ITSA Round Six
August 19, 2007
By Jessie Wallace
I motored up to Greenville, TN a couple of weeks ago, for Round 6 of the SE Regional ITSA Trials Series. It was a cool 83 degrees at 5am when I hit the road and only promised to get hotter as the day progressed (no surprises there). Getting to My Turn Ranch at around noon local time, Saturday was spent carving out sections in a hollow that was jam-packed with potential. With the Guru leading the way, I think we made really good use of the terrain. It consisted basically of a steep hillside, with a knarley drainage ditch twisting along its base. It offered lots of loose rocks, soft soil, exposed roots and a blanket of dead leaves that seemed to be coated with STP oil treatment. We constructed 8 sections, with lines marked for 4 classes. Using split markers rather than one-line (Scottish style) sections, we were able to squeeze the necessary number of sections into a relatively small amount of real-estate. It took most of the day and I think everyone was glad to see the last marker go up. Still, we do have
A few of us were around (and still standing) at sundown, so we pool our supplies and proceeded to construct a feast that would rival a five-star restaurant. Most of the credit there goes to the versatile Trials Rooster, who not only brought most of the food, but the grill to cook it on too and it was only right that we allowed him the honor of preparing everything. The sun seemed to stall in place over the area for most of the day, but finally made its way behind the nearby mountains about the time we had polished off the last pork chop. It was then entertainment time, with Peewee, Malcolm and Dick serenading us by the light of the Captain’s Coleman lantern. One of the highlights of the evening came when Bonnie (our host) took a turn at a couple songs. Her version of Me & Bobby McGee was enough to make old Janis proud.
A little side-note here; in addition to the ITSA participation (and promotion), the event was also serving as Round 4 of the STRA Vintage Championship Series and Round 3 of the Chattanooga Trials Club’s series as well. Now, multiple club affiliation is not at all unusual in the world of observed trials. Our community is pretty widespread geographically, yet sparsely populated when you compare it to some of the more “mainstream” sports. Maybe that’s why I act as though I’ve seen Elvis every time I catch a glimpse of a trials motorcycle on the tube, or even more goofy when I spot one riding around in the back of pickup truck somewhere. The CTC participation in Greenville resulted in a few more modern trials bikes than you can usually find at a vintage event and that’s a good thing. It should be further noted that even without a modern club’s sanction, the ITSA organization has been very proactive in trying to secure the attendance of these masters of the mono-shock. If it’s good for the sport, we’re all for it.
So it was that Sunday saw a mixed bag of about 30 riders setting out to tackle the sections in groups arranged for peer scoring. The first section’s primary component was the ditch that ran the length of the hollow that actually contained the entire trial. Arm sized roots and loose rocks were found in every turn and it really set the tone for all that came after. There were more tight turns at the second section. It also featured the ditch, forcing the rider to negotiate some washed-out areas that were found to be a challenge. Things got interesting at section three, where the ribbon pointed straight up the hill to the right for all the classes. For the A and B line, there were a series of those downhill turn-backs that are sometimes tough to commit to. It had options, but none of them were easy. Number four pointed up hill in the opposite direction. This climb was complicated by a short takeoff ramp and lots of loose dirt. The A, B and C lines each had a separate route up, only to converge into a single (around a couple of trees and back down) line. Section five was a long one, combining the hill to the left with the deepest part of the drainage. Number six saw the A and B riders tackling the hill again to the right, with a tight cross-camber turn while on top. After the cutback, we pointed the wheel back downhill and it was time to HANG ON. I think it looked worse than it was and if you managed to dodge the trees barricading the bottom, it was really a quick, easy ride. Sections seven and eight were formed back-to-back, running up a side-drainage. It was primarily in and out of some tight turns, which sported plenty of loose stuff and a couple of climbs to keep things interesting Not allowing a stop between the sections was a nice touch, forcing us to maintain our concentration through a pretty good stretch of the property.
It was a great day with no serious wipe-outs. Dick Septer was said to have hit the ground pretty hard after winning a race with his bike to the bottom of a hill. I also witnessed several cases of lost traction, which stalled more than one rider at a less-than-ideal location. The loop was short enough that there were opportunities to witness some riding in the other classes. I saw Barry Septer riding some of his first competitive sections and doing a good job at that. Like always, there were some unneeded dabs taken by most everyone, as well as a fair share of remarkable saves. There was a lot of truly excellent riding. At one point I was standing by Bruce Carman just outside a tight turn in section one. As Bob Ginder smoothly maneuvered his way through the turn, without breaking stride (or even looking down) he eased over to stretch the ribbon just enough to run cleanly over Bruce’s foot. Without saying a word, Bruce slowly turns his head and (telepathically) says to me “do you believe that just happened?” Truly priceless.
The scores were all in the range of what I feel they should be for a successful trials and a testament to the A-team of ribbon stretchers comprised of Bruce, Peewee, Dick, Barry, Sam, Jay, Bonnie, and Bob. I did what I do best, carry stuff (i.e.: chainsaw). It was more fun than I can adequately describe and really must be experienced to fully appreciate. Ms Bonnie and her Great Danes were excellent hosts and to her further credit, has already asked us back next year. I’m already looking forward to it.