BikeTrial at the Ocoee Whitewater Center|
21 May 2005
By Michael Friddell
Yet another competition has come and gone on the banks of the beautiful Ocoee River. I always love getting to spend some time there. The people, the nature, the air, the rocks - it all purifies you.
Actually, this weekend started off a bit on the downside as it rained almost all day Friday. I didn't mind the rain so much during the drive there early Friday morning but it was quite frustrating when it decided to spit at me off and on for the rest of the day while I was trying to set the sections. I typically need about 6-7 hours to set all my sections so I thought that by getting there at 11am, I would have plenty of time. However, what I didn't plan for was the fact that duct tape won't stick to wet rocks. For those who haven't been there, you may not realize that all of the thousands of rocks at the Whitewater Center were placed where they are by hand and concreted into place. Even rocks as small as your fist are locked down. So, when it comes to stringing tape for the sections, the only way to make sure the tape stays where you put it is to stick it down. The best solution I've found so far is duct tape - at least when the rocks are dry, anyway. B^D
Nonetheless, I struggled on. Luckily, when the sun did come out, the rocks dried very quickly. I set my sections as quickly as I could until the rain started again and then waited for the next break. Just as the sun went behind the mountains and it started to get dark, I had about half a section left to go and ran out of duct tape. No big deal, I would just pick up some tape at a nearby store and come early before registration to finish the sections and put up signs. Ta da.
On Saturday morning, the sun shone bright and the fog lifted quickly. It turned out to be a beautiful day. I was able to get everything ready by a little after 8am and started registration. Everything went smoothly so I gave a short rider's meeting at 9am. I had scheduled the competition to start at 9am and we started at about ten after. All in all, it went off pretty well.
As you can see from the high scores below, it appears my sections were still a bit on the difficult side. I keep making apologies to everyone after almost every event for the sections being too hard. I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm setting them at the appropriate skill level that each class should expect. I know many of you have said not to worry and that you feel you need to step up your own level. I guess I'm just going to have to accept the fact that I set hard sections. Feel free to complain to me all you want. I'll keep trying to more accurately predict the skill levels for each class but you guys also need to work on the basics.
I did try one new thing at this event. I created a new skill-level class called "Advanced" between Sport and Expert. The intention of this new class is to try to make an easier transition from Sport to Expert and Expert to Pro. The Advanced class had to ride the three most difficult Sport sections and the three easiest Expert sections. This gave a chance for those riders who typically find Sport too easy with no big drops, ups or rear wheel moves to get into some Expert-type sections that require such moves. Also, by using the 6 sections, 2 loops format like Expert and Pro, they are better prepared when they move up. I also stepped up the Expert sections, just a little, toward Pro to give those that have been riding Expert for a while some new challenges. It all seemed to go well, if a little hard, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
I should note that you should not expect to see the Advanced class show up in the NATS events I'm running this year because it is not specified in the 2005 NATS rules. However, I will run the Advanced class at my TTC event in September so if you want to test your skills, come out to that one. I will consult with the other NATS organizers about the new class. If we see enough attendance and spread of skills at the various events this year, maybe we can add the Advanced class for next year. Time and rider attendance will tell.
I want to give thanks to everyone for coming to this event. We only had 14 riders but everyone seemed to have a fun time. I know I did! I hope the number of riders in the southeast continues to grow and eventually makes it possible for me turn this thing into a southeast series. For those of you around here who already ride, get out and ride everywhere you can. The more you ride, the more people see you ride, the more likely to get more people into it.
I also have to offer a huge thank you to Larry Mashburn of the Ocoee Adventure Center and the Forest Service staff at the Whitewater Center for letting us use the area. They are all a great bunch to work with and I'm so glad we're able to work through issues in civil and productive ways. Last but not least, thank you to my sponsors, Murfreesboro Outdoor and Bike in Murfreesboro, TN, and Blue Ridge Mountain Sports. I couldn't do this without your support.
Photos from Michael Friddell:
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