Canaan MTB Festival 2019: Trials!

Although I was only able to attend the first day, the Canaan MTB Festival was a hoot! After helping teach at the Skills Lunch we headed over to the the Run What You Brung Trials event—five sections to test bike handling skills and riding prowess. This year Zach Adams did an outstanding job balancing fun and challenge, and the previous day’s rain brought a whole new level of difficulty to some otherwise straightforward sections.

The first event was the limbo—just how low can you go. I didn’t fare much better than the rest of the crew, thanks to my 800mm enduro bars. Next time I’d go for the power slide attempt.

Stage two was a narrow rock-crawl on an incline. Zach said he’d give negative points (i.e. bonus) to anyone who could ride it uphill, so naturally I had to give it a try…and used more than my share of dabs due to the greasy start. To save a little face I did turn around at the top and clean it downhill, first shot.

Stage three was probably the hardest: a step-up, a narrow descent, some tight turns, then a steep uphill ladder to finish on a balance. If dry, the section would have been much simpler, but the wet ladder and narrow turns made it extra difficult. I knew if I was careful with the throttle there was traction to be had, and I was able to pull off the entire section clean—with flat pedals, nonetheless. The stoke was certainly high!

Stage four was mostly about balance—several end-to-end split logs, rocks and a bridge over some not-friendly water. I probably came into it a bit too casual, as I had cleaned it twice in practice, and ended up dabbing in a silly place unexpectedly. That’s how it goes I guess.

The final stage was the tiebreaker round. Sam Skidmore pretty much had the lead locked up, but I was tied for fourth place overall. We’d use the bunny hop contest to break the ties and determine the final placings. I was a bit nervous hopping for height on flat pedals, especially when I saw my competition was on clipless pedals. But somehow I managed to even surprise myself, and I cleared the 24” bar to break the tie.

Overall I had a ton of fun, and even though I didn’t get the giant Hersey Kiss that Sam won, I was pretty happy to take away 4th for the night. Maybe next year I’ll ride a bit more strategically and only attempt the ways that I know I can clean…and not let my guard down on the ones that are “easy”.

Thanks Zach for a great time—will certainly be back next year.

All Photos courtesy of Boyce McCoy, except for the bunny hop shot from Hillary Marques

barry croker