On every event, a little rain must fall. For some events, it’s no big deal. For Eleanor, it meant mud, and lots of it. I think I ended up modifying every section in some small or big way. It really wouldn’t have been so bad if not for the bare dirt left over from the excavator. That stuff turned to slippery goo. It was so messy that Aran’s treadless tires were actually better than new, deep-treaded tires.
Nonetheless, the trials must go on. Thankfully, everyone kept in good spirits about the weather and extra challenge from the mud. That’s the great thing about trials – we look at everything as an obstacle to be conquered.
Similar to last year, I laid out just four sections with all classes combined in each. This works great for a small event by keeping everyone together and learning from each other. Everyone enjoys watching the Pros ride but I just love seeing a Pro cheering on a Beginner.
Speaking of Beginners, we had a number of first timers this year. Rob Hawk and Ed Watt competed for the first time, both on “streety” bikes. Rob rode a 29” wheeled steel steed and Ed rode a 24” wheeled fun machine. How’s that for bucking tradition! I’m still amazed that Rob pulled out the win on the very tight courses. Another first timer was Tysen Sherry, who took second place in Sport! He even managed to get two cleans, in the mud! I think this was Rob Wolfe’s first competition, too. He struggled a bit but had a good time. I was also glad to see the familiar faces of Jestin, Jesse, Eric and Anthony.
Another familiar face, from what seems like eons ago, was Toby Ratliff. Others have probably seen him at Raccoon Rally in the past few years. For those who don’t know, Toby snapped the RR trials from the jaws of death earlier this year. We all owe him huge thanks. Personally, I’m elated to welcome him to the NATS family.
As for the Pro class, it was awesome to watch four top-notch riders take on the mud, rain and my wacky lines. The top of the podium was hotly contested by Aran and Mike. Mike’s clean first loop made Aran’s single four seem like a big lead. Mike then fell prey to the mud in section one on his second loop and Aran jumped into the lead. For the last loop, Mike pulled out all the stops again and took just one point to Aran’s three, thereby taking the overall win by just one point. They both rode incredibly in very difficult conditions. Unfortunately, both Tom and Joe fought with the mud and their bikes. Still, they both put in a valiant effort.
I owe a massive thanks to Larry Perkins for sticking to the plan and doing this event with me in spite of a difficult year. Also, I must thank him for running the excavator (even though he really enjoys it!) and Raynes and Company for donating its use. My thanks also go out to Company Bicycle and Charleston Bicycle Center for all the great schwag and Creative Custom Design for the excellent shirts. Other sponsors included Heritage Painting and Putnam County Parks & Recreation Commission. Lastly, thank you to my parents for their continued support.