Trialmotor: The BEST way to introduce your kids to motorbikes

Last October we drove to the northern half of Portugal to visit a place called Trialmotor run by Filipe Paiva. It was a chance to see if BattleKid could handle a mini motorbike and, to see if he would listen to instructions. The idea being that if he did, on both accounts, Father Christmas might bring him his first motorbike. Today I want to share with you why I believe Trialmotor is the best way to introduce your kids to motorbikes, especially if you are living in Portugal.trialmotor - the best way to introduce your kids to motorbikes - blog graphic

Now, if you haven’t guessed by now, we are a biking family. Motorbikes that is. BattleDad got his motorbike licence over ten years ago and bought his first proper motorbike while we were living in Wales, a Yamaha FZ6. Since then he’s had many different bikes, and I’ve enjoyed riding pillion. When BattleKid was less than 18 months old, he was introduced to MotoGP one Sunday and his love for motorbikes was born. We never pushed it onto him, it happened quite naturally. We would watch MotoGP most Sunday afternoons when it was on, and he would be in the living room with us.

He soon got into motorbikes, and at aged 2, he got a balance bike, which he renamed his ‘motorbike’. Aged 3 saw Father Christmas bring a peddle bike and within six months, BattleKid was cycling independently on his ‘motorbike’. BattleDad wanted to progress him to a kid’s motorbike and he started doing a lot of research. He realised that trials bikes might be the way forward and he eventually happened upon Trialmotor, run by Filipe.

Trialmotor, based out of Lousã, in northern Portugal is the passion and commitment of Filipe. After doing a Master’s Degree in Pre-Historic Archaeology and Rock Art, during which time he would ride his trials bikes into the mountains to do some of his research, Filipe started an online business (www.trialmotor.com) for trials bikes and equipment, and it became successful, very quickly.

As well as having a successful online business, Filipe also became a very success trials rider, competing in competitions throughout Europe and becoming the Portuguese Trials National team rider and captain. He opened his training school and academy at his home in Lousã, where riders of all ages and experience can be introduced to trials bikes and receive coaching from him. And it was for this reason we headed north.

We left the Algarve on the Friday at lunchtime and drove four and a half hours with BattleKid to stay at Filipe’s family business, the Quintal de Além do Ribeiro, a rural hotel from the XVIII century.  After meeting Filipe and checking in, we enjoyed a short visit to the nearby castle (we didn’t manage any dragon hunting), and a fabulous dinner in a local restaurant as recommended to us by Filipe. BattleKid’s introductory lesson was booked for Saturday morning, so we got an early night once we got back.

Filipe and his wife Shabrina run a B&B at their home, and it’s an amazing home. As well as the B&B (and their own quarters), they also have the trials school and academy there. They have a pool for guests to use on hot summer days, a lovely bar area to socialise in, and they really do welcome their guests with open arms. You’re even welcome to pick your own fruit from their trees.

Trialmotor photo collage of Quintal de Além do Ribeiro
Our room at the Quintal de Além do Ribeiro

On the Saturday morning, after a continental breakfast in the breakfast room, we packed up our room, which was extremely comfortable and spacious I might add, and met Filipe in the courtyard. Filipe started by giving us a tour of his training grounds and office. Then, it was time for BattleKid’s lesson.

Now, I’ll be completely honest and say I had reservations about a motorbike. We live in a gated ex-pat community where there are a lot of retired residents, and I wasn’t too sure they would welcome a noisy bike into the community. However, I was pleasantly surprised when Filipe started the OSET 12.5 trials bike, and how quiet it was as he wheeled it over to the beginners’ grassy area. It was really quiet.

BattleKid trying on a helmet for size.
BattleKid trying on a helmet for size.
BattleKid following Filipe over to the Beginner's Area
Following Filipe to the Beginner’s area

BattleDad and I decided to stand back and let Filipe give the instructions to BattleKid as it was better to have one adult talking to him rather than three. With his helmet on his head, BattleKid was ready for his first lesson. Filipe explained how the bike worked, how to turn the key and how to use the throttle, something BattleKid had no experience of before.

Battlekid getting his instructions from Filipe
Battlekid getting his instructions from Filipe

And in no time, he was off. He started off slowly but with each passing minute we could see his confidence growing. He was listening to Filipe’s instructions and doing as he was told. From doing big circles around the cones to figures of eights, he looked like a natural. Although we had only booked an hour’s lesson, Filipe carried on with BattleKid, encouraging him to try standing up, a technique needed when riding a trials bike. Our lesson was an hour and a half long, and BattleKid didn’t want to get off.BattleKid setting off on the motorbike

BattleKid was keen to get over to the track area that had jumps and ramps, but he needs to get standing on the bike first before he tackles that. However, we are planning a return visit to Trialmotor and Filipe, so perhaps with some practise on the bike Father Christmas brought him, he’ll be able to try the track out next time! Needless-to-say, we had a very happy boy in the car on the drive back down to the Algarve.BattleKid proud as punch beside an Oset 12.5 motorbike

Watching some trials videos after his lesson
BattleKid watching some trials videos after his lesson

Trialmotor, what a way to introduce your kids to motorbikes. Be they experienced riders, or complete novices, Filipe has an area tailor-made for each level of riding. Beginners start off on a flat, grassy area, getting to grips with the bike and controls, and learning to handle the bike at a basic level.

Once riders have completed basic lessons here, or are medium-level riders, then there is a track as mentioned with ramps, small jumps and obstacles to try your skills on. And for the more advanced riders, Filipe can take you out into the mountains nearby where you can test your riding skills in the natural environment idea for trials bikes.

For those of you who might have reservations about letting your kids loose on a trials bike, let me reassure you, this is the best way to introduce your kids to motorbikes. Trials bikes are designed for slow speed riding and manoeuvring. These bikes, although quite capable of speed, are not meant for normal riding as you and I might know it.

Trials is a great family-orientated sport, with people of all ages from 4 years to 74 years enjoying riding across the world. I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube which explain trials in greater detail than I can, and the big point I came away with is that it is a safe sport to be enjoyed by everyone in the family.

I had no idea what trials riding was before BattleDad started his research into the best way to introduce BattleKid to motorbikes, but I am very thankful to him for all his efforts. As mentioned I was worried about a noisy bike around our place, but the bikes Filipe has, in order to introduce your kids to motorbikes, are OSET electric bikes, so there is very little noise from them. You can hear how ‘loud’ they get in our video below.

Filipe’s academy and school offers lessons for riders of all levels. Children can start from the age of 2 on the electric bikes, and Filipe has a range of bikes to suit all ages. Beginners, as we’ve shown and discussed, start on a flat, grassy area and remain there until they learn control of the bike. Medium level riders can then start to tackle the ramps and obstacles area, while advanced and expert riders are taken into the Hardcore area to experience real terrain.

Some of the bikes available at Trialmotor for lessons
Some of the bikes available at Trialmotor for lessons

Filipe is extremely patient and a good teacher. His English is excellent and as well as being a native Portuguese speaker, he also speaks Spanish and French. Trialmotor is the best way to introduce your kids to motorbikes because all lessons are tailored to their riding levels and skills, and both beginner and medium skilled riders’ lessons are held within the grounds in enclosed, safe areas.

Filipe also works to the speed of learning of each individual, and doesn’t pressurise his pupils to progress any further than they are comfortable with. We couldn’t have asked for a better person to teach our son the basics, and get him started on the right path with motorbikes, than the Portuguese National Team Captain and 2002 National Trials Champion, now 2nd best Portuguese on the Elite Portuguese Championship.

You can also combine lessons with a weekend getaway and stay at Filipe’s place, Quintal de Além do Ribeiro. The Quintal de Além do Ribeiro is a beautiful rustic house, located in Lousã, approximately 22km east of Coimbra. There are nine rooms of varied capacity, two of which are wheelchair accessible, all with en-suite facilities. Accommodation is offered on a Bed and Breakfast basis, with a continental breakfast on offer. Guests may pre-order evening meals, but these must be in advance of arrival. There are many restaurants located in Lousã itself, which Filipe can recommend. We ate at the restaurant Casa Velha on his recommendation and the food was excellent.

Trialmotor photo collage of Quintal de Além do Ribeiro
The Beautiful Quintal de Além do Ribeiro

The Quintal also has a pool for guests to use as mentioned already, and is dog-friendly, depending on the size and breed of dog. If you aren’t doing a lesson or tour with Filipe, there are lots of things to do around Lousã like fishing, cycling and other outdoor activities. Within the Quintal you are welcome to partake in activities such as fruit picking, grape harvesting and even wine making (depending on the time of year).

Filipe and his family are extremely friendly and welcoming. Should you be looking for somewhere in northern Portugal for a getaway, I cannot recommend the Quintal enough, even if you aren’t going to partake in any lessons or tours on the bikes.

So, you can see why I truly think a lesson at Trialmotor for your budding little riders is the best route to starting them off with motorbikes. The trials bikes are slow starting off, and they learn the control and skills necessary to ride safely. The environment in which they learn is very safe, and they have the best person to teach them the skills necessary to get them started in Filipe. We are already looking forward to a return visit to Trialmotor!

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this post, nor to review the Quintal de Além do Ribeiro. We paid for our stay and for BattleKid’s lesson ourselves.

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Living Arrows 44/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

My first Living Arrows picture of BattleKid isn’t a great one but I couldn’t resist snapping it. He had just gotten into bed earlier this week and decided he wanted to sleep with his Ireland teddy bear that Nana brought him back in September. He looked so much like one of his cousins in the picture!

living arrows - BattleKid with Ireland teddy

This weekend gone we drove 4 hours north to a town called Lousa near Coimbra in Northern Portugal so BattleKid could have his first ever lesson on a motorbike. The night we arrived we had a walk around the castle and discovered autumn does indeed visit Portugal! 

living arrows - BattleKid at Lousa castle in Portugal living arrows - BattleKid in Portuguese autumnal leaves

On Saturday morning BattleKid was introduced to an Oset 12 electric trials motorbike by Filipe Paiva of Trial Motor. Filipe is the Portuguese Trials Team Captain and runs an academy school at his gorgeous place in Lousa. We stayed in their B&B which we will definitely be revisiting at some stage! BattleKid had a great time on the bike, and most importantly, listened to the instructions from Filipe. I think Father Christmas might be bringing one for Christmas if he can get his hands on one. The boy’s introduction to the world of motorbikes has begun.

living arrows - BattleKid's first motorbike lesson with TrialMotor in Portugal

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Living Arrows 38/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

I had been thinking we haven’t been up to much since we got back from our USA holiday but then I remembered we did something great at the weekend. We went to the World Superbike Race in Portimao at the weekend. The track is only a little over an hour away from us here in Portugal and the weekend paddock and stand tickets were cheap as chips.

BattleDad and I have been to the Isle of Man TT twice before but this was our first WSB meet. It was also someone’s first big motorbike race meet. We brought him to Aberdare Races last year but WSB is on a whole other level. He wasn’t sure of the noise at first but soon got into it. And he even got a picture with the Yamaha pit girls, although he doesn’t look overly fussed does he!

We are thrilled that we have a race track so close to us here in Portugal. Just another advantage to add to the list. All we need now is for a MotoGP race to be sceduled for Portimao and we’ll be as happy as Larry. That said, Jerez is only two hours away!

living arrows - BattleKid with the Yamaha pit girls at Portimao living arrows - An excited BattleKid at WSB at Portimao

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Aberdare Bike Races – BattleKid’s First Motorbike Race Meet

On Saturday 30th July this year we went to Aberdare Bike Races. Now BattleDad and I have been quite a number of years ago on a Sunday afternoon and it was really good. We quite enjoyed it and, as it was our first race meet before we went to the TT for the first time, it gave us a good idea of what to expect when going to the Isle of Man. We decided to take BattleKid this year because he is two and a half years of age, motorbike mad and we thought this year would be a good time to take him to see whether or not he would enjoy it.aberdare bike races

We decided to go early in the morning in case BattleKid didn’t enjoy it, as there are still times that he gets a little uneasy when BattleDad starts up his own bike. If he did enjoy it we could stay until lunchtime and still be back in time for BattleKid’s nap at the afternoon, if he didn’t then we could leave early enough. We arrived about 9:30 in the morning and made our way through the gates into the park.

We had booked our tickets online which was really handy. When you first go into the park, if there are bikes going around the track, you need to wait by the gates until the bikes have completed their laps. Only then do the Marshalls let you through into the middle of Aberdare Park where spectators are allowed and where the merchandise stands and food stalls are located.

We waited with everybody else by the gates until the bikes had completed their practice laps and this gave us a chance to see how BattleKid would take to the noise. Lolo was over visiting us from Ireland so he took him up into his arms and made a game of the bikes going around. By doing this, not only did BattleKid get really excited but it calmed any nerves he had. He did get a little fright when one of the bikes backfired but he soon got over it.

Once the bikes had finished their laps, the Marshalls opened the gates and let us through, and the first thing we hit was the playground. BattleKid had an absolute ball going up and down the slides, having fun on the swings as well, all while the bikes were doing their practice laps. The morning session is practice session and race laps are in the afternoon.aberdare park races

After a couple more goes on the swings we decided to make our way to the merchandise stands because BattleDad wanted to see a friend of his who would be on the Institute of Advanced Motorists stand. Unfortunately his friend wasn’t there yet but this gave us a chance to check out some of the clothes stands. I picked up a lovely Honda jacket for him for next year.

We also had time for BattleKid to have his first ever carousel ride on his own. He had a very serious face on him going around. After that we took another walk around the stands, stopping by the quad bikes track for the two boys to have a ride together. I think it was more for BattleDad than BattleKid, if we’re being honest!

BattleKid had a very serious face on him again as he and BattleDad were going around the track. It was quite funny looking at his little serious face with the very big helmet they had put on his head but they both seem to enjoy it.

After that we had another little wander around before walking around the lake and stopping by the side of the barriers to watch some more of the bikes doing their practice rounds. BattleKid had been getting a bit tired before this. However once we got to the side of the barriers he got a second wind and started really enjoying watching the bikes going round and round doing their laps. We watched a few more rounds of practice before we decided to head for home.aberdare park races

aberdare park races

aberdare park races

 

Although we didn’t spend too long at Aberdare Bike Races this year, it was a good introduction for BattleKid and he seemed to really enjoy it as did Mum, Dad and Lolo. We will definitely be taking him back next year when we will probably spend most of the day there as he won’t need his nap. Going to Aberdare Bike Races this year gives us a good idea that BattleKid will enjoy motor racing in the flesh. He enjoys watching the TT and MotoGP on the TV but seeing bikes up close and personal is a different story. This year’s visit to Aberdare Races also gets us excited for when we finally get ferry tickets for the Isle of Man TT, which we haven’t managed to do this year! One year soon we’ll get ferry tickets! They are the hardest part of trying to attend the TT.

Aberdare Bike Races are held on an 0.9 mile demanding circuit which winds it’s way through the trees in the local town park. First raced in 1950, it has seen not only local racers participate but also TT stars such as Ian Lougher and John McGuinness. This year it cost £12 per adult for a single day pass, or £23 for a full weekend adult pass. Under 13’s went free when accompanied by a full paying adult and children between 13 and 16 years of age cost £5 for a day pass.

There are numerous food stalls, plenty of merchandise stands and some fairground-type attractions for kids. There is no car parking at the park, although there is some limited space for bikes at the entrance. There are car parks in the town, less than half a mile away and you might be lucky to find some street parking around the park.aberdare park races

So if you are a biking family and plan to visit South Wales in July, I’d recommend you visit when Aberdare Bike Races are on. We’ll definitely be attending again next year. I also recorded a little vlog of our visit to the races this year which you can view below.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this post.

 

Isle of Man TT

It’s that time of year again when the best road racing event in the world takes place. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) was first started in 1907 and has become a firm favourite of mine!

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BattleDad and I first attended the TT in 2011 during the centenary year of the mountain course, and it literally sucked me in and refused to spit me out. It is a time trial race, run typically at the end of May/beginning of June and its course takes place over a distance of 37.73 miles on closed public roads. Riders set off 10 seconds apart, complete 3, 4 or 6 laps depending on class of bike, and as well as various classes of motorbikes, there are also side cars as well.

You may think this a strange thing for a female to be so passionate about but I simply love it. Ever since BattleDad and I watched the highlight dvd of the 2010 TT, when Ian Hutchison became the first rider to win all five solo races, I’ve been hooked with the excitement and madness that is the IoMTT!

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Soon after watching that dvd we booked to go the next year for 3 days, when the most prestigious race would be on, the Senior TT race. We had such a great time in 2011, that as soon as we got home we pre-booked the ferry to go for the whole of race week in 2012. And what a week it was. As per usual, the weather was as unpredictable as the race winners themselves. We had glorious sunshine, fog, high winds and driving rain all mixed into one week!

Waves on Ramsay seafront in 2012
Waves on Ramsay seafront in 2012

The Isle of Man is a great place to visit, even outside of the TT fortnight. While there we have toured the island and my two favourite places are Peel and Ramsay, both on the coast, with fishing harbours (my love of fishing boats again). So even if you don’t like motorbikes there’s still things to see and do.

Having stayed near the Grandstand at the start/finish line the year before, we decided to stay at a campsite near the famous Ballaugh Bridge in 2012. I also bought us tickets to watch the races from Creg-ny-Baa fan stand with friends who were also attending. That was a great day. It was also the first time I’d watched side cars in action and I developed a new found respect for them. They are crazy loons, the pair of them. What possesses someone to hang off the back of a side car is beyond me, let alone race inside one, but I’ve total respect for them!

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Meeting Gary Johnson at Ballaugh Bridge 2012
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Gary stopping to sign BattleDad’s jacket

The 2012 week was great. We got to meet and share a beer with Gary Johnson after he broke down at Ballaugh Bridge during the Superstock 2 race. Plenty of pictures were taken.

BattleDad also got meet quite a few of the other riders too when I surprised him with tickets to the VIP tent on Senior Friday. Unfortunately the weather was so bad that they postponed the race to the Saturday (and subsequently cancelled it for the first time ever due to more bad weather on the Saturday), so many if the riders showed up at the tent and got a chance to relax. We had lunch there and many of the riders did a meet-and-greet round of the tent after lunch, during which time BattleDad got them to sign a bike jacket of his while I took pictures. He managed to get quite a few signatures including John McGuinness, Bruce Anstey, Guy Martin and also Cal Crutchlow of MotoGP!

Cal Crutchlow, riding them for the Tech3 team
Cal Crutchlow, riding then for the Tech3 team

It’s hard to explain why I love the TT so much. I guess it’s partly down to the thrill of the races, the great almost festival like atmosphere, and the fact that everyone attending is friendly and is there for the same reason as you. For that short period of time every year, you all have one big thing in common; your love, passion and respect for the IoMTT races and those on two wheels navigating public roads at speeds of up to 200mph.

And they are just that, public roads with all their faults and the potholes that go with them. I’ve driven a lap of the course and even feeling the road underneath you in an Audi A5 is nothing compared to what the riders can feel underneath them at high speeds.

They are crazy.
They are mad.

It’s scary just to watch it but also exciting at the same time. All of our friends who have attended have come away loving it like we have.

And we all have our favourite riders. Personally, I have two. King of the Mountain John McGuinness who has won 21 TT races up to the time of writing, only 5 behind the TT legend that was Joey Dunlop. He’s an all-round, genuinely nice guy. And Wolverine himself, Guy Martin who has yet to win a TT. He came across as an unsociable, arrogant guy at the 2012 meet-and-greet when he refused to walk around the tent. But having read his autobiography I understand and respect why he was like he was. I still love him as a road racer.

James Hillier bottoming out at Ballaugh Bridge 2012
Ian Hutchinson bottoming out at Ballaugh Bridge 2012

BattleDad loves John McGuinness but also likes Cameron Donald (top bloke, very friendly guy) and Bruce Anstey, another great rider.

The one to watch this year is Michael Dunlop, of the Dunlop riding dynasty. He did really well last year, with 4 wins and a third out of the 6 solo races. Currently on 11 wins, he is the one everyone will be watching over the next 10 years to see if he can equal or better his uncle Joey’s record of 26 wins.

The Isle of Man TT is like no other event in the world. As well as the road races, the IoM incorporate a festival into the fortnight, with events on in Douglas seafront every night, music, and air demonstrations over Douglas. We witnessed a Vulcan B2 bomber show off its aerial skills during 2011. The end of the festival and races culminates in a spectacular fireworks display in Douglas.

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The atmosphere all over the island is electric and it really is a great place to be during those two weeks each year. The only down side is trying to book your ferry for when you want to go and the cost of it. You need to try to book a year before you want to go as soon as pre-booking opens, and if you’re going by car like we did, dates are few and far between due to preference given to bikes, and therefore limited spaces for 4-wheeled vehicles. As for accommodation, as long as you don’t mind camping, you’ll pretty much find a space to pitch your tent somewhere.

We haven’t been since 2012 due to being in Cuba in 2013 and the arrival of BattleKid in 2014, but we do plan to bring BattleKid to his first TT in the next few years. In the meantime he’ll get an introduction to it from the highlights on ITV4. If he takes to it like he has MotoGP, we’ll be two very happy parents!