Trials Discussion Topics - Marking

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Ken O'Brien wrote: [on 19Nov07]

Reading everyones comments regarding marking of sections, we at Oxford (Oxford Ixion MCC. ed.) have always used white card for the standard route, red deviations for expert and blue for our eased route. This way everyone follows the standard route until their own colour is brought into play and then back to standard route again. This system works very well and if the rain comes it's easy to change the route.

Brett King wrote: [on 18Nov07]

I have a further tuppence-and-a-half to add following todays Sapperton Cup SVMCC trial - I think/hope I've got something worthy of "posting".
I have just returned from observing at the Sapperton Cup Trial held by SVMCC today and would like to (correctly this time I hope Rob!) comment on the original topic - colours of section marking. In my opinion the route marking today was very clear and the proof to me was that:
1) nobody asked for extra help identifying their route
2) only one rider out of the 65 or so competing lost his way, thus incurring a five
Standardising the route marking colours across the entire centre for all clubs to abide by is the key issue and I think that the system used today works well (blue-red for expert, white for alternative and yellow for easy). The thing that the Stroud boys did today was to put a complete set of markers up for each route, even if it meant a tree having all three routes stapled to it, i.e. blue+white+yellow all on the left hand tree and red+white+yellow on the right hand tree. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. The only people who have to have their wits about them are the guys on the 50:50/clubman-expert route, and section 7 clearly stated on the begins card CLUBMAN-EXPERT so I think that is easy enough too.
Tim Rochfort's suggestion to use tape is not a bad one, but I would prefer to see it used just as today on sections 7 and 12 where it was there purely to prevent riders running into each other or over the edge of the quarry. My main issue with it as a material (and he answered it) is that tape is a pain to put up, take down and store in the C-o-C bag as he trundles around the course.
Finally, I conducted an impromptu poll throughout today and my scribblings on the observer sheet revealed that 38 out of the 65 starters thanked me for observing. That is over 50% and I would like to thank the riders who thanked me. Your words of gratitude were very welcome.

Rob Workman wrote: [on 04Oct07] (This should have been displayed on 25th Sep.)

All the letters below your article are not relevant to the subject of alteration of colours in the marking of sections which is the proposal by the trials committee. These letters were already on the web site, even Brett's letter does not cover the point in question, although a lot of what he says is right. People are reading these letters and are commenting on the points in the letters and not on the relevant subject. Some of the points you stated are wrong, ie. 'the last four years we've been using these methods,' I think more like 14 years. 90% of the time the yellow route uses a stand alone route, only using the begins and ends of the main route. I think that 3 weeks for riders to get their heads around this proposal is not enough.

Web Admin says: Subsequent to Rob's email we have changed the way we display feedback, and whilst processing that change I neglected to publish his comments so they are out chronologically, 25th would be more fitting.

Tim Rochfort wrote: [on 04Oct07]

Dear Editor, First could I say that I feel a bit uncomfortable making suggestions to trial organisers when I have no idea of the amount of work involved for an event and I wouldn't mind betting that marking out is the easy bit...the paperwork must be hellish!
But as a former rider, a sometimes observer and a sponsoring parent I have noticed that......
* The markers themselves could be uniform to start with.
* The "lollypop wire" (with the colour slotted in) looks official, seems quite tough and must be easy to use. At a Wiltshire schoolboy event earlier this year the markers were the best we have seen. The Starts and Finishes were made from Foamex board in A3, printed with SECTION 1 START ,the club name etc and each in bright and unmissable colours. The Markers were large, made from coloured foamex, again with a wire looped through rather like a croquet hoop. Go one stage further, obtain a costing to make these and perhaps tender them out for logo sponsorship, ie Honda, Castrol etc.
* Routes. Could these be referred to as A (hardest/expert), B(intermediate/clubman), C(beginner/ novice) this follows the schoolboy classing system.
* Marking. All riders to follow B route blue (the entry majority) and as already suggested deviate to white for A riders and yellow for C riders. (no left and right colour changes)
* Rider number backgrounds could be A white/ B blue/ C yellow
* It would be very helpful perhaps if more tape could be used, although I am sure this is very tedious to lay out and time consuming, it does focus the line and keeps riders within the section.
* As seen at the Inter Centre Event, they used coloured posts to mark some sections. Would paint dipped dowelling be effective in cut lengths to mark turns etc which could then easily withstand a loop of tape on it
* Bibs, whistles and Mars bars are well received by the way!!
Please let me know if I can do anything practical re the above

Merv Morgan wrote: [on 04Oct07]

I don`t think anyone who knows me will be surprised to hear that I wholeheartedly support the proposed changes. I think it is very important to encourage newcomers into the sport and the last thing we want is to frighten them off with confusing markings ie. following three sets of colours on the yellow easy course. It has been suggested that the standard course must be marked red and blue. I agree, as long as you accept that the word standard means the course which most riders will aspire to ie. the middle route. The hard course I think most people will agree is far above standard, ridden only by our very best 10-20% of riders. I hope common sense will prevail. The sport is constantly changing and we need to change with it and make sure no rider is following more than one colour deviation.

Mike Clarke wrote: [on 04Oct07]

Having recently returned to trials after a 15 year break, I've noticed quite a few changes, to say the least, number of routes being the biggest. Myself and other half just spent a very enjoyable few hours observing at the G&C Cotton trial, which from what I could see was excellent. It was very pleasing to see the likes of Simon Welch really actively encouraging some of the younger riders, and this behaviour should be really applauded. I was however surprised to see so few riders in the expert class. This would not have been the case when I was wobbling round in the 1980's. It also made me laugh to see lads riding up and over some pretty impressive stuff, but who were so obviously terrified of a few dead leaves that lay on the main route through our section, that they felt they had to move them all! Come on boys, ride over what's there or next time I might feel inclined to give out a few five's for altering the section (tongue in cheek).
As regards the marking out of sections I know it's hard, I've done plenty myself, but I would say that the easy route (yellow) is much too easy in most cases. I think this makes the move upwards to the middle route (white) too big a jump. As for all the colours used in today's events, I would have to say that the way the Cheltenham Hawks mark out their trials is the simplest to follow (AMCA I know) pairs of red - hard route; pairs of blue - middle route; white - easy route .

Phil Marsh wrote: [on 25Sep07]

I'm in favour of the proposed changes. It seems to me that the 'main route' should be the one ridden by most riders, currently the alternative route. Deviations for experts and P65/beginners would be as suggested.
You never know it may help reduce the number of times I get lost in a section and lose a 5.

Brett King wrote: [on 24Sep07]

I agree with a lot of the points made by all the contributors to the debate and would like to add a couple myself:
Tom Welch has a point about the colour marking system being changed but I don't think it will lead to a change in attitude by those who may or may not be inclined to observe. Nonetheless, making route-finding easier would be sensible.
The fact that trials has become a 365-days-of-the-year sport has undoubtedly led to greater conflict of interest with other hobbies and activities that people like to participate in. Whilst it might be great for the die-hards to go out competing every weekend, the logistics of ensuring the same observer faces show up time and again is just unrealistic. I haven't counted the number of trials this centre now stages annually, but it must be 30 or so. When you add this to the neighbouring centres that do this, you can see how observers are spread so thinly. Is it really realistic to expect observers to give up 20 - 30 (that's half!!!) their Sundays every year... I think you can now see one cause for the shortage. In the late '80's & early 90's, trials like the Stan Hinsley at Craswall used to attract riders from Wessex and East South Wales centres, you'd have 24 sections and always get observers. That was a time when trials were eagerly anticipated because they were not so numerous. Today there are just too many and hence observer AND rider numbers suffer unless the trial has a hell of a reputation (The Hurran in Ebworth Woods being a classic example)
Old Man Luff's point about severity (or lack of it) on the easier route is a contentious one - toughen it up too much and the bulk of the entry will find it too hard and then go elsewhere, rendering that trial (potentially) unviable to run next time as well as damaging the clubs reputation for "fair" sections. On the other hand, make them too easy and it is mind-numbingly boring to observe. The weather factor (common for ruining many a trial marked out in the dry, but wet on the day) make the C-o-C's job an unenviable one. I think the answer to this is not necessarily to toughen up the easiest course (that's where new blood comes from), but to extend the grading system further down the chain. There are (in my humble opinion) too many riders masking themselves as "beginners" simply because they fancy a crack at a pot. Get a grading system sorted and the section severity needn't be altered - just riders attitudes.
Finally, Tim and Ben make some very good suggestions. I think the observer draw being bumped up financially is a great one. Equally important is the one of setting a time limit. I know that I have been one of many occasionally tempted to sit down on the bank when a slick rocky section needs scrubbing off (e.g. at Craswall), only for observers to start getting agitated... and to be fair, rightly so. However, the practise is just unnecessary the majority of the time, so yes, start setting a time limit. Nothing too tight, but enough to keep people moving along. We can't all be Jon Bliss racing round like it was a time trial, but we can make life better for the observer.
Finally, finally, ALL riders should thank observers, regardless of what they may have marked on your card. "Thanks for observing today" takes 2 seconds to say but can be the difference between an observer throwing the observing towel in for good or coming back to watch (and mark) you at the next trial.
Brett King

Tom Welch (with his Trials Committee Secretary hat on!) wrote:

Over the last year or two there has been considerable discussion in the centre about the various section marking methods. As a centre, some 4 years ago we adopted the following system;-
"Standard" (hardest) route --- Blue on the Left and Red on the right.
Any "Alternative" (easier) variation marked by a pair of white markers.
Any "Easy" (even easier) variation marked by a pair of yellow markers.
Problems occur when a Novice on the Easy route tries to follow the markers through the section. He could start following red / blue then deviate to a pair of whites back to red/blue and then a pair of yellows etc.
At the last Western Centre Trials committee meeting we discussed a proposal to change to a system that some other centres, and AMCA clubs use which is;-
Middle "Alternative" route using Red / Blue
Harder variations marked with a pair of white markers
Easier variations marked with a pair of yellow markers.
The benefits are envisaged to be;-
The majority of the entry will be following the Red/Blue marking (the middle route usually has the largest number of entrants)
It is easier for a rider (and the observer) to follow only one colour variation.
It was agreed that it would be put up for Rider discussion and input, so please email the editor with your points of view and they will be included on the forum.
These Rider views will then be put to the Western Centre Board at the meeting in October and a decision made for the 2008 season. Keep em up --- Tom Welch - Trials Committee Secretary