A word from the commissioner on the NUMBERS of GRADES in Moto Trials.

Hi all    Some reading for the weekend…………                                                           


A word from the commissioner on the NUMBERS of GRADES in Moto Trials. 

At present I am fielding a reasonable amount of anguish regarding the so called large number of ‘Grades’ that we have introduced to our sport and there is belief that you made yourselves well heard at the recent NZ champs regarding your ‘plight’.  I do hear you!           

However, equally loud have been the advocates for the extra ‘lines ‘that have evolved over the years.            

Recently we have added the green ‘line’ and not so long ago, the orange ‘line’.            

The addition of the ‘green line’ seems to be irking more than it should. Those that ride the ‘green line’ are mostly very happy with its introduction [and that is a reasonable number of riders]. These are riders who are more content in this ‘line’ than in either the ‘blue’ or ‘yellow’ line. This would suggest to me that it “works”.           

I hear also: More trophies are needed. More pegs are needed. And we [MNZ] could have sorted the issue better by rearranging existing grades.           

Much discussion was had before we introduced the new ‘green’ line [the only one initiated in my time as commissioner]. The need for more trophies is unfortunate, although this ‘line’ originally complied with a championship grade which would mean MNZ assistance. The need for more pegs was met with the requirement that only one or two pegs extra per section be used.            Then there is the ‘argument’ from riders who are adamant that we should not have a limit on numbers of ‘green’ arrows [per section]. To them my rebuttal is that to allow an indefinite amount of green arrows would not only add to the burden of section setting it would tend toward a complete separate line that could end up as similar to the ‘yellow’ line. To put it another way I would concede that primarily, in the average section, there is probably only room for  ‘blue’, ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ divisions with ‘green’ and ‘orange’ being ‘add ons’ [as often as not the green arrow is placed beside a yellow one].However I do believe that this is a document that will not convince all.           

In summary. What is really hurting? Are you grieved because you have to carry 2 green arrows per section? Perhaps it is the difficulty ‘setting’ the green arrows? Is it because your club has to buy 3 more trophies? Is it because of the confusion that has occurred when a rider is in one grade at one Trial and another grade at the next? Or are you grieved because you believe we could have made different changes i.e. easing ‘red’ and easing ‘yellow’*. And to those who want more arrows…..If the section is not challenging enough with the introduction of one/two arrows maybe consideration should be made to move to the next level?

[* for those who are interested on my thoughts re different changes read section at the end]            

We [I did not make these decisions alone] put much thought into your contentment and I think we struck a “happy medium”. Indeed I see mostly contented riders at championship events. I ask you to think hard and long about what is really making you unhappy about the numbers and levels of grades and give me a constructive reply.           

Just remember these things:

         Not everyone can end the day with a loss of only 20pts. Some need to lose 80pts 

          Trophies don’t need to cost $100s 

         I believe we have a ‘way to go’ before we have similar standards of section setting grading in all corners of NZ. Let us not confuse numbers of grades [which is the above topic] with ‘standards’ of grades which is a topic discussed at AGM workshop with reasonable outcomes. 

         There will always only be a few elite riders, many average riders and a few poor riders. That is just a fact of life. [the middle grades will always have the greater numbers]


Let us consider what some of you were asking for as a solution to the so called ‘Presidents ‘who wanted this ‘in between’ ‘line’. Your suggestion of easing the red and yellow lines has merit but I am wondering if you have considered the logistics:           

Most riders are dissatisfied with an event if they have lost more than 3pts per section or less than .25 pt per section [I personally think I have got it right when the riders, that I feel are appropriately riding their correct class, are losing between 20 and 80 pts at a trial that I am responsible for].           

I refer you again to an aforementioned point: All of the middle grades/classes will contain most of the riders. [Ref. the “bell curve of distribution”]            

Because of this it would be unthinkable that there would be the same number of Jake Whitaker’s as there are John Lawton’s [who happened to be the ‘median’ competitor at NZ champs]           

Whilst there is some room to fine tune each existing grade [and I think there would be universal agreement that ‘red’ should be eased] if you look at the results of Pioneer’s NZ champs the scores indicated that all was fairly healthy in the area of rider classes and scores. [Perhaps there is an indicator that blue was a little easy for some but with present rules regarding the Junior grade and the absence of a social grade this was understandable]                                   

I quote day 2: 

            Lowest score                       Highest score                       Number in class

Expert            8                                              144*                                      3

A grade         39*                                         96                                           6

Inters             16*                                         92                                        22

Pres                1*                                           75                                        17

Club/Jun       0                                              113*                                   24 

*   indicates rider does not always ride this line

You may view this chart different to me but I see a need to ease A grade to foster a little more advancement into that grade and maybe the orange grade would have more riders as well if eased but this is the end of the sport that is fiercely driven and when these guys are asked where to place the pegs [and us mere mortals don’t know any better] they give themselves some crowd thrilling ‘stuff’.           

By pulling some more riders from Inters to ride ‘A’ you could then ease ‘yellow’ line as well but remember here you have a grade of 22 [at NZ champs] who all lost less than 92 [day 2 again] and none of them wanted to ride the ‘Prezzies’ line. They would be happy with a minor fine tune/ease and a reduction of numbers to say 15 riders. This may see some of the existing ‘Prezzies’ elevating to Inters BUT would NOT lure the majority that way. Most Prezzies are happy with the low risk environment of the ‘green’ line and favour its inception even knowing that they may well be competitive in the ‘Inter’ grade.           

All of the above is in the hands of the section setters. You have had no mandate from MNZ to make ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ as difficult as they are. We attempted to put ‘levels’ on section setting at the AGM workshop this winter and you have approval to ease these grades.           

Next year other riders [under 40yrs] will be able to compete in the ‘green’ line [because it is available, because they wanted to and because it makes stepping stone sense] It will now be known as C grade. Prezzy trophies will be awarded to those over 40 in this grade by MNZ.

This by no means expends all that I think on the subject but by now you are all sick of reading. With discussions that are circulating at present on alternative systems it may well be that we can implement a restructure which could take most of the anomalies out of grading/classing issues. But for now I sincerely wish that the sport can move forward in a way that while it will not meet with everyone’s approval you will see that I am doing my best to identify the majority and you will ALL support that decision. May democracy rule?                                               

Jim Henderson 

A word from the commissioner on the NUMBERS of GRADES in Moto Trials.
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