Trials Ride – Elfendahl Pass

I spent this Saturday at the Tahuya Off-Road-Vehicle (ORV) Park practicing on the trials bike. It was a great time!

Jeff, another Puget Sound Trialer, suggested the location when I reached out to him about a practice ride before our next event.

We agreed to meet on Saturday morning at the Starbucks in Belfair before heading to Elfendahl Pass. It would be a comfortable wait if one of us was running late.

The weather in Belfair that morning was bordering on cold and rainy. The temperature at 10am was 42 and rain was predicted to arrive mid-afternoon.

This would be less than ideal for a typical ride on my road bike. However, trials riding involves moving more slowly and it’s more physical. Wind chill is significantly reduced and body-generated heat is increased. Because of that, it’s pretty easy to stay warm. Indeed, my training in January and my first event in February took place under nearly identical weather.

After our coffee, I followed Jeff in my vehicle to the main parking area.

It was about 11am. Arriving this late, Jeff thought the main staging area might be full and it was. We traveled to a second, and then a third parking area where we took the last couple spots.

Note to self – if we use this park during the summer, we are going to have to arrive much earlier. 🙂

Unloading the bikes and getting on our gear didn’t take long. We were soon riding back to an area near the trailhead. Jeff was both showing me around the area and looking for those less-used single track trails that the four-wheeled ATVs could not use and was of no interest to those on fast enduro bikes.

This short video shows me traveling through a “section” that was a single-track detour off a larger dirt road. Each run through the section, first in one direction and then the other, shows improved timing over the log and smoother climbs through better lines.

Note – the camera’s wide angle flattens the terrain. It’s a bit steeper than it looks but not too much so. 🙂

We spent about two hours exploring before stopping back at our vehicles to grab a bite to eat.

After eating, we spent much of our time exploring another section of the park, looking for fun and challenge.

There were two areas with boulders that we saw. Both seemed a little next level for us.

Jeff was using an app called Strava to track our path for the day.

If I remember correctly, we covered a little over 11 miles, actually moving for about 2.5 hours total. Our average speed was 4.4 mph. That should give readers an idea of how slowly we were actually poking around, hoping over small logs, turning circles around obstacles, and finding some small hills to climb.

I used roughly a tank of gas for the day, maybe a little less. Of course, that means about a half gallon total. That’s about a tank of gas every two to three hours of messing around. I will continue to pay attention to fuel consumption until it becomes something I’m used to in different situations.

We called it quits about 3pm and headed back to the vehicles to get the bikes loaded and head home.

I’m still smiling at the end of the ride! (Jeff’s photo)

By then, both our bikes were pretty muddy. That’s my Montesa in the foreground and Jeff’s red 1974 Montesa behind it.

Modern vs Vintage

The technology in new trials bikes has changed significantly since 1974. I thought I would point out some of the bigger differences between the two.

My bike has a 4-stroke engine (made by Honda) where Jeff’s is a 2-stroke. Not all new trials bikes are 4-stroke but it is getting more common. I have fuel injection, allowing for switchable power bands (dry and wet), while Jeff’s uses a carburetor. The suspension on the bikes differs as well, with mine having a modern single shock tucked in behind the engine. You can see the older Montesa has twin shocks. Disk brakes on mine, drum brakes on his. Finally, I have a hydraulic clutch vs the cable operated clutch on Jeff’s. I use a single finger to operate the clutch where Jeff requires two to pull the lever. That doesn’t sound important but by the end of the day it is a big difference.

Lots of riders with “vintage” bikes ride in trials. They are available for much less money and in the hands of an experienced rider are quite capable. On his bike, Jeff is every bit as capable as I am on mine at this stage. But I suspect that at some point next year, he will need a newer bike to keep up. 🙂


For the past couple of weeks, I have been practicing both in my driveway and a slightly larger parking lot down the street. My slow speed turns and balance have improved since my last event.

I leveraged that learning to practice off-camber turns and turns involving rough surfaces. We also had opportunity to practice riding over river rocks, up and down hillsides and over some smaller logs.

Covering the brakes and clutch in coordination with bigger throttle applications was a key learning. I spent a bit of time in higher gears, usually second and third, using the clutch to prevent stalling.

I caught air (both tires off the ground) over a jump a few times as I learned where the power band really comes on with my engine. Woo hoo!!

I’ll continue to work on balancing when stationary and even tighter turns before moving on to try new skills like hopping the front and rear wheels and doing wheelies and such.

Next event

The Puget Sound Trialers hold an event the first Saturday of each (or most) months. My next event is March 7th. Here is the flyer.

I will be riding in the Novice class for this event and likely for all the events this year. I am looking forward to the challenge and learning opportunities in the novice sections.

One thought

  1. Have a great time tomorrow, Keith!
    Nice to hear that a two handed clutch commitment is no longer needed. Love reading your posts,

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