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ridgrunr

Trials...how can we not become the T-Rex of motosports

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Many times, we are all just like politicians. We gripe a lot about things without really coming up with solutions, or being willing to try things to see if they might actually work because they are new or outside our comfort zone.

I have been thinking about this for awhile now and decided it was time to throw it out there as guys like AMiller are starting to look at Gate Trials too, so I decided it would be better to begin a new thread than hijack the others. This is long, and I apologize for that, but I felt it needed detailed explanation to make my argument. So here it is.

Since 1990 I’ve been in our club presidency more times than you can count on your fingers. I’ve lost track of how many. I've set been a Trials Marshal more times than I can remember too and have set thousands of sections. I love the sport, and out club, but our club is dying. Our numbers are half what they used to be even though some of our riders are out of state riders who can’t find a club to ride in their own states.

I’m with AMiller. It’s time to figure out how to make this thing work and I too believe the answer is Gate Trials. I rode two of them this year, and I have to tell you, they were the most fun I had at events all year.

The other neat thing about Gate Trials is that the format has the potential to fix many of the problems that we are all experiencing right now in our clubs.

1st The idea of Gate Trials is more in line with almost every other sport. You gain points to win. That’s easier for most American type riders to understand.

2nd Gate Trials is easier for the Trials Marshal to set. The Marshal never has to try to decide how hard a line has to be for a particular class. All he has to do is take a given obstacle and break it down in difficulty. There are 5 possible lines, not 12 different classes. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. They are marked that way. For example a #4 line would be between the #4 markers, a #2 line between the #2 markers. The #1 line is easiest and may be nothing more than a trail ride line through the section that a guy could ride on a Honda Trail 90. The #5 line is the hardest #5 Champ.

There only has to be one or two of each gate numbers in a section. The riders will have to figure out how to string their line together to get as many of the gates as they want to get. There can even be solo, less apparent gates that are not grouped with the others, that a rider can try to figure out how to get too if he chooses to do so. That can make it even more fun.

3rd Trying to standardize section difficulty from meet to meet would no longer be a problem. The Trials Marshal doesn’t have to worry about the Advanced lines having the same difficulty on each section. He just sets the Gate markers, deciding the difficulty between 1 and 5. The riders would decide which ones they want, or don’t want to ride. The gate difficulty might change from meet to meet or even section to section too, but that’s ok as it’s up to the rider to decide what they want to attempt and how much they are willing to risk. At one meet they might be riding up to the #4 gates. At the next, maybe only up to the #3. It’s up to them.

4th No one is ever forced to ride anything. You say that is already the case in Conventional Trials. Well that’s sort of true, but your choice right now of choosing to not ride a section gets you a section failure.

In Gate Trials a rider never has to “take a 5” because they are scared of a section. The rider chooses what lines they want to ride. They don’t have to ride the #4 line if they decide it’s too much. They can instead ride the #3 or even the #2 line. It’s up to them to decide what they want to attempt, but they always get to ride the section. Of course the more gates they get, the higher their score will be. The better the rider, the higher they’ll score. That’s why the higher score wins.

5th You don’t have to ride the biggest obstacles to win. One rider may like the big gates, while another rider likes the more technical gates. Both play to their own personal strengths, and both will use their best strategies to get the most points they can accrue.

That’s the beauty of Gate Trials. You have to decide what you can complete without “dabbing out” (I’ll explain that in a bit). The rider who executes his strategy best…wins.

Gate Trials actually takes a little more thinking than regular Trials where your main goal is pretty much to keep it between the red and blue and get from one end of the section to the other. In a Gate Trials the riders in many of the upper classes will try to get every gate they can. This can make the section as complicated as they are willing to make it. That’s why an Expert may accrue 197 points where an Intermediate will only get 104.

One thing we have been considering trying after our last Gate Trials is to restrict the Expert/Champ classes to only the #3,#4,and #5 gates. They could ride through the lower gates, but get no points for doing so. This would help them not needing to be in the section to get every gate, but we haven't tried it yet.

Gate Trials requires more turning. I’ve seen more full lock turns in one section at a Gate Trials than I usually see in a whole event at a regular Trials. At many of the conventional trials events today, turning has become a lost art. Instead, our sections have become one death defying up, followed by a life threatening drop off with very little turning in between. We seem to be forgetting that we are supposed to be turning on these things in the sections too. That’s sort of why the front ends pivot.

6th Scorers are getting increasingly hard to get at our events. You can split the day to achieve Observed Scoring, but Gate Trials can be easily scored in groups, although I believe we should NOT score in class groups. Class group scoring is not good for honest competition. In class groups, you are often being scored by, and scoring riders who you are competing against. That just isn’t right. Class groups also can and do make a club very cliquish. Mixing the scoring groups is a better option and makes for better competition. I’ll explain how that’s done in a minute.

7th There are literally thousands of old bikes sitting around in garages. The guys who own them won’t come out anymore because they cannot or will not ride the obtuse sections that now dominate our sport and require the latest techno whizo machinery to be at all competitive. They might however, bring out those old bikes if they learn they can come to a meet and not have to worry about getting killed. They could pick their own lines, as easy or hard as they want and actually have fun riding sections again.

8th Gate Trials is much more rideable by someone on an Enduro type of bike who may come out just to see what the sport is all about. They can ride the #1 or even #2 lines, or what ever their skill level will allow, and probably actually complete the day and have some fun. However, when they actually see how much easier that kid on the GG50 goes up the #2 lines, they may start thinking about trading off that KTM650 for a real Trials Bike.

Scoring:

One good way to score a Gate Trials is to have mixed class scoring groups. They are easy to set up.

Select the largest class that has signed up that day. Say the largest class is Intermediate. If there's six of them, you'll have six scoring groups. Have the Intermediates line up. Now start lining up the rest of the riders behind them. One champ (if you have them), one expert, one advanced, one sportsman, and one novice behind each of the Intermediate riders. You shouldn’t have more than 6 riders in a group. Let a kid ride with his Dad if they want to. This will actually help us to be that “Family Friendly” sport we are always touting. If they don’t want to ride together, they can ride in separate groups.

This is especially good for new riders. No one is ever sent out on the loop without a clue of what the heck is going on, as there will be someone in every group now who can show the new guys the ropes, maybe even coach them a little. You’d be amazed how fun that can be.

Nobody is riding with, being scored by, or scoring anyone who they are competing against. You'll have to pick your own lines instead of not riding till all the other riders in your class have ridden and showed you what works and what doesn't. You might actually have to compete.

The other upside to mixing the scoring groups is that you’ll get to ride with different riders at almost every meet, so you’ll actually get to know who some of those terrific folks in your club are. You’ll also get to watch riders who are better than you are, which is cool because riding with riders who are better than you are, will make you a better rider too. If you just ride with the same old buds every meet, you seldom get better. Usually it’s the opposite.

It takes the upper classes longer to complete a section. By mixing up the groups, it should take each group about the same time to complete a loop. If you have all Champ riders in one group and all Novice riders in a group, the Novice riders can finish three loops in the time it takes the champ riders to do one.

So how is this version of Gate Trials scored? It’s a little different than you’ve heard.

This is not conventional Trials, so IT IS NOT NO STOP. Use what ever skills you have acquired. Hop all you want. DABS are counted as usual except that a DAB is a DAB, no matter what the bike is doing under you. However: for ever dab you take in a section…you lose one (1) point that you’ve accrued for that section…UP TO 3 DABS. Sliding your foot is the same as two dabs. AFTER THREE DABS (on your fourth dab), YOU HAVE FAILED THE SECTION and get (0) as in zero points for that section. This ends the paddling through a section with 99 dabs and still getting a three, and the guy who tries to back up half a dozen steps to try the obstacle again.

Of course going out of bounds or killing your bike in the section with your feet down and all of the normal rules for failing a section apply.

So, if a rider successfully got through a #2 gate, a #3, a #2 and a #1 gate, with only 2 dabs, the rider would score a 6 for the section, 8 points minus 2 dabs.

This is different than the gate trials that many of you are familiar with. Instead of having to clean the entire section to get the points, all or nothing, in this version a rider can still take three (3) dabs. After 3 dabs the rider has failed the section. This is much easier for the riders do swallow instead of getting zero points at their first dab. It also stops the rider from just dabbing through the section. Like I said, it’s all in the strategy. A good Champ rider could possibly get a lot of points, and do.

It takes longer to ride a Gate Trials section than a conventional Trials section, so do not set more than 8 sections per loop. Everyone will get a lot more riding than they’ve ever gotten before. No one will be able to say they didn’t get their money’s worth. You will also see way less crashes and falls than you see in a conventional trials.

Additionally,

You cannot cross your tracks. This is a section failure.

Gates can be ridden backwards, but there is no points gained for doing so.

If an obstacle has multiple difficulty gates, ie, a #2, #3, #5 etc, the obstacle can only be ridden once.

If you displace a gate card, for any gate, you have failed the section.

There may be some other specific rules I’m not remembering, but those bridges can be crossed when you get to them.

This also requires a revamp of the score cards. There would have to be a 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 on each card.

A zero is still 0

Scores above 9 would be combinations such as:

10 points 1 + 0

14 points 1 + 4

At one Gate Trials instead of punches, a permanent pen was sent out with the group, and the score just written next to the section number. This seemed to be easiest.

Gate Trials takes more thinking than a regular Trials event. That’s one thing that some guys don’t like. I’ve even heard some guys complain that they have to think too much at Gate Trials so they won’t go to a meet if it’s set that way. I guess thinking can hurt. I just don’t know how to deal with that. I find it hard to imagine that someone would really rather stay home and watch T.V. than go out and ride that way specialized machine that you paid way too much for just because the meet has a different format. I guess you can’t please everyone. Sure the format is a little different, but the concept is the same. Ride your bike across that obstacle course without putting your feet down. The only difference is that the rider with the highest score wins. That should be pretty easy to get our heads around. That’s what we are taught to do from the day we are born.

Then there are the purists, the protectors of the sport, who say that they do not want anything to change…ever. Ok, but the sport as we know it is dying. Everything needs to evolve. The ones that do survive and grow, while the ones that don’t die. NASCAR (NonAthletic Sport Centered Around Rednecks) is NOTHING like it was when it started. Neither is drag racing. Neither is MotoCross. Neither is SKIING. Skiing...on two of them critters at least, is about gone. Heck everyone is using them funky boards that look sort of like the Snurfer that we used to play with when I was a kid (If you know what I’m talking about you are dating yourself). The Ski Resort industry was dying. No body wanted those stinking snow boards on the slope. The majority of the kids on the slopes now days are snow boarding. The ski resort industry is thriving. It has evolved.

We’re getting very few new riders as they don’t dare try the obscene stuff that we’re trying to force riders to ride. Old guys are dropping out because it’s not fun anymore. We’re killing them off. Their not coming to the events is killing Trials off. Things change or they die. Look what happened to the dinosaurs. Couldn’t evolve, so there’s no more T-Rex. So maybe it’s time to evolve.

Ok don’t call it Trials. Call it MotoTrials, TrialsCross or something else. But the bottom line is that if we don’t do something to rejuvenate the sport, pretty soon all the clubs are going to be facing events where there are only 10 riders at a meet.

Like I’ve asked before, “How does a club pay for that $1,000,000 dollars liability insurance, $200 permit fee, $100 in medals, $50 in materials with only 10 riders at a meet?” They don’t. They fold up their tent and call it quits. I hope we don’t become the T-Rex of motosports.

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Edited by Ridgrunr

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I have been Riding Moreland Gate Trials for 3 years now and I love it. The Moreland Gate trials came from the brain of Carl Peter's. You people on the east coast know of him.

The scoring for a Moreland Gate trial is simple. A Start and a end, with 5 gates between the start and end. Each gate is 1 point. The rider picks witch gate or gates to ride. So if a rider goes throw the start and then 5 gates and then the end the rider gets 5 points. If at any time the rider puts a foot on the ground or a dab then the rider gets a 0 zero. The rider must make a clean ride in order to get points.

When setting up sections have a line that someone on a MX bike can get threw, A guy riding the #4 line might get one gate, #2 line might get 3 gates and a guy riding the #1 line might get 5 points. But if the rider on the #1 line puts his or her foot down then they get a 0 zero when someone on the #2 line can get 3 points on a clean ride.

Each rider gets to pick there own line and gates, so there are no spits

The riders score themselves and high score wins.

For a better understanding go here

http://www.ntrtrials.com/docs/gateScoring.pdf

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My god Ridge, just how does one answer all this! You have outdone yourself!

I will not argue your points, as you have a good perspective on things, I shall only comment.

Firstly, on the gate trials thing. The gate trials thing as many here know it (Carl Peters style) can be brutal for many, as with one lost dab, the section is a 0 and all is lost.

The mods you mention to this convention here is a bit difficult to comprehind after a couple beers, as I figure, though, a rider that is realy trying can still pull out Zip on points, which sucks.

We have used the Tommi Avila gate trials rules here on a number of occasions and it proves popular. I think Kjax is using it at his club event in MI and seems there are good reports. Long story short, you still get points, reguardless what you try, if you make it through!

The math can be a bit +-, but you ger the point, and still rider friendly.

Yes, someone with experience can hold the punch, within the group, but it really matters little here , as the group will decide if there is an issue, yet the holder has the final say. Must be fair, use good judgment within the group of peer riders, etc.

How much do you trust a volunteer novice observer,as used in many trials?

Any way I look at it, it still costs money to go ride an event. $100 min for the day for fuel and entrys. A weekend, about $300, and that is if I do not break anything.

Long story short, it may be an inexpensive motorsport, yet not cheap!

:rolleyes:

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Excellent post, very much appreciated.

Two variations we've used are allowing the crossing of your line and a time limit on the sections.

I suppose it would be good to have a nationwide standard for a gate Trial and try it out. I think that anything that can be done to simplify scoring and minimize observing will help.

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We have run a number of trials using the following format. We call it the Flip Card system as at the entry of each section we have a stand with 4 coloured plates to indicate which line the rider is going to undertake. The White line is the easy line, Blue is an average line with Yellow a bit tougher and the Red for the rider who likes it big. When setting sections for this system it is important not to have too large a step between the levels.

Normal scoring rules apply so no one has to learn new rules. The score cards carried by the riders are as shown below. The observer just punches two holes, one for the line chosen and one for the riding score. The scorer just adds up the columns and enters the value of each 0,1,2,3,5 in the spreadsheet and all is done. If any one would like a copy just contact me.

At the entrance to each section the rider to advise the observer which line they intend to ride with the flip cards at the section start gate. This may be varied from lap to lap and section to section.

1. Riding the White line will incur an additional 3 point penalty.

2. Riding the Blue line will incur an additional 2 point penalty.

3. Riding the Yellow line will incur an additional 1 point penalty.

4. Riding the Red line will incur no additional penalties.

5. Sections not attempted 8 point penalty

6. Riders must present their scorecards to the scorer at the completion of every lap. (Penalty 8 points for each unattempted section).post-75-010427300 1289890694.jpg

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Wow you guys in the USA must really have problems. Glad i dont have to even consider all that. Good luck to you but it sure sounds complicated. Too complicated to me.

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I've never had the chance to ride in a gate trial, but they sound interesting and i'd like to have a go. I can definitely see the benefit for an average rider who just wants to enjoy themselves, but perhaps it might be frustrating for riders who want to push themselves? As an Expert level rider I really like the feeling when you conquer a hard obstacle that you weren't sure about and I would perhaps get frustrated that I would have to choose between attacking those hard obstacles or getting a good result. When you try to improve as a rider you need to push your boundaries, but getting penalized for doing so may slow this down.

Perhaps some tweaking could be done so the rewards for trying the harder gates are greater? - so that there is more incentive to give it a go and less penalty for taking the risk? For example, perhaps there could be a doubling rule so the values for gate severity could be 1,2,4,8,16? I like the dabbing rule described, (i.e. a dab is a 1 point penalty rather than a failure) this will definitely help.

I think there is a big difference in riders who ride purely for fun and riders that ride to push themselves and so ideally the format needs to cater for both. I guess the normal scoring system caters more for riders who want to push themselves? Maybe this is due to the modern bikes? back in the 60s the bikes were so big and heavy that everyone could ride one course, which had no super large obstacles and more emphasis on turns and momentum. I guess back then the old no-stop scoring system catered better for both types of rider.

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Crikey - I cant see why that is any better the 'normal' trials infact I dont think it is. Is all that really 'cos you guys across the pond cant get your heads around 'lowest sore wins'. - You lot love golf. just think of it like that!

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I've never had the chance to ride in a gate trial, but they sound interesting and i'd like to have a go. I can definitely see the benefit for an average rider who just wants to enjoy themselves, but perhaps it might be frustrating for riders who want to push themselves? As an Expert level rider I really like the feeling when you conquer a hard obstacle that you weren't sure about and I would perhaps get frustrated that I would have to choose between attacking those hard obstacles or getting a good result. When you try to improve as a rider you need to push your boundaries, but getting penalized for doing so may slow this down.

Perhaps some tweaking could be done so the rewards for trying the harder gates are greater? - so that there is more incentive to give it a go and less penalty for taking the risk? For example, perhaps there could be a doubling rule so the values for gate severity could be 1,2,4,8,16? I like the dabbing rule described, (i.e. a dab is a 1 point penalty rather than a failure) this will definitely help.

I think there is a big difference in riders who ride purely for fun and riders that ride to push themselves and so ideally the format needs to cater for both. I guess the normal scoring system caters more for riders who want to push themselves? Maybe this is due to the modern bikes? back in the 60s the bikes were so big and heavy that everyone could ride one course, which had no super large obstacles and more emphasis on turns and momentum. I guess back then the old no-stop scoring system catered better for both types of rider.

You really should ride a gate Trial. If you post your location you might get some invitations.

You are correct that a gate Trial tends to favor the conservative rider. I generally ride one gate Trial a year and I generally finish poorly because, like you, I like to attempt things I'm not sure I can do. I'm an old guy, not results driven, so at the end of the day I've had as much fun as a conventional event. So you can still make the hard attempts, but your score may suffer. That can be minimized by tweaking the rules, as you've mentioned.

None the less I can't recall any gate Trial that the overall high score wasn't achieved by the best rider at the event.

Edited by motovita

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Crikey ! Dont take this the wrong way guy's but I very much doubt that you need to go to such (complicated) extremes to 'fix' trials in the States.

Firstly - keep it Trials - too much deviation from this and you will end up with 'American (Football) Trials' and you will be riding a different 'ball game' to the rest of the world - we really dont want that do we ?

Try this simple and surefire way to get riders to 'ride with a smile' :thumbup: at your clubtrials. (Centre and Nationals are a different ball game).

3 routes per section maximum - Beginner (dead easy) Clubmand (a mix of the harder easy sections and the easier of the hard route sections)

And the Expert/ Hard route (severity gauged to suit the top riders at your club).

In England this works a treat as long as the Clerk of course sets out to have the winner in each class to be on 10 marks lost maximum. No fun for Mr Last place, to be on 100's lost is there?

Then get out there and publicise your event - you guys are masters at that - and I bet that in a short while you will reverse the decline in your events. AND you will NOT be 're - inventing' the rules or straying away from the rest of the world !

I'd love to see a real challenger appear on the world scene from the States - but it can only happen if he rides as the rest of the world does from grass roots level!

Best of luck anyway and I hope you can kickstart some interest back into things over there - just be sensible when pegging out !

Cheers!

Edited by Scoobydo

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T. Rex became extinct because there were too many changes in his environment.

Most trials events run world wide each weekend are club events supposedly aimed at giving the average guy an enjoyable day out on their trials bike.

In an attempt to improve the sport by starting at the top, more rules, classes, section styles, time limits and difficulty were applied in differing permutations to try and attract more spectators, sponsorship and riders.

The results of all the changes in the 30 + years I have been involved in the sport seem to have been negative growth.

The billions sold big M company aren

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Trials has an eb & flow of competitors, I don't think you can kill trials even if they made gasoline illegal, if you are only having 10 competitors I can see how you view your sport as dieing, sounds like your club is dieing not our sport, we are a minority, Houston Texas one of the 10 largest city's in the USA has aproximatly 20 riders and not all of them compete. I figure there are only 200 riders in the entire State of Texas who will at least occasionally compete. I started riding trials in 1981 and have seen growth and shrinking, the recent economy seems to be affecting the lack of present entries, trials has to look fun to attract new riders. I don't think Gate trials is the answer, gate trials are fun and great practice but it's not going to save your club.

I think Trials need exposure to grow. how do we get that, I don't know.

I think most people think trials is too hard or too expensive to get into.

we are all the ambassadors of our sport, we as riders are the ones who will grow the sport, I have always kept an extra bike around for my non trials riding friends to try out or try competing in a trials, never in 30 years of riding trials have I been able to get a person to stick with it or show too much interest other than some free riding or cross training.

it takes a special person to ride trials. there is not a lot of interest from the youth to get into trials, I always imagined "what if Ricky Carmicial, James Stewart, or Jeremy McGrath had got into trials instead of motocross" I can tell you one thing, they wouldn't be mega millionaires that they are now.

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Gate trials to me are fun, but does not provide the competitiveness that I desire. I like riding sections that are set up by someone else who thinks that riders of a certain class should be able to ride a specific line/obstacle. This exposes weaknesses in your bag of tricks; for example if you are not good at left turns then with a gate trials you can avoid left turns and choose to score less points (however this will not push you to practice your left turns).

Observing/working a trials event seems to be becoming more and more complicated and sometimes there are some heated disagreements; stop/no stop/dynamic stop, dragging your foot or pivoting your foot etc. We use to see kids and wives checking all the time; now it is fellow competitors.

I do however agree that the trend is more and more difficult lines which do require the latest technology and techniques to compete. This does make it hard on riders as they age; resulting moving down a class or just quitting.

So maybe we should just set up the events on the easy side. I do like the idea of less classes; someone above posted 3 lines.

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Trials has an eb & flow of competitors, I don't think you can kill trials even if they made gasoline illegal, if you are only having 10 competitors I can see how you view your sport as dieing, sounds like your club is dieing not our sport, we are a minority, Houston Texas one of the 10 largest city's in the USA has aproximatly 20 riders and not all of them compete. I figure there are only 200 riders in the entire State of Texas who will at least occasionally compete. I started riding trials in 1981 and have seen growth and shrinking, the recent economy seems to be affecting the lack of present entries, trials has to look fun to attract new riders. I don't think Gate trials is the answer, gate trials are fun and great practice but it's not going to save your club.

I think Trials need exposure to grow. how do we get that, I don't know.

I think most people think trials is too hard or too expensive to get into.

we are all the ambassadors of our sport, we as riders are the ones who will grow the sport, I have always kept an extra bike around for my non trials riding friends to try out or try competing in a trials, never in 30 years of riding trials have I been able to get a person to stick with it or show too much interest other than some free riding or cross training.

it takes a special person to ride trials. there is not a lot of interest from the youth to get into trials, I always imagined "what if Ricky Carmicial, James Stewart, or Jeremy McGrath had got into trials instead of motocross" I can tell you one thing, they wouldn't be mega millionaires that they are now.

I agree good post

If the economy continues to recover we will see more riders

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I have been involved in Trials at all levels in the past 34 years. I rode one Gate Trial about 5 years ago and thought it was the worst Trials I have ever ridden. It seemed pointless. Practicing with friends with everyone taking a different route/line would sum it up.

We had a Trial this past weekend here in S. Cal. and out of 53 entries, there was only 1 Novice. No growth going on here.

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