The Almost New Years Eve Trial

Trip Start Dec 29, 2006
Trip End Jan 02, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday Morning

I left Greg and Shelley's house about six thirty AM and went to the Taqueria Jalisco on Koenig Ave. and had the three taco breakfast special while reading a great article in the Austin Chronicle about Willie Nelson's "Shotgun Willie" sessions for Atlantic in New York City in 1973. From there I headed west on Koenig until I hit MoPac and turned north until I hit US 183. About the time I pulled onto 183, I saw a black Ford pickup truck with two trials bikes in the bed. As soon as I saw the Harley Davidson badge, I knew it was Don Hubbard. I pulled up along side and caught his attention and let I let off the gas and pulled in behind and let him show me the way to Jonestown. At the same time, the radio started playing John Hiatt's "Slow Turning", one of my favorites. It's not about trials riding, but trials riding is about slow turning! Next up was Johnny Winter's take on Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" I hadn't heard it in awhile and had forgotten how great Johnny's slide playing was on that day in 1971. Following Johnny was Dr. John's great rendition of the Mardi Gras classic, "Iko Iko". "Talkin' 'bout: Hey now! Hey now!" When the set was over the DJ announced that he had just played, music to get every part of your body moving". No doubt!

We turned off RM1431 and down a rough road to Brett Cooper's place and pulled in to find Jeff "Papa Wolf" George there. He had spent the night there in a little Casita trailer and told us that it had finally stopped raining about four that morning. Don and I got unloaded and I asked about his'07 Beta. He offered to let me ride it and I found it to be light and narrow, with increased steering lock and great clutch action.

Don then asked if we'd like to go walk the sections as he needed to check again that everything was set. I jumped at the chance because I knew it was going to be tough going and getting a bit more familiar with the sections would surely help. Some of the markers had gotten soggy and had fallen down and needed to be replaced. A part of section one was taken out of the amateur line due to it being awful muddy. It didn't look all that bad, but I saw it take points from the intermediates and an expert later in the day. When we got to the creek, Don remarked that there was water in it. Yesterday it had been dry and now it was flowing pretty well. That was a good indicator of how much rain had fallen during the night's thunderstorms.

When we got back to the parking area, others were beginning to arrive and Sander was already there and unloaded. We had lots of time to warm up ourselves and the bikes while Don was setting up the registration table. After registering, we rode around some more to try to loosen up. My bike's idle speed seemed high and I fiddled with it and it turned out that I should have just left it alone.

At riders meeting Don announced that we had twenty-two riders. I thought that was low, but Don seemed pleased with the turn out. Group leaders were named and Sander and I chose to ride with Papa Wolf. Karl Peterson would also be riding with us on a '94 Beta Techno. We would begin on section four, so we had to ride through section one as there was no trail around it. When we got there one of the new riders had already crashed at the top of the long trail down to section two.

Once that was cleared up, we rode down the long greasy descent with a turn the second you hit bottom with trees to greet you if you didn't turn. After passing section two, you went right back up the hill this time there were some rocks sticking out here and there so you had to hold your line. Down another steep hill led you to the creek and section three. Here we rode up the creek a short bit and arrived at section four.

Section four started in the creek bed and went left and uphill to a rocky apex and then down to a wide left turn that wouldn't be much of a problem if it had been dry, then back up for a few feet, then to the right and out the exit.

I took my turn and stalled at the apex and lost balance and dropped the bike for a five. I think it may have been due to the idle being low. I should have left it alone! I quickly restarted and adjusted up the idle and rode the rest of the section for practice. When I got to the group I made light of it stating that, "I'm glad I got that out of the way", and, "I'll always remember that on my first section as an amateur, I scored a five!"

Section five was right across the creek from section four. There was a muddy run uphill to a rocky 180 turn to the right then across a camber to a fallen log that was pretty splintery by the end of the day. From there you made an uphill 180 turn to the left and then across another camber. Once across that, there was a sharp 90 right turn and up a short but steep incline. I took a dab and a couple of baby steps on the way out and scored a three on this one.

After a quick pit stop we met at section one. Immediately upon entering the section you had to cross a slippery root and take a 90 turn and begin setting up for a 180 left turn through the trees and towards a rocky ledge where you set up for a tight 90 right turn between some trees where I intentionally put a foot down each time. Had it been dry this turn wouldn't have been problem but there was a slight ridge of limestone that would have been slippery with the muddy tires and I didn't want to risk crossing it while turning. Even the experts had difficulty with this turn.

From there we had a choice of directions to take as long as we looped around two trees and didn't cross our tracks. Here the soil was loamy and didn't give me any problem. Next was a straight run to the exit for us. The intermediates and experts had to go downhill, turn and come back up.

I put my foot down too soon in the third turn where I had planned a dab and took another trying to get out of it. The rest was of section was loamy and had good traction. I didn't like the part where you had a choice of lines and couldn't cross your path because it was all organic matter and there wasn't anything on the ground to use as a reference.

Section two began with a jump over a jumble of twisted roots with a limestone step just a few feet ahead. Next was a short run across a large flat stone, then a small drop off. This is where things got interesting. The lower level was a very flat, very slippery limestone slab where you had to make a 90 left turn while setting up to ascend a cut-back ledge of slimy stone. Next was a wide swing to the right and one had a choice of approaches to yet another step. I chose to go between two trees and hit a somewhat milder part of the step due to the mud on the tires and on the rock.

I almost blew it by using the novice entrance on my first try here which would have resulted in a five. I corrected and got up the first step and down and through the slippery turn. I chose to go too far to the right on the cut-back ledge and the bike slid to the right taking out the marker resulting in a five. I rode on for practice and cleaned the rest of the section.

Section three was the waterfall. It began in a running creek and a clutter of slippery stones and then a 90 left turn across the creek with a short uphill blast up the bank to a 180 right and down hill and back across the creek. Then there was a very tight turn around and a blast up the far left side of the waterfall. I found that last turn impossible and lost a couple of points there each time.

This section seemed the one most likely to make me crash due to that last turn and the step up the waterfall. I made a mess of it the first time around and was happy to get through it with a three.

At this point we were repeating the sections and I got my first one of the day on section four where I had totally blown it on the first loop. Section five across the creek was my first clean of the day. Both of those sections wouldn't have been difficult in the dry as they had the kind of turns I've been practicing a lot.

Back to section one and another two points. Section two was a bit of an improvement with a score of three. I was going to have to rethink my line going over the cut-back ledge because the far right side just wasn't working for me. I took a couple of dabs right before the waterfall in section three and was still happy to get through it with a two. I didn't do well on section four this time, scoring a three. I also managed to mess up section five, dropping another three points.

Back at section one for the last time, I managed to do it just like I had planned. I planted my foot just where I wanted to and dragged the front wheel around and into the trial and motored on through for a score of one.

I took a long last look at the cut-back on section two and planned where I wanted to hit it. When I attempted it I banged the loudly banged the skid plate, but I rode right over it yelling loudly because I knew I only had to keep cool to ride the rest of the section clean. This was my big moment of the day cleaning this one and times like this is what makes observed trials such a great sport!

Section three was another two pointer for me which was OK considering that I had expected to hit the ground here at least once!

Section three was another two pointer for me which was OK considering that I had expected to hit the ground here at least once!

After that we headed back to the truck and turned in our scorecards and loaded up our bikes and gear. Brett had a bar-b-que pit fired up and we all enjoyed sausage wrap-arounds while re-living the day's succeses and mishaps.

Don read out the finishing positions and Sander had won the novice class and I finished third in the amateur class only four points back from second eight points from first. I sure hadn't expected to do that well and was real pleased with my results.

The next event is a State Series event at Emma Long Park near Austin. This is one of my favorite places to ride, but the event should be a tough one!
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