Trials riding in the West Kootenay

Trish Drinkle discovers the secret sport of motorcycles at the second annual Ymir Trials event

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A man on a trials bike.

Here, Rob Ray prepares for a steep descent down the rock face. — Trish Drinkle photo

Trials biking is the oldest motorcycle sport, dating as far back as the beginning of the century. Rhodes, who is the owner of Outlaw Trialsport in Vernon, B.C., has been a part of the trials bike scene since 1955. His trials journey began in the U.K.—Wales to be precise—in 1955. Already an avid motorcycle enthusiast, Rhodes wanted to try something different. All it took was participating in a single event for Rhodes to be hooked—like many riders who venture into trials. 

Why is this?

“The amount of concentration, determination, patience and strength required in this motorcycle sport is unlike any other,” explained Rhodes. “Most events utilizing a motorcycle are based on speed, but not this one.”

Now, at age 76, Rhodes still gets out and rides his trials bike and he absolutely loves supporting the events and riders growing the sport.

In a trials event, each rider must complete sections of backwoods trails, composed of steep rock climbs, intricate lines and obstacles—such as stumps and rocks—while maintaining balance and composure.

The Ymir Trials

The eclectic alpine town of Ymir, B.C., was host to the second annual Ymir Trials event on August 31 and September 1, 2013. Pete Bustin and Jay Colley, as well as other willing volunteers, worked endless hours to ensure this course was nothing short of spectacular.

Quite new to the trials scene, I was simply amazed by the number of spectators at the event.  Section by section, men, women, child, babies and dogs all hiked amongst the forest floor interacting with the riders. Perched along the section, everyone cheered and marvelled at the sheer determination and skill of each rider. This is not your typical competition. There are no Monster Energy light shows or Red Bull rings of fire. Just down-to-earth riders, who mentor each other along the way. 

“What gear were you in for that run?” a rider questions. Without hesitation, the rider before shares all of his knowledge, including helpful tips about the terrain. They want each other to succeed. The winner at the end of the day is more about the rider simply doing the best that he or she can. 

For all ages

Little Nina Usher, 5, was one of the youngest competitors. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for this girl. She is tough as nails on her bike, but could be a princess from a Disney movie with her dresses and magical way of interacting with the world. Nina simply inspires.

Many families, such as the Ushers and Bustins, love this sport. It’s not as high impact and daring as other motocross-type events, yet it gives the kids something to work hard and strive for. Many children start on the Oset electric bikes, which have ample power to enjoy for these young riders, and they’re silent, so the kids can practise within town limits without the fear of bothering neighbours. I love it!

A crowd favourite for the event was expert rider Steve Day. All I have to say is WOW. We stood before a completely flat rock face, 20 feet in the air—which to me seemed an impossible climb.  With precision, grace and a tad bit of flair, Day popped to the top of that rock, leaving us all gasping in amazement. The social atmosphere and the continual quest for personal growth keep him coming back for more. Having participated in trials events for the past 37 years, Day has many an accomplishment under his belt. He enjoys growing the sport and he takes time to mentor young riders. 

“Angus, what gear are you going to be in?” said Steve.

Angus, looked up and said, “Second, Steve." Nodding, Day wished the youngster good luck and cheered him on. Humble and kind, the riders are all there for each other. 
Sometimes considered the secret sport of motorcycles, I look forward to seeing, hearing and perhaps even doing more within the trials scene.  The feel of family combined with a bit of two-stroke smoke—seriously, is there anything better? 

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