|04-27-2014, 07:10 PM||#1|
Joined: Nov 2012
Location: Urbana, IL
NITRO Trials Elmwood IL-Crashes and comradery
***Hi! Thought I would share my latest blog post on the last Trials Event NITRO put on this past Saturday the 26th. It was a great one!!! Thanks to all the NITRO people for making me feel welcome and encouraging me as I rode!***
CRASHES AND COMRADERY
The day was beautiful.
After a winter that lasted WAAAAAY too long, it still comes as a surprise when the sun shines and its actually warm. And so when Mother Nature decided to smile today, it was a glorious thing!
The sun was up, there was no rain, it was warm without being sticky...in other words....PERFECT!
Of course it took us a little bit to get to it. GPS is great until its convinced that dirt paths through fields are roads. And although I wasn't particularly worried I couldn't help but get a little uneasy as the trails took us deeper into no man's land past the creepy wooden tepees and abandoned trailers...
But we survived and with a short jaunt down the main road found ourselves at the trials contest.
Bikes unloaded...and let the play begin!
Everyone was smiling and laughing and rejoicing at coming together after a long winter's hiatus, enjoying the fact that it wasn't snowing or raining or blowing a hundred miles an hour. And yet as the morning wore on you could see the intensity start to increase. It was getting closer to go time. Time to do battle.
But first...rider's meeting. And the scoring.
NITRO has a pretty interesting scoring system. The club I normally ride with has volunteer checkers, which are great. But it can be hard to get people to volunteer to stand around for an entire day and watching other people have fun. THANKS so much to those who do! Yet it can be a bit of a struggle to get that many people to consistently want to work. Hence NITRO's solution- the riders check.
It's a pretty neat system where each section is assigned A,B,and C riders and then they take turns checking and riding. And today I was in charge of helping with Section 7. Although if it had a name I probably would have called it the 'Bike eater'. From what I observed it became the bane of the rider's during the day.
It was a BIG section, requiring two checkers if that tells you anything. It had two exit gates, one specifically for novices which I was SO grateful for because everyone else had to go play in the ravine.
And not just a ravine. A ravine with a creek and rocks and logs and all sorts of stuff. As we were walking the section before hand, trying to decide how we would score it, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dread looking at the lines. I knew a few of the upper level riders and 'oh boy' was the only term that came to mind.
Because the expert and champ riders had to zig zag up and down the very, very steep banks (which were basically just dirt with no grass and covered with roots and other slippery things), winding down the ravine, having to rip up tall tall hills, which were bad enough but there was mud in the bottom of the ravine that sucked at the wheels like a giant glue mousetrap. Even those that escaped its grip would loose enough momentum that the hill would toss them back down into the muck with an almost insolent care. I normally try not to humanize non human objects, but I swear the hill was laughing every time someone fell into its grip.
And not for the first time I'm glad I'm a novice rider.
I have to hand it to the people who set up the trial. They hit the right blend for novices. Nothing really scary, but nothing too easy. It was technical and a little challenging but nothing that made me cringe or say 'you know, I don't think I can do that".
I always have my own 'demon section'. That one that bites me time and time again. The one that challenges me mentally. For me today that was Section 2.
It was a simple in, hugging the ribbon to the right, down into a creek and up a bank, across a flat piece of land, back down into the creek and then up the other bank and out. Simple right?
Except for the fact that the bank was pretty steep with an abrupt bottom angle that didn't allow you to roll up it. And someone had helpfully tried to put a pallet there as a 'bridge' for the novices. Great thinking...until it broke.
So now not only am I faced with a steep bank, I'm faced with a steep bank filled with wood and rocks and other things that I"m supposed to go over.
First loop I was in. I was up! Oops, little dab...no big deal! Up and out with a few internal suggestions on how to ride it next time. Exactly what I look for in a first loop.
But after that?
Okay, round two. And now the creek crossing was even worse. Not only was the wood breaking, but the remains were now covered in mud and gunk from people crossing it. Yippee.
Okay, breathe, no big deal. Just go in, set your weigh back to lighten the front end, a little bit of gas...
And that's when it all went to hell.
I got a little too far back, sending the front wheel skyward. Whether I got scared and sat down or slipped or what I still don't know. It happened too fast and the replay button on my brain doesn't always record things correctly. All I know is...this wasn't good.
Here's a term for you: whiskey throttle. I won't try to explain why it's called that but all you need to know is what it is...its when you twist the throttle full open, usually as a result of getting behind the bike or the bike leaping out from underneath you, and because your weight and balance is behind the bike your hand not only twists the throttle open but stays there, sending you rocketing across the landscape.
Yup you got it. First my bike was headed skyward, then it was headed to the horizon, hell bent on going no matter what was in its way. Or what happened to me.
The funny thing was a ride like this used to terrify me. But I was completely calm. It was like I was witnessing the accident, not experiencing it. My brain was calmly analyzing the situation, giving helpful hints to my body..."Okay, you know what's causing this. It's whiskey throttle. All you have to do is let go, or hit the clutch or the brake or something..."
Unfortunately the message somehow got lost in translation. My body did nothing.
So I"m now rocketing across the section, looking at a HUGE clump of sticker bushes on which I know on the other side is a somewhat large drop off that's going to hurt.
I should hit the brake. I should hit the lever. I should jump off the bike. Something!
Finally my body got the message that something needed to be done or it was going to hurt... A lot! Unfortunately it was a little dyslexic and where I said 'pull the brake' it just got 'lay the bike down'.
Which wouldn't have been that bad, had my right foot not gotten wrapped up in the swing arm with the wheel still running and...
Fortunately it turned out okay. Some really great riders came to my aid and got me untangled from my bike. Trixter wasn't the worse for her wild ride, and while I knew I was going to have some pretty new bruises and probably a headache later, I was still able to ride as well.
So I shook it off and went on my way. Fortunately the other sections were reasonable and I was able to settle down and finish my second loop. Oh look, time to score again.
The Bike Eater was not any better. I watched expert after expert get sucked down into the muck. But I have to hand it to them, they kept trying. But again and again the puddle sucked them in or the hill threw them down. I think I got more worn out trying to help people pull their bikes up the hill than when I was riding!
Still, the attitudes were great. It just was what it was. Somedays you beat the section, some days the sections beat you.
Time again for me to head out on my last two loops. That's right, NITRO runs four loops. This is interesting for me, because I normally just run three. But the loop was small and mercifully easy so, why not? Besides, I eventually want to move up to intermediate, and they run four. So might as well start getting used to it now.
The nice thing was I was still cleaning all the sections I"d cleaned before. Then I got to Section 2, the one I had crashed in.
I got off the bike and just stared at the ramp.
It was even more smashed in and junked up. There was a rock to try to help you get up, but i SUCK at hitting small targets. Especially small targets in the middle of a whole bunch of other stuff that diverts my attention.
Should I just skip the section? Bow out and take the five? Was it worth it?
This is the thing I always struggle with. I was still smarting from the crash earlier, even though I didn't want to admit it. But I HATE letting things beat me. Especially things that in my mind I should be able to ride, if I could get my brain and body to coordinate at the same time.
Okay, I'm going for it.
Heading in, weight back, little bit of throttle, hit the rock and....
I MADE IT! I LIVED!
And actually cleaned the section.
That was my mental win for the day.
I love mental wins, that thing that even if EVERY other thing goes wrong during a ride, you can hold your head up high and go "I did that!".
And this was mine for today.
Not that I had a bad day. Only 20 points out of a total 160. And I got second for my class out of three, And add in the mental wins and getting to hang out and talk with all the other riders? Winning day in my book!
And then it was time to clean up, pack up and head back home. A huge thanks to NITRO for a great day,and a great place! And if you ever get a chance to check out a NITRO event, do!
So that's it for now. May your hills have traction and your logs/rocks be dry. Good luck and good riding!
Rookie adrenalin junkie
No matter the challenge, Bring it ON!!!!
|04-30-2014, 10:21 AM||#3|
Motoing for 43 years
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Wichita Mountains SW Oklahoma
That was along story. You had fun, which is great!
I rode NITRO when I lived in Rockford in early `90s. Enjoyed the experience.
|04-30-2014, 11:36 AM||#5|
Motoing for 43 years
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Wichita Mountains SW Oklahoma
|04-30-2014, 02:14 PM||#6|
Joined: Jan 2005
Location: Dubuque, Iowa
|04-30-2014, 04:07 PM||#7|
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Northern Illinois
I wish I could have been there, Sent My offspring to replace me....
He had a great time, and looking forward to the next ride, Hopefully I can ride too !!!!
Great write up also !!!!
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