It was an ideal day for a trial with cool overcast weather becoming warmer
as the day progressed. The markers had largely been untouched by baboons
during the week with only section four and five needing some repair.
was a good entry of fourteen riders with all finishing, though Greg missed
some sections on the last lap and had to be given fives.
As it happened, there were no riders in the intermediate class as those that
may have ridden it opted for the expert line, with the exception of Mark who
wisely chose the clubman line for the classic Suzuki.
The first section was an easy opener followed by a more technical section
two with tight turns and off camber.
Section three had a nasty rock on the
expert line that did bother some riders, but in the end most coped well with
Section four was very long and wound up through the trees over roots and
logs and to me was one of the best sections, as it required concentration
all the way.
Sections five and six were variations of old sections in
amongst the boulders, and the next section was a totally new one, ridden out
of sequence as it started just after the end of section six.
some rocks, tight turns and two significant log crossings, the first of
which was undercut and expected to be a problem. As it often turns out, it
wasn't so bad and was cleaned many times.
The last section was section
seven, another rendition of an old one, with an easy first half with a bit
of a tricky ending. Michael's line on this section was of course much
It was then a nice ride through the forest past sections six and eight back
to the cars and the start of another lap.
Thanks to lee and Bronwyn for taking the photos.
Oset Class (Junior Electric)
Clayton came all the way from Langebaan again, and took delivery of a new, bigger bike that was the right size for him. Timmy arrived without a bike, as his father Dion had enjoyed some sports in the garage the day before trying to fit a new throttle grip and ended up breaking it.
Thankfully, Zander lent Timmy Clayton's trade-in bike, and the two Oset riders could compete - each on a foreign bike.
Section 2 had some tight turns before mounting a big beam and balancing along it. The tight turn onto the beam proved to be unsettling for the riders, and Clayton had a spot of trouble getting used to his new, bigger bike. There were gasps of shock as he lost throttle control at the end of the beam and rode into the front of Mike Sydenham's car. No harm done.
Section 3 was a slalom of turns between flags on flat grass and tested the ability of the riders to execute tight turns on balance. The section ended with a rock obstacle.
Clayton won the trial with 26 dabs, and Timmy was close behind on 27.
While watching Timmy ride in shorts and without boots, we decided as a club that boots and proper pants and helmet are mandatory. Tim only rode like that because he did not bring his kit having expected to not be able to ride at all. In future the rule will be applied strictly.
Also, in future the Junior Electric competition will run between 9:30 and 10:00. This will allow dads who ride trials to be able to watch and help, and will give the Junior Electric riders an audience.
Most of the clubman class was similar to the lines ridden in the classic John Fulcher Memorial trial last year. I was so focussed on the intermediate/expert lines that I was unable to pay any attention to it.
Mark Shearer was also planning on riding the intermediate class, but his bike is still waiting for spares, so he was forced to ride his classic twinshock. This made the expert lines too dangerous for him and he rode the Clubman lines.
We had 5 clubmen competing, and the class was won by Martin on his Montessa 4-stroke. Competition was close, with 1 dab separating the first 3 riders, and the tie between second and third place being decided by the number of cleans. Young Steve Shearer pipped the old guard of Earl Krause with 21 cleans to 19 to take second place. What makes this remarkable is that Steve normally rides the Junior Class - a superb achievement.
This class is designed to help clubmen advance safely to experts level. Intermediates ride the four easiest/safest expert sections, and the clubman lines on the remaining sections.
Several factors conspired to cause all the intermediates to ride the full expert class on the day:
- Dion was running late as a result of Timmy suddenly being able to ride the Junior Electric competition,
- Greg was supporting Clayton so also got started late,
- Rob Batey arrived late, and
- The expert lines for intermediates were on the first four sections, so by the time we had to ride a clubman line we were used to the extra adrenalin, and already half-way there to competing the expert class, and
- the following expert lines were not too dangerous, and
- once one of us did it the rest, being men, had to follow.
This class had 8 riders, half of whom were newcomers to the class.
A gentle warmup for intermediates, it had tight slippery turns up and downhill, with an undercut log at the top of a short climb. With poor traction on the slopes, a slight drop of concentration was costly. Several cleans were had here, and it was psychologically calming.
Straight after section 1. For the group of intermediates who started 15 minutes behind while waiting for the Junior Electrics and Dion to finish, it was comforting to see everybody on section 2 right there while we were still walking the first section.
More tight turns up and down slopes where the clubmen had more direct lines. The suspended logs on this section were for Michael's Master Class line, so for experts the line was safe and only cost dabs. All the clubmen managed to clean this section on every lap, but nobody else did.
Having helped set the sections the week before, I knew that for intermediates, this was the crux of the lap. The rock at the top of the section, followed by a tight turn right and an inclined log. Mentally, I was preparing to struggle and to be glad once I was past this section.
Brian had positioned himself as a minder at the top of the rock. This was the rock where I consistently looped out or stalled or fell in new ways during the memorial trial last year. To say I was scared of it is an understatement. And none of this was helped by Brian standing as a minder (it just proved this was tricky and dangerous...).
Trevor had opted to skirt the left side of the rock just inside the flag, and although his first attempt got him a 3, Zander showed it could be done successfully. Brian mentioned that it might be a better line for the intermediates.
However, when the time came, I opted for my familiar line, and managed to keep the looping out under control so that I was holding a wheelie at the top of the rock. Greg was minding and I felt his hands on my shoulder as I swung the bike right with a planted foot to execute what looked like a deliberate pivot turn (but was really a deliberate avoiding of falling over by putting my foot down).
I managed to pull off that same move on every lap. My poor score on this section a result of fluffing the (relatively) simple climb at the start before even getting to the rock.
This was a long uphill climb, and for experts made even longer by the added twists and turns. Where this section normally ended on other trials, it went on to cover what was normally a different section also. I was motivated because this was (supposed) to be the last experts line the intermediates would follow.
While my score on this section is less than stellar, I did find that I was progressively getting further and further up the section without dabs before losing it.
This is a steep and slippery section with nasty off-camber turns. And this is the clubman line! During initial setting I mistook the masters' line for the experts line, and had been glad to be riding the clubman line here as an intermediate.
On the day, I saw that experts were not expected to do a nose-wheelie followed by front wheel hops before jumping onto a rock. We just needed to ride up a steep, narrow and slippery gully between rocks. Having fiasco'd the clubman line here many times before, I figured I could not do worse if I rode the experts line for a change.
Threes and a five for me here. Not too bad for my first full experts section in a trial. Plenty of room for improvement though.
Another section in the rocks very similar to 5. Since none of the obstacles here were daunting, I decided to stick to the experts line. So did all the other intermediates.
This section was out-of-sequence and should have been labelled 7. Having just done the experts line on all 6 sections before, I was convinced that this was where I would ride the clubman line and drop to intermediate class. The cause: two big undercut logs at the end of the section. Even Brian said they were tricky for experts.
Dion was quite gung-ho about doing them anyway, and I was prepared to let him go ahead, because that is who he is. But then the unthinkable happened:
Murray rode the expert line, and this just upped the ante for the rest of the intermediates.
By now my fear is eating at my ability to see properly, so I elect to get it over with - even if I end up being cas'evac'd in a stretcher. Like a bunny in the spotlight I fumble and stumble through the section...
I even chastise the photographer for capturing the look of fear on my face. Then I close my eyes and give it horns...
I manage to land the beast on the log, albeit with both feet off the pegs. No matter - all limbs intact and all digits accounted for. The elation and relief showing on every face including my own. I'm not sure who was more glad - me or those spared the prospect of carrying my body out of the hills...
I managed to 3 this section every time. Although my score was better than my arch rival (it's you Dion ) on this section, Dion did almost clean it at the end. The only injury I sustained was from biting my tongue after copping yet another 3 while Dion is whooping about his feat.
The last section of the lap. The usual winding along next to the river - starting with the steep descent, a diversion close to the rock into a dip (that some experts missed and stayed on the path). Then masters climb a rock with a big hole next to it, jump over the path and drop off a rock.
Experts stay on the path, ride onto the rock to drop off. Everyone finished with a floater right turn.
During setting, the experts line also involved the rock with a hole next to it, and jumping the path. This was definitely a bridge too far for me and I was going to ride the clubman line here.
Then someone shifted the experts line and it was doable for me. So I, and all the intermediate riders, ended up riding the experts line all the way.
Only Brian was able to clean this section on all laps. The final floater turn extracted dabs from everyone at some point.
Michael Krause was the only competitor in this class. Even though his lines were beyond the ability of any of the experts, his score was the lowest on the day.
The trial was a huge success. Many people pushed their boundaries and learned some new skills or conquered some demons. The weather and baboons had cooperated. As a group we discussed some options and agreed that:
- The next Nomads Trial would be a week earlier in April - on Sunday 13th, at Vista school, and would be organized by Dion and Zander.
- The Junior Electric class would henceforth start at 09:30 to give dads and other riders a chance to spectate.
- Helmet, riding pants and boots are mandatory for all competitors. Gloves highly desirable, followed by knee and elbow guards.
- We would henceforth always charge an entry fee of R50 per bike, regardless of whether the venue is free or not. This will allow us to cover costs of maintaining flags, chainsaws and weedeaters. It also gives us a buffer for new venues like the quarry that demand an upfront minimum fee regardless of numbers.
- Murray is to organize the May Nomads trial in the quarry - which is exactly such a venue that requires an upfront R2000. We agreed we would try it to see whether it is worth it.
- Our kitty from this trial stands at R700 and is in my care.
|Mark Shearer||0||0||0||4||1||5||10||6||26||4||24 cleans|