April first, not necessarily the best day for a Trials event, but here I am, in the truck at 6:40 am, headed for our nearby riding area in Washington state. It’s cold this morning, and drizzling just a bit as I make my way out of town.
50 minutes later, I pull into our riding area; hmmm, no one here. Well, now that would be an April Fools day trials, huh? “no event. April fools!”. A quick phone call to my lovely wife, a quick search on the ‘net, and the answer: “you should read the flyers, dear”! The event is another 6 miles up the road. So I drive up, get set-up and go out to warm up… in the *snow*! Yikes. It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a trials in weather this cold. I warm up, but I’m stiff and out of sync with the bike. Might not be a good day.
9am, riders meeting. I’m observing this morning, for the Novice and Intermediate classes. Section 10 is my assigned post, so off I go. I find the section easy enough, dump my pack, and do some exploring, finding a couple of afternoon sections nearby. They don’t look too scary, but filled with pretty tight turns. I need a challenge, so I go find a decent rock, about 20″ high, about 2⁄3 of the way up a 50ft hill, with a 12″ log about 20 feet farther up, looks like a good test, so I give it a go, get warmed up a bit. Over the rock no problem, but then there’s exactly 0 traction between it and the log. After about 6 tries, I find a line just to the left of my original attempt that has a bit of traction, and with the help of 2nd gear, rather than first, I finally clear the log, with a dab. as I’m heading back down to my section, I’m thinking “boy, that stunk!”. Then I watch one of our local experts take a shot at the same rock, it took him 3 tries to get over the log, so now I feel better!
Usual stuff observing the Novice and Intermediates, give a little advice here and there, always try to help them out, without slipping into ‘nag’ mode. Highlight of the morning is when a guy rides through, says he is just messing around, but he rode pretty well, and as we’re watching his buddy ride through, I’m thinking “this guy looks familiar”. His buddy rides up and away they go. About 5 minutes later, it dawns on me, “that guy looked a lot like Kevin Schwantz; he was at a local dealer yesterday, I’ll bet that was him!” A chat with the trials marshall a few minutes later confirms that that was, in fact, Kevin Schwantz. Very cool.
After lunch, we head out on the loop for our shot at our sections. First section, first obstacle: a 30 inch rock face, where a year ago, my finger slipped off the clutch and the bike pounded me into the tree right to the left of section-in. Oh well, here we go. I make it up the face with just a dab at the top, and then on through the section. Wow, really tight corners, with lots of ups and downs thrown in. The entire course is like that. There’s nothing really dramatic or scary here, but it’s tough riding, never time or space to get set-up for the next obstacle. Since I’m out of practice, it’s really hard work. I ride most sections with 3’s, a couple of 5’s where I stall the bike, or in a couple of cases, find a boatload of traction where I wasn’t ready for it and catapult myself and the bike out of bounds, in one case in section 3, right into a stump. instant halt to forward motion! ow, that’s gonna hurt tomorrow! (comment from future self: yep, it does.)
So I muddle through, put together a couple of decent rides, a few ‘real’ 3’s (only dabbing 3 times, not paddling), a couple of 2’s, and finally a 1 on section 9 the last attempt! back to the truck, change into dry clothes (this is always where I regret not having brought our 12×5 box trailer: the contortionist act that is ‘changing clothes in a compact pick-up passenger seat’), and head over to the scoring
trailer to tally up the card. I have no illusions that I’m in contention, but I figure it was a tough course, someone might have had a worse day than me. alas, I was about to be proven quite wrong, slapped in the face by the universe, in fact. In totaling up the card, I find that I only have 1 score for section 2. I quickly ride back out into the woods to find the observer, and get the other scores punched (they’d be 5’s at this point, but better than penalty scores). No observer, no section, all the tape has been taken down.
I found the location, and at the moment I gazed on the nasty slick log that was the entrance, I realized that I had in fact spaced out the loop, and skipped section 2 on both loops 2 and 3. Aw Shit! Back to the scoring trailer, tally up the card, add the penalty (10 points per missed section, 20 points), and we get a grand total of 113! ow! not even close to being in contention!
So I drive home, tired, sore, and a bit disgusted at myself. I’m not too upset at riding poorly, I know I’m out of practice. But to make a mental mistake like that, it irks me. It’s also pretty rare, I can’t every remember actually getting all the way to the end and discovering that I missed a section like that. Oh well, live and learn.
For the next event, I’m buying a new rear tire, and I hereby resolve to practice more. Keep your feet up and the rubber side down!
See ya on the loop trail!