When it comes to motorcycle trials Hawke's Bay builder Jeff March has experience on his side.
March, who turns 65 next week, has been competing since 1981. This weekend he will be among the host province's hopes in the Presidents grade when the AdrenalinR Mufflers-sponsored New Zealand Trials Championships are staged at three different venues from Saturday until Monday.
It's obvious he has learnt over the years that it doesn't pay to talk up one's chances of title glory despite the fact he has been in Presidents grade for eight years and won a couple of rounds on the North Island circuit.
"I haven't been riding that much this year but I will give it a good go," March said.
The fact three generations of his family will be competing is of special significance to him. His son Luke, a former Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay swimming representative, will be among the Expert A grade starters, and grandson Ben, a first-year trialist, will start in the Minis grade.
Whangarei-based for the past 10 years 34-year-old Luke has won the A grade previously but like his old man wasn't too optimistic about his chances this weekend.
"There's a lot of good riders in my class and I haven't ridden that much. I'm more focused on getting Ben started," Luke explained.
Nine-year-old Ben has done a couple of North Island series events in Tauranga and Hamilton and is relishing the sport his father took up as an eight-year-old.
"Last week Ben had a go on a 300cc two-stroke bike. It won't be long and he will be asking for an upgrade from his little electric bike. That's the beauty of trials ... when you're starting out there's no noise and you can train in your backyard with a couple of pellets. You don't need a lot of space and often farmers don't see where you've been when you use their land," Luke added.
While the March trio will be the only Hawke's Bay family with three generations represented two other families will match the feat. Paraparaumu's John Lawton, son Stuart and grandson James have entered as have Tauranga's Nigel Shilton, son Phillip and grandson Cayden.
Event organiser, Hawke's Bay's seven-time former winner of the premier title, Warren Laugesen, said it shows that trials is "a great activity for all the family".
"We are pretty excited to have a new minis class this year too. We want to encourage newcomers to the sport because this is a potential growth area.
"This is where we offer something for the next generation of riders coming through. It would cater for riders aged up to 14 years and allows for electric and petrol-engine bikes. The courses laid out for the minis won't be too daunting," Laugeson explained.
"It will certainly be challenging for the senior riders, with tricky terrain set to feature steep rocks and treacherous creek beds."
Laugesen said two of the venues had never before been used for national-level trial events, so there may be a few surprises in store for the riders. He pointed out 50 senior riders and 20 mini class riders had entered.
The event runs from Saturday through until Monday and will test elite riders over multiple laps on each of the three days – with each lap including a dozen difficult sections – and at three entirely different locations.
Wellington's Dylan Ball is tipped to lead the charge to the top of the rankings in the premier Experts grade. Other fancied contenders include Stuart Lawton, Taranaki's Matt Foster and Canterbury's Jules Huguenin.
The 15-year-old Ball has ridden internationally and he won last year's North Island champs in the Expert grade and the Junior grade at last year's nationals. Others tipped to perform well include Otago's father and son pair Gavin and Blake Fox, Canterbury's Glenn Smith, Wellington's Carl Robson, Manawatu's Kevin Pinfold, Waikato's Stephen Armistead, Northcote's Ray Skinner, Hunterville's Hannah Rushworth, Taranaki's Daniel Herbert and Kaikoura's David Trewin.
Australian rider Kevin Zarcynski won the main trophy last year, but he will not be back to defend the title. Laugesen won't be competing as he is the clerk of the course.
Motorcycling New Zealand trial commissioner Paul Jackson said the sport was looking healthy and the introduction of the mini class was part of the plan to give it a boost.
In addition to the Experts and Minis grades, the competition will include A Grade, Intermediate, Presidents, Sportsman, Clubman, Twin Shock, Women's and Junior grades.
Run by the Hawke's Bay Motorcycle Club, day one of the event will be staged at Tangoio on Saturday, day two at Waitara Road, off the Napier-Taupo Highway and it will end with day three at Dartmoor on Monday.