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Fun Stuff


Beginners Guide To Trials Competitions

Basic Information/ Meanings

A Trial: This is another name for a Bike Trials competition

Dabs: Each time your foot touches the section or any other part of the body for that matter it is called a dab, you are aiming to finish the competition with as little dabs as possible. In each section you are allowed to make a maximum of 5 dabs, once you have made 5 dabs that is the end of the section for you and you have to stop and go onto the next section. 5 dabs is bad, 0 dabs or a clean as it is known is very good

Dabbing once - one mark lost

Dabbing twice - two marks lost

Dabbing three or four times - three marks lost

Dabbing five times or breaking any rules - five marks lost

A "clean" - Zero marks lost

Aim of the Game: To finish each section by making as little dabs as possible, the more times you put your foot down in the section the more you score, you get one mark for each time you dab and after all ten sections have been completed two times by all the riders the rider who has the smallest score wins.

Your Class: This is what category you enter, At club competitions such as Essex Bike Trials there are normally either 4 or 5 different categories, Novice, Intermediate, Expert and elite, although bigger events will be split into age groups. In each different class they vary in difficulty.

Different Classes:

Novice route: follow the white tape or markers around the sections

Intermediate: Follow the Blue tape or markers around the sections

Expert Route: Follow the red tape or markers around the sections

Elite Route: Follow the yellow tape or markers around the sections

Sections: At a trial there will usually be 10 different sections to ride through. Each section has a start gate and a finish gate, in between these are obstacles that vary in difficulty depending on the class you enter. The sections vary in length and shape but normally from start to finish of a section will be around 20m-30m, also In most cases they will not follow in a straight line from start to finish. There are not separate sections for each class but instead each different class follows different coloured markers (indicated with tape and spray) around the section, so all riders from all classes will usually start and finish in the same gates but during the section each different class will branch of different ways that have harder and harder obstacles to get across for each class you move up.

How to Ride the Section: For example say you enter the Novice class, you cue up behind the start gate until it is your turn to ride the section, When you are at the front of the cue and when the observer of the section is ready (see below for info on what an observer is) and when you are ready you start to ride around the section, you must follow the way around the section for your class which is made clear with tape and spray with a different colour to follow for each class as all classes go through the same sections but take a different route around it that get harder for each class up you get. Once you have either gone through the Finish gate or put your foot down five times in the section you then finish that section, your score is marked down by the observer and you go on to the next section. You have to do all 10 sections two times, making the total amount of sections you do up to twenty.

The Observers: They are the people that referee and mark the riders scores on all the sections, there should be at least one observer per section at a trial. they tell you when you can start the section, They decide if you've just dabbed or if you have broken the rules at all during the section, they mark the amount of dabs you made in that section, and their decistion is final! They are all volunteers and most of them are riders family.

Rules- You will obtain 5 dabs by..............

  • Placing both feet simultaneously on the ground of a section
  • Entering the gate for a different category in the sections
  • Taking longer than 2 minutes in a section
  • Riding under/over/ripping the tape in the sections
  • Holding the bike other than by handlebars
  • Placing both feet one side of bike when dabbing
  • going through start gate again after you have already entered it
  • touching a part of the section with a hand
  • Dismounting/ falling off your bike

Penalties- The following actions will lead to a min' 10 points added.

  • Ride on any of the sections with bike before the event starts
  • Modify any of the sections
  • Make any repairs whilst in the middle of a section
  • seek help from followers
  • use any unsporting behaviour
  • leave or short cut a section
  • Don't wear a helmet in a section
  • Ride a different bike other than the one you entered with

However this is allowed...........

  • Resting bike on any object with bashguard/plate
  • Resting bike on any object with pedal
  • making repairs outside the sections
  • Walking around a section to check it out before you ride it

Tips For your first competition

Arrival: Get there nice and early if possible, this gives you a chance to look around the sections and prepare for what you've got to go and do. Also you will have more chance to practice before the event starts (but NEVER practice inside a section)

Practice: When you are practicing don't ride too hard as you will just waste vital energy for the event it's self. It's likely you will also see some bloody amazing riders, don't let this put you off, they've probably been riding a lot longer than you.

Food: It is vital you have a good lunch ready as by the time you have completed one lap of the ten sections you will be exausted, lots of drink to (and not alchoholic!) Take snacks like Mars Bars with you during the first lap so that if you do run out of energy before lunch you don't have to go all the way back to where your lunch is.

Groups: If possible ride with at least one other rider and no more than a group of four of you. Riding around the sections with mates will allow you to help each other and suggest different lines when walking the sections before you ride them. However ride in a group that is too big and it will slow you down and you might not have time to finish all the sections.

Walking Sections: It is an absolute must that you walk through EVERY section before you ride it, to make sure on the route you follow and to give you a good idea of what will trouble you and what won't

In the Cue: Before you walk around a section get in the cue for that section by placing your bike down behind the rider in front, if you don't there is a good chance you will lose your place in the cue which could mean waiting that little bit too long to finish all the sections.

Other Riders: You will find that 99% of the riders there are all friendly and will be willing to answer any questions about their set up or what ever. Riders behind you in the cue won't laugh at you should you fail a section, they will console you if anything, they might even cheer you on if you do something well or with style! Trust me on this one.

Temper: If you mess up on a section don't get worked up about it, let your anger out on the next section. If you throw your bike around or start swearing repeatedly you will just look stupid. Some people get really stressed over these kind of things but it just isn't worth it. Be constructive, If a pro messes up on a section they will probably go to it when the competition is over and try and so it then.

How Good Do i have to be to enter?

(applies to Club Competitions such as Essex Bike Trials)

Novice- You will just need balance, the ability to get over small roots and logs (no bigger than 1ft), the ability to hop up banks. It sounds simple but for most first time riders it isn't, the mud and tequnical side makes it harder than it seems. most riders have been riding between 4-11 months

You Don't need to be able to backhop, gap jump, or any other advanced move

Intermediate: You mainly need balance, the ability to get up really slippery stuff, hop up things with little or no run up, do the occasional drop off. You might be able to get away without being able to backhop but it would help for a few parts of some sections where a gap jump would make things easier for you. You also might have to descend down some STEEP and big cliffs. Most riders who do intermediate have been riding for between 1-2 years

You Don't need to be able to do presition gap jumps, or get up anything bigger than 2 1/2ft that is natural and slippy, or hop onto big things and stay on backwheel.

Expert: This is usually very challenging for all but the pro standard riders. You will definetly need to be able to hop gaps from slippery and tequnical spots. You will need to be able to sidehop up things that are about 2ft high and onto slippery surfaces. Just in general all the objects you have to get across ae very big or very tequnical. Most riders in this category have been riding between 2- 4 years

You Don't need to be able to do huge drop offs but really you will have to have almost all the trials moves totally dialed and then you've got the tricky terrain on top of that to make it even harder

Elite: You will need to get up stupidly big things from very little run up. Also the skill to do big Sidehops up. Most sections you will need to hop up some bank or other that is incredibly steep and high with NO run up at all. This is not for first timers at all, only your seasoned pro should enter this category.

You Don't need to be able to do............ nope sorry you've got to be the best!

Hope that helped! any other questions you think should be answered on this page please feel free to email me

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Material Copyright © 2000 {David Dennis}