It is rather bizarre what goes through ones mind when riding Trials.
There are the usual, run-of-the-mill "on any Sunday" questions that circle on repeat all day, such as:
- Should I use less front brake and more rear?
- Should I use second gear or first?
- Should I try to find traction and creep up that slope, or should I just send it?
There are also brief, but frequent angry bouts of self flagellation:
- Why didn't I adjust my clutch before I started this event?
- Why didn't I replace my rear with something that had at least a modacum of grip like I promised myself I would?
But then there are the more existential questions:
- How is this fun?
- Why am I doing this?
- I thought Australia signed onto the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) quite some time ago. If so, how can this moto-discipline be allowed to continue in this day and age?
As we rode out of the comfort zone that was our circle of wagons on Taylor's Farm, in Bullsbrook, we immediately descended down (and then down some more) a wet and slimy goat track into a cold, wet and misty valley toward Section 1.
Do you remember the sequence in Dumbo, and that song "Pink elephants on parade"? Well, I do and I could not shake that image, or that tune, from my mind as I tacked onto the back of the congo-line of Pathfinders and AJS members riding down into the abyss. How Walt Disney ever thought sequence would not plague us into our forties and fifties I'll never know!!!
And so it began.
I swam through Sections 1 - 5.
When I finally managed to negotiate my way through to Section 6, I felt implored to ask the very nice volunteers if there were Observers wearing camouflage and hiding in the scrub? Because the journey from S5 to S6 felt like a Green Plate line.
By Section 8 I had stopped looking for Observers hidden in the scrub and was actually looking for cameras hidden in the trees. The exit out of '8' looked like it had been designed in the darkest room of the tallest tower of the Citadel of Panem by Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the Head Gamemaker of the 10th Hunger Games.
On my way from S8 to S9 and 10 a story began to form in my brain.
Yes, I wanted to write about the event, but I wanted to do it as a measure of time - I wanted to put my feelings on a clock face to express how things change for the 'average' Trials rider throughout out the day. Not the crazy obsessed Trials diehards like Simon Price, Mark Atherton and Leo Nolan; no, the AVERAGE rider.
To timeline an event seemed very relevant because, after all, Trials riders are victims of the "stop watch" at most State and National trials events. Each rider has to finish each section and finish an event within a certain time, when just 'FINISHING' is more than half the challenge.
I wanted to articulate:
- How I felt at 7am when I was unloading.
- What was going through my mind at 9?
- How was I travelling by the end of Round 1 at 11?
But as is the case with Trials, and because it is 'trials', that plan went out the exhaust in the first hour.
Due to a spectacular mishap executed with impeccable style and grace by my riding buddy, my day ended up becoming a race against the clock and I quickly lost all perception of space and time (enter those wretched pink elephants again).
Prestige Series #3 became a blur of vegetation, water, white and red tape, little colorful flags, and smiling (but) soaking officials and volunteers. In the absence of words, here is a pictorial synopsis and a reminder of what this sport is all about.
At 7am I felt a bit like this.
By 9 am I felt like young Hector here...full of beans and ready to roll.
By 10 am I felt a bit like Jezza.
By midday the cracks were starting to show. I was starting to feel like my riding buddy's bike. A little broken.
By 3pm I was wanting to crawl back into the womb
See you all at Round 4.