It’s an early September, Sunday morning, and about 07:15. I love mornings. A new day always brings new opportunities. I am better at doing detail work, have better ideas and my energy levels are high first thing in the morning. This particular morning started early, so by 06:35, I had two Electric Motion (EM) trials bikes in the van, all of the required gear and equipment, as well as my fellow EM riding friend, Dario. The UK weather continues to be great on this morning as well.
40 minutes later, I stop the van at the big gate and the entrance to the site where we will be riding. The gate proudly displays the large letters, SDMC, which stand for the Scarborough & District Motor Club. Dario jumps out of the van with the magic key that unlocks the gate, which then swings open on strong hinges, and I reckon weighs as much as the van, such is its strength. We are both fortunate and priviliged to be members of the SDMC, and have access to a wonderful trials-only park of woods, valleys, rivers and grassland in North Yorkshire, U.K.
Of the small number of information signs that adorn the entrance to the site by the very big gate, one in particular always catches my eye. It says in bold lettering ‘TAKE CARE – ADDERS – IF BITTEN CALL………..’ The word Adders is nothing to do with mathematics. An Adder is a snake, Vipera Berus to give it its latin name, and is the most northerly-occurring snake species in the world, even being recorded within the Arctic Circle. The Adder is the UK’s only venomous snake, but its poison is generally of little danger to us trials riders/humans. The Adder is a relatively small, stocky snake that is greyish in colour with a dark and very distinct zig-zag pattern down its back, and a red eye. It hunts lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds. In spring, male Adders perform a special dance during which they duel with each other to fend off competition to mate. Interesting huh?
Now you know what an Adder is, here’s what the sign refers to, the bite! An Adder bite can be painful and cause some inflammation, but is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old. If bitten, medical attention should be sought immediately apparently, hence the contact phone number on the sign. Most Adder attacks on humans happen when they are accidentally trodden on or picked up, or possibly ridden too close to on a trials bike, or being fallen on by a trials rider who has just ‘fallen off’. I haven’t come across anyone in the club who has been bitten, so hopefully the sign is in anticipation of, and not in reaction to, a bite.
One last thing about the Adder. In the UK county of Dorset, folklore warns that finding an adder on your doorstep is a very bad omen. Fortunately, there are no bad omens about Adders and trials riders. I do remember a drink called The Snake Bite. It consists of an equal parts mix of lager and cider and will dramatically impact a trials riders balance the day-after-the-night-before, although a rider’s ‘ambition’ might be fuelled a bit😬.
Back to the trials riding. Dario and I unload our EM bikes. I’ve written a few posts about these trials bikes, which you can access at the bottom of this post. Dario and I are both currently learning this trials game, and as it seems, we both also have complementary ‘development areas’. In summary, my development area is in riding down very steep downhill sections and Dario’s development area is riding up very steep uphill sections. Between us, we have it sorted, but individually, which is what trials is all about, we have some learning and practicing to do. Long story short, we do about 90 minutes of riding and attempting to improve what we aren’t good at, we’re both tense and tired, which means time to stop or have a break. In my short experience, carrying on means falling off. More importantly, we have another key reason to stop; Hunger!
We ride back to the van and make breakfast, which includes making tea and coffee, cooking bacon and eating it in crispy bread rolls. Dario sourced the bacon and I baked the bread rolls. Sitting on the dry September grass in this amazing location, with a hot drink, a great bacon roll, and after some rewarding riding is just fabulous! We aren’t the only people riding on this fine morning either. There were two riders (Father and son I think) who got there before us, and more vans are trickling in as we rest and eat. Post-breakfast, we pack everything back into the van and head off to our respective homes. Early rides like this mean that we can be back by 11:00 so that the rest of the day is free for family time etc.
I didn’t mention that we took two dirty electric trials bikes with us and got them even dustier and dirtier. This is because we have a hosepipe ban in the the UK due to the lack of water, and regular cleaning with a bucket is a real pain. However, I just couldn’t bare to put my bike back in the shed whilst it was doubly filthy, so the bucket and cloth came out to clean it, ensuring full compliance to the ban😇.
In my last post about these electric trials bikes by EM, I noted a few observations, and here’s some more. What I’m picking up from EM owners are questions similar to those of the electric bicycle community from 4 years ago. There’s always someone that wants to modify his/her trials bike, and the electric bike riders are no different. What I’m hearing are questions like ‘Can the speed controller mapping be adjusted?’, ‘Can throttle response be changed?’, ‘Can motor output or engine breaking be changed?’ ‘How do you-plug into the controller?’ etc. The electric mountain bike community have been questioning and trying these things for some time. Even modern electric radio controlled cars have speed controllers that can be programmed to suit terrain, battery usage, engine breaking and a whole host of other things. People, including trials riders, are naturally inquisitive, and programming speed controllers and electric power mapping isn’t new anymore, so I think/hope we’ll see much more in terms of home-tuning options for these electric bikes, just as ECUs on other vehicles can be adjusted.
My last observation about my EM bike is one of being inspired. I’ve been following the two official EM riders, Gael Chatagno and Margaux Pena on social media as they participate in the big international trials events. These two riders show exactly what these bikes are capable of, and the size of their electric bike bite, which is obviously preferable to an Adder bite 😉
All photos by the Author