Halloween II, Gold Bar, WA October 26, 2008

Well, it’s been a long time since my last blog entry. Too much excit­ment on both the job and the fam­i­ly front has left lit­tle time and ener­gy for think­ing about tri­als. Nonethe­less, I did try my hand at the Deer Flats event in July. I hadn’t been on a tri­als bike for about 2 months, and as expect­ed, I was real­ly rusty. I got through the event with a few decent rides, but nev­er real­ly got in the groove and nev­er real­ly got con­fi­dence in my rid­ing. When it was over, the scores showed how rusty I was, last of the assem­bled Advanced rid­ers.

Time march­es on, I was out of the coun­try for the Sep­tem­ber Tri­al, recov­er­ing from the creep­ing crud for Hal­loween I, which brings us to Hal­loween II, at Gold Bar. I had decid­ed before head­ing out that since I hadn’t rid­den in many weeks, and effec­tive­ly only once since June, that I would ride Sr. inter­me­di­ate instead of Advanced.

Arrive at Gold Bar about 8am, find a park­ing spot and get unloaded. First impres­sion is of strange weath­er; it was below freez­ing when I left my house out­side of duvall, but there was a warm breeze blow­ing at Gold Bar. Over­all, a fan­tas­tic day weath­er­wise: sun­shine, a bit of wind, and about 58 degrees. it doesn’t get any bet­ter than that on Octo­ber in the Pacif­ic NW.

Went out and warmed up, includ­ing try­ing out a few rocks that have giv­en me trou­ble in the past. not too bad, but obvi­ous­ly out of prac­tice. I take a look at a few Advanced/Expert sec­tions and con­firm my ear­li­er deci­sion to ride Sr. Inter­me­di­ate; With no prac­tice or rid­ing time for the last 4 months, those sec­tions didn’t look like a good idea.

Back to the pits, get ready, and away we go. Sec­tion 1 at many tri­als is kind of a gimme, an easy sec­tion to get you warmed up and build up your con­fi­dence, before of course, smash­ing said con­fi­dence like a chi­na bowl on a tile floor. Being a tri­als mar­shall requires just a touch of sadis­tic ten­dan­cies. Not today how­ev­er; a fun lit­tle sec­tion, but it has a dia­bol­i­cal uphill right turn in it, with a lit­tle exposed rock just where the back wheel will be when you need to lift the front wheel to float the end of the turn. Nev­er did fig­ure that one out; took a point there every time. Had a pret­ty bad first loop, includ­ing a 5 when I slipped on a slick rock in sec­tion 9, try­ing a dif­fer­ent approach to the slick tree root step. It’s not just the mechan­i­cal rid­ing skills that atro­phy from no prac­tice, it’s also the men­tal parts of the game; line pick­ing and see­ing the cre­ative approach­es to obsta­cles.

Any­way suc­ces­sive loops got bet­ter as I got back in the groove, even post­ing a loop score of 2 on the thrid loop. That’s what the good rid­ers were post­ing from the begin­ning. My even­tu­al score of 24 was good for 5th or 6th, not a shin­ing per­for­mance for some­one who took home a sec­ond place Advanced back in april! oh well. It was a great event, with good sec­tions and good orga­ni­za­tion; as always: Thanks to Jon and fam­i­ly! you guys rock!

So all this brings us to the end of the sea­son, and look­ing for­ward, past the hol­i­days, to next sea­son. The way I see it, I have three options as to how to approach next year. I could get off my ass, clean up my trail sys­tem on my prop­er­ty, build some prac­tice ses­sions, get out there and prac­tice, and set my sights on being com­pet­i­tive in Advanced next year. I could con­tin­ue with my “ride when it’s con­ve­nient” plan and ride Sr. Inter­me­di­ate next year. Or i could take a year off from com­pe­ti­tion, and attend all the events as pho­tog­ra­ph­er and scribe, try to gen­er­ate even more press and some excite­ment around Observed Tri­als in the Pacif­ic North­west.

Right now, not sure which way to go. It seems as though work and fam­i­ly life are going to set­tle down a bit, so the ‘get com­pet­i­tive’ approach might be pos­si­ble. I’m not going to make my deci­sion until after thanks­giv­ing, we’ll see.

See you on the trail, Keep those feet on the pegs!

black­dog