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Your Attitude Matters!

One person's actions can benefit or hurt an entire sport. In the United States, the sport of bike trials is slowly becoming more popular. It has such a small following that one person can make a large difference. I believe that I would never have heard about trials if I had not met one particular trials rider.

This trials rider spoke at a UCLA Cycling Club meeting in November of 1997. He talked about this sport called bike trials, and about how he was going to lead a group ride on campus that Wednesday night. I thought it sounded interesting, so I showed up.

I had just bought my first mountain bike the week before, so this trials rider's skills seemed incredible to me. I told him that I could never learn to ride as well as he. But he told me that trials did not come naturally to him, and that it took him forever to learn. He said that if he could learn trials, anybody could. His humility helped me believe that even I could learn trials.

He got me to try trackstanding that night. I failed miserably. I could not even ride slowly without falling over. He gave me some useful pointers and encouraged me to practice it on my own, assuring me that it takes a long time to learn, but gets better with time. I struggled through countless Wednesday night group trials rides, but he encouraged me the whole way. Just recently, he told me that back then he did not believe that I would stick with the sport. But I did.

I am riding bike trials today thanks to this one trials rider: Daisuke Koya. Thank you, Daisuke, for being so generous with your time and advice. And thank you, Jon Maeda, for putting on the Fontana trials series. Thank you to everyone who volunteers their time and money to make trials events happen. Much too often, they don't get the thanks they deserve, so be sure you thank them.

As noted earlier, I probably would never have known about trials if I hadn't met Daisuke. I have not met any other trials rider in a non-trials context. Not one. I have never seen trials on television, in a magazine (the only bike magazine I have ever subscribed to is OTM), or anywhere else. Think about that. How many people in the country would be interested in learning trials, but have never even heard of it? A person's first exposure to trials might be when they see you riding.

If you ride bike trials, your attitude matters. What you say and how you treat those around you matter. Wearing a helmet matters. Do people see you as a crazy biker with no regard for your own or others safety? Do people feel comfortable asking you the typical newbie questions, or do you turn them away by giving them sarcastic replies? Were you not asking someone those newbie questions not too long ago? Treat others the way you would like to be treated in their position.

The next time someone stops to watch you ride, smile and say hello. Be friendly and be ready to take a breather from riding to explain trials to them if they want you to. They ask newbie questions because they do not know any better yet, and with so few of us around, who can blame them? After all, bike trials is a pretty weird sport to see for the first time. Do not underestimate your importance to the trials community. Whatever your present skill level is, your attitude will make either a positive or a negative impression on those who take an interest in your sport. You can share with others why you think trials is a great sport, or your actions can discourage people from becoming trials riders or trials supporters.

The choice is yours. I choose to be a bike trials ambassador.

Stephen Maeder
Friday, July 2, 1999 on mtb-trials