The weather started cool, but towards midday the sun came out and temperatures soared to uncomfortable levels.
This was my first Nomads trial since my collarbone fracture at the same venue 13 months ago. On top of this I have just been diagnosed as diabetic and the condition is not yet under control. So I elected to ride in the clubman class. What a brilliant decision: I thoroughly enjoyed the trial and yet was still challenged enough to cherish the successes and learn from the mistakes.
William and I were very close in points and the competition was fun.
Although we have used it pretty much the same in the past, it remains a tricky section. Last time I think it was a bit wet, but this time bone dry and dusty. In fact I always waited for the dust from the previous rider to settle before riding it.
The climb was the difficult bit, and getting it right was largely dependent on getting the turn before it right. Staying on line over some awkward rocks could get a clean, but getting off line could have one dabbing all over the place to avoid a five.
In a previous trial, people were cleaning the clubman line by riding up the rocky incline in first gear. On the first lap I three'd the uphill, but got progressively better, in second gear.
A downhill section through some narrow gaps in the rocks and ending with a sharp left turn over more rocks. Not too difficult, but easy to lose a one on.
Easy to clean, but towards the end I was low on energy and ended up conceding a dab.
A downhill start over large rocks followed by a turn to the left taking the rider back up, then a turn to the right over more rocks to the end. There was a pretty obvious line and if you could stick to it a clean would be the result.
Here we have Lee going back up again on this section.
This was the most difficult clubman line, as there was no way around the rocks. There were several line choices over the rocks, but each had its pitfalls. However, it was extremely satisfying for me to three this section on the first three laps, and clean it on the last.
The multiple possible lines always has me worried that I might not have chosen the optimal one.
An easy start to the section brought the rider to the first difficult obstacle; a sloping log with the yellow flag at the end where it could be dislodged by the back wheel. After that a tight turn to the right followed by an equally tight turn to the left had riders wondering which was the right way to go about it, as there were some options to consider.
After the first lap the end of the log had broken away making it a lot easier and the flag seemed to be staying put and there were then several cleans. It was a short but technical section.
A fairly easy section, that Will and I managed to clean, though it did require concentration and care.
This was a variation of a well used section and the experts decided to change it to take in part of the masters line which made it a bit more challenging but was probably still one of the easiest sections.
The clubman line here was very easy, and we decided to add another log and turn to the line. Despite this, we both managed to concede dabs.
A nice new section found by Michael and probably the most difficult for us. Riders made good use of the generous space through the first two turns, but thereafter the trees and logs restricted the line and demanded some precise riding if you wanted to be lined up for the next section.
Brian Barson on the first obstacle in this section.
The bit that gave us trouble was after the last log crossing where we were faced with a tight right turn through an eroded area before a left turn over some muddy roots. None of the experts cleaned it, but it was a really good section.
The perceived crux on this section was the muddy roots next to a fence - but some fear-induced throttle had the clubmen flying through the crux to the end without much trouble.
Very similar to the way we have used it before, the experts decided to include the steep bank in the section which made it a bit more interesting. The intermediates also used the bank which got the better of Mark on his last lap when his bike got caught up in a tree at the top of the bank while he tumbled to the bottom. Fortunately this was without injury or damage.
Michael Krause on the master's line.
Well done to Steve for getting his little bike up that bank every time.
This section was very satisfying, with the steep bank at the end allowing you to finish with a flourish.
Earl Krause on the clubman line.
When I arrived alone at this section on one lap, I was greeted with a bike suspended from a branch at the top of the bank, and no rider to be seen. My first thoughts were "this can't be good" (my first words were somewhat less publishable). When I got to the bike, I saw Mark at the bottom of the bank - thankfully unscathed.
Again a variation on an old one, but another excellent section. Soft banks, logs and tight turns made for a very tricky section. There was very little room for error. It was one of those sections where successfully negotiating one hazard depended on getting the one before it right.
A great section. Clubmen debated whether it was possible to make a tight left turn between a tree, log and into a sloot, or whether to ride along the top of the sloot next to the fence before dropping in.
The other clubmen did the tight turn. I elected to go wider, over the log and along the top. The drop-in was gratifyingly easy. It worked for me except for one lap where I was tired and lost it going over the log. I had to limp through to the finish to regain my composure.
Generally I thought the sections for the experts were very good, without being dangerous or daunting. The heat of the day no doubt also had its effect on riders, but I must also congratulate Ross on finishing the course albeit with a high score.
Ross cresting the bank on section 7.
Thanks Sean and Dion for a really great trial.
I was surprised at how much I learned and grew from riding clubman instead of intermediate. And the trial was thoroughly enjoyable.
Our traveling companions in clubmen, Chris Moore and Earl Krause (on a twinshock classic bike), both withdrew with gearbox issues. Better luck next time.
Thanks to all who organized and all who participated. What a great crowd of people.