The Full Monty - Ot Pi and Cesar Cañas
from Chris Ratcliff

The biggest riders you've probably never heard of. If trials were the car industry, Chris Ratcliff would be meeting Michael Schumacher and Henry Ford.

Hello? Is this Avondale Management?

Yes it is.

Would it be possible to arrange a press pass for me so I can interview Ot Pi and Cesar Cañas?

No problem, come to the Sheffield Arena before 5:30 on the night.

Uh, Oh. OK, thanks!

Being a journalist has some great advantages, I'd just got myself a ticket to the hottest motorbike trials event, and I'd probably have a great view, free! Turns out I had to stand for the whole event, but it's not too bad when you're standing next to the action.

A couple of months later, it's January, it's the Sheffield Arena, it must be the first round of the FIM World Indoor Trials Championship. Looking over the sections that had been laid out, it was looking quite technical this year, with some long sections to test the riders. Watching the worlds top riders going through the sections was amazing, Dougie Lampkin was riding the Montesa for the first time, and wasn't quite up to scratch, and Steve Colley was riding very well and really pushing Dougie. Half time came, the arena went dark and a few lights started roaming around the crowd. When the Star Wars theme started, all the lights went out again and a single spotlight highlighted Ot Pi on his Monty flying down into the arena. Yup, Ot was suspended on a harness and came down a wire from 60ft above the floor, and he was pedalling too! He knows how to make an entrance!

Ot and Cesar Cañas, another Monty rider started playing to the crowd, whipping them up into a frenzy, the airhorns and cheering were deafening at times. Then the riding began. And they got even more amazing! On their little Montys, they rode the motorcycle sections. And cleaned some too! If you're not used to motorbike trials, this means ups of 4 or 5 feet! 7 or 8 foot gaps! The show was cut short because the trial was running late, but it did show how good the best riders are and also how good the show they can put on is.

I don't speak Spanish, and Cesar doesn't speak english well (although, he's a lot better than I expected!). Fortunately, Ot speaks both, so with a big hand from him, here's what the guys think...

Ot and Cesar Interview

Ot: 28 years old
Cesar: 24 years old
Both from Barcelona

How much do you practise?

Cesar: Now, not too much, while we don't have the world championships, but usually 3 or 4 hours every day with gymnastics and stretching.

What's the most important thing to practise?

Cesar: It's not just one thing, it's many things. You have to train everything, legs, mind, arms, fingers, also your kahunes! [Slightly obscene mime and laughter] It's a mix of many qualities that means you have to work your entire body, but really, the most important things are the legs and the mind.

What's it like riding at bike events like this?

Ot: It's a big sensation, it's great for the public to see. I work everyday for a brief period, and it's good for my motivation, for publicity for me, for my bike. The most important for me is my motivation.

Without Monty, what would trials be like? Would the sport exist?

Ot: No. The head of biketrials is my father, and the head of Monty is my father. He's the one who starts everything. For sure, nothing. It would be like a littler sport, doing in some places in the world, but nothing like it is today. Everybody knows the sport, and people practise it...

Monty has really made it big then?

Ot: Yes, because it's the only brand who make trials bikes from 1983, many companies start but it's not like motorbike trials and they don't sell and they quit, whereas Monty keep going and going and have been doing trials bikes for 17 years now, so this means something.

Have you changed anything to save weight over a standard X-lite?

Cesar: Not usually no, but for the world championships I change many things. For the world championships everything all bolts are titanium and aluminium, and Monty make for me different parts. Tyres, handlebars, all lighter, but only for the world championships. Lighter is weaker, so those parts are only for the world championships, for the rest of the year we use the stock bicycle.

What do you think about trials in the world?

Ot: Trials in the world right now is getting bigger, but not as we want. I mean the trials as a sport is very hard to practise, it's not like mountain bikes where you take your mountain bike and do mountain biking, with trials if you take the bicycle, you don't do trials. You have to go on the obstacles. So that means it is a harder sport, but it's getting bigger slowly.

So, in three years time, what will it be like then?

Ot: Well, for us, the most important thing is the two federations we have now become one. Because now we have two federations and it's stupid. The sport is not so big. And the people in our class, the top class, no one wants to ride with us because they cannot win, so they go to the other federation so they can win, then this means it is never possible to mix because our level exceeds the other federation because the not top rider goes to the other federation to win as biketrials people do not come because it is so hard to win. So I think for the two federations to come together would be very nice then we can fight all together and show that he [cesar] is best and me second.

So will you be going to the 'other' world championships?

Ot: Yes, Spain will be world championships, but UCI. The federations are thinking to come together before the world championships. Usually we cannot ride in the world championships because we are biketrial federation and that is UCI. UCI are not top riders.

If you could change one thing about the way you ride, what would it be?

Cesar: To become younger... Maybe five years ago I was riding on the sections and I was thinking only of the sections, now I'm riding and I'm thinking something else and it distracts me. I'd like to ride again like I did five years ago when I was riding and just thinking riding. Normally in the world championships I'm riding a section and thinking a stupid thing and it distracts me and I do a stupid dab. Now in the quality, I am very happy with my style.

Ot: I show you his style!! [ Ot starts riding Cesar's bike trying not to bend. I think Cesar's swearing in Spanish J]

Can riders get much better?

Cesar: I think it's possible but difficult. The level is very high now with the necessary training and fitness. One very special person, possibly, but it's very difficult to beat that level now. It's difficult for people to beat us because we have experience that others don't. Maybe people can learn the skills but in competition our level is higher, it's difficult to beat the world champion mentality.

How about a 150 cm sidehop. Possible?

Ot: We jump 120, but not higher than 120. Maybe a little higher, but its very, very difficult.

To Jordi (Minder and roadie)

What's it like travelling with Ot and Cesar?

Jordi: No... Very, very difficult. Ot's always farting!! They're very nervous before a show.

Ot: We know how to ride, but we're always nervous before a show.

Ot: Do you know any girls around here?

Umm, sorry?

Ot: If you can introduce us to some girls?

Err, no. Sorry...

Ot: No? What a pity...

[decends into spanish shamble. Ot starts wandering around. I think he can hear the trial outside]

One more, how long have you been riding?

Ot: Me 20 years, and him 12 years.

Just trials?

Ot: Yes.

After the trial I asked commentator, TV personality, and motorbike type Steve Berry about what he thought of Ot and Cesar:

I think, the good thing is that people see the world's best trials riders, so they know how hard it is, and they've got the advantage of the very best sort of performance machinery with 40 horsepower or so, and they've got NO horse power!! I just don't know how they do it!

I've got a carrera hellcat mountain bike. I just get on it and wobble round a bit, I'm too old and fat to ride properly! I fancy this downhill bit where you don't have to pedal much.
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© 2005