Known as the "Moreland System," this scoring replaces the conventional 1, 2, 3, 5 with a series of gates within the section. These gates are all of the same value. The number of gates in the section is arbitrary. The maximum total value of a section will be around 5 to 7 points. The section is still bounded by the normal red and blue or white boundaries and conventional start/ finish gates are used. In a trial scored under the Moreland Gate System riders are free to choose their own path through each section. There will be several obstacles (gates) to choose from in each section. The rider gains one bonus point for each gate completed, but must ride from in-gate to out-gate entire section without dabbing. If the rider dabs even once, all score is lost for that ride. High score wins.
1. The rider may choose to ride any or all of the gates. Many combinations are possible.
2. The rider must enter each gate from the start side. This is the side with the gate marking visible, and must obviously go between a matched pair of markers.
3. Riders may go through a gate only once, and may not cross their path or go out of bounds to enter a gate. All modern trials skills may be used; stopping in balance, hopping, backing up, etc.
Only totally clean rides are scored; i.e. no errors or failures anywhere in the section. Once the rider enters the section he can attempt any or all gates but only a clean ride from start to finish is counted. Any error results in a no score for that attempt. The rider with the HIGHEST SCORE will be the winner for the class.
Since it is impossible for an observer to consistently make this determination the only rational solution is to eliminate the necessity. Ideally, only clean, error free attempts would count. Two scores - 0 for a failure and 1 for a clean are required. Only minor scoring rules for ties, etc. would change. This would be the simplest and most logical way to eliminate the 'stop' problem with it's limiting effect on the sport and the '3' which involves no skill and to require clean rides which is the true measure of ability in the sport. That proposal, however, has in the past been dismissed as unnecessary, unacceptable or too extreme. To minimize the effects of future shock the following system satisfies the above criteria but offers a more interesting opportunity to both the competitors and spectators. This system shifts the responsibility for failure to the competitor, it minimizes the necessity for the observer to make subjective or indeterminate decisions. In addition it eliminates the '3' call, requires a clean ride, is easier and more interesting for the spectators and, most importantly, allows the most skillful rider to win. These attributes should help the sport toward the prominence and support it needs.
For the past several years I have been working on this problem and several other schemes have been considered or tested. Such as:
Known locally as the "Moreland System," this scoring replaces the conventional 1, 2, 3, 5 with a series of gates within the section. These gates are of different values depending on the difficulty or arrangement. We have chosen 1, 2, 3 as gate values to keep the observer's job easy. The number of gates in the section is arbitrary. We, again, to keep the observer's job easy, have limited the maximum total value of the section to 10 points. The section is still bounded by the normal red and blue boundaries and conventional start/ finish gates are used. The first illustration will show a generalized layout and some possible rider paths. Other paths are possible within the following rules.
Pro: Very well defined objective puts total burden of performance on rider. Observer only makes calls on dabs or out of bounds. Observer makes no subjective calls except at entrance/ exit (front axle in or out). The basic goal of the sport - clean rides - is rewarded.
Con: It has been suggested that riders will not attempt to gain the maximum for the section or may not attempt certain gates because the risk (section score) does not justify the possible gain (gate score). We did not see this occurring. Those riders that were reasonably confident they could clean a gate had to make the attempt in order to gain on their competitors.
In conventional trials, the riders tend to over value their skill and establish less stringent criteria for success. On a difficult obstacle merely getting through (a '3') is deemed successful or justifying a reward. This system raises the standard to the alleged goal of trials - a clean ride. We are quite certain all riders will attempt the maximum they think they are capable of and the scores will reflect their true capability.
Several alternate plans have been considered.
After testing several methods we think the best system would use 3 different colored arrows - orange = 3, green = 2, and yellow = 1, printed on one side of rigid cards. The configuration providing adequate information and minimum confusion:
The number states the gate value and aids colorblind competitor. The same marker is used on each side of the gate. Tape used for gate control should be the same color as the gate cards and ideally, would also be imprinted with the gate value.
Obviously in #2 it is not possible to ride more than one gate since there is no 'free' space between gates, or boundaries. #3 is permissible. To prevent #3, white tape can be placed to block, in any gate configuration, free spaces. Gates can be extended or restricted using tape the same color as the gate to include certain combinations of obstacles, to cause the rider to include certain areas in his ride, to limit positioning for the next obstacle or to limit a rider to a particular approach. This is illustrated in #4. In addition the section boundaries can be routed to control the rider, as in #5.
This system allows greater use of less suitable terrain by rewarding a difficult approach but allowing other options. A gate may be of high value not because the terrain within the gate is difficult but because it increases the path length, the turns required, or the difficulty of another obstacle.
In illustration #6, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 points are possible. None of the obstacles
might be very difficult but to gain additional points requires a longer path with
sharp turns. A rider must be proficient in even the most basic skills lest he dab
in the "easy" parts and forfeit the section.
Long hill climb or creek sections can be used by placing the gates to allow the use of fast riding techniques to gain advantage in timed sections. See Illustration #7.
Many combinations of gates and values are possible. Many of the illustrations only show three gates being used. The terrain and the imagination of the Clerk of the Course offer many opportunities. Illustration #8 shows there is no problem with multiple gate combinations totaling more than 10 points. The rider will choose the combination giving him the best opportunity to score 10 points. He may ride additional gates with the attendant risk to improve that possibility, but can only score a maximum of IO points.
Another feature of the system that became apparent during testing is that the riders will not attempt any gates they think are impossible or dangerous, thereby minimizing the effect of inexperienced or perverse Clerks of the Course and the weather.
In single class or level trials- i.e. world and national championship, etc. the system ranks the riders in finishing order. The current Championship points system can be applied. For multi-class trials - club, regional, etc. where different skill levels are involved - ex. novice, intermediate, expert, etc. the riders performance on the day determines his "class" by the following method. The total point spread from highest to lowest for the event is divided by the number of classes, normally contested in the area the organizing club represents. The riders skill level is determined by the fraction his score falls in. Example: Event is run with four classes or levels of expertise novice, intermediate, advanced and expert. The best score for this event is 432, the lowest is 72, so, 432 - 72 = 360 / 4 = 90. Quotients would be rounded up or down to the nearest integer. The lowest class will be non-uniform but of no real consequence in the outcome.
Each trial will produce different "class" breaks depending on the event and the number and skill of the riders competing. Each rider is compared to the best on that day. Season ranking is determined by the event rank most often obtained- ex. 7 events in the intermediate rank, 5 in the advanced. Competitor would be classified as an intermediate rider by that organizing body.
The advantage at the amateur, club or training level is that a rider can
attempt any gate or combination based on his assessment of his skill. He can
progress through the ranks or classes based on his demonstrated skill. Because
cleans are required, each skill must be mastered before the rider can use it
effectively for score. The rider is not forced upward in rank nor can he arbitrarily
move up in rank title. When an exceptional rider from another area or
competition level (regional, national, world) competes all local competitors are
measured against this performance and over time a more absolute assessment
of rider skill level will be determined.
After thinking over the results and comments, the rider and observer actions, and the possible effects on the sport, we feel the test trials offered at least the following conclusions:
Since it is impossible for the observer to determine the instantaneous position of the motorcycle in relation to some point or line in the section positional criteria cannot be used to determine score objectively or with the required consistency.
Except for the first test trial we have used a rational based on direction. The fundamental premise is that the rider must pass through the gate from the marked or entrance side. Certain requirements and limitations have been incorporated to maintain the intent of the sport and to minimize conflicting or confusing rules.
Gate scoring rules:
Since gate score is based solely on the act of passing through the gate from the marked side to the unmarked side the rider can drive through the gate in the forward direction, back through the gate in the forward direction or drive through, back through and then re-drive through - all acceptable attempts. However, to not reintroduce the position dilemma and to keep the observers job as simple as possible we have chosen not to award or delete gate score for initial entry from the wrong (exit) side. This includes both driving and backing. The illustrations may help clarify this.
The paths in diagrams 1, 2, and 3 are awarded 3 points for the gate. In diagram 5 and 6 no score is awarded because the initial pass through the gate Is from the wrong, side. Or. in other words, in the wrong direction. No points are awarded in diagrams 6 and 7 because the final pass through this gate is in the wrong direction.
The key controlling element in these scenarios is that of relative direction. The observer cannot decide whether the rider has passed some point but he can tell without question from which direction the bike entered and left the gates. Backing through the gate from the forward side (diagram 2) is valid within the intent of these rules. The initial direction and path along with the final direction and path must be considered in validating a score at a gate.
Allowing score for backing or driving in from the 'wrong' side of the gate brings in the position problem again, i.e. did he back in far enough to be 'in' or through the gate" Again, an indeterminate call. We chose to allow the rider to back or drive through a gate from the wrong direction without penalty and without score since- 1) We have authorized backward travel in the section and we don't want to complicate that rule or the observers job, and 2) we cannot ascertain position absolutely so we can not decide whether the rider is in the gate or not so we cannot fairly penalize or award the rider.
It is important to remember that in most sections the rider will attempt the gates in the simplest and easiest way. Even though it is allowable to drive through gates backward or to back through gates the parts of the section other than the gates or the required maneuvers may pose considerable opportunity for failure. Extra turns and travel will only occasionally be to the rider's advantage.
It is our intent to conduct several trials during the coming season to further test these ideas and rules.
We think this system eliminates all requirements for subjective or indeterminate decisions by the observer except for the start/finish determination and out-of- bounds calls. Both of these can be minimized or eliminated by proper and intelligent section layout. The observer must only ascertain the rider's direction through the gate and if he dabs or totally falls (crashes). We believe this system can make the sport more interesting for the spectator, easier for the observer, and fairer and more challenging for the competitor.