A new type of motorcycle competition is gaining popularity in the Chattanooga and North Georgia region.
Trials riding, a specialized type of motorcycle riding that forces participants to ride over obstacles like logs, boulders or creek beds with the goal of not putting their foot down as they complete loops, isn't like typical motocross sports.
"It's pure balance and technique," said local trials rider and Southeastern Trials Riders Association membership coordinator Mark Moon. "You'll see pros go up boulders the size of pickup trucks."
In addition to competitors getting penalty points for putting their feet down while riding a loop, the specialized motorcycles used in the sport don't have seats, which requires an extra element of balance from riders.
Locally, riders have the opportunity to practice at the Trials Training Center, an all-inclusive motorcycle resort in Jasper, Tenn., and a course in Ringgold off Dietz Road. While motocross as a whole is an incredibly popular sport in the Chattanooga area, Moon said, trials riding is still catching on.
"I think it's probably along the same lines as soccer," he said. "Back in the 1970s, when I was in junior high, we had never really heard of soccer. And now soccer is everywhere. I think [trials riding] is just one of those sports that is unknown here but is already known internationally. We may be on the edge of it really taking off here in the U.S."
Leading the charge of expanding trials riding in the South is the Southeastern Trials Riders Association. Membership provides locals with opportunities to compete throughout the year, a network to meet other riders and free access to some of the area's trials riding courses. Annual membership costs $20 per person or $25 per family.
For people already participating in other types of motocross sports, Moon said experience with trials riding can help them improve other aspects of their original sport.
"Trials riding improves all other types of riding," he said. "Once you learn those techniques you can apply them to other aspects of competition."
For more information about trials riding or the Southeastern Trials Riders Association, visit www.stratrials.com.