Bridie Australian Championships winner

February 10th, 2020Bridie Australian Championships winner

THERE are lots of obscure sports out there. Lawn mower racing, cheese rolling...

And while motorcycle trials (otherwise known as observed trials) may not be familiar to many people in Australia, it is the country’s most popular participatory motorcycle event with around 1000 regular competitors from year to year.

But it is one of the few motorcycle events where being fastest is not the goal. It is instead a sport where fine balance, clutch control and concentration are more important.

One by one, competitors will enter a taped-off section of ground full of obstacles from water and rocks, to steep climbs and slippery logs, riding in all conditions. They try to clear a section without putting a foot down. If they do, they accrue a penalty point. Essentially the one with the lowest amount of points at the end of the meeting is the winner.

It is a close-knit scene which tends to leave the uninitiated mystified as to its strange machines, odd traditions and rules but its best riders in Europe and Japan are stars with legions of fans.

At the topmost levels it is highly compelling, if not for the impossible obstacles the riders scale, then for the spectators fixated on their favourites, holding their breath as they negotiate a course, gasping at technical errors and cheering when things go right.

Bridie Sutton of Trentham is 13 years old and has been riding competition trials for five years. Recently she returned from the Australian Championships in Tasmania where she won the junior women’s trophy. To her trials is not some obscure pastime but something as natural for a country girl to take part in as pony club.

“I like it because it is different,” says Bridie. “And I was brought up with my dad doing it. So I guess you could say I’m carrying on the tradition.”

Her father Pat Sutton has been doing trials competition for many years and is Bridie’s mentor and trainer. He has coached her through her early years in junior competition and is now ready to help her as she moves into the C grade category. Like with most sports, trials has different levels of skill and C grade is a big step up.

“C grade is kinda scary. You have to go over bigger obstacles, harder turns and more of them and you have to think more about what you have to do and make sure you are not missing any markers because there are way more markers you have to go through,” Bridie says.

To get ready for her first season and the first round of the Victorian Trials Championships next month, Bridie does a lot of regular training. Her backyard features an obstacle course of large rocks, logs and mounds of dirt to work with. But often she spends an hour a day on the bike just practicing her turns.

“It is all about the balance,” she says, “but if I get tired of just being in the back- yard we can go to my grandma’s farm. The old Carlsruhe railway cutting goes through there and we can practice on the slopes.”

Words: Anthony Sawrey | Images: Contributed

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