By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
“To ride a motorcycle seriously is to go nowhere fast”—this is counterintuitive, but it’s Gary LaPlante’s philosophy behind ‘trials riding,’ a unique form of motorcycle racing that can reach speeds as low as 5 mph. If that sounds underwhelming for a motorcycle, the activity is acknowledged to be the most difficult variation of motorcycle riding around due to the extreme amount of precision and skill needed by the driver to maneuver the bike without touching their feet to the ground for balance. Add in vertical acceleration up steep rock faces and the sport suddenly becomes more exciting.
At the heart of a trials competition is the obstacle course. Competitors must navigate over and through any number of outdoor hurdles from boulders to forest terrain. In order to achieve this, the bike itself is reduced to its skeletal minimum, stripped to just over two hundred pounds (half the weight of some of its counterparts), and even the seat is removed. A recent Wired article offers a compelling summary of the activity: “either the pinnacle of two-wheeled badassery, or the dangerous product of gearheads with more ambition than brains.”
This week BreakThru News spoke with Gary LaPlante, founder of MotoVentures, CA, a company that specializes in dirt (and trials) riding training. Gary views trials riding as an undiscovered secret in the motorcycle world for many, especially in the United States. The sport’s future may even include urban applications: if technology can make bikes quieter and cleaner, trials riding could swap out dirt hills and forests for inner city hurdles.
Host, Writer – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello
with guest – Gary LaPlante