MOTORCYCLE TRIALS AT THE YORKSHIRE DALES NATIONAL PARK
It's a bright, cold, early winter day. On a high rocky bluff on the edge of Yorkshire Dales National Park, trials riders gather.
On this day there's probably no finer place to be if you're a fan of this section of our sport. And the views are wonderful.
The Bradford and District Motorcycle Club has organised this event. And there's a good entry. The expert riders compete for a cup named the E S Myers trophy. But the trial caters for all grades of riders, and there are a number of very young competitors here with their rider dads.
Entry is £20 for adults and £10 for young people. And with just fuel to put in the bike, it's an affordable day's sport.
If you're not familiar with the way trials competition works, the idea is to ride through a series of 'sections', accumulating as few points as possible. Putting a foot down to steady the bike is one point. Legging it more strongly to prevent coming to a stop is three points. Stopping in the section, five points.
Observers mark each rider as they go through their designated section. The club gives them £10 expenses, but they're essentially volunteers. And despite the pleasures of the landscape, they are standing around in a temperature that can't be much above 4° or 5°.
It's a colourful scene. The riding garb of choice is covered in logos and consists of bright yellows, reds, and blues. It's so different from the drab but utilitarian waxed cotton favoured by riders in the past.
Trials bikes have changed completely down the years. They're now lighter, more balanced, and powered by smaller capacity engines. You can still hear two-stroke engines that power many of the bikes.
It's starting time.
The massed riders charge up a muddy track towards the first group of sections. It's a good hike for the few spectators, helpers, friends and encouragers.
Thinking I'd be clever, I cut off a chunk of the trek, only to place one foot in a bog. I'm then confronted by a large dry stone wall, which I clamber over clumsily.
This is compensated, though, by my enjoyment of seeing the riders tackle sections of the course and getting some good photographs.
There are three routes through each section. Competitors have nominated beforehand which class they want to compete in. Each one with its consequent degree of difficulty to tackle. Though it's also possible to enter and ride just for the fun of it.
The young riders' dads are helping them read and interpret the right lines through a section and then encouraging them through. It strikes me that this is so different from 'soccer dads' who can't seem to control their verbal aggression, whether directed at their own kids or match officials.
If you're at a loose end over winter and suffering bike withdrawals, put on some warm clothing and go watch a trial. www.trialscentral.com has all the information you'll need to identify an event in your area.
Enjoy the pictures.
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