NEOTT - How it all started ...
Ever wonder how NEOTT got started? So did we so we had lunch with the founding father of NEOTT - Mike McCabe (2nd from the left). Lunch lasted a solid two-hours of non-stop trials stories from Mike. This is the first of what we hope to be many more articles from Mike.
Here is his story of how he started it all back in 1969 making NEOTT one of the first two or three trials clubs started in the United States...
In the fall of 1967 I was working in downtown Tulsa, and on
Tuesdays would go to a little news stand and buy a copy of “Motorcycle News”, a
British paper that had stories and photos about dirt bike events. I always was interested in the stories and
pictures of trials events.
At the time I had a CL72 Honda 250cc Scrambler. And was trying to ride it in the strip pits on North Yale. I met some guys that were riding out at 81st and Yale at a place called Branders – a property between 81st and 91st and Harvard and Yale, belonging to Stan Brander. He let a bunch of us ride there just as a fun riding place. One of the people I met was Mac Young, who had a car lot on South Peoria, and bought and sold motorcycles. Mac Ordered a Greeves Trials bike, from England, for another guy who rode with us, named Doug Drulinger (aka: Frog].
They all knew I was interested in trials, so when the Greeves arrived Mac called me to go see it. I still remember the feeling I got when I first stood up on it, riding in his driveway. I thought –‘So that’s why they always stand up!’
I immediately had a meeting with my financial advisor, whom I’m still married to after 57 years, and we ordered me a Greeves. So started trying to ride trials, or as we called them at the time—“traps”.
In one of the issues of “Motorcycle News” I saw an article
about a film on trials that Castrol Oil would lend to clubs or groups. The film was called “See You In Fort
Williams”, and was about Sammy Miller riding in the Scottish Six Days Trial. I contacted Castrol, and a few weeks later got
a package from England with the film. Hang on here, all this will make sense pretty
Another piece of the story – I was buying my bike stuff from Tulsa Triumph, a bike shop at 11th and Memorial. It was owned by another one of the guys that rode out at Branders, Ray Brazil. He was a local celebrity because he rode National Enduros and was a really good rider. So I told him I wanted to ride some trials, but couldn’t find any events—so he suggested that I start a trials club and put on events.
So, I put an ad in the Tulsa World newspaper, in the ‘used bike’ section, inviting anyone interested in forming a trials club to come see the Castrol film I had. I arranged to use a meeting room – 44 people showed up that evening. After the movie, I passed around a clipboard and got everyone’s name and phone number.
Another guy that rode out at Branders was Paul Messick-a local builder- and he let me use his office for the second meeting. So about a month later I called everyone on the list from the first meeting and invited them to help organize a trials club – this time 20 people showed up. I had gotten a book on club organization and rules etc, so we went through all that stuff, and the meeting just went on and on. Finally we agreed to form a club, and so the final item was – what do we call the new club? All sorts of suggestions -Oklahoma Trials Club, Green Country Trials, …Northeastern Okla Trials Club??
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle. A few weeks before the second club meeting, another regular rider at Branders, George Logan, his son Joe and I all went to ride The Busted Piston National near St. Louis. The enduro was put on by The MidWest Enduro Team –see where this is going?
The second meeting had gone on way too long and everyone was headed for the door, –Finally, George Logan , said “We’re always going to ride these trials as a team, right?” Everyone left in the room agreed, (that’s how little we knew about trials at the time). So George suggested we call the club –Northeastern Oklahoma Trials Team-all agreed, and that’s where the name came from.
The first trial that NEOTT put on was……. but enough, this has rambled on long enough. That will be the next Chapter
Mike McCabe – Founder NEOTT
- Trivia Question: Who is the rider on the original NEOTT patch? Post your guess on the NEOTT Facebook Page
- We are working with the Trials Guru to track down the "Welcome to Fort William" film and will update the story once found.
- Mike's next big story will be about his journey as first American to ride the Scottish Six Day Trials (SSDT) in 1973
- Trials Guru also has a photo of Mike McCabe riding the SSDT and is working with the photographer to get permission to publish to the web. Once done we'll link to it.
Additional Links of possible interest:
It all started in 1971 when I was 13 I remember going to the movie theater on a Friday night to see this movie called “On Any Sunday”. Going in I wasn’t even sure what it was about but afterwards I was so blown away I went back and watched it twice more on Saturday. Ever since that movie most of my life has been guided by the need to ride dirt bikes. In the early 70’s we were living in Germany, (I am a military brat) and the first bike I rode was a friends red Honda Trail 50. Shortly after that my brother got the much faster blue model and we shared that bike for a couple of years. Our little gang of bikers had a great time buzzing around the apartment complexes and finding some off road places to play around on. Of course as we got better we starting trying different stunts. Looking back at this picture our motto seemed to be Fun First - Safety Last.
Summer of 1974 and now living in Woodbridge, VA and I started cruising the classifieds and there it was - a 1973 Honda Elsinore CR250 with Koni Shocks - $725 – a sweet deal. Now I had never ridden a motorcycle larger than 50cc nor a motorcycle with a clutch and didn’t really know what to expect from a ‘real’ motorcycle. Well I’m thinking I’ll just give it some gas and pop the clutch and we’ll be rolling down the trail like Roger DeCoster. I was rolling alright, rolling around on the ground after a classic whiskey throttle loop out and taking a large soil sample. I got up, dusted myself off, looked at the seller and said “Heck yeah, I’ll take it!”. When it came time to exchange money, I recall holding a gauze bandage on a cut above my eye to keep the blood flow from getting on the money.
I spent my Junior and Senior year of High School trail riding the Elsinore near the
house since we were located at the end of the housing addition and I could
easily get out and play along the powerlines and other areas that were under
Got out of high school and joined the US Air Force ending up at Williams AFB just outside of Phoenix, AZ.
The Elsinore was ultimately stolen but the joke was on the thief as the top end had blown to smithereens while desert riding about 2 weeks earlier (Who knew you actually had to maintain these things?? - I can see Stoodley shaking his head at this one).
Finished up college in 1984 and moved to Ponca City, OK because that is where the job was and more importantly there was a motocross track in town and an off-road riding area about 20 minutes away. The KZ commuter was quickly traded-in on a new 1985 KTM 250 Enduro from Coopers Cycle in Stillwater. Then spent about 15 years riding and racing a variety of bikes on the Black Jack Enduro Circuit (BJEC) and Oklahoma Cross Country Racing Association (OCCRA).
By 2002 I had worked my way up to a decent B level (Intermediate) rider but was also realizing I wasn’t going to get much faster and it was getting harder to recover from the various mishaps that can occur at speed. (I was just coming off of a second broken collarbone ... thanks Charles Martin for the rescue!).
Flipping through a dirt bike magazine of some sort I saw an ad for Trials Training Center where you could rent a trials bike and take a multi-day training class. Now I had never even seen a trials bike in person but was ready for some vacation time and something different so I signed up.
Tony and Laura Bussing were the founders of TTC and provided great instruction. Within 30 minutes of the start of the class, I realized I didn’t know a whole lot about really riding a motorcycle and I told Tony this was going to be a very expensive trip for me because I absolutely had to have a trials bike to get this thing figured out. BTW, this pic from the TTC class is the only evidence of me ever riding a GasGas :-).
Within 6 weeks of class, the enduro bike was sold and the first of many Beta's, a 2002 Beta 250 World Round Minder's bike, was in the garage.
The first trials event I competed in was at Douglass and I
wasn’t sure what class to sign up for but since I was, in my mind anyway, a pretty decent Intermediate dirt bike guy so Novice class was out of the question, Amateur
didn’t sound right as I didn’t want to seem like a trophy hunter when I won, so
Senior Amateur it was.
me AVTA has some of the best Senior Amateur riders in the country and they set their sections
for highly skilled technical riders. I
was riding against this guy Dean Metsker who is a super smooth rider. So I’m less than halfway done the event and
Dean comes bee-bopping down the trail all cool and casual to see how I’m doing
because he is done already.
is shooting off of me like a sprinkler and I’m huffing and puffing like I just
finished running a 10k and I’m like what do
you mean you’re done already – crap this is hard work. The end result was Dean 13 – Mike 77.
Crushed in Senior Amateur class I rode Amateur for my second event only to have Alan Guyot judging me in a section and after seeing me ride 3 times he had had enough and suggested “you know you could ride Novice class” (arghhh more ego deflation). Well there was no way I was going back to Novice and get beat by a 9 year-old (phenom Josh Nutsch). So my first year of trials was a lot of pushing, pulling and dragging the bike through stuff.
15 years, numerous Betas and probably 300 trials events later I can
mostly ride my way through the Sr. Expert line without a lot of drama. What I really like about this sport is that
I’ve done things on a trials bike that I could never do on a dirt bike and I think I'm getting a little bit better each year. I marvel at how guys like
Dale Malasek (SR-70) and Gary Wing (SR-80) are still super smooth riders and my
long-term goal is to ride the SR-90 class when I get
If you read this far you deserve a medal. I’m going to wrap this up and hop
on the exercise bike for a little spinning session as I gotta stay in shape to
try to keep up with those young old guys.
Play the movie On Any Sunday”.
Looking for a bike? (Seriously aren't we always looking :-)) here are some quick links for trials bikes on Craigslist in these nearby cities:
Coming Up in the Feb 2018 Issue:
- Shake down and break down of the Jan Event - several riders moving up a class this year - should be interesting
- Rider Profile - Todd Duesterhaus
- Status update on Keenan's June 16 & 17 NATC Arkansas Nationals preparation
- If anyone wants to write up a short story or tall tale send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get it added