Category Archives: misc


Hi there!
Wel­come to obser­va­tions. I am your host, black­dog. I live in Wash­ing­ton state, and I com­pete in a fair­ly obscure motor­cy­cle sport called observed tri­als. Here I’ll share my expe­ri­ences and obser­va­tions on this chal­leng­ing sport. If you’d like to know more about what observed tri­als is, go here.

I hope you enjoy my ram­blings, please feel free to com­ment, dis­agree, ask ques­tions, what­ev­er!


random leftovers

A few left­over thoughts from this past weekend’s tri­als event in west­ern Wash­ing­ton:

The just-con­clud­ed win­ter did an real num­ber on the rid­ing area we call Deer Flats. There were a ton of trees blown down or knocked over, to the point of con­strict­ing the road in a few places. For those that might not know, we had a pret­ty severe win­ter (for west­ern WA) this year. Sev­er­al snow storms, a few bouts of real­ly heavy rain and the sub­se­quent flood­ing, and in mid-Decem­ber, a severe wind­storm that left hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton with­out pow­er, phone, or TV ser­vice. Per­son­al­ly, we we’re with­out pow­er for 8 days, and with­out TV, phone, and inter­net ser­vice for over 3 weeks. The effects of this tem­per tantrum by Moth­er Nature were plain­ly obvi­ous at Deer Flats.

In addi­tion, the dev­as­ta­tion to the trees in the area was the top­ic of an amus­ing quip after the event was over; a bunch of us are stand­ing around out­side the scor­ing trail­er, await­ing offi­cial results, and some­one asks why we don’t have a bon­fire going, with it being so blod­dy cold and all? “we couldn’t find any wood” comes the lacon­ic reply from one of our local expert rid­ers! well, maybe you had to be there.

Cold weath­er and Alpines­tars tri­als boots: about 90 min­utes into my stint as the observ­er on sec­tion 10 in the morn­ing, i had a very weird sen­sa­tion. Just as a rid­er was leav­ing my sec­tion. I felt a vibra­tion in my boots. “Whoa! that was weird. the exhaust sound must have set up some kind of res­o­nance in one of the plas­tic com­po­nents in the boots. how odd.” But then it hap­pened a few more times, and then I noticed that some­times I could feel the vibra­tion when there wasn’t a bike near­by. A lit­tle exper­i­men­ta­tion dur­ing a real­ly qui­et peri­od con­firms that when the boots get real­ly cold, some­thing in their struc­ture sqeaks at a pret­ty low fre­quen­cy dur­ing very slow move­ment. Kind of a bass ver­sion of the ‘fin­ger­nails on chalk­board’ sound. how weird. And, btw, if not for being of ser­vice to my fel­low tirals rid­ers, that’s too damn cold to be just stand­ing around in the woods watch­ing it snow. Just so you know. 🙂

keep those feet up!

Welcome to a new year! blackdog is back!

As you may have noticed, keep­ing up with this blog didn’t top my hit parade last year. it wasn’t a very good year for tri­als, either, so it didn’t mat­ter much. 🙂
I got ill dur­ing the colum­bia cup, then I injured my elbow while prac­tic­ing last june, and it took many months for it to heal, so I didn’t ride very much through the sum­mer. so that’s ’09 in a nut­shell, on to 2010!

THe year start­ed out with our first event, the “Plas­tered Pur­ple Pen­guin” on jan­u­ary 3rd. A new loca­tion for most of us, a pri­vate area in Marysville. We had excel­lent weath­er for jan­u­ary (45 degrees and not rain­ing) and Tom had a unique event planned with a group check observed tri­als in the morn­ing, and a Scot Tri­al in the after­noon (a race where you points both for the dabs in the sec­tions and for how far you are behind the tar­get time).

This area has a 3.5 mile scram­bles track laid out, and that’s pret­ty much what we used for the loop, with the sec­tions in the woods next to the track at var­i­ous places. Real­ly easy to wear your­self out try­ing to go quick­ly on the scram­bles track; that’s not what a tri­als bike is real­ly good at!

A good selec­tion of sec­tions, with not a lot of splits between advanced and expert, but fun. Once again I proved con­clu­sive­ly that I can­not ride com­peta­tive­ly at the advanced lev­el by just hop­ping on the bike the morn­ing of the event, and call­ing the 30 min­utes warmup ‘prac­tice’. I had fun, but made a num­ber of stu­pid mis­takes, and fin­ished in last place. I also had some issues with the bike being hard to start and kick­ing back while start­ing, so i guess it’s time to catch up with all that deferred main­te­nance. 🙂 (this will be a sub­ject for a future post)

after lunch, 5 or six folks (all but one on larg­er enduro machines) tried their hand at the Scot Tri­als. It cer­tain­ly looked like fun, maybe next year I’ll talk some fool into loan­ing me a WR or some­thing and try my hand. 🙂

All in all, though, a fun way to start out the year

Next Event: Walk­er Val­ley, Feb 7. See you there. Direc­tions are avail­able on the Puget Sound Tri­alers web site.

keep those feet up!