First, let me give the reasons behind having a gate trial.
1: Riders get to choose the splits or gates they want to attempt and avoid any they believe to be too hard for them.
2: There are no DNFs. Since your score accumulates as you clean gates, you can stop whenever you want and turn in your score.
3: No checkers. You can either self-check or have a fellow rider check your score in each section. Yep, this is the honor system. Cheaters are warned that their karma will get them if they cheat.
4: More riding time. Once you sign-up you can go ride and not wait for a start time. Gate sections take a little longer to study since you choose your line. There will just be a designated stop time for all, no matter when you start.
5: You will not only see how your riding compares to others in your own class, you will be able to see how you stack up against all riders. This can help you decide if you may be ready to move up a class or move down.
6: No need to adjust sections/gates due to weather.
So, what are the negatives?
1: This is a different type of Trial, so riders have to deal with the "change factor". This is more of a "thinkers' " trial, as riders try to ascertain their own abilities.
Okay, let's assume you show up for the gate trial at 10AM. First you sign-up in the class you usually sign-up in, so you will be competing only against those riders in that class. Then, whenever you are ready, you head to a section. You will need to walk the section to see which gates you want to try. Gate markers will be as split markers, only the number on either side of the split will relate to the value of that gate. Most gates will be worth one point, but a few may be worth two points. Those will be the hardest gates, generally meant for the better riders. The entrance and exit of a section will be as our other trials and sections will be marked with blue on the left barrier and red on the right. Once you have planned your course through the section you are ready to try it. As you get through each gate without stopping, footing or going out of bounds, you earn the point or points of that gate's value. Points earned cannot be lost, but once you foot or stop, etc... you are finished in that section, having lost the ability to earn more points. If you make it to the exit clean, whether or not you you have gone through any gates, you earn a point going through the exit. We'll post a scoring area near the exit so you can record your score in that section. Now, on you go to the next section. The loop will be the same as with our other events with X amount of sections and X amount of loops.
The important thing to know is what you can and cannot do while riding a section.
1: You cannot cross your line.
2: You cannot go through a gate backwards. Gates or splits will be clearly marked as to front and back.
3: You cannot stop or go backwards.
4: Just as the above, footing or using a tree or other object as support will end your trek through the section.
5: You cannot go through a gate more than once.
Please Note: To obtain the point or points from passing through a gate, the whole of your rear tire must pass the gate marker. With some gates, you may still be on an obstacle when you foot, but if your rear tire has passed the marker you will get that gate's point(s). You will just not be able to accumulate any more points in that section. So again, it is the rear tire passing the markers, not the obstacle that lies past it, that earns you the point(s).
Okay, so that is the basics. The gate trial will not be that much different from our current events, except you will earn points for cleaning gates or splits, not be penalized for footing, etc... except that once you foot you cannot earn more points in that section this time through.
As most of you know, I have wanted to try this type of trial, mostly because there is often little consistency, especially with the harder lines, from event to event in our series. Sometimes, hosting clubs focus on challenging the best riders in a class, often putting new and lesser riders in that class in the situation of riding "over their heads". A gate trial eliminates this. I have broken from the rules of other Gate Trials by not taking away earned points if you foot or stop in a section. I want the focus to be on rewarding good riding rather than being penalized for mistakes. Riders should be more willing to try harder obstacles or gates as they rejudge their abilities, knowing they will not lose points already gained if they do foot trying something harder.
So, I think that sums it up. I have several gate sections set up at my place and all are welcome to come ride them and get a feel for this type of Trial. At our event we may have a checker at a few sections to help get riders get used to this type of section. So far, riders start out a little confused, but quickly catch on and enjoy the sections. Again, this type of trial, typically takes a little longer, since riders will need to study the sections and gates more to decide where they want to ride. That is why we will allow early starts. Sign-up will be for two hours, from say, 10AM to Noon, and riders can start right after signing-up if they wish.
I understand there has been talk between riders that a gate type of trial may be confusing. I hope this has cleared things up. However, if you have questions or comments, I'm "all ears". Don't be like Mikey (He won't try it, he hates everything). I hope you'll give this a try; I'm pretty sure you'll like it.
P.S. Gate sections at my place were created by converting our normal sections. To me, it is important with gate sections, that riders be able to see the general flow from start to finish to help them plan their course and not get lost going from gate to gate. The end of the section should be visible from the start and vice versa. Also, sections should be kept on the "short" side, with a limited number of gates. Maximum points available in each section for the best riders will be between five and ten points. Typically, riders will not be able to get to all of the gates in any section, but obviously, better riders will be able to get to and through more gates.