Nantahala Outdoor Center Competition|
Bryson City, North Carolina
April 9, 2005
By Michael Friddell
What an awesome weekend for a Bike Trials competition! It rained like crazy on the drive down and even sprinkled a little on Friday while we were finishing the sections but Saturday turned out great.
I was really impressed with the turnout. The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) staff had asked me earlier in the week how many riders I was expecting, which is always difficult to estimate. I was pleasantly surprised to have twenty-four.
Before going any further, I have to give a huge thanks Doug White, Nathan and Zack for all the work they did. You guys really made this event a breeze to run and the sections were excellent. I also have to thank Doug for fostering the relationship with the NOC regarding trials. He has been putting on events and demos there for years so when I came along, it made everything a whole easier. Also, Kathy Allison, the event director, is by far one of the best people I've ever worked with. Her excitement and enthusiasm toward our obscure sport has ensured that we will be back. I want to thank the NOC, in general, for letting us monopolize their area, ride in the flower beds and overall just made the whole event enjoyable. Last but not least, a big thank you is deserved by my parents for meeting me there and helping in more ways than can been counted. Oh, and I must not forget everyone who threw in a helping hand and the riders for coming out.
Before giving you the results, I thought I might describe some of the sections. We did things a little differently for this event in an effort to keep it interesting for the riders and spectators. The sections were pretty spread out so we all walked up the railroad tracks to the first Expert/Pro section and let them do both their loops while there. This was probably the most technical, natural section of the day for them. It was a tight, boulder-strewn section that pushed every skill of the riders and made them work to finish within the two-mintue time limit.
After everyone finished there, we all moved back down to the main area where most of the sections for all classes were setup. There was a Beginner/Sport section up and down a stone step and a Sport-only section back and forth through some planters. The Expert/Pro section along the river's edge had them skipping across rocks in the water and riding a tight balance line with two-foot deep water on their right. The Pros had to work part way out into the river along some partially submerged (and slippery) rocks. They then turned around to come back the same way and finished in the same place as the experts. There was another Beginner/Sport section along the water's edge just downstream that was pretty easy for both classes but being so close to the river kept you on your toes to keep from getting wet. The Experts and Pros next had a section along the old bridge embankment where they had a steep climb up and then a big, awkward drop back down to then climb right back up again. Next, there was a Pro-only section, mainly setup for the spectators. The Pros had to jump up to a three-foot tall flatbed truck, up some picnic tables and then to the top of one of the rafting busses. It was an easy line up but the show was a big drop back down to the truck bed (only six-foot drop but the landing area was two-foot wide), a picnic table (7-8 feet drop) or the ground (10+ feet). Andy and Ryan did the drop to the picnic table on their first loop but, I was told, Andy did the drop all the way to ground on his second loop! There was one more section each in the main area for Beginner/Sport and Expert/Pro just down from the bus. These were probably the most technical sections for Beginner and Sport and the second most, after number one, for Expert and Pro. They all had to deal with some sandy turns, various sized rocks and some tricky roots.
After that, we all moved down to the ropes course. This is a neat area that the NOC has for team-buiding exercises. They were nice enough to let us make use of the balance beam area where the Expert and Pro riders had to negotiate a long section of tight lines and awkward turns. The Beginner/Sport section was off to the side of the ropes course and had them hopping a few rocks and logs. The main difference was that the Sport riders had a separate entrance in which they had to descend a steep hill with a decent run out but then had a quick turn at the bottom to hop over a 1-1/2 foot diameter log. Finally, Expert/Pro had one last section down by a pond on some rocks leftover from when the railroad was blasted.
Overall, I think everyone had a great time, the NOC enjoyed having us there and we're all looking forward to coming back. Happy trials.
Matthew Powers - Beginner Section 3
Andy King - Beginner Section 3
Chris Ivory - Sport Section 1
Jon Owens - Sport Section 5
Expert Section 5, Pro Section 6
Ben Brinneman - Expert Section 1
Dave Campbell - Expert Section 1
Kevin Parra - Expert Section 1
Melvyn Molder - Expert Section 5
Andy Listes - Pro Section 1
Ryan Cecil - Pro Section 4
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