Saturday Round One
Trip Start Feb 10, 2006
2Trip End Feb 12, 2006
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The 30th edition of the Texas State Trials Series got off to a big start on Saturday February 11th at Emma Long City Park near Austin Texas. More than forty five riders were greeted by 29 degree temperatures in the early morning. Numerous volunteers from the Central Texas Trials Association laid out a challenging loop of ten sections that each rider would attempt three times. The Rookie, Novice, Amateur, Vintage and Senior Classes would ride in the morning. The Intermediate, Expert, Senior Expert, and Master Classes would compete in the afternoon.
I arrived a little before eight AM and made sure that I was pre-entered and learned that I would be judging the afternoon riders at section three that afternoon. I unloaded and did a quick check of the bike and then talked with some of my fellow competitors. I should have spent some time warming up on the bike before the trial began. It was so cold I just wasn't motivated to get on the bike and ride. This turned out to be a big mistake that cost dearly in the first loop.
The Rider's Meeting got started a little late and we didn't get underway until 9:47 and lucky for me the Trialsmaster gave us some extra time as many of the morning riders didn't finish by the 12:30 cut off time. Section one was an easy one at the end of the overflow parking area that wound around and over some rocks. I was not properly warmed up and took two dabs on a section that I would easily clean on the next two attempts. Section two was even worse as I stalled the bike and took a five on a section I should have been able to clean. I finally made my first clean of the day on section three. "Thanks, I really needed that", I told the judge as he punched my score card.
I was feeling better now, but stalled the bike again on section four. Things weren't looking so good now! I turned in a good ride on section five and told the judge, "Consistency is not my middle name!" Six was down in the dry creek bed as was seven. They didn't give me too much problem and I was starting to feel a little better even though I was afraid that I was already out of the hunt for a top five finish.
After I made it through sections eight and nine, I met three riders going the wrong direction on the loop. I stopped and they asked me where section ten was. I didn't know so I followed them as we searched for it. We found a section, but it was for the afternoon riders. There we decided to go to the scoring table and ask where the section was. It turned out to be across the parking lot. It was on fairly level ground, but had a few turns and medium sized rocks to cross.
After successfully completing the first loop, I turned in my scorecard and found that I had dropped 15 points. I was going to have to do a lot better than that! I make a quick stop in the pits to top off my fuel tank and took off for another loop.
I breezed through section one and then attempted the next section without a quick look. That was another mistake and cost a couple of points. The rest of the loop went a lot better than the first with a few cleans and only eight points dropped. The judges were all friendly and encouraging and some gave me a few pointers when I was having difficulties.
I had a really good ride on the last loop. By now I knew the sections pretty well and the temperature was up to more agreeable level. I cleaned all sections save two and only dabbed once in each for a score of two! My final score was 25 or sixth in my class out of 15 riders and I missed the top five by one point!
After a bite to eat, I picked up my supplies for judging and rode off to find the afternoon section three which I would be responsible for scoring. The afternoon riders are the advanced classes and the sections are much more difficult than the morning sections. Section three was a pretty difficult section and I would get a chance to see some good riding up close and maybe even learn a few things.
My section turned out to be a really good one to watch. Most of the riders scored a three on the first loop. I started to joke with them as I punched their cards that they don't call this section three for nothing! Most every one improved on the second loop, but there were very few clean rides. If I recall correctly, the very difficult master line was only cleaned once. While judging, I made my only encounter with the ground during the day when I was backing up while judging a rider and tripped over a rock and fell flat on my back. I thought, isn't this ironic that I rode all morning without hitting the ground and then this happens! I later asked a spectator if she saw me fall and she replied that she tried not to notice. I told her that I couldn't wait to tell my wife about that one and that it should be good for a laugh. It was!
One of the things that really impressed me besides the riding was the fact that all of the riders said, "thank you for judging." What a great bunch of folks! When the last rider went through, I took down all of the markers and signs and put them into a trash bag that I tied to my CamelBack before loading up and riding around the loop and back to the parking lot. The green tape marking Saturday's loop had been removed by now and so I ended up on the main loop and taking the long way back. I encountered two riders who told me they were lost so I told them to follow me. I'm sure they probably began to think I was also lost because it took a good while to get back, but we made it and Mark Hogan greeted me at the scoring table and relieved me of the trash bag and my judging apron.
I hung around for the Trophy Presentation and then stashed my bike at Steve Elms' camp before taking off for Austin, looking forward to a hot shower and a big meal at one of Austin's hip eateries. After getting myself presentable again, it was decided that we would go to the old Threadgill's so I could get a big chicken fried steak, vegetables, salad and their famous cornbread.