Boost your skills

Why hav­ing a go at tri­als can help your road rid­ing

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Ru­pert Paul MCN Con­trib­u­tor

You never stop learn­ing, so the say­ing goes. But surely if you’ve been rid­ing a few years, your rich­est learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences are be­hind you? Well, not nec­es­sar­ily.

OK, for most peo­ple Day One is go­ing to be up there. For me it was wheel­ing a red Yamaha RS100 out of CJ Bow­ers in Bury St Ed­munds, learn­ing to change gear in the cat­tle mar­ket over the road, and ac­cel­er­at­ing over and over again to a mind-bend­ing 72mph. That was 1979. Since then I’ve made a com­plete pig of my­self with race schools, track days, a few Nür­bur­gring cour­ses, ad­vanced road train­ing, and var­i­ous try-out days for en­duro, speed­way, short track and tri­als. That’s on top of a cou­ple of decades full-time on mag­a­zines, in­clud­ing speed test­ing, tyre test­ing, photo ses­sions and haul­ing bikes in and out of vans; plus a decade or so span­ner­ing, do­ing the odd race, and watch­ing other peo­ple.

It all goes in, and it all helps. But the day dur­ing which I ab­sorbed more new stuff than any other came, I reckon, after I’d been rid­ing for 35 years. It was a tri­als ex­pe­ri­ence at Leek in Stafford­shire with Stu Day.

Stu is a very fine tri­als rider but his ge­nius is to break it down into a stepby-step process for be­gin­ners. And tri­als is so strange and un­fa­mil­iar to a road bod that ev­ery sin­gle one of these steps is mes­meris­ing.

He’ll show you some­thing like a U-turn on a wet grassy slope, or rid­ing along a con­crete pipe, and you im­me­di­ately say un­der your breath: “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Five min­utes later you’re do­ing it. And it hap­pens over and over again, all day. I just grinned my face off. I say this not be­cause I think you should give Stu a call (though you prob­a­bly should). But be­cause learn­ing is a state of mind, which gets easier as you get older. The logic goes like this: 1. The older you get the more you re­alise how lit­tle you re­ally know. 2. There­fore, the more open you are to find­ing out new things. For me (thus far) it was Stu’s course. For you it could be short track, a track day, what­ever. It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter, be­cause there’s more to learn about rid­ing bikes than you can fit into a life­time. Just en­joy soak­ing some of it up.

‘Five min­utes later you’re do­ing it. I just grinned my face off’

Hav­ing a go at tri­als will teach you plenty of new skills and is amaz­ing fun too

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