The next factor is your off-road ability, physical strength and stamina. Riding a 200 kg (440 lb) bike on tarmac can be a doddle; picking that bike up on a steep, muddy hill could be demanding and, for some, impossible. A heavy machine is always more challenging to handle on the rough than a light one. So look at your own capabilities first.
If you’ve marshalled, or watched our trials, you’ll have a good idea of what’s expected of you. If you haven’t, go look at You tube; there are lots of videos available; just search for ‘MCC trial’.
Have a look at how competitors fare on some of the tougher sections like Bluehills 2 in the Land’s End trial and like Simms on the Exeter trial. Now ponder if that’s the sort of thing you think you could tackle without footing, stopping, rolling back, or falling off. Be aware that videos don’t fully capture the steepness of some sections.
What to wear
We’re stating the obvious here, but warm, waterproof clothing, boots and gloves are a must. It can get pretty chilly in the early hours before dawn and some trials have experienced continuous rain. Thermal underwear is a good investment and Gore-Tex is highly regarded. Mitts are usually warmer than gloves but you’ve got less feel; it’s your choice. Spare gloves are a good idea. However, although that extra layer of clothing may keep you warm on the night run, you could sweat and overheat in the day, fighting your way up a section. Watch the weather forecasts just prior to the trial, then dress accordingly.
A high visibility vest, jacket, Sam Browne belt, or similar are recommended. ‘I don’t need that’ you say. Yes, you do when you’re crouched over a dead bike, no lights, scratching your head in a narrow lane and another competitor zooms around the corner. We’ve not even considered the other, non-trial, road users with their minds elsewhere.
We know your motorcycle helmet is in good nick; isn’t it; of course it is. Misting up of the visor; always present due to rain and sweating biker, can be solved by a demister spray, or a Pinlock insert in the visor.
You want to carry as little as possible, bulging pockets are uncomfortable. Whatever you carry, wrap it in a waterproof bag if rain is forecast. A guide is as follows:
- Mobile phone, fully charged and emergency numbers
- Soft pencil (to fill in your Control Card)
- Energy bars, or a nibble of some sort
- Soft tissues to clean the visor
- Wallet with some cash
- Trial documentation
Trial documentation, which must be kept dry, is:
- Control card
- MCC membership card and ACU Trials Registration Card
- MoT certificate
Get some sleep
Be well rested before the trial. If you can get your head down for a few hours’ deep sleep before the start in the early hours, the whole experience is so much better and safer. If you want to stay awake and alert, rest is no substitute for sufficient good quality sleep.
Don’t worry; there are plenty of planned opportunities for refreshment along the way, including those controls where fuel is also available.
How are you getting to and from the trial? Are you going to ride from your home to your chosen start, trailer the bike and your kit, or use a van? Is there anyone else in your area who is travelling to the start and might they be willing to share? Where are you going to park this transport during the trial? The Finish is usually a long way away from the Start. If you need some help deciding, ask the Club.
Arrive in time
Arrive at least an hour before your start time; earlier is even better. You want enough time to get your bike scrutineered, sign in and relax before the off. If you’ve ridden your bike to the start in rain, or cold conditions, you might want time to warm up.
At the end of the trial, you’ll be fairly knackered so, depending on how far you have to travel home, or unless you’ve got someone to drive you and your bike home, you’ll need to consider overnight accommodation. Book early to make sure you get a room.
To carry your overnight kit, a tank bag, or tail pack, or both, can be useful. Load any kit on your bike if possible. Some bikers use rucksacks, which raise your centre of gravity, or bumbags, which get in the way. Take your pick, but carry the bare minimum. If the accommodation provides toiletries, why carry your own?
The Club holds the Club Supper on the Saturday evening of the Exeter Trial. It’s well worth attending; an opportunity for good food, good company and new friends.