Seal Beach group ride - April 21, 2002

Seal Beach, California

Report and Photos from Daisuke Koya

One beautiful sunny Southern California Sunday - SoCal group ride! That's what I said when posting the practice ride. Let's face it, we can't always ride with others, but riding with at least another person has many positives while reducing the negatives. First, one can learn something off the other rider, especially if the latter is a better rider. Second, you have someone to talk to (besides yourself that is - although there are serious doubts about one's personality if s(he) talks to him/herself while s(he) rides!). Third, and this is a very important one, if you get seriously injured (which happens inevitably in this sport) the other person can yell for help.

I arrive at 3:00 PM, the time I called the event. I scan the parking lot. Hmm, no one is here. I hope I'm not the only person riding today. I leave the parking lot in my car since parking here costs something like 5 or 6 bucks and there is free parking one block north of here.

I find a parking spot, check for valid parking times (I've gotten tickets before), and park my car. I get all geared up (meaning donning knee and elbow pads, headband, helmet, Monty(TM) trials shoes, and gloves) and ride my 20-inch NAC bike to the jetty.

As I head for the jetty, I see Jon Maeda's (head BikeTrial organizer in SoCal) car and wave to him. Zak and Paul are here in Jon's car and start to unload their bikes.
Then I look to my right and Pete was already here! I didn't notice him before since he was practicing on the right side of the jetty hidden by a fire station. This makes four of us - cool, a crowd already!
Stephen and Manning (sorry Manning, I didn't take a photo of you) then show up.
What's this? A new Ford Maverick with two trials bikes on the bike rack? Wow, it's Andrew Fulton and Shawn Miller, two professional-level riders! This is a great turnout!
Tony, another local rider even showed up! It's been a while since I've seen him, and it's nice to see him riding again.

We all warm up, and Andrew and Shawn start doing big (and showy) moves. Well, they're pros and are capable. Stephen, just having built his Echo stock bike and his third time riding this year, is looking already comfortable on his 21-pound trials rig. Shawn and Andrew eye a large rock and attempt to sidehop on to it. First try, doesn't make it, has to dab to complete the sidehop. Second attempt, no. Third go, almost. I guess this goes to show that even top-level riders have things to practice!

We 'mere mortal' riders cannot hang with neither Andrew and Shawn and do our own thing. I make a rather technical section and call Pete if he wants to try it. He gives it a go and takes 3 points. I try and am all over the place! My left foot dabs, then my right, and then both! Boo hoo! I haven't ridden a proper trials section in a year and a half and it really shows. Pete tries for a second time and cleans it! Wow, I have to redeem myself. I try to plan out my lines and go for it. This time, I score myself and only get 1 point. That's better.

Later, I make a section for the expert riders, Zak and Stephen. It's a rather tough section involving big ups and gaps. Zak gives it a go and then pinch flats. He calls it day and chills out. Stephen goes for it, and cleans it! This guy still has what it takes. Stephen then tries it in reverse, but finds it much harder the other way and has to forfeit.

It's getting late, and some riders start to leave. I thank them for showing up and promise them that I will contact them again for the next group ride. I continue riding until my hands are out of strength from pulling the brake levers (those Magura brakes are so hard on your forearms!) and call it a day.

All in all, it was a good day and a better-than-expected turnout. As I stated in the beginning of this article, group rides are fun and a learning experience (you silly! it's only as far as trials is concerned - it won't help you get better grades!). So people, ride with others (don't spook people or damage public property) and have fun!