Moving the trial a week early resulted in twelve Nomads volunteer observers for the nationals turning up to get some experience.
Six sections were set close to the parking area and two on the far side of the farm houses, so it was decided to do one lap on the first six showing the observers how to score, after which they manned some of the sections for the next three laps. The last two sections were ridden later with the riders scoring themselves.
The sections were quite tough at masters and expert level anyway, and the heat of the day and the rapid rate at which the sections were ridden certainly took its toll on the riders. I for one certainly felt quite sore the next day despite not falling off, but I had done more than my usual share of footing and fighting to get through some of the sections.
Sections one, four, seven and eight were the ones that I battled on, while two and five were relatively easy. Section six with the farm trailer was a definite hit with the observers and was a very good technical section.
Lee had a much better ride than me and managed to clean some of the sections that I couldn't. The intermediates seemed to have an easier time with section four taking most of the marks, while there was a wide spread of marks between the clubmen.
Everyone including the observers however seemed to have had a good day and they are looking forward to the next one.
The clubman lines were not trivial - don't let the low score from Will fool you - he is a very good rider.
What I loved the most was the challenge presented by each section, and the exhiliration of cleaning it or even just completing it without mishap. By the end of the trial I felt that I had improved my skills somewhat.
This was fairly straightforward for clubmen. Experts and masters had to deal with oddly-spaced rocks, but our biggest obstacle was one rock. Of course on lap 1 I managed to clear the rock, but put myself in an awkward position impossible to make the subsequent turn...
In the forest on the left side of the big rock slab. For clubmen straightforward, with points lost only when you let your guard down. On lap one I tried to avoid the rock step but this led to snagging up on some other rocks and losing points. Going for the step worked better on subsequent laps.
The liason to get to this section at the top of the forest proved horrific for beginners - a rocky sequence of step-ups in a narrow path. I broke my clutch lever and bruised my hand there, and lost a lot of energy.
The section itself for clubmen had what seemed like a recipe for disaster: a rocky descent with plenty of opportunity for examining the ground at close quarters. On every lap my main objective was to avoid going over the handle bars, but I ended up cleaning that section most times.
This enters the forest from the right, and for clubmen makes its way along what might be described as a contour path if it were indeed a path. It was more of an abomination of rocks designed to throw you off your intended course. On one lap I found myself well off piste and had to save a five by climbing back up to the line. On other laps I cleaned it!
This is a new start to an established line up the big slab. Cleanable and fiveable. On one lap I somehow did not have enough momentum and could not get traction. On others it was all a breeze.
Popular with observers, spectators and competitors, this section was a tricky take on some grassy bumps, gum poles and an old farm trailer. The wetness of the long grass also meant you had to be careful with your line and throttle control.
This was a section I managed to clean on my first lap, to my whooping delight which proved infectious with the crown also.
A section under the trees by the water tank. I somehow managed to three this one twice, and clean it twice.
A very rocky section when you needed confidence and momentum. Threes on every lap, though I progressed further along each time before starting to paddle. Will managed to clean this every time, and this section certainly separated the novices from the better riders.
It was a huge treat to be able to ride with observers keeping score. For me, stopping to write my score down, then restart the bike is a big effort. It was also great that the Nomads crowd took down the flags afterwards, leaving some free time for stalwarts like Michael to do a bit of freeriding on other obstacles like the skips below...
All in all the trial sections, the Nomads observers, and the usual rider cameraderie made for a most enjoyable trial. Thanks to all who organized and set up.