Safety First Through Trialing

A few years ago there was much criticism of the ACU when they declined to fully fund two teams to the International Six Days Enduro which was held in South America, so it’s good to learn that at this year’s ISDE, which again returns to South America, this time to Chile, that Britain will be fielding both a Trophy and Junior Trophy team, thanks to the sponsorship from Optoma Loans.

The news came in a ACU Press Release, and whilst there is no indication as to how much funding the company has been able to put in, it does at least mean that Britain will have two full teams in the event which is often classed as the Olympics of Motorcycle Sport.

There are many who feel that no matter what the discipline, major sporting nations, of which Britain is definitely one, should always be fully represented in the sport’s biggest event. It was never right that when Britain sent a trials team to the Trial des Nations, a motocross team to the Motocross des Nations, that sending a full enduro squad to the ISDE was not possible.

All the arguments at the time undoubtedly made some sense, for it was a horrendously expensive escapade, but as the Secretary of just one club that pays a significant amount to the ACU following every trial, it has always niggled me that for the money that is paid, there is no appreciable and visible return. No doubt John Collins will be on line again to argue his point against that statement, but never mind, we’ll not go down that path again.

So congratulations to Optoma Loans for sponsoring an effort that shows Britain in the very best light.

If you are asking why this subject has cropped up via this column on Trials Central, it’s because the trials world is indelibly linked with the enduro world. Just consider a moment the names of many top enduro riders and you’ll know that not only are they top speed men, they are also ace trials riders. If we throw in the names of Paul Edmondson, David Knight, Wayne Braybrook, Tom Sagar, to name just a few of the current stars, then look back a few years and come up with the names of Arthur Browning, Bonky Bowers, Andy Roberton, Dave Jeremiah etc, in every case they were also very good trials riders, so as I’ve said, they are closely linked.

In most cases it was as trials riders that these and others like them started, progressing during their careers to enduros, rarely is it the other way round. Trials riding is a discipline very much in it’s own right. I’m not teaching you folks to suck eggs, but you’ll all know that even at the very basic level of trials riding, you have quite a good sense of balance and feel for what the bike is doing. You’ll even know and be able to feel what the wheels are doing. You may not be good enough to correct it, but life on a trials bike will have taught you that much.

Translate that to life on an enduro bike, and even if you are a real sprogger at trials riding (nothing wrong in that), get on an enduro bike and believe me, you will have far more confidence than an enduro rider who has no experience of trials. You’ll have some speed and good control of the machine in slippy conditions, and the much improved suspension of the enduro bike will bring bags of confidence when compared to life on a trials iron. You’ll know what you can and can’t do, suspension wise, on a trials bike; an enduro bike will expand those limitations dramatically.

Just last Wednesday I was observing at Lancs County’s evening trial in appalling conditions, boy did it rain. My section, like most that night was pretty easy – across a stream, up a small, slippy bank, turn to a little step down, another turn and out. The nature of evening trials is that they cater for less able and infrequent riders and the ability levels were very different from one end of the entry to the other – again, no hidden criticism there.

But even at that pretty low level, the feel most riders had for what they were doing was superb to watch. The lads (and two lasses!) were able to understand what their bikes were doing, and in most cases they had quite advanced throttle control. Knowing when to back off on a turning drop (rather than leaving the throttle open) was there in all cases, and it gave me some pleasure to watch quite ordinary trials riders perform so well.

That inate feeling for what is happening translates to the road when driving a car. I’m sure you will agree when I say that in some conditions, if you are not the driver, you feel unhappy with how your driver is handling the vehicle if he is not a trials rider. On a wet road after days of sunshine, you, as a trials rider, can see it may be slippery and hopefully drive accordingly. It’s intuitive and can’t be taught. It can only be learnt from off-road experience, and there’s no better place to learn than in a trial.

And if for only that alone, the sport is doing folks a favour.