time to pack up camp and go home tonight. There was no way my body was going to make it through three more loops tomorrow and pack camp and drive 340 miles home, and still function on Monday.. It's about knowing your limits, right?

As I packed up camp, I could watch the Advanced riders climb section one which was directly across from me.  It was a goat path up these gnarly rocks and I can only imagine what it looked like from the top.  One guy broke off his shift lever.. Trials Masters are evil that way... They like to see case covers split open on rocks when you get it wrong..

Here is a couple of pics from the Advanced section one and a couple of videos.

Did I absolutely suck at it... You bet.. Would I do it again.. I can't wait..
Now I know what to practice for the next one.. and that one will show me what to practice for the next one.. A steady series of progression is all I can hope for.. Besides, riding trials may be the very cheapest form of competition, as well as having the toughest competitors, namely myself...

I almost forgot.. Somehow out on loop 2 between section 7 and 8, just bopping along the trail when next thing I know, I am laying in the weeds in heap.. just crashed for no apparent reason... I thought it was just the Tiger that needed a nap...

Square your shoulders to the world and keep pressing on...