This coming season will bring about a few changes as I attempt to delegate some of my MAVT responsibilities. Though I've been told "You won't quit until they bury you in one of your sections.", my plan is to turn MAVT over to others after the end of this season. For this year, Chris Hoffmeister will take on the task of recording scores from our events and updating standings. These will still be posted on our website, but may also be posted on Facebook, courtesy of Ray Donet Jrs'
Mid-Atlantic Trials Underground. Though it has been a great ride for me and I've made many lifetime friends, after twenty years of heading up MAVT I feel it is time for new leadership. Running MAVT can be likened to herding cats, challenging in concept, much more so to enact, and I'm at a point in my life when I want to be able to pursue other interests during the summer as well as trials riding. If our Gate Trial is successful I will consider starting a small Gate Trial series of three or four events a season. I don't expect MAVT to dissolve, but rather evolve as others step up to fill my shoes. I only wear a size eleven, so it should not be a big deal. We had about two hundred members last season, and I know that someone or ones will take charge. We have a great series due to our "salt of the earth" members. So this is a call to anyone who would like to become involved with keeping MAVT alive and well.
My thanks to the many people who have helped and inspired me along the way. They are too many to mention, but I do want to especially thank Johnny Brunnett for being a sounding board and bringing new ideas to the table, and to Jason Mankey for sharing his vast knowledge and down-to earth understanding of things that matter, in trials and in life. Godspeed to you all and to MAVT. Yep, I'll still be around, but I'm putting this out there now so there is time for a smooth transition.
Note: I will be taking with me the name "Mid-Atlantic Trials" as it is a business name used with the LLC for procuring insurance. However, the name "Mid-Atlantic Vintage Trials" can be used for the series if it is wanted.
P.S. It would be unlike me to not ramble a bit here about the future of MAVT and give some advice, wanted or not. This is certainly an opportunity for making changes to this Vintage Trials series. Modern to Vintage participation is about two to one in favor of Modern, and there's little doubt that this is a trend that will continue, as riders of the older bikes give way to new generations of riders. So rules may change to better accommodate the abilities of a new generation of Modern bikes and riders. However, I believe leaders should be careful not to forget the average riders who make up the majority of competitors. MAVT was formed so that someone who could ride a woods bike on a trail through the woods without falling down every few feet, could ride our four line without being intimidated, and be able to complete the loop without having to get off of their bike and push it to do so. Those of us who have been around our series for a few years, can look back and remember when some of our now top one line riders were on the four line, learning the basics. The point is that MAVT has provided a venue that can take a beginner and bring them up through the ranks to becoming "expert". Series that focus on challenging the better and best riders slowly die unless new riders have a means to get from being someone with little to no trials skills to someone with better and better skills. If MAVT is to continue to thrive the focus needs to be on providing appropriate stepping stones that encourage those riders looking to improve their skills, and to not discourage riders who just want to stay at their given level and enjoy the challenge and comradery found in MAVT. For us older riders, we're not as concerned about winning. We're happy to be fit enough just to ride and to pass on our experience and knowledge gained over the years. If MAVT can accommodate new, average and older riders it will have a good foundation to grow on. The old can help the new and younger riders, and they, the younger riders, can take us into the future.
The best advice I can give concerning our events is to not get carried away with making long and difficult sections and overly long and/or difficult loops. Provide sections and a loop that aren't too difficult for a new rider if you want them to have a good time and come back. Remember, they are the future. Keep in mind that once a rider is proficient on the four line, they should be able to compete on the three line without being intimidated. This should be true for each line. Currently, the gaps between the three and two lines and the two and one lines, keep many riders from "moving up" a line. We lose new riders if their first event is too hard, and we lose other riders when difficulty on their line becomes greater. It is hard for many egos to move down a line, and the alternative is often just to quit. For the majority of us, short sections with less than half a dozen obstacles are just right. "I didn't get lost. I was challenged but not intimidated, and didn't have to face so many obstacles I was worn out before the end gate". What else I like to hear is: "It was a nice loop, providing some fun riding, but it wasn't so long I was concerned about finishing on time or just getting worn out by it." These are basics. Another thing to remember is that not everyone is good at setting up trials sections or a loop. If you are in a club with quite a few riders and you want to let everyone set up a section, then as a club, go over each section, having everyone ride the sections to evaluate them according to the line they ride. Then modify what needs to be modified to make lines appropriate. At an event, we have three or four chances to clean each section. The average rider of any line should get no more than a three points the first time through the section and should be able to clean it by their fourth ride. Work together on sections and your club members will improve their ability to set up good sections. Do the same with the loop. Put your worst riders in front and follow them around the loop to make sure it is suitable for all. If you can set up a nice loop and sections, your competitors will do the rest to create the kind of fun event MAVT is known for, and Mid-Atlantic Vintage Trials will continue to thrive.