Trials Fitness
by Lance Trappe

As far as I can tell, pain and sports go hand in hand. If it doesnít hurt you either arenít trying very hard or youíre playing a video game. So then the goal would be to minimize pain and maximize output. I feel the way to do this is by proceeding slowly and surely. I know that doesnít sound exciting, but what more can I say?

When I first started riding trials it was a very sporadic activity. I would ride three days in a row and then not again for 2 weeks. As a result, I developed the usual ailments: tender hands, sore arms and back, and of course torn-up shins. But as I gradually became more proficient at the basics and formed a better picture in my mind of what I could do and what I was trying to accomplish, my body began to accommodate my pursuits. The calluses developed, my forearms and upper arms got stronger and my back aching just seemed to go away. But if I stopped for a week or so and then tried to pick up where I left off, there was always a price to pay. So I learned that there isnít really any way around your bodyís reaction. A trials rider just has to admit to themselves that when pursuing a sport where you use your body alone to defy gravity, you are going to have to work extremely hard at it. Work takes itís toll.

What I would suggest if you are having chronic problems is either slow down your pace, stop all together and try to recover, or try to exercise the part of your body that is protesting. You could just pretend you feel fine and ignore the pain, but unless youíre going for a championship or something, I think that would be a bad idea. So try doing some sit-ups, push-ups, or anything that could work your weak area. I donít think anyone is going to sit in the weight room and I wouldnít say that is a good idea either. You donít need to be huge (that would just be more that you have to pick up along with the bike when riding) but you do need to be strong and flexible enough to react explosively when the sidehop or gap presents itself. I find that starting out really small when I first go out to ride is a good way to warm up. You usually know what you want to try to accomplish for the day, but you shouldnít dive right in first thing. Get the blood into your muscles and let them loosen up. Then stop for a minute or two and just do a few stretches for at least the areas that you feel are causing you trouble. Your body hurts when you make it do more than itís used to, so you want to be as ready as possible for all you will encounter. Donít set your sights lower, just give yourself time to prepare. It shouldnít take long, but the more you do to prepare, the better you will perform. The only thing you want to watch out for is making up a routine that is so elaborate that you donít even want to ride if you have to go through it. Find something that works for you and focus on improving how you feel. The better you feel, the more you will enjoy your ride.

Editor's note: Consult a doctor before following any of the above advice, especially if you have severe pain.

© 2005