With the racing season at a close, once again I was again looking for something to do except decorate at the weekends. My new role with Infront Motorcycles has been going great with a vast variety of tasks from fixing scooters to building track bikes from brand new Fireblades. The planned one-to-one instruction is gaining momentum and we already have our first customers booked for February next year. Alongside this I planned to get the word around that we are an Oset Electric Trials Bikes main dealer. As regular readers of this blog will know, my son Ted, who has just turned four, got an Oset from the guy with the red suit and white beard last year. He has taken to it really well and asks at least once a week if he can go ‘jumpy biking’. As long as he keeps wanting to ride then I’m happy to encourage him – my plan to prevent Xbox world domination continues! He’d gotten to a stage where he really needed slowing down and showing what trials is really about.
Now I’m a huge fan of 2 stroke exhaust smoke and needlessly burning fossil fuel to ride around in circles but these electric bikes are the start of something big for motorcycling. It’s great, with the bike being virtually silent, to be able to take Ted for a ride on the public field next to the house without any finger wagging from the locals. Unfortunately there really is only so much you can teach with 6 football cones and a virtually flat field so I made enquiries with the local Frodsham Trials club. My plan is to start up a conducted route, to run alongside their adult trials, for kids on bikes that wouldn’t be capable of the main event. The idea, in principal, was received very well and it really is now down to me to get organised and set it up. With a following wind I’m hoping to get this started early in the new year.
So for the long term I may have got the ball rolling but we could do with something a bit sooner. Step in Dave Horne from Oset UK. With our enthusiasm to promote the bikes and my Norton connection, Infront Motorcycles were asked to assist with a fun trial at Norton’s new headquarters. The trial would be non-competitive and a chance for the kids to get to grips with sections, waiting their turn and all of the basic disciplines that trials is about. Ted was keen on the idea and spent the week running up to the event asking to watch YouTube clips of Junior Kickstart on my phone. Now I’d forgotten what a great show Kickstart was, why is it not still on?! I hatched a plan to dig out my Beta Techno, for the first time since January, and carry on south after the Norton trial to ride in the Wycombe & District club trial (where it all started for me!) on the following day.
Ted bounced off the walls for most of the journey down to Donington Hall. Around 30 riders, and their families, turned up for the event with loads of others coming to have a test on the Oset demo bikes in the display area. When the trial got started, Jo looked like she was going to have kittens; Ted loved it straight away. He was a bit too keen, not realising that he was supposed to wait for the rider in front to finish the section before he went in, he followed the lad in front through the first section! That sorted, he got his way around the rest of the 8 sections, I walked around behind him but he rarely needed my help. Standing up on the pegs as much he could, he really has grasped the concept of trials. I reckon it was the Junior Kickstart brainwashing!! He even managed to clean section three, and immediately screamed out “Did you see my clean?!” to Jo and me; I think we may have created a monster! A good day was had by all and I got some great ideas for when I come to run a similar event.
We set off in the van to stay overnight with my Aunt and Uncle near Bicester, for another early start to get to the Wycombe trial on Sunday morning. I’d even treated myself to a new set of trials boots, at the last event Jo had to gaffer tape my old ones onto my feet as the stitching had failed so badly! Looking back through pictures in my loft I reckoned they were about 18 years old so I’d had my value for money out of them to be honest.
It was great to see the old faces again at the Wycombe trial. I decided to enter as an expert, to ride the hard route, for some strange reason. As mentioned I’d not even sat on my trials bike since January and the nearest thing I’d done to off-road since then was cutting across the grass at Oulton Park’s Knickerbrook chicane when things didn’t exactly go to plan! The bike kicked into life, no electric start buttons here folks, on the third attempt. Everyone knows, in macho point terms, ‘kickstarting an engine’ is right up there with ‘using power tools’! I rode over the same log three times and deciding that was enough practice, I headed to section one.
Walking the section I decided that I was going to have a tough day, the hard route was tricky for someone at my mediocre level! Surprised myself with a single dab on lap one, maybe I was a trials riding genius after all! Section two brought me back down to earth with an epic fail trying to get over the roots much to the observer, Chris Hurworth’s, amusement. Section four had a tree trunk to get over which stood just above my waist height (I’m 7’ 4” tall, dark and handsome by the way for those that I haven’t met!) Shortly after this was a tight turn and slippery approach to a felled tree stump to get over. Another fail on my part, with Ted watching; he announced that I was “supposed to keep my feet up!” Thanks for the information son! I was hoping that the moment where you realise that your dad isn’t the world champion at everything would be slightly further into the future, up to this point I reckon Ted thought I could take Mark Marquez, then stop for chips on the way to beating Dougie Lampkin followed by out lifting Geoff Capes!!
The rest of the trial was thoroughly enjoyable, I kept a smile on my face all day, managing to get myself out pretty much every section with the exception of Chris Hurworth’s! Section nine proved difficult for me too, up a steep bank (the same bank that used to terrify me as a nine year old) and diagonally across some big tree roots at the top. Flying the bike over the roots was pretty much the only way to do it, but with a tight turn followed by another tree stump immediately at the bottom of the bank it wasn’t ever going to go well for me! I checked out the rest of the section after the roots on a “by chance that I get this far” basis. Three out of four laps in and I still hadn’t made it over the roots, as the trial wore on though I actually started to improve, by lap four a whole new persona had taken over and I flew the bike over the top of the bank. Swearing on the inside that I’d managed such a feat, I then needed to remember the rest of the section! I aced my way around another tight turn and bank, then promptly chucked it on the floor. Must try harder!!
The results came through the next morning, to reveal that I’d dropped 118 marks (of a potential 200) was sixth in class (out of errm…. 6) but I did beat a ‘Youth A’ (who was probably about 15!!!) I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on myself considering all of the previous excuses mentioned – and that I was bedding in new boots (there’s another one for the book)!
I met up with Ted and Jo back near the car park. Ted laughed his head off all the way back to the van sitting on the fuel tank and holding onto the handlebars of my bike. I even did a wheelspin and a wheelie on request with him on-board, just because he asked me to obviously! What a great weekend, it was good to get back the wood where it all began for me. It was good to see Ted have a ride around a couple of little sections that Jo and I marked out at the end of the day too. Just one weekend of proper trials has brought his riding on hugely. The following morning Jo was driving Ted to nursery as normal, he asked where they were going. When told he was off to nursery for the day he burst into tears and said “I’m only happy when I’m trials-ing!” So it looks like we’ll be attending a few more trials events this winter then!