My article in On the Pegs Magazine - Next Gen Mototrials - Start em YoungFeb 02, 2023
I wanted to include the story that I wrote for the online magazine - On the Pegs. Below you will find my recap of a youth training I helped to capture as a media guest.
I was looking for a chance to practice taking motorcycle photos with Nex Gen Mototrials at a recent training day class, and ended up capturing a whole lot more. What I didn’t realize was how impressed I would be at the resilience and willingness of kids to overcome obstacles and try to conquer anything in their path. This is more than a summary of me taking photos, this is a story of the power of transformation. But before I go any further - If you are not into reading, take heart, there's also a video version that we will link to.
The weekend started with pro trials rider Sam Fastle teaching proper bike setup, safety gear and basic bike handling to 9 kids ranging in age from 5 years old to 15. Sam was leading a Next Gen Mototrials training day class for youth riders that was hosted at Saddleback KY. Sam was patient in explaining and instructing and the kids were eager to learn and itching to demonstrate what they could do. The pending weather held out for a pretty good December day, but the rain earlier in the week made for some muddy conditions. The Kentucky clay made the need for good throttle and clutch control apparent and kids were humbled as they fought for traction.
It wasn’t long after working on turns, wheelies and log crossings, that they started to link moves together to practice section type riding. Just because they could make it over a log, didn’t mean they were in control immediately after, so Sam added a turn following the log. Through coach Sam’s encouragement and exhortation, the kids really got into it as they were each challenged according to their own abilities in a safe environment. We had extra spotters and parent volunteers there to assist as kids worked their way up muddy hills and over slippery logs. The wonderful thing about trials is the focus on control and technique which meshes well for youngsters learning and parents feeling good about the safety aspect of a motor sport. The desire to get over it “clean” without touching a foot down and “one more time” comments sparked an energy where the kids were pushing themselves.
A couple of turning games and a wheelie competition rounded out the morning and after lunch, we headed to another location where Sam set up a few sections for the different skill levels of the kids. The hardest of the sections concluded with a line that went up a 3 foot vertical cement wall. This is the same wall that I had seen #1 pro rider, Pat Smage use to demonstrate ride up technique in one of his On the Pegs YouTube training videos. To say the least, this was no small obstacle. The top student, Cameron was able to splat up the wall using a kicker and some of the older kids wanted to be able to do the same. It became apparent that this was the next big challenge and so they asked Sam to demonstrate how to properly get up this wall.
Now in my mind, the wall presenting itself as more than just an obstacle, it became “The Obstacle” of the day. It represented more than a wall, but rather a mental barrier for many of these kids because it evoked a certain level of healthy fear. It was handlebar height, around 3 feet tall, and unmoveable. The area immediately surrounding this section also had a hill and retaining wall around the outside edge where kids could look down into the section and watch. We set up spotters and as the top kids in the class made it up the wall, they began to make it look easier and easier. Now, even the younger kids wanted to give it a try. The area started to feel like a stadium and had the emotion of “the main event” as everyone was looking down and cheering. There were some crashes, tip overs and many good “catches,” as the spotters were able to keep kids and bikes from coming down hard.
Multiple attempts and increased guidance and feedback created an atmosphere that is hard to put into words. As each new youngster made it up, more of them wanted to try it. Then they wanted to make it up clean. The cheering started getting more exuberant as parents took out their cell phones to record the struggle. There were some tears shed. Fears surfaced and encouragement was given, but it was resilience and faith that made the difference. Faith of a pro rider and other volunteer spotters in the kids themselves that transformed their committed efforts into successes. We added an additional kicker pipe to assist in the learning curve. However, the pinnacle of the moment wasn’t about the extra support from that kicker that came before the obstacle. It was when I saw courage imparted to kids in a contagious environment. It was when everyone who gave it a try, was cheered on and made it to the top. It was breaking through fears, self doubt, that voice in your head that says you CAN’T do something. I saw that when someone believes in you, it can almost literally lift you up obstacles you didn’t know you could do on your own.
Making it up that wall that day was more than just about learning to ride a particular obstacle on a trials bike. It was one of those defining moments for many of those kids that will never come in front of a screen. It presented itself as a time and place where everyone wanted everyone to succeed. Those are rare moments in life. Emotions were high. The joy of success will not always come, but on that day, it did. The conditions were right. The proper skills, technique and courage were given, and the next generation of trials riders stepped up to a new level.
I came away from that day glad that I had helped to capture the moment and record the memories. The contagious environment made me realize that I want to give back more to the sport, to see those moments again and almost bottle that energy. Trials riders are humble helpers that like to give. It’s hard to be arrogant in trials, because the terrain tends to flatten egos. And this is what youth need, a proving ground to work through hard times, to be humbled, and to be encouraged. To be coached and to persist in a worthwhile effort. The mentoring that I saw that weekend, made me want to document it and also to challenge readers to think about how they can also give back to their sport.
Here's the link to the magazine article itself. Starts page 102