Bike Trials 101 at Colorado Northwestern Community College
April 18, 2005
By Zachary Swiger

J-hops, ratcheting, manuals, and, track stands are just a handful of the maneuvers one can learn at the world's first college-level bike trials class. The class is offered at Colorado Northwestern in Rangely, Colorado. It is taught by Outdoor Recreation Director, Derek Mogensen, who has been riding for about six years. The current class consists of six students who meet once a week and ride for about four hours, working to improve their skills. To say the least, it's a class like no other. Rain or shine, there is always a place to ride.

The town of Rangely is great for trials riding. The town has urban riding areas, but is mostly a mountainous region. There are fantastic rock sections everywhere you turn so it is great, as long as weather permits. The weather is nice for the most part, but even when the weather is not so good you can ride inside, if you are in the bike trials class. The class is held in the Colorado Room, which is a huge multi-purpose room with a stage.

Derek Mogensen, the instructor, started out just riding his mountain bike, but after seeing a couple videos of Hans Rey and Libor Karas, he started to take biking more seriously. From that point he moved to Fort Collins to start his Outdoor Recreation degree. He then got into a Fort Collins trials group and his skills exploded. He and his friends started doing demos around local areas, just trying to get trials in the mainstream. After he got his degree, there was a job opening at his old school, CNCC, and he didn't think twice before taking the job of Outdoor Recreation Director. From there it was clear that he wanted to start a trials class. Now CNCC has the first ever (at least that I know of) bike trials course, which is for a PE credit.

The trials class is a great class to improve your biking skills, and get some college credit as well. We start out the class with track stands, which anyone who rides trials knows is essential to the sport. A track stand is simply balancing on the bike without moving. After some work on track stands, we start to incorporate our full-line of obstacles and ramps that Derek has provided the class. Some of the obstacles include boxes, platforms, stairs, and best of all ramps. The obstacles help us to continue our advancement by allowing us to drop ledges, hop on things, and practice our balance. Another great advantage to having the obstacles is a student will never get bored. If the rider gets frustrated with one area you can move to a different part of the room.

The class is a great learning environment, and everyone has a positive attitude to make learning so much easier. If you have the opportunity to start a program like this in your area I highly encourage it for three reasons: one, you get college credit; two, good instruction and people to ride with; three, you're allowed to ride wherever and whenever on campus. If you have the skills to teach all you need to do is visit the college in your area and inquire about being an Adjunct Faculty for PE courses. However, you may need to have a Bachelors or Masters Degree. And if you don't have the opportunity in your area and you need to go to college then I highly recommend attending Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Zachary Swiger

© 2005