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Trials-Torque Articles

The 30-Year Road to Producing a World Champion
Relax to the Max!
Jake's World
Posting on Ihatove Website - Dancho and Mitsuo Back Home Safe & Sound
Nobukazu Ohtsuki
More Challenges for Takumi Narita
An Interview with Yasuo Manzawa - founder of the Ihatove Trial
Which Bike? A Beginner's Perspective by David Atwool
Oceania Championship - Tauranga 5 April 2007
Kiwirider - March 2007
Simon Wearmouth visits NonStop Adventure
The Nelson Mail- October 2006
The Nelson Mail - 23rd October 2006
Kiwi Rider - October 2006
Dirt Rider Downunder - September 2006
2006 Idemistsu Ihatove Trial - Japan
60th Anniversary Kaikoura 3-Day 2006
The Leader - June 2006
DirtRider DownUnder -Jan 2006
KiwiRider -Jan 2006
The Nelson Mail - 28th November 2005
The Nelson Mail - 18th November 2005
The Leader - 9th June 2005

New Zealand Trials News

Day One

1st September 2008
Peter, Takumi & Nick
Peter, Takumi & Nick

Yasuo Manzawa reported this morning that the first day of riding, although wet, was a hard fought competition between Takumi, Nozaki, Kuroyama, Ryo and Nick for top placings with Peter posting a really great result in the top 15 riders as the youngest entry, on a Scorpa 125 4-stroke (a different beast to his Montesa 315 2-stroke at home) and a first time competitor (in 2006 when he visited last time with the Oliver family he was too young to compete).

The Idemitsu Ihatove trial also runs with nonstop rules, so quite a different technique to New Zealand.

The weather made for slippery conditions in places, with the big hill climb particularly tricky for all riders. Nick & Peter using Takumi's bike had to accept defeat along with Takumi himself. The big smiles show their great enthusiasm for this event despite the rain!

Day One pre-event

31st August 2008
Maya reassures Nick & Peter
Maya reassures Nick & Peter

Before the event, Yasuo's daughter Maya, reassured the boys with her positive, fun attitude.

The group photo(see more images) shows the Classic class with the boys centre front with (left to right) Ryo, Peter, Kenichi Kuroyama, Yasuo, Fumitaka Nozaki and Nick. This class is for the riders with the most experience. The sections are the most difficult in the Trial.

The Neli/Budoli/Heamca/Trail bike Tour classes cater for all levels of riding ability with entries having reached in excess of 800 riders at its peak. In more recent years the entries have been steady between 500 and 600 riders.

The philosophy of this type of trial makes for the most enjoyable event in the world which we at NonStop intend to reproduce in Tasman in 2010.

» More images «

Idemitsu Ihatove update

30th August 2008
from left Ryo, Nick, Nozaki, Peter and Takumi
from left Ryo, Nick, Nozaki, Peter and Takumi

Yasuo Manzawa sent through some photos early this morning of yesterday's 'meet and greet' and scrutinising of bikes, which gave everyone a chance to catch up.

Among the people that Nick & Peter met were Nozaki (No.3 Japanese Champion), their old friends Takumi and Ryo Narita, along with their dad, Shozo and the familiar faces of Fujishu (Journalist), Kimura (Yamaha technical adviser to Scorpa) & Chie (event registrations).

The girls of the Idemitsu company (orange t-shirts) were on hand again for a photo opportunity with the boys (someone has to do it!).

It's looks like Ishiyama-san could be on a new Beta 4-stroke with long ride conversion this year.

Peter as NonStop representative for Stephen & Deborah signed the Japanese-NZ Friendship certificate for the riders who have kindly lent their bikes to the boys for this weekend's trial.

» More images «

Dining Korean style

29th August 2008
Dinner at Appi Hotel ,Korean style
Dinner at Appi Hotel ,Korean style

Nick and Pete dined out last night, the dinner was arranged by our good friend Ishiyama-san.
They all met at the Appi (Ski Resort) hotel and were treated to a Korean barbeque feast.
Yasuo informs us that when the stomachs were almost full, he introduced Stephen's latest email which he had just received that evening.

Then the boys listened to Yasuo with interest and had serious looks when they caught the spirit of what Stephen had to say -

"I have feelings at the moment which are a little hard to describe.

I think part of it is not sharing this with the boys and being there for them if need be.

The Boys spot their photo on this years poster
The Boys spot their photo on this years poster

However I am very pleased that they are there in such good hands and this experience will be fantastic for them both and very memorable.

I am so pleased that you have made this opportunity come true for them.

Please advise then well."

In the hallway of the hotel, the boys found their faces in the poster.
It looks like they had a really good time.

Today, they are going to Nanashigure to meet key men from Yamaha and prepare the bikes that they will be riding tomorrow and Sunday.

2008 Idemitsu Ihatove Trial sees the return of the Oliver boys!

28th August 2008
Boys greeting Dancho and Mitsuo
Boys greeting Dancho and Mitsuo

Nick & Peter Oliver have arrived at Nanashigure in Japan (the starting point of the Classic class of the Idemitsu Ihatove Trial) to meet the staff including Dancho & Mitsuo who recently visited Nelson, after a lunch stop in Morioka (the Capital of the Iwate Prefecture/District). Lunch was cooked eel (a delicacy in Japan).

They are all looking pleased to see each other again. They will notice a big difference in Peter who has grown a lot in 2 years.

Yasuo Manzawa then took them to Appi Hotel for a rest before a welcome dinner with Ishiyama-san, Rumi (get psyched Jake!),Chie etc.

First of the group photos
First of the group photos

The boys are set for an interesting time ahead with what Manzawa-san has arranged for the 20th Anniversary of the involvement of their largest sponsor Idemitsu.

Special guest riders including Kenichi Kuroyama and team mate Nozaki-san and Nick and Peters good friend Takumi Narita.

We will bring you more updates as they come to hand.

Relax to the Max!

24th August 2008
NonStop features in Straight On Magazine
NonStop features in Straight On Magazine

Relax to the Max!
Riding in New Zealand

By Shuji Fujita

It all began when a group of New Zealand riders were invited to the Idemitsu Ihatove Trial, and this grew into an exchange of riders between NZ and Japan. Now there is talk of a "NZ-version Ihatove Trial". As part of this initiative, Shuji Fujita accompanied members of the Ihatove organizing team to New Zealand and experienced Kiwi-style trials and riding areas. New Zealand is a fantastic location that surpasses even the original home of the Ihatove trial.

Lately there has been a lot of talk about "getting away from competition". I have long been focused on riding trials events, but soon I think I'd like to get away from competition too. It's true that I haven't ridden at championship level for many, many years. Once upon a time I was totally intent on competition, but I rode until I hit my own limits and then injury prompted me to take a break. However I still get enormous pleasure from trials, because I can enjoy riding around in the great outdoors.

My recent trip to New Zealand gave me a renewed sense of just how much fun that can be. I feel like it has broadened my horizons. Would you like a taste of that enjoyment? Would you like to take a wider perspective on the world of fun instead of getting hung up on competition? Here's a suggestion for really getting away from competition.

Team Ihatove at NonStop Trials Park
Team Ihatove at NonStop Trials Park

In recent times there has been a lot of very gloomy news, but sometimes when I look overseas I see that there are people enjoying trials riding in different environments and the thought of how this sport has spread around the world cheers me up. In Japan we are very limited for places to ride, but the world is full of fantastic locations we have never ridden in and never even seen. What's more, I believe that international exchange with overseas trials enthusiasts can help reinvigorate the Japanese trials scene.

Since Japan is an island, heading abroad is not always a simple matter, but the Ihatove trial and New Zealand provide an example of a steady exchange of riders.

Two years ago the Oliver family of NZ was invited to the 30th Idemitsu Ihatove Trial held in Iwate Prefecture. Amazingly, three generations of the Oliver family enjoy trials riding. What's more, all three generations boast national champions. So the family provided a great role model for the Ihatove Trial as it looked ahead to its 40th and 50th anniversaries in the future. As it happened, the 30-year-old Ihatove Trial also provided a good model for the Oliver family. Key family member Stephen (48) felt it would be great to hold a fun event like the Ihatove in NZ, and I was surprised to find that he is planning to hold a "NZ-version Ihatove" in three years' time. Perhaps we could call this a case of Japanese trials culture being exported.

The NZ trials scene is largely based around competition. There doesn't seem to have been anything quite like the Ihatove, which places priority on enjoying the scenery and the ride between sections. NZ does have the Kaikoura 3-day trial, which boasts a 62-year history, but apparently this has a slightly different atmosphere from the Ihatove.

As well as being a New Zealand champion, Stephen has ridden in the Scottish 6-day trial (SSDT). His sons Nicholas (19) and Peter (16) were planning to ride the SSDT this year, but after talking to Stephen they decided to enter the Ihatove instead. According to Stephen, they all felt this would be better for the boys' futures and better for both NZ and Japan. So Nick and Peter will be coming back to the Ihatove this year. They will ride in the 2-day Classic class, where they will enjoy competing against Takumi Narita, Kenichi Kuroyama and Fumitaka Nozaki.

Meanwhile, Ihatove Trial chairman Yasuo Manzawa and other members of the Ihatove staff have already been visiting NZ. On April 11-15 this year Ihatove chief Yasunori Iemura and organizing team member Mitsuo Nakamura were dispatched to NZ to share with Stephen and his team their know-how on hosting the Ihatove. I was lucky enough to have the chance of accompanying them to shoot video footage for TV Iwate (this footage will be included in a documentary about this year's event, which will be screened after it has been held on August 30-31).

Havelock venue spectacluar scenery
Havelock venue spectacluar scenery

The photographs on these pages just don't do justice to the wonders of NZ that we savored on this trip (but I hope you will take a good leisurely look at the pictures anyway).

NZ is a long island nation stretching from North to South, so its geography feels somehow familiar to Japanese, but since it is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to Japan. We went in spring, so in NZ it was autumn. We were in NZ for three days and we arrived in the South Island city of Nelson, where Stephen lives, after lunch on the first day. We went straight to 88 Valley, where Stephen has set up a trials park on a farm he has access to, and we rode around the hills until the sun went down.

On the morning of the second day we were shown around scenic harbour spots and the Nelson town centre. In the afternoon we were taken to an even bigger farm in a place called Havelock, where we rode to our hearts' content. The owner of the farm is a former trials rider who used to ride a Bultaco.

On the morning of the third day we went to see a museum housing a personal collection of cars and motorcycles put together by a man called Ray Win (85). After talking some more with Stephen and his team about the "NZ-version Ihatove", we headed homeward on an afternoon flight.

Stephen and the NonStop team really looked after us. The way they enjoyed their riding made me see things in a whole new light. Over the entire two days of riding, we never once rode anything like a trials section (in other words, riding in the same place several times and scoring points). We just said, "Let's go to the top of that hill!" and drank in the view from the top. Then we headed off up another hill. All this riding was done in a fun atmosphere, with people pulling big wheelies and so on. Of course it wasn't a question of competing to do the longest wheelie, we just did it for sheer fun. They really showed us how to take delight in riding around the great outdoors.

Stephen has tried all kinds of sports, including rugby, soccer, motocross and enduro, but he believes that trials is the best of them all. Stephen was a top motocross rider but comments that "when the competition gets too fierce there is a possibility of major injury. Trials doesn't have that kind of risk, and if we could arrange events that have a broader appeal, more people would get to enjoy the sport." That idea got him thinking about the "NZ-version Ihatove".

Great coverage taking prime position in magazines
Great coverage taking prime position in magazines

Stephen's friend David, who is fluent in Japanese, translated as Stephen explained his thoughts in more detail: "You ride very slowly in trials sections, but I think a lot of people aren't satisfied with only doing that kind of riding, and I feel the same way myself. Sometimes you want to go faster. People say, 'isn't it a bit boring just riding sections?' That's why we have the trials park at 88 Valley. People won't stick with trials for long if it's all just rigorous training - they'll lose interest. When I'm with my son Peter at 88 Valley, about 10% of our time is spent on focused training, and 90% is spent riding faster and having fun. If you don't do that young people get fed up. Regular trials clubs in NZ don't do much of that kind of thing. There's not much chance to go for a blast and have some fun, so teenagers drift away to motocross because it's more exciting. When I was competing in trials championships, I was doing motocross and enduro at the same time. So I had a good balance and that experience taught me what young people want. Many trials riders in NZ have only ever done trials. Trials has the image of a safe and secure sport that anyone can do. The downside of that is that young people think it doesn't sound very exciting. However, trials skills are useful for learning to ride at speed, and you can use them if you cross over to motocross or enduro. Our friend Josh Coppins, currently competing in the world motocross champs, is a good example of this. When he comes back to NZ each year, he comes to 88 Valley and does trials training."

Regardless of whether or not Stephen has "got away from competition" himself, he is excited by this new challenge of communicating the joys of a broader kind of trials riding to his sons' generation. I felt hugely energized by this trip to NZ to interview him.

Posing for Fujishu's camera
Posing for Fujishu's camera

If you are tired of your life at home, why not take the plunge and try a trials spree in New Zealand? I bet you will come home refreshed after experiencing a whole new world. The entire menu of activities we enjoyed on this trip can be experienced on "NonStop Adventure" tours run by Stephen and his team. These include everything from rental bikes and riding gear to trials training and transport to and from the airport and your accommodation (which can be arranged in a B&B run by a Japanese family). If you want to know more, check out the NonStop Adventure website.

The other day a friend came to ask my advice: "I want to ride the Ihatove, but the Hiemca class is already full up. The Classic and Budoli classes are too hard for me, and the Neli class is too easy. What should I do?" "Why not go to New Zealand?" I suggested. "How about aiming to take part in the 1st 'NZ-version Ihatove'?"

Let me finish with a joyful comment made by Ihatove Chief Yasunori Iemura: "If the 'NZ-version Ihatove' comes about, when everything closes down in Iwate because of the snow, we'll be able to enjoy an Ihatove-style ride in New Zealand!!"

2008 Ihatove Trial program

21st August 2008
2008 Ihatove Trial program
2008 Ihatove Trial program

This is an English translation supplied by David Atwool giving an outline of the page Ishi sent us from this years 2008 Ihatove Trial program

Two years ago the Oliver family took part in the 30th Anniversary Idemitsu Ihatove Trial. When Allan Oliver (71), the oldest member of family, finished riding the Neli course, his comment was: "Great concept!" Now Stephen Oliver (48), a key member of the family, is planning to hold a New Zealand version of the Ihatove Trial (scheduled for 2010). Stephen decided to do this because he strongly empathized with the Ihatove Trial concept of an event that anyone could enjoy. Iwate can take pride in the fact that our 30th anniversary event was highly rated by overseas riders and that for the first time another event is being planned based on the same concept.

Two of Stephen's sons, Nick and Peter, are coming to Iwate again to learn more in preparation for the NZ Ihatove Trial. Look forward to seeing them ride in the Classic grade with Takumi Narita, Kenichi Kuroyama and Fumitaka Nozaki.

Jake Whitaker Making his way in the World

20th August 2008
Jake under the watchful eye of MX star Josh Coppins
Jake under the watchful eye of MX star Josh Coppins

Jake Whitaker Making his way in the World : KIWI RIDER Sept 2008

The NonStop team have been following young Jake Whitaker closely over the past few months as he has taken on the best in the trials world.

From a very young age Jake has wanted to live his dream of being a top rider and has proven this desire beyond a doubt as he moved quickly through all the grades on offer in NZ, becoming NZ Expert champion in 2007. Jake was the youngest rider ever to have won this prestigious title.

While his competitors had the luxury of riding larger 250cc bikes, to Jake's credit he took the title on a smaller 125cc machine, which is the largest capacity allowed in the world youth grade he is competing in this year.

After many hours and many phone calls, before we knew it Jake was packing his bags and flying off to Europe to join one of the biggest and best-run teams on the world stage; the very professional Future Trial Racing Team.

Jake was asked to ride the newly developed Future Trial Racing Team HM Future 125 4T four-stroke, derived from the tried and proven Honda 4RT trials motorcycle. Future Trial Racing Team also produce a 300cc version of this machine, which Jake's team mates James Dabill and Alex Wigg are currently campaigning.

At NonStop we considered that involvement with Future Trials Racing Team was a good option for Jake as the team is very solid and professionally run. However, we also knew that as the only rider campaigning a four-stroke bike in this 125 class, Jake would not only have to overcome the challenges of being away from home and family for the first time, but would also have to adjust to a machine that even more talented riders such as Patrick Smage chose not to compete on.

Jake in full flight, Karl  and Josh watch in amazement
Jake in full flight, Karl and Josh watch in amazement

The HM Future 125 4T has proven very reliable to date as Jake has competed in and finished all of his scheduled rides both in Italian championships and world youth championships. Having ridden four-stroke machines myself, however, I was aware that Jake was going to have to change his riding style on the new machine, as the four-strokes have always been heavier. Jake's bike weighs in at 71kgs. Since the engine only fires half as often as his competitors' two-stroke machines, he is also faced with totally different power characteristics. This all equates to the rider having to work harder to achieve the same result as that achieved on a 125 two-stroke.

Even top senior rider and 7-times World Champion Dougie Lampkin took a couple of seasons to adjust to his new four-stroke machine after having ridden two-strokes his entire career. Honda Racing Centre (HRC) have spent huge sums on development over several seasons to make their four-stroke competitive against two-strokes, in order to win back the world title on their works HRC four-stroke machine.

We believed it would be a huge achievement for Jake, as one of the youngest competitors, to finish consistently within the top 15 in the youth world championship in his first season. Many of his rivals this season will be leaving the youth grade at the end of the year, making Jake a top contender for the 2009 season.

When Josh Coppins visited NonStop to speak with Jake before his departure, he encouraged him to focus on his riding as much as possible, since it is easy to be side-tracked by the environment, language and details of the events. Josh is based quite near to Jake's Italian home and encouraged Jake to contact him about any difficulties he encountered either with language or protocol, as he has spent many years learning the ropes himself. Josh has invited Jake, his minder Karl Clarke and other members of TRW to his motocross events when a gap in competition has allowed them time out.

To our delight, Jake has far exceeded our expectations and is currently running in the top ten with an outstanding ride in Japan putting him in 4th position as he ended round five. He was also very popular with the Japanese crowd, who held up banners cheering him on. Slogans like 'Go Jake', 'Get psyched Jake' and 'Go kiwi' all added to the wonderful atmosphere at Motegi in Japan. Jake commented how encouraging this was, and in part he attributes his great result to the enthusiastic fan club he had all that weekend.

Jake and Josh with members of the NonStop team
Jake and Josh with members of the NonStop team

We at NonStop would like to take this opportunity to wish Jake all the best for the remainder of the season and congratulate him on his efforts so far. He is an asset to motorcycling in New Zealand and a great ambassador for our sport and country.

This would not have been possible without the support of his parents Michelle and Pat Whitaker and his minder Karl Clark and his family, who are acting as a home away from home, along with all the text/phone support Jake receives from back home. Great Effort Team! We look forward to the coming months.

Marlborough Club Trial

19th August 2008
New Scorpa 200 performs well
New Scorpa 200 performs well

Marlborough Club Trial Report
By David Atwool

Torrential rain, an icy howling wind and snow on the hills just above the venue: driving into Long Valley to set up sections on the day before the event, things didn't look good. Luckily the weather soon picked up, and August 17 was so warm that riders were peeling off layers of clothing and basking in sunshine - a welcome break from several weeks of the wettest and wildest weather the Top of the South has seen in years.

Debut ride for Scorpa 200
Debut ride for Scorpa 200

It was my first trial on the new Scorpa SY200F, which proved to be a great clubman bike. Just as rider-friendly as the 125, but with an extra bit of power that is especially handy when climbing. I finished the day with a high score but a big smile.

The Marlborough mob was joined by Nelson riders Stephen Oliver, Bryan Penny, and Gordon and Callum Anderson. Callum is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with - watch out, guys! Stephen set himself a big challenge by turning up to ride Intermediate on a Honda TLM 220.

The result was impressive and frequently entertaining, as Steve consistently took the bike places a TLM has no right to go.

Another excellent day's riding in top company, and a good chance for everyone to get in some serious practice before the upcoming Nelson rounds of the South Island Champs.

Building Sustainable Communities:

18th August 2008
Yasuo Manzawa  gives lecture at Iwate university
Yasuo Manzawa gives lecture at Iwate university

Student Feedback from Iwate University Lecture

Iwate University recently introduced a practical course called "Building Sustainable Communities" and as part of the programme invited Idemitsu Ihatove Trial Chairman Yasuo Manzawa to give a lecture entitled "Fun Sports Tourism in Iwate - 32 Years of the Ihatove Trial". After showing a short excerpt from the 30th anniversary DVD, Manzawa spoke about the nature and history of the event for about an hour, illustrating his talk with numerous slides. Some days after the lecture he received feedback from 54 students, including the following comments.

"This was a wonderful lecture and all the information was valuable. I was totally absorbed by it. I was deeply impressed by your idea that 'there are no barriers when you are doing something you love'".

"The DVD and photos made me interested in trials. The tremendous smiling faces in all the photos made it clear how wholeheartedly everyone enjoyed this event. This was a good opportunity to find out about a different way of building sustainable communities from those we have studied up to now."

"As one photo following another, I noticed that everyone was grinning and I clearly understood that the organizers and the participants were all really enjoying themselves. I got a good sense of how sport can contribute to regional development by attracting people from all over the country. "

"At first glance I thought there was no connection between regional development and sports or motorbikes, so I got a big surprise as a result of the lecture. I saw that this event came about because of Iwate's beautiful natural environment, the cooperation of all kinds of people, and above all the enthusiasm of the organizers and other motorcycle-lovers. It makes me very happy to think that people from other regions and other countries have come to love Iwate through this event and that they want to come here again."

"Sports tourism capitalizes on Iwate's natural environment and is a form of tourism that is difficult for other areas to imitate. It's probably one of the most eco-friendly and fulfilling kinds of tourism. It's likely to involve only the cost of transport, event fees and accommodation, with no charge at all for seeing the sights - this completely overturns my idea that we needed to construct something making use of Iwate's natural assets. Maybe I hadn't noticed it because I live here, but for people coming from elsewhere Iwate's natural environment holds plenty of appeal without any embellishments. In the process of talking to others, networks are created. So people sharing their memories in this way will make other people want to come here. The lecture gave me a keen sense of how this can lead to sustainable tourism and a sustainable economy."

After reading the student feedback, Manzawa commented:
"Even though it was only a short lecture, I'm delighted that the students got such a good understanding of what the Idemitsu Ihatove Trial is all about."

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