Clean: Section 01

Friday 10 June 2011
by Ben Swales
popularity : 33%

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Mark Westlake is a well known member of the UK trials scene; he has been riding for years, is an active member of prominent trials forums and a key member of the Tarty Bikes team. He’s also a great photographer, up-and-coming video maker and an awesome street rider in his own right and was one of the first people to truly commit to brakeless trials. A few weeks ago we ran a short feature on his new, street-orientated blog, Clean, a stylish new window for the thriving UK street scene featuring media, news and interest pieces on what is easily the best and most dynamic street scene in the world. When we caught wind of an event that Mark was organising, we had to find out more!

Clean: Section 01

Mark recently posted on Trials-Forum about an event that he is organising in Bristol in June; a freestyle/jam style event to cater for the growing number of street riders in the UK, offering an alternative to ‘pure’ trials comps for those that prefer concrete to gritstone. We caught up Mark to ask him a few questions about the event.

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You’re organising Section 01, a sort of freestyle, ‘jam’ format trials comp in June. Can you tell us a bit about it (where and when it is, the format, any confirmed riders, judges or event sponsors, etc.).

Section 01 is going to be taking place in Bristol on the 11th June. The start point’s going to be Castle Park (a fairly traditional meet-up point in Bristol) at 12pm, which is when things should get interesting! The plan is to head through Bristol taking in some of the spots on offer, eventually ending up at "Lloyds". There’s no strict format as such, it’s more of a case of allowing people to session the spots, try and come up with some moves, push themselves and hopefully have a good time in the process. Whenever there’s any sort of group ride it seems to give everyone that little more energy and spark, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the riders are going to come up with. Some confirmed riders so far include Inspired’s Ali C and John Shrewsbury, and Trialtech/Tartybikes’ Stan Shaw - as there’s no pre-entry for Section 01 it makes working out who’s confirmed a little trickier! In all honesty though, this event will hopefully give some more unknown riders a chance to shine. Joe Maher, Joel Bennett, Sam Nichols and Ben Rowlands are just four of the slightly less household-name riders who are going to be there, and I’m really looking forward to watching them all bounce off each other and try some new lines. There are a bunch of other local and semi-local riders who should hopefully be riding, and I can’t wait to see them getting amongst it as well. I can’t really say too much about the judges at the moment as it’s still up in the air as to who can/can’t make it, but Ali C is definitely one of them. Ali’s one of the top riders in the UK at the moment so he should have a pretty good idea of what to look out for! JPEG - 46.8 kb As this is a fairly new sort of event there aren’t really any ’official’ sponsors as such, although a few companies have been forthcoming with some help for prizes/giveaways, and I’m very grateful to them for that.

With no clear-cut rules, like at a ‘pure’ trials comp, I take it will be more subjectively judged? Can you tell us what the criteria etc. will be for judging the event?

There’s no set criteria for judging, as such; I wanted to try and make sure that it wasn’t too rigidly ’marked’. To put it simply, if you’ve ever ridden with a group of other riders, you can tell when someone’s ’on it’, or pushing themselves - that’s all the judges will really be looking out for. It’s not just about the size of the tricks being pulled, as that’s only really one factor involved. Obviously it helps if there’s a bit of burliness on show, but if someone comes up with a new move on a foot high wall that’s still something to be rewarded. It’s important that it’s not just the riders who can go the biggest or best who have a chance of winning - I want everyone who’s willing to give something a go the chance of getting in the top 3 and winning some prizes.

What made you want to organise an event like Section 01 in the first place?

Although I’ve been involved in the trials world for the past 10 years or so, there was a 3-4 year period where I only really rode BMX. In that time, I went to a few jams organised by a company called Project 5. They were run along similar lines to Section 01, and form some of my favourite memories from my time riding. It worked really well for them, and I don’t really see any reason why it can’t work for trials either. The UK street scene is stronger than ever, and I thought it’d be cool to see what could happen if this sort of event was introduced. JPEG - 15.5 kb The only real form of comp in the trials world is the traditional ’observed biketrials’ style of competition, so hopefully this type of event will give some of the less traditional riders a chance to ride with like-minded people, push themselves, and potentially win something. The feeling of riding through a city in a big group of riders is always good too, so that’s a handy bonus...

We noticed that you’ve given this event a number... Are there plans for any future events like this (Section 02?), or even a series? Will any sponsors be coming on board and making it more ‘official’?

Today Bristol, tomorrow the world! I definitely hope this isn’t a one-time-only event - I feel it’s got a lot of potential, and with such a variety of cities with great street spots on offer all around the UK there’s no reason that the format can’t be applied elsewhere. Making this sort of event ’official’ is a much harder thing to do, though. Riding on public property always carries the risk of upsetting police/security, and because of that it’d be impossible to get an ’official’ event like this to happen. It also makes it trickier for sponsors to get involved as they’re effectively condoning something illegal, and it’s more of a risk for a legitimate company to be implicated in something like this compared to ’just’ a rider like me. I’ve been in touch with a few different companies though, and several of them are interested to see how Section 01 turns out to see if they’d be potentially able to help out more in future. Watch this space!

Tribal Zine have recently released the official video for K-124 Days 2011, often regarded as the toughest international competition of the year. Have you seen it? What did you think? With events like K-124 Days and the World Cups still proving so popular, and yet with the street scene gathering more pace in the UK, with many riders turning to manuals and spins and even brakeless riding, and now a freestyle/jam competition taking place, how do you see the future of trials competitions in Britain?

The K-124 Days video was awesome, Marcus did a great job! I love seeing people at the top of their game performing to the best of their abilities, so seeing Benito, Gilles, Vincent, etc. getting pushed to the limit was a treat. The excellent filming and editing really helped too - it’s hard getting across the difficulty and technicality of natural riding, and I think this video has done the best job of that of any comp/natural video I’ve seen to date. I definitely don’t see events like K-124 Days or the World Cups/World Champs going anywhere any time soon, but at the same time it’s difficult to really relate to them as a normal rider. To some extent it’s the same with more traditional comps in the UK. A lot of venues don’t necessarily have great transport links, so for riders who don’t have access to their own car or don’t have parents who are willing or able to take them there, it can be difficult getting to them. Speaking from experience of living in Mid Wales and having to travel to comps up in Yorkshire and Derbyshire on the morning of a comp, it’s not always that easy! In my opinion, something like Section 01 allows more people more of a chance to be involved in something that can potentially push things forward. That’s also why I chose to hold it on a Saturday and give it a slightly later starting time than most traditional comps - for riders who need to travel by train, it gives them more scope for travelling (as Sunday train services were often fairly terrible/infrequent when I’ve had to use them), and for people who want to travel from further afield to ride it means they don’t necessarily have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive there. I’m sure that the core of the ’pure’ trials comp scene will always be there, but there seems to be a lack of options for everyone else. It seems like the UK scene is on the verge of branching out more, and it’s just waiting for some sort of direction. I’m not saying that Section 01 is the definitive way things have to go, but I want to make sure the option’s there. We’ll just have to see what happens on the 11th! I’d also like to give a quick thanks to everyone who’s helped out in any way at all with Section 01, be it letting me bounce ideas off them or helping out with organising it - it’s been good to see how much support there is out there. Cheers!

So if you’re a street rider and you fancy meeting up with a load of like-minded people, riding some cool spots and witnessing some mind-blowing action, with the chance to pick up some prizes along the way, head down to Bristol on the 11th June and be a part of it!


As if all the above wasn’t enough to whet your appetites, Mark, who is usually the one filming and editing street videos, also recently released a video of his own riding. Filmed and edited by Ben Rowlands, the man behind the fantastic Glasseye Trials web edits, it features Mark riding his brakeless Inspired Fourplay on the streets of Bristol taking in some of the great spots that Section 01 will be stopping at. Ben’s nifty camera work and editing, combined with Mark’s smooth and flawless style make this an absolute beauty to behold… Check it out.

GETwest from Ben Rowlands on Vimeo.


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