Well, here we are at the start of a new trials season. I hadn’t gotten nearly as much practice over the winter as I’d hoped, partly due to the pressures of my job, and partly due to the 2 FEET of snow we had around christmas! yikes. That is really unusual for western Washington, and brought a lot of the area to a halt.
Anyway, finally got off my keister the week before the event and put a clean filter in the bike, a new spark plug, and turned the rear tire around, so as to wear the sharp edges off of the other side of the knobs. Only took 3 tries to get the rim band to seat properly and hold air. Needless to say, it was a bit frustrating. Those Montesa-style flanged wheels look better and better all the time! Oh, and I also replaced the fork oil, and while doing so, I added an extra 50cc of oil to each leg hoping it would give me a bit more preload and spring progression than before. I weigh a bit more than you average trials expert, so I figured this might stop some of the bottoming that I’d been feeling. I also cranked up the preload on the rear shock about 1⁄4″. I might actually need a slightly heavier spring in the back, but more on that later.
Got out to the site, found a parking place and unloaded. According to Edward, it was about 38 degrees F. Pretty chilly, but at least it wasn’t raining or snowing on us. Went through my morning ritual: unload, sign-up, dress, set tire pressure, warm up, more coffee, warm up, and wait for start. I felt pretty good, although not terribly relaxed on the bike, and the slightly stiffer suspension felt really good, more responsive to my weight transfers and a bit quicker. Had a short discussion with another rider about Group Check vs. Cross Check. I’ve made my opinions about Group Check known on this forum before, but this time I allowed as how I probably disliked the idea of standing around in 38-degree weather more than I disliked group check. It’s all about perspective, folks!
A short riders meeting, explaining the new marking system, and we’re ready. For those who haven’t seen it, the new marking system we’re using here in PST works like this: for each group (morning, afternoon), each class is assigned a color. When you are walking a section, all you have to do is follow the arrows that are your color. For example, Advanced class was white. So I simply had to follow the white arrows all day. Pretty simple, and I thought it was easy to use. It’s still possible to miss a marker, but it’s harder to mis-understand a section this way.
Gather up into groups and we’re off. Bit of a traffic jam at Section 1, but that’s give a chance to what other riders a bit. Looks like a typical Gold Bar “Technical” section: lots of jumbly rocks, but nothing scary. Should be a cakewalk. Right. My back wheel gets kicked off line at the entrance gate, and I’m so stiff that I flounder through with a 3. Many of the rest of the sections were similar, jumbly, slick, sharp rocks. Nothing dramatic, nothing scary, but challenging of bike control and line control. There were really only two exceptions, Section 8 and Section 9. Section 8 was the Log Section. 3 Crossings of a slick log, seperated by 180-degree tight turns; The first crossing was easy, but you could get spooked going off of it, if you weren’t back far enough on the bike. My first time over, I wasn’t and felt the back end get very light and try to start to go over my head. The second crossing was the challenge, as it was undercut and the approach was littered with a root and some rocks; you had to be perfectly on line and have good timing on the throttle and rear-end weighting. I flubbed this the last loop, didn’t get the clutch out in time; by the time the power hit the rear wheel, the suspension has already started to settle up front and I plowed right into the log! ooof! I tried to recover by doing a standing bounce up onto the log, but didn’t quite get ‘er up on top! dang! oh well. Section 9 was interesting in that it had some logs and some rocks, mixed together with some tight turns. Never did get a clean here, as I couldn’t get the first sharp left-turn log crossing just right, took 1 every time. Ended the event feeling pretty good, I tightened up during the second loop for some reason, then had a decent third loop, except for the above 5.
Overall it was a very technical trial, and a bit easier than a lot of last years advanced trials. I believe the winning score was 34, whereas a lot of winning scores last year we’re in the 45 – 60 range. I don’t have a strong opinion about the score range, although I very much like the very technical trials, as opposed to the event with lots of big-scary obstacles. On one hand, the technical trials give me a better chance of going back to work on Monday with all my body parts intact, but I also understand the sentiment that these types of events don’t really prepare our up-and-coming younger riders to compete at the expert level. I’d very much like to hear what you folks think about this.
All in all a good start to year. I’m excited for the next event, have some ideas for a few more improvements to the bike, and plan on getting at least one practice session in before that event.
Keep those feet up!