Try trials with the family for a one-of-a-kind shared experience

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What’s a better idea than trying trials for the first time in the depths of winter? That’s easy – taking my 59-year-old dad along for the ride.

Off we both ventured, fuelled by nerves through pouring rain, to Trials Day in Staffordshire. Then, once we saw the line-up of bikes, adrenaline took over, despite dad asking where the seats were!

Trials Day was founded by former British Enduro champ and trials rider, Stu Day, in 2012 after competing for 10 years. Now he shares those years of expertise with all kinds of riders, from top-level road racers to first timers like me and dad. But whatever level, everyone starts the day the same – with a warm-up.

Learning from the experts on a trials experience

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After me feeling embarrassed by stretching and jogging and with dad’s knees creaking, Stu demonstrated the riding positions needed on the bikes.

I tried to shut out the inner voice saying ‘This isn’t how you ride’, as Stu explained the techniques.

Next we had to kickstart our bikes and, as we laughed at our first failed attempts, it took me back to a vague childhood memory of watching dad kickstart a Triumph before popping me on the back and pootling around the garden… (I never got to have a go myself, as my brother ended up riding it into the pond!)

With the two-stroke trials machines started we rode over to a section of boggy grassland to watch a gravity-defying demonstration by Stu and fellow instructors Matt and Mark.

Saffron takes a tumble, but she's still smiling

Before long, we were riding in figures of eight with one foot off the bike, then one-handed, quickly followed by two visits to the mud for me, which dad found highly amusing.

At any other time my confidence would have been knocked after a spill, but having dad there to laugh with me and help shake off the embarrassment meant I was smiling and keen to get back on straight away.

After riding over some hills, we had a well-earned break then disappeared into a wooded section to practise clutch, throttle and brake control. I was semi-successful in performing tight turns around the trees but bottled a few attempts.

Dad strategically stayed behind me and followed my route so I couldn’t watch his efforts, although I didn’t mind too much because I’d always had dad behind me when I was learning to ride and I this was like just another lesson.

Riding a berm on a trials bike

We then tackled our first obstacle – a large tree trunk. Dad attempted it first and I was disappointed he stayed upright after his cackles from earlier.

Then we ventured to a motocross track to combine our skills together through trees, over boulders and down steep 6ft drops.

Over lunch we excitedly compared notes with the rest of the group. Dad, who has been riding for over 40 years, commented on how different the technique was to road riding and, with no experience myself, it was great to hear everyone’s take on it.

A few were surprised to continue after such a packed morning, but we rode on, tackling marshland, cambers until we met our final challenge – a 3ft high log.

Dad helped Stu man the log in case anything went awry, like the time when I rode his chopper into the garage wall as a kid. But with a little help from the metal bashplate and practice, I was up and over. Booyah!

Smiling and slightly shaking, I reflected on the day as we pulled in. I loved trying something new It’s great going through a new experience with family so you can laugh when it goes wrong, and although we had aching muscles and red faces, we laughed all the way home. All that’s left to ask is: when can I try a wheelie?

I did it too: John Wilson, 59

John Wilson gets stuck into the trials riding

“The instructor, staff and students could not have been more friendly and helpful. The instruction from Stu was top-notch and the exercises were explained and demonstrated brilliantly.

“But after riding motorcycles for around 50 years, changing the way I ride in a few hours is a tall order. We were told to straighten our legs and lock our knees, but I rode with my legs bent and my backside sticking out… but at least that earned a comment about my ‘duck arse’ (that I haven’t failed to mention to Saff every time I’ve spoken to her since).

“Doing tight turns when you’re hanging low over the opposite side of the bike didn’t take long to get the hang of but, being an old fart with dodgy knees, I had difficulty getting back up again easily, so I didn’t go as low the next time!

“All in all, a fantastic day, a lot of fun and I thoroughly recommend it – I got to ride motorcycles in the mountains with my daughter it doesn’t get much better than that!”

Now it’s your turn

Riding a rocky trail on trials machines

With an age requirement of 12 and up, the whole family can take advantage of Trials Day experience days. A full day with bike hire is £150 with lunch and a break, if you’ve got your own bike it’s £100. A short day has just a short break and is £120. There is also an option of a £25 damage waiver.

For those a little more experienced, there are advanced days which start from £150 for the day, and if you were looking for 1-2-1 training then it’s £250 for the day with a bike, and £200 without. There’s also an option for corporate days.

Kit is also provided, so you can literally turn up and start riding and if you wanted to make a few days out of it, then Leek and Buxton are just a few miles away and the Cat and Fiddle isn’t far either. www.trialsday.com

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Saffron Wilson

By Saffron Wilson

MCN Reporter - loves to tour and explore new places on her Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail