Everyone knows trials riding is a great way to enhance your road riding. It also makes you look super cool. On my first day, I wheelie'd my trials bike, true story.
I passed my A licence in April and have been experiencing anything and everything off-road since then. My second pit stop, after enjoying two days at BMW's Off Roads Skills school in Wales, was at Stu Day's trials school, TrialsDay.com.
Being a newbie on two wheels, my main goal was to keep active on a bike all-year-round. I wanted to eliminate too many "I fell in the car park" incidents.
The first rule of trials: If you've ridden a bike before, forget everything you've ever learnt.
Our warm up involved holding an arm-long stick to stretch and make the shapes we would use while out on the trials bike.
The day starts with some light exercises showing you how to ride a trials bike. I spent the first half hour, 45 minutes riding round a field on a bike with no seat. Yes, trials bikes don't have seats.
When we went out on Stu's wonderful farm, the setting for our day, we attempted doing up and down small hills up and how to break. On the same hills we also practiced riding sideways.
By the end of the day we were heading riding over larger-than-normal logs, over rocks and through the trees feeling like pros.
For the day's training you pay £150; This includes the bike hire, kit hire, snacks and insurance.
Here I am going over a log on my trials bike:
5 tips to help every new rider
Trials Day Instructor Stu Day gives his tips for new riders. And if you want to here more about Stuart and his life, we also spoke to him about his life on two wheels.
1) Confidence is the biggest thing a new rider will gain from a day at Trials Day
Trials is about balance and control. Body position is hugely important in taking the rider and bike over rough terrain and tricky obstacles.
As the day goes on, and the new skills come in to place through the day's training, the new riders are stunned at where they can ride as they get on. Tasks which appeared tough at the start of the day are ridden with ease and confidence at the end.
2) On or off-road, a confident rider is a good rider
On the day we teach the following:
Body positioning - The right shape, at the right time, in the right place. A bad stance on the bike makes everything much harder.
Clutch control - In Trials and technical off-road riding first gear is too fast in most situations, so we teach the right way to control the bike at super low speeds.
Throttle timing - The power needs to come on and off at the right time otherwise things can quickly get out of control on the bike.
Breaking and leaning - To be delicate on the front and rear brakes, to not lock up and to instantly respond if one does.
Tyre grip - Learning to read what grip your tyres are getting and how to maximise it.
Non road use skills to learn here - Wheelies, rock steps and stoppies. All super important in trials, but frowned upon on the road. It's great to be able to learn to do them properly and safely. More importantly, AT YOUR OWN PACE.
3) Confidence to move the bike around
Moving around on your bike with confidence is a huge benefit when it comes to riding on the road. Add to that the heightened controllability of the clutch, throttle and brakes you gain from riding trials and your skills will improve. Awareness of the terrain and what is coming next also makes for better road riders.
4) New riders who have never been on a motorcycle before
We have a range of bikes from 50cc to 300cc so the little capacity bikes are perfect for newbies and we fit a throttle limiter to help with the learning curve.
Once again, there is no pressure on the day and it's a fun place to learn with your mates in a low speed environment.
5) Trials = Smiles
Some of the best riders in the world started in trials or use trials to help their riding. Ron and Leon Haslem, James Tosland, David Knight, Graham Jarvis, Cal Crutchlow. The list goes on and on.
So we guess, if it's good enough for them then what are you waiting for?
For more info and to book your day with Stuart and his team visit www.trials-school.co.uk