What we donít know about trials riding by Kenny Belaey

Barry Viloria on Nov 29, 2016 09:23 PM
What we donít know about trials riding by Kenny Belaey
While on a mountain bike, he crossed the French Alps through a slack rope. The famed French cyclist recently visited Manila to introduce us the sport. (Photos by Vyn Radovan)

It’s a sport inspired by motorcycle trials, only with the rider atop the mountain bike as he slithers or flies through an obstacle course. It’s a little less noisy from motorcycle trials, too, the sound from the revving motorbike’s engine replaced by hip-hop or EDM in the background masking the hush landing of the mountain bike. What else do we know about trials riding apart from this? Not so much compared to what we know about the more mainstream sports, until the PhilBike Expo 2016—headlined by multi-decorated trials rider Kevin Belaey—happened last weekend at the SMX Convention Center.

Marking its third year as the biggest and only event for cycling hobbyists, the recently concluded PhilBike Expo not only became the venue for enthusiasts and international entrepreneurs from the cycling trade to come together. It also featured world-acclaimed flatland riders Viki Gomez and “Superkids” Yu Shoji and Takumi Isogai, next to the Belgian “magician” Belaey.

What are at stake in trials riding? After seeing him wow the crowd last Sunday afternoon, we chatted with the 33 year-old Belaey (he lived 24 of it in the sport!) only to be convinced that it might be worth trying!

1. It’s not that dangerous.
Yes, you read it right. Belaey, who is a multiple World, World Cup Winner, and European champ having survived two injuries, would attest to this. Riding a bike through urban traffic? That’s even more risky as you against uncontrolled elements, he says. Here, “You build it up and it’s like you go step-by-step, you can’t run when you can’t walk.” Belaey first broke his scaphoid and got off the bike for six months. He recovered, broke his labrum (the ring in his shoulder that holds it together), and then worked on his recovery. Obviously, there are risks so this daredevil advises, “I’m not that kind of guy that will try something without knowing the risks. I want to do the risk calculation, and I want to know what I’m starting with and I want to know more where I’m going to end with. If I fall, it’s because I made a mistake, so you always have to be alert with yourself.”

2. It gives you the right adrenaline rush.
Just because it’s not as fraught with danger as, say, motorcycle trials, it means that it’s boring. It’s the tricks that make it exciting for Belaey. “It looks dangerous but it’s like, you’re doing a back-flip in a hundred meter cliff, it’s not the same adrenaline rush like you ‘I’m glad I’m still alive’ thing; every time you do it, you feel the satisfaction. It’s like you fulfill yourself with adrenaline ‘cause you did something new.”

3. It also tickles your competitive spirit.
Trials riding is not for the faint of heart, or to anyone who thinks it’s boring. Belaey may already have notched himself various records now, but that didn’t stunt his career. “Balance,” a video released in September last year, showed him wheeling through the rocky French Alps. A good, spine-chilling 40 seconds of it featured him crossing a slack rope, looking over the ravine. “I’m very competitive—it’s now a lifestyle. Even if I say I’m not, I am very, because in 2012 after my wrist injury, I wanted to be fit, I wanted to be the best, I wanted to be really in the game; I kept winning titles, and I want to just win more, more, more and then. I broke my wrist, I was like, ‘I am gonna go and do less competition,” says Belaey, who now divides his time competing and promoting the sport through shoots and Red Bull- and other brand-initiated commitments.

4. It encourages you to be fit.
Like any other sport, trials riding also moves your body around to get you in lightweight shape. Belaey used to work out only his upper body and legs, until he learned along that way that core stability is as important. “You’re always in the same position, but it’s important when you’re off the bike to keep your back muscle in check.” Belaey, who is in perfect shape at 80 kg at 5’10”, right keeps himself fit through TRX. His diet of choice includes chicken and protein-packed veggies, any artificial sugars, I don’t eat pork, I don’t eat dairy unless it’s lactose-free.” He jokes, “The good thing about eliminating food that much is that I can walk into grocery stores with 95% of food that I won’t eat, so I buy less.”

5. It can get costly.
Belaey got no holds barred on how much is usually spent to pursue the hobby. “It’s a niche sport,” he explains, “so the bikes they are really expensive... In BMX, you can get one for USD 300, if that’s not the case, you have to spend a minimum of USD 600 to 750 up to USD 2,500.” He keeps an Endura bike for mountain biking, costing around EUR 6,000 euro. His trials bike is worth EUR 2,500.

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