Life’s trials … or how to keep your balance on a motorcycle

We attended a full day of observed motorcycle trials this past Saturday. Dan rode his vintage Bultaco and was the best rider out there, if you want my unbiased opinion.

The only thing is, he wouldn’t let me bring my pom-poms.


Best rider, in my humble opinion (all photos: Marlys)

In case you’re like me and thought motorcycle trials would be timed and would seed riders for the actual event—a race—you’d be a little off course (no pun intended).

After we checked in and got those cute little wrist bands, I had a hundred questions. Dan patiently explained that motorcycle trials is a non-speed event designed to test the rider’s balance and control of the machine where fine throttle is required.

There are several sections to the course, each with different obstacles and varying degrees of difficulty.

An observer stands at each section—hence, the name “observed motorcycle trials”—and records the score. The rider gets points for dabbing (putting a foot down to regain balance) and crossing over one of the lines or out of bounds.

The idea is not to accrue points.

Riders have three hours to run the course three times. “This leaves plenty of time to assess the course and look at the layout of each section,” says Dan. “Unlike motocross racing, in observed trials, the rider is a bigger part of the equation than the machine.”

Dan likes the sport because it’s not a competition between motorcyclists. “It’s you and your bike against the course.”


“It’s you and your bike against the course.”
“The rider is a bigger part of the equation than the machine.”

One definition of trial is, “a person, thing, or situation that tests a person’s endurance or forbearance.”

I think it’s safe to say that life serves up its share of trials. Being confined to a wheelchair. A job lay-off. Watching your disabled child suffer. A broken relationship. The next-door neighbor’s band that practices in his garage. Frequently.

When it comes to trial-facing, James wrote this odd admonition in his New Testament book:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

James 1:2-3

Who does that? Who considers it delightful to endure the challenging things of life?

I think James is encouraging us to keep in mind the potential for positive outcomes from each hard and trying season.

This from DirtBikes101 website: “Riding a trials bike teaches balance, mental focus, [and] patience.”

As with motorcycle trials, life’s tests are not timed. Take as long as you need to assess the course and learn the best way to navigate it.

You can learn balance, mental focus, patience. Your compassion and faith can be honed. It’s you and God against the course.

It was Lloyd D. Newell who said:

By bravely enduring our trials, we learn humility, compassion for others, and a great reliance on God. We also learn that our happiness and progress depend much less upon what challenges life may bring and infinitely more on how we face and overcome those challenges.

Well said, Mr. Newell.


What if you could be a seed-starter?


How long is your growing season?


  1. Debbie I Loken

    It’s good to be reminded of this. Sometimes we lose our focus. Thank you.

  2. Tom F Stutheit

    Right on! I like it.

  3. Larry Hess

    Marlys, Thanks for this neat little package of a valuable reminder regarding our “trials”! Praise God for giving us grace to overcome our life tests. How come Dan gets to have all of the fun?

  4. Cheryl N

    Thanks Marlys. As I face a new trial/challenge in my life, this is a great reminder and read.

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