Category Archives: Gloves Off – With Bernie Schreiber

Competing to win

FIM World Trials Champion and Scottish Six Days Trial winner, Bernie Schreiber shares his winning attributes with Trials Guru. Schreiber is the co-Author of the renowned book “Observed Trials” with Len Weed.

Photos: Eric Kitchen; Mauri/Fontsere Collection

Excerpt: Motor Cycle News 1977.

TG: Everyone would like to win, but most don’t. Why?

BS: To win, you must prepare yourself to be the winner – not simply “do my best” mentality. During 40 years of off-road motorcycle Trials coaching, I continually see riders under-performing due to a lack of proper preparation. Many have plenty of potential, talent and skill, but they are often performing best at a time when it is not necessary or not focused when the big day comes along. The performance transition from skills to victory is complex in the sport of Trials even when you’ve got it right physically. Many athletes fail to get the result they could because they have not prepared themselves to be the winners but merely to ‘do my best’. This attitude might work once, but usually only once. The bigger and more important the event, the more likely the win will go to someone who has been expecting to win and who has trained him or herself to cope with all the demands that winning entails. This clearly involves mental as well as physical preparation.

TG: Can you elaborate on the transition from skills to victory?

BS: The performance transition phase depends on your level of challenge, but the higher you go, most likely the less you know and this applies to most sports athletes. If you compete at a clubman level, a National Championship or World level it’s very important to clearly understand your goals. The sport of Trials has changed over the years, along with bikes, skills and section design, but the transition to winning is a mindset, that needs very fine tuning. The nature of competition is that the unexpected will happen. A great competitor will expect the unexpected, have anticipated how to manage it effectively, know how to overcome it completely and have planned and prepared to deal with whatever challenge comes along. If your training plan only deals with what can reasonably be expected – what statistically is most likely to occur, you may be competitive but you will rarely win. Winners expect to win regardless of what happens on the field of battle. Not only that, but they train to be the unexpected: to be the competitor who does things that no one thought possible and in doing so give themselves a clear winning advantage.

TG: How important is confidence?

BS: Nothing gives an athlete confidence like winning, but knowing with absolute certainty that they have consistently out-prepared everyone they will face in their targeted competition. You can talk it up, you can tell them how great they look in practice, you can try to convince them they have improved and that they are ready for anything, but for the most part the only person getting motivated from your motivation talks is you. Athletes need evidence, real evidence that they can be successful and the only currency they will bank on is knowing that their preparation has been absolutely perfect in every detail. The cheap talk and bullshit will not help you on competition day. Competition tactics need a plan like training, you must also have a winning plan for each event and the Championship. This means that you must know the opposition and what they are likely to do when and where. You must have a response to deal with each situation, know your own strengths and weaknesses and when you have made your plan you must be able to carry it out under pressure. It always comes down to a battle of wills, and you will be the winner if you have built yourself to a point where you will not accept defeat.

TG: What are the emotional aspects of competing?

BS: If competition was only about being physically ready, then coaching would be easy. But it’s not. The emotional aspects of competition are what determines success or failure. In professional sports and among the serious competitors, physical preparation, techniques and training methods are remarkably similar the world over. The real competitive advantage comes when athletes can maintain control and calm during competition and do their “job” regardless of the situation, country, weather, rules or opposition. The capacity to do this in competition comes from practicing to do this in training. All sports have a strong technical aspect, but being able to execute good technique at training is not enough. Winning in competition means performing with technical excellence under fatigue, under pressure and doing it repeatedly. If you have only practiced executing the technical elements of your sport during the first 50% of your training session – then you are not practicing to execute the skills of your sport under competition conditions. It is important to practice techniques and skills in conditions and circumstances which simulate and even exceed the demands of competition. The athlete must execute skills accurately and consistently when they are fatigued and under emotional pressure. Performance practice makes for perfect performance.

TG: How important are Trials skills?

BS: Trials skills are very important when used correctly. The transfer of technical skills learned to competition skills and to actual winning skills are major steps at the highest level. The best skill and most difficult is to “perform well, under fatigue and under pressure consistently in competition conditions.” You’ll often find trials schools promoting a list of trick techniques to learn, but most of them are not really applicable in competition consistently and therefore results are often not achieved. It’s important to work on every basic aspect of the sport to reach your potential and do it with consistency. Most improvement strategies are based on the “more” approach: more effort, more practice, more techniques, more hours and work. Unfortunately, experience has proven that simply adding more techniques or more hours is not the answer to winning. Real performance improvement is a result of critical actions on key variables that help you take action by removing obstacles that stand in your way. As a result, you will be able to use your knowledge and skills more effectively. Each training phase must be a built-in structure of progress. In the build-up phase, this should be both in the overall quality of the training and in the proportion of high-quality competition training.

TG: Did you give your opponents a chance to win?

BS: There are two types of people in sport. Those passionate about participation and all the great, wholesome, healthy, community enriching aspects of sport and those who are just as passionate about winning. Those passionate about winning is a very low percentage of athletes. Those in the participation group will tell you that sport is all about fun, community, kindness, peace, love, happiness and about people enjoying the weekend. The reality for this passionate winning type is that sport, if you want to succeed is ruthless. For winners it’s about winning and being dedicated to and single minded about winning. It’s about consistently competing to the very best of your ability without excuses. It’s about realising that your opponents do not care how you feel, they don’t want you to enjoy the competitive experience, they don’t give a shit about your dreams, they want to beat you and if possible, beat you badly. That’s why tough training is so critical. You must prepare to a level that does not give your opponent, regardless of their talent, their resources, their training programs or their coaching support, any possible chance of victory. If you want to win, make your training more challenging and more demanding – physically, mentally, technically, tactically and every other possible way harder than the competition you are preparing for and more than your competitors.

TG: Is Trials a Sport that can prepare you for winning in life?

BS: I believe sports competition prepares individuals to challenge themselves and Trials riders are a smart and talented group of people. They are ready to go face the obstacles head on and evaluate themselves on a scorecard. Trials is measured from the ears up and very frustrating sometimes, but it can teach a person to be brave, strong and resilient. I’ve always liked individual sports like trials, golf, tennis, skiing and others. You learn to observe things differently and stay focused on your personal results without team excuses or mistakes. It is a sport that gifts its participants with the knowledge they need for the rest of their lives. A sport that can provide you the keys you need to unlock your future. Without this sport, I would have never become the person I am today.

Bernie Schreiber receiving the 2021 FIM Trial Legend trophy from FIM President, Jorge Viegas.

Copyright: Bernie Schreiber/Trials Guru 2022

Whiskey Gulch Two Day Spectacular 2022

Words: Team TrialZone\Matt Liberatore

Photos: Mark Matteson

Dateline: Bozeman, Montana July 4, 1982

Independence Day was celebrated as a travel day for those taking part in the 1982 United States National Trials Championship Series. The day before, the riders had completed the first national ever held in the state of Montana which happened to be one of the championship’s easiest scoring rounds ever. 1979 World Trials Champion Bernie Schreiber, one week removed from his third place finish at the World Trials Championship round held at the Donner Ski Ranch in Norden, California, won the event  by two marks over Florida’s Jack Stites while losing only five marks in the process.

Traveling to Whitefish, MT where the second of the two nationals would be held on July 5th, virtually all the participants hoped for a more difficult test, in order to give more room for errors on the scorecards, but had no idea what was in store for them. What is the old saying? “Be careful what you wish for”. Montana’s Rich Hilbun, of the hosting trials club GOTE (Glacier Observed Trials Enthusiasts), organized that second national in Whitefish and knew the sections needed to be toughened up and acted accordingly. Mother Nature also leant a helping hand as heavy overnight rain turned the jagged rocks of Whitefish into not just a difficult challenge, but simple survival for most as Schreiber once again took the victory, this time with a winning score of 144 as Colorado’s  Morgan Kavanaugh placed second 40 marks behind. The riders finishing this event were given stickers saying “Clean the Fish” but many thought “Five the Fish” would have been better. Schreiber’s winning score stands to this day as the highest winning score in the history of the United States National Trials Championship Series.

Fast forward thirty nine years later as Hilbun had the idea to contact Schreiber about returning to Montana on the 40th anniversary of those 1982 nationals. Hilbun thought Schreiber could not only conduct one of his ZeroBS Masterclass trials schools, but take part in a multi-day celebration held in conjunction with the annual Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial that began in 2009 and has been held uninterrupted for twelve consecutive years. The conversation resulted in Bernie Schreiber’s return to Montana  June 15-19, 2022  starting with a sold out two day trials school, followed by the  celebration of Champions Day, and then the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial as the finale.

Global Ambassador of Montana:

Dateline: Butte, Montana June 13, 2022

Bernie Schreiber’s return to Montana, USA forty years later began with the announcement from the promoter of the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial, Dan Larson of Mossy Rock Trials and Off Road that Schreiber had been appointed as a Global Ambassador for motorcycle trials in the state of Montana. This affiliation will help with communication of the event as Schreiber, being the most successful rider ever from the USA, will be committing his years of experience for future growth. Together with a shared interest in unique trials events, Schreiber and Larson plan to embark on a series of exciting projects demonstrating innovative solutions for Motorcycle Trials going forward.

The Bernie Schreiber ZeroBS Masterclass school:

Butte, Montana June 15/16 2022

Bernie Schreiber conducted his first signature ZeroBS Masterclass experience since 2019 (due to COVID-19) while riding a TRRS 300 supplied by Dan Larson of Mossy Rock Trials and Off Road in beautiful dry conditions, much different than 40 years ago on the factory 280 SWM on rain saturated terrain. Schreiber treated the 30 participants to a unique structured format based on lessons learned in becoming a World, National, and Scottish Six Days Trial Champion, but also while relating other sports such as golf, where direct comparisons become involved. Classroom training, hands on riding and the all important mental approach were covered in great detail.

The classroom setting began this first day before hands on the bars riding, by covering the most important aspect of Motorcycle Trials, the proper stance. Motorcycle Trials has always been a very unique form of off-road riding which requires certain techniques that do not always apply to riding a “normal” dirt bike, especially when it comes to the basic fundamentals. Fortunately, all aspects were covered during three “Impact Zones” throughout the full day of instruction.

Hammer Nutrition founder and CEO Brian Frank spoke towards the end about the often overlooked aspect of performance in sport nutrition. Founded in 1987, Frank told of his experiences from the beginning of the Triathlon boom when the company’s first products were manufactured to help the athlete’s body combat side effects such as fatigue and recovery from high endurance training.

After lunch on the school’s second day, everyone was treated to instruction on what gave Bernie Schreiber an advantage over his rivals, that being the technique which he introduced and perfected, the floating front wheel turn. Also known as the “Pivot turn”, Schreiber used this to great effect in winning the World Trials Championship and showed exactly why this technique is just as effective now.

During each day of the school, each individual student was given one on one instruction on the techniques of this fascinating sport and an insight into what actually makes a World Champion, the attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned.

Champions Day:

Butte, Montana June 17, 2022

This day of celebration was to reconnect with old friends and get to know others while recognizing the achievements of Bernie Schreiber as the Guest of Honor. Also joining Schreiber were fellow past US Champions Geoff Aaron, now the US trials team manager for Gasgas,  and Scott Head, who happened to be Schreiber’s teammate in 1981. These three icons of US trials have a total of 17 National Championships between them. This was a relaxing off day for everyone involved getting together to enjoy the week.

The Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials:

Butte, Montana June 19/20 2022

The final event of the five day celebration of Schreiber’s return to Montana after 40 years was held as the fourth stop in the eight event Conquer the West Trials Series which began in 2017. This is a two-day event series in the western USA where riders take part in at least four events to earn points towards their respective final positions, and has expanded to include ten-two day events in 2022. 

The Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial brought in 122 riders from several different states and countries to take part in one of the most anticipated trials events of the year.

Unlike 1982 when Schreiber won the national round in Whitefish, perfect weather greeted the riders from the very start of the ZeroBS Masterclass school on Tuesday and continued throughout the week as the riders went off at 10:00 AM Saturday morning, at fifteen minute intervals depending on class, to tackle 10 sections three times on the beautiful Montana countryside. The sections featured plenty of grip on a nice combination of dry rocks, log crossings, and up and down banks. with some steep loose climbs thrown in requiring throttle control to maintain grip on the rear tire.

William Head took the lead on this first day in the Master Class by an 11 mark margin over Chad Redman. Head continues to improve while showing the type of skill that does not surprise anyone considering the trials career of his father Scott. 

Bryce Pophal lost only 3 marks on the day in Expert while Geoff Aaron’s son Murphy, another rider taking after his father displaying impressive form and talent for his age, took second position with 20 marks lost. David Taylor came in at third place with a score of 26.

Yoyi San Martin of todotrial.com fame, making his first ever trip to the USA traveling from Spain, took the first day lead in Expert Sportsman by a single mark over Nick Schacht. These two riders were so close that they also had the same amount of clean rides, matching 24 on the day.

The Rising Stars Montana Silent Auction took place after the day’s riding ended. Rising Stars Montana is a fund dedicated towards the future development of up and coming youth riders in Montana. One of those promising up and comers, eleven year old Bennett Hebner took the lead in Intermediate Class by 4 marks over his father Bob 41 to 45 at the day’s end.

A question an answer session with Bernie Schreiber then took place before The Rising Stars Montana fund raising check of $2,940 was presented in order to give a helping hand to the youth riders of Montana in reaching their full potential.

Afterwards, landowners Keith and Heather Fortin were presented with everyone’s gratitude for their continued commitment in helping grow the sport in the state of Montana. The evening ended with the Under the Montana Stars bonfire.

Day two began with rider sign in at 8:00 AM sharp followed by once again the section scorer and gift bag distribution, thanking those who have the not so easy but rewarding job as an observer. Shortly before the riders meeting all riders were required to be in the paddock area looking up towards the sky for the Big W arial drone photo, another detail making this event so special.

The staggered start really helps in preventing the dreaded bottlenecks that can take place with everyone going out at the same time as the riders left to face another three laps, this time with 9 sections as the perfect conditions continued.

William Head once again took the day two lowest score in Master Class by only 2 marks over Chad Redman, 17 to 19 and thus took the overall event victory with a grand total of 57 marks lost to Redman’s 70.

Murphy Aaron produced very impressive rides with a closing score of 3 to lead day two in Expert as Bryce Pophal came in 7 marks adrift with a score of 12. Despite the outstanding ride on the day, it wasn’t quite enough for Aaron as Pophal  took the overall win with a grand total of 15.

Yoyi San Martin halved his day one score in Expert Sportsman to win again on day two by finishing with just 6 on his scorecard while Nick Schacht fell back, losing 23 marks on the day, San Martin now has the distinction of being undefeated on US soil as his grand total of 18 also gave him the overall win for the two days.  

Bennett Hebner placed second behind his father Bob this time, in Intermediate class but took home bragging rights with the overall win by a single mark with a grand total of 59 in one of the closest finishes.

The other close finish came in Amateur class as Mark Vonmetteheim won with 17 over Wade Fuller who dropped a total of 18 marks overall.

Afterwards, the awards presentations, drawings, and give aways ended these five days of festivities as everyone involved showed the excitement of already looking forward to 2023!

Special thanks to Dan and Laura Larson, Rich and Yoyo Hilbun, all the sponsors, observers, media, riders, photographers and everyone involved for making such a memorable weekend for us all! More photos of this event will be available at mossyrocktrials.com

Results Top Three per Class Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial 2022

Master: 1. William Head 40+17-57; 2 Chad Redman 51+19-70

Expert:  1.Bryce Pophal 3+12=15; 2. Murphy Aaron 20+5=25; 3. David Taylor 26+26=52

Expert Sportsman:

1. Yoyi San Martin 12+6=18; 2. Nick Schacht 13+23=36

SR Advanced:

1. Mike Diesburg 10+6=16;  2. Lance Butler 22+12=34;

3. Brandt Kennedy; 24+14=38

Advanced:

1. Tony McGrath 18+9=27; 2. Richard Fullen 47+9=56;

3. Nels Arneson 41+28=69

SR Intermediate:

1. Mark Snyder 17+1=18; 2. DJ Gottofrey 45+15=60;

3. Jeff Holman 41+20=61

Intermediate:

1. Bennett Hubner 41+18=59; Bob Hubner 45+15=60;

3. Ryan Alley 50+12=62

Amateur:

1.Mark Vonmettenheim 14+3=17; 2. Wade Fuller 17+1=18;

3. Christopher Kott 22+4=26

Novice:

1. Levi Sutheimer 8+12=20; 2. Brandy Kennedy 16+13=29;

3. Morgan Goetting 17+15=32

Vintage:

1. Matt Parsons 4+0=4; 2. Andrew Parker 6+3=9;

3. Jacob Roberts 10+0=10

Gloves Off – Heroes and Legends

In this edition of ‘Gloves Off’, we talk with Bernie exclusively about admiration and the inspiration of people over the years. In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of ‘inspiration’.

(TG = Trials Guru; BS = Bernie Schreiber)

TG – Did you admire or inspire from people over the years?

BS – Yes! But don’t forget that everyone you admire was once a beginner.

Let me explain, admiration is when certain qualities in someone or about something attracts you a lot and you are unable to stop yourself from thinking about it.

Inspiration, on the other hand, makes you actually do something after you admire some attribute or quality about someone or something.

One can say that admiration leads to inspiration, and inspiration constitutes admiration at some point.

For some, it’s their parents, be that Mom; Dad; care-takers; relatives; siblings from whom they get or seek inspiration.

Inspirational people are important through our life. They help us become the person we want to be and make a difference in our life. To be like someone, you have to work hard. It all depends on what interests you and what you want to be in your life.

TG – How important is ‘Character’ in those people?

BS – Character is what makes a person. It defines who you are and what you would become – whether to be a commendable inspiration for others to follow or a disappointment. We often hear moving stories about inspirational people we look up to, apart from our parents.

What made them truly notable are their distinct qualities. Inspirational people are often characterized as believers of themselves and of others.

With all those qualities of inspirational people, we learn everyday – from our own experience or from others.

TG – Are there people who marked your life?

BS – Of course, the key inspirational and important people of my life were Mom and Dad, who showed me the way.

There are people you meet in life that mark you forever. The reasons they mark you might be personal or inspiring actions taken, the impact they had on others, or the ways they changed the world or industry. Sometimes we admire people because they overcome a limitation or barriers unknown to us.

Some say that we live in an age without heroes. Do you think that is true? Well, even if it is – even if we no longer have people who walk among us who seem larger than life – we surely have not lost the ability to admire others.

Over the last fifty years I’ve had a chance to meet, speak and work with some amazing individuals from all walks of life. Many were highly educated or successful or becoming someone to be very proud of forever, but often you might wonder how did it happen and what’s the difference between them and others. Why are they unique, famous, rich, humble or achievers? We might not like them, but respect them for their accomplishments at a moment in time.

TG – Can you share experiences that inspired you?

BS – The list is long, but these four individuals brought admiration that led to inspiration in some way, shape or form over the years. They are all different with unique qualities, but they marked me in different ways. They are heroes, legends and role models of accomplishment. They share a common mindset to conquer and achieve not only with results, but breaking records to be first, developing new ways to innovate and challenge the status quo that inspired so many around the world.

#1 – MALCOLM SMITH

Malcolm Smith is one of the world’s pre-eminent off-road racers, he primarily raced motorcycles but in the 1970s while recovering from a broken leg, he built his own off-road racing buggy and competed in both the Baja 1000 and the Baja 500. The list of Malcolm Smith’s accomplishments is long, he won 8 gold medals between 1966 and 1976 in the International Six Day Trial. He’s a six-time winner of the Baja 1000 (three times on a motorcycle and three times in a buggy), he won the Baja 500 four times (twice on a bike and twice in a buggy), he took two wins in the Mint 400, he won the Roof of Africa Rallye, competed in the Paris Dakar Rally twice, and he won the Atlas Rallye in the mountains of Morocco. When not racing, Malcolm could be seen in films and documentaries, he famously had a starring role in Bruce Brown’s Academy Award nominated classic motorcycle documentary ‘On Any Sunday’, with Steve McQueen and Mert Lawwill.

Malcolm’s Story Malcolm Smith Motorsports Riverside, CA (951) 687-1300

The Facts: Bernie was inspired by Malcolm the first time he’d seen him on the big screen in the movie ‘On Any Sunday’. He wanted to be a motorcycle rider like him. Later in life, Bernie had a chance to work in Europe for Malcolm Smith Products in 1989 and 1990. It provided him a vision that you can be a motorcycle rider and run a successful business as well. It was his first real job outside of riding Trials for a living.

Bernie: “I was so fortunate to meet and work with Malcolm and his team over those two years. It was a dream come true and my admiration for this man continues to grow over time. He is the off-road KING of motorcycling.”

#2 – VALENTINO ROSSI – The Doctor

Valentino Rossi is an Italian former professional motorcycle road racer and nine-time Grand Prix motorcycle racing World Champion. He won World Championships with both Honda and Yamaha. Nicknamed The Doctor, he is widely considered to be one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, with nine Grand Prix World Championships to his name, seven of which were in the premier 500cc/MotoGP class. He is also the only road racer to have competed in 400 or more Grands Prix, and rode with the number 46 for his entire career.

Valentino Rossi Story – Bio, Facts, Networth, Family, Auto, Home | Famous Racers | SuccessStory

The Facts: Bernie was exposed to MotoGP in 2002 when working with Tissot Watches of Switzerland. Tissot became a major sponsor and timekeeper of MotoGP. During the next eight years he would develop the partnership with many awards and riders.

Bernie: “Vale was magical in an era of motorcycling the world had never seen. He was a marketing genius, communicator, thrill seeker and touched the hearts of so many in motorsports. Vale was MotoGP and became respected by everyone in the paddock, almost everyone. He inspired so many young riders over the years and I had the chance to present him dozens of Pole Position watches during the years. One day at the press conference he was asked, what do you do with all the watches? He smiled and said, I’m thinking about opening a watch store. A true Champion and legend.”

#3 – GREG NORMAN

Gregory John Norman is an Australian entrepreneur and retired professional golfer who spent 331 weeks as the world’s Number 1 Official World Golf Rankings ranked golfer in the 1980s and 1990s. He won 89 professional tournaments, including twenty PGA Tour tournaments and two majors: The Open Championships in 1986 and 1993. Norman also earned thirty top-ten finishes and was the runner-up eight times in majors throughout his career. In a reference to his blond hair, size, aggressive golf style and his birthplace’s native coastal animal, Norman’s nickname is “The Great White Shark”, which he earned after his play at the 1981 Masters.

Shark.com – Official Site of Greg Norman & the Greg Norman Company

The Facts: Bernie joined Omega Watches of Switzerland in 2012 and moved to Florida after a contract was signed with the PGA of America. Greg Norman was a Brand Ambassador for Omega, so Bernie based himself out of Greg’s office for the next three years to develop Omega’s golf initiatives in America.

Bernie: “Time spent close to Greg and his team was a real learning experience in Sports Marketing. The nickname SHARK was not by accident and doing deals, building partnerships and making money while growing the game is something Greg has been successful doing for decades. The uniqueness of the Norman brand can be felt throughout the world from golf course design, wine, clothing and real estate. After three years working together, I’m fortunate to say Greg is a friend and he inspired me to see things differently and always attack life.”

#4 – CAPTAIN GENE CERNAN

Eugene Andrew Cernan was an American astronaut, naval aviator, electrical engineer, aeronautical engineer, and fighter pilot. During the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan became the eleventh human being to walk on the Moon. Cernan, a Captain in the U.S. Navy, left his mark on the history of exploration by flying three times in space, twice to the moon. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.

www.genecernan.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS3uldKUx90

The Facts: Bernie spent a day with Gene Cernan at the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament just outside his hometown Chicago. Gene, one of Omega’s ambassadors who wore the Omega watch during his moon landing.

Bernie: “I had the privilege of taking Gene around the Medinah golf course in a buggy one day and we talked about golf, watches and time on the moon. September 29th, 2012 is a day with a man I’ll never forget. An extraordinary life of service and risk unknown to most people. Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt were walking and singing on the Moon in December 1972, some 50 years ago. When we talk about people who you can admire or be inspired from, Gene’s conversations are unbelievable and unforgettable. The last hero, legend and man on the moon. May your last steps never be forgotten.” God Speed R.I.P.

Article worldwide copyright: Bernard Schreiber/Trials Guru 2022

Photos: Copyright of individual photographers.

GLOVES OFF – The risk of resting on your laurels

Trials Guru spent time with 1979 World Trials Champion Bernie Schreiber this month to discuss his views about sports, athletes, clubs, organizers, manufacturers, retailers and . . . the risk of resting on your laurels!

Bernie Schreiber celebrates 40 years since his SSDT win in 1982, the only American/Non-European winner in the events history.

The phrase ‘Resting on your laurels’ dates back to ancient Greek and Roman traditions, where victorious Olympians or generals wore crowns made of laurel wreaths as symbols of victory, success, and status.

In this second ‘Gloves Off’ interview, Bernie talks with Trials Guru about how past successes and challenges are something to celebrate and learn from. However, they can prevent progress if not constantly and carefully developed. The only way to make progress and growth is to analyze – see what went wrong, make corrections, and improve the situation.

There is no giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps, but if you rest… you rust!

Photo: Eric Kitchen

Trials Guru – What must be overcome to avoid basking in the memories of former glories?

Bernie Schreiber – Good is often the enemy of great! People easily fall into the trap of thinking: ‘we are quite good at what we do,’ or ‘this company is good’ or ‘this event is good.’ Good is the enemy of great because somewhere out there, a competitor has fire in their stomach and is not content with being good, they want great, excellence and first position. They push harder, innovate more, create more, execute effectively, and have clear plans over the horizon. They are ready to give up everything to reach the goal. They are investing efficiently into Research and Development or people skills, or just setting the bar much higher than the status quo. You know where this story is going . . . and to feel comfortable because you have been successful at any level in the past is a place that must be avoided for growth and meeting potential goals.

SSDT 1980 – Bernie Schreiber – Bultaco – Pipeline – Photo: Jim Young

TG – Do you think that this mindset of ‘great’ is important for success?

BS – Absolutely the main hurdle for athletes, clubs, organizers, and retailers.

Most arrive in a state of complacency, pleased with what they have achieved in the past, and that could be last weekend, month, or year.

They reduce the “great” efforts because they’re already satisfied with what they’ve done.

Once you make little to no effort to further advance or improve comes the unexpected knockout moment.

You’ve been there and done that and that’s good enough is a lack of real greatness, a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. How you change and progress is how you succeed.

TG – As a past World Champion you must have had moments of reflection and adapted to change?

BS – Every day reflects how to avoid mistakes, grow, and learn from experience of others, but this process of change can beat you to the ground if you let it.

In sports we are judged not by the number of times we fail, but by the number of successes and achievements. I always keep an eye on the ratio of results. Even the best performance can be improved!

Self-confidence is what separates Champion athletes from the rest of the competitors.

Being satisfied with no change is the beginning of the end.

TG – How has sports changed for top athletes?

BS – That would depend on the sport and the level that athlete is performing. The sports industry has been hit hard over the last two years and this has changed the risk perception for long term partnerships to invest into top athletes and events.

Everyone feels the impact in the world of international sports. Agencies and promoters are facing particularly challenging times. This new environment of digital and Covid has brought manufactures and brands much closer to market realities, sales, and budgets.

The tools that worked then do not provide the same returns today. Therefore, athletes have been affected as well and many forced to reduce their budgets, change, or end careers.

Top athletes must work harder to build and keep partnerships, find budgets, and build their own brand on social media platforms.

The social media landscape has changed, and the athletes’ brand awareness process takes time to build correctly.

Athletes today must perform much more off the field than time competing. No company wants to associate their products with nobody, so brands who really don’t know who you are or how to use your brand name to promote their products are unlikely to invest in a partnership.

There are potential partners who may have interest, but this depends on the approach and deliverable assets from both sides.

Winning is not everything in the new social media entertainment world of communication.

Photo: Guilio Mauri/Fontsere

TG – What’s your ‘Gloves Off’ advice to trials clubs and event organizers?

BS – Organizing events is not easy and building events is even more difficult. Clubs and event organizers are like riders. They all have different skill sets and personal objectives. Some ride for fun, others wish to be great or just rest on laurels.

Being good at what you do does not mean success for a club or an organizer. The approach of the “JOB” Just Over Broke club or organizer is not very promising over time and eventually reduces in size and quality.

The social club is fine, but events should offer interesting experiences with exclusive or unique attractions. How you attract consumers, riders and partners should be with unique offerings others can’t provide. Your trials events are important, but how you build the club, events and partners is the most important. Clubs and events are products, and all products need innovation, communication, and marketing to create and present the added values. My advice is a clear strategic plan whether local, national, or international and focus on quality over quantity. Less is More.

TG – So quality growth and promotion is your advice?

BS – To maintain credibility you must promote and operate in a quality way that inspires riders to return and members to join.

Building on the ongoing success of your club, business, brand, event, or product involves a cycle of activities to operate successfully. Understanding the key things that can create success, fine-tuning and building in the experience of how things worked to improve what you do next or just being conscious of how you do things as you do them and why. Monitoring the results arising from what you do, planning and acting in accordance with that is the difference between good and great.

The Highland Classic played host to Bernie Schreiber in 2019 on Alvie Estate, Scotland

TG – Should all events maintain a professionalism level of operation? 

BS- The answer is yes. Of course there are different levels of events, competition, classes and budgets, but professionalism and uniqueness is always a must in my view. Trials club organisers can professionally focus on friendliness, brand themes and fun like the annual  Highland Classic Trial in Alvie Estates and others may wish to host a World Championship.

Both build community solidarity and awareness for the sport when professionally operated. For others it may be a business opportunity or family weekend, but the pursuit of excellence and professionalism should never be forgotten. If you host events, they should be memorable experiences, provide value and benefits for everyone and there are no limits for innovation.

This year in June, I’ve been invited to Montana as a special guest for the annual Whiskey Gulch Two-Day Trial to celebrate my 40th anniversary of wins in Montana and the SSDT. The organizers have been extremely innovative in approaching their 2022 event and the gloves are off!

“It’s what you do before the season starts that makes you a Champion. So, never rest on your laurels – even the best performance really can be improved.”

COMING NEXT on ‘Gloves Off’:

In the next Gloves Off, Bernie will talk about Heroes he was able to meet and why he admired them so much:

Malcolm Smith – Gene Cernan – Greg Norman – Valentino Rossi

Article worldwide copyright: Bernard Schreiber/Trials Guru 2022

Photos: Copyright of individual photographers.

When it’s time to take the gloves off!

It has arrived, the first article featuring Bernie Schreiber, by way of an introduction, Trials Guru interviewed Bernie Schreiber recently…

Trials Guru – What does this mean? It is said to mean that people have decided to compete aggressively with each other. For others it might mean to start competing harder in order to achieve something and when this happens, you can then say ‘the gloves are off’.

What does it mean to World Trials Champion, Bernie Schreiber?

Bernie Schreiber – “When the gloves are off, people start to fight in a more serious way. This term comes from boxing, where fighters normally wear gloves so that they don’t do too much damage to each other.

The phrase the gloves are off could also mean to engage in a verbal fight in which the intent is to harm the other person, rather than have restraint. This is not my intention, but with all due respect, a disclaimer is needed.”

Disclaimer:Everyone has a right to his/her/my opinion

“Personally, I never liked gloves and my grandfather Bernard Schreiber was a boxer in New York back in the 1930’s.

Bernie Schreiber’s Grandfather, Bernard Schreiber – Photo: Schreiber Archive.

“Somehow, gloves never felt right from the first time I twisted a throttle back in the 1960’s.”

Bernie Schreiber on his first motorcycle, a ‘mini-bike’ back in the 1960s – Photo copyright: Schreiber Archive.

“As the motorcycles got bigger and heavier for me, I didn’t have the muscle or power to do wheelies anymore, but the throttle sure did and that’s when the show really began.”

Bernie’s first sponsor was Steve;’s Bultaco on a 250cc Bultaco Sherpa – Photo: Len Weed, USA.

“When my first 250 Sherpa-T was delivered by Steve’s Bultaco in 1972, I tried gloves once in a while for muddy trials, but always found them large and not sensitive enough for the job at hand. By 1975 the lights came on and it was time to take the gloves off for most of my competitive career.”

On the ‘Steve’s Bultaco’ sponsored Sherpa in 1972 with gloves on – Photo copyright Schreiber Archive.

“Later in my career, Hatch Accessories approached me with a glove sponsorship and I accepted to promote their gloves, but not in competition. It was my choice, but we agreed I’d wear them for bike tests and photo days with American media.”

Trials Guru – In 1977, Bernie went to Europe to compete aggressively with other riders, but his main competitor was the current World Trial Champion Yrjo Vesterinen. The fight was not a one round knock-out or 10 rounds, but it took Schreiber 34 world championship rounds and three seasons to take down the 3 time world champion. The gloves were off all the way and history was made in 1979.

The FIM Gold Medal – 1979 World Trials Champion – Bernie Schreiber – Photo copyright: Schreiber Archive.

Who is Bernie Schreiber?

Here is a short introduction of the one and only American that was on the podium of the FIM World Trials Championships.

  • Born in Los Angeles California, began riding trials at age 10.
  • By age 15, considered the best rider in Southern California.
Bernie aged 15 was considered the best trials rider in Southern California. (Photo copyright, Schreiber Archive)

Influenced new riding style by adding floating pivot turns and bunny hops.

The master of the ‘Floater’ and your ‘basic dabless 180’ – Photo: Len Weed, USA
  • In 1977, ranked seventh in the world at age 18, riding for Bultaco.
Bernie Schreiber (USA) seen here on the factory Bultaco 325 in the 1977 SSDT, the first year he competed in the famous event. The section is ‘Edramucky’ and an appreciative crowd watches the young American closely. In two years time he would be crowned FIM World Trials Champion – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland
  • In 1978, ranked third in the world, winning four of the 12 events.
  • In 1979, World Champion, winning four of the 12 events. Youngest champion ever.
  • In 1980, ranked second in the world, winning six events, including a record four straight.
  • Three-time runner-up in World Championship competition: 1980, 1982, 1983.
  • 1982: first and only American to win the historic Scottish Six Days Trial.
Bernie Schreiber on his factory SWM on his way to win the 1982 SSDT – Photo: John Honeyman.
  • Four-time American Champion: 1978, 1982, 1983 and 1987.
The 40th Anniversary 1982-2022 logo. (Design: Javier Benito Aguado)
  • 1982 winner of the Montana U.S. Nationals the most difficult in U.S. history
Montana Nationals USA – 1982
  • El Trial de Espana: the only eight-time winner.
  • BBC Kickstart TV Trial: three-time winner.
  • Solo Moto Indoor Trial: two-time winner.
  • Retired in 1987 with a record of 20 world wins and 48 podium appearances.
  • In 2000, inducted in the American Motorcycling Hall of Fame.
  • In 2004, inducted in the NATC Hall of Fame.
  • Co-wrote a popular book: Observed Trials with Len Weed.
‘Observed Trials’ produced in collaboration with journalist Len Weed is still a sought after publication. (Photo copyright: Len Weed, USA)
  • 2021 FIM Trial Legend
2021 – FIM Trials Legend – Bernie Schreiber – Photo courtesy of Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, Mies, Switzerland

Trials Guru – The first episode of gloves off will be ‘Never Live on your Laurels’ Bernie will talk about his experiences; sports athletes; events; organizations; clubs and much more.

Never miss an eposode, click on this link to view all ‘Gloves Off’ articles:

Gloves Off – Bernie Schreiber on Trials Guru

Photos: Len Weed, USA; Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland; FIM, Switzerland; Schreiber Archive, Switzerland.

Worldwide Copyright – All rights Reserved: Bernard Schreiber, Switzerland & Trials Guru – 2022.