Although it doesn’t involve the speed or danger that motocross or road racing entails, MotoTrials (or observed trials) is every bit as spectacular as any two-wheeled sport on the planet. At the top level, MotoTrials is a rigorous rendezvous between rider and machine with competitors expected to climb steep rock walls and leap massive gaps. While at the sportsman level, it’s more about staying within the boundaries as you navigate over small obstacles and through tight turns.
In two weeks, on May 24-25, the 2014 Aires NATC/AMA MotoTrials US National Series gets underway at Texas Creek, Colorado, kicking off an eight-round series that also includes events in Sedan, Kansas, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before wrapping up on June 28-29 in Sequatchie, Tennessee. The NATC (North American Trials Council) is the governing body for national trials in the United States and the NATC-organized series offers a Pro class for the top riders in the country as well as a multitude of support classes for intermediate level riders and even kids and seniors.
Among the riders set to contest this year’s Pro division is pre-season favorite and defending champ Pat Smage. The Sherco USA-backed rider claimed his sixth National title in a seven-year stretch with a dominating performance in 2013, winning all but one round of the National series. Smage, who hails from Wisconsin, is one of the most technical riders on the circuit and he’s at his best when the going gets rough. He’s also very adept at “trick riding” and when he’s not competing in National trials, Smage spends his time performing extreme riding shows across the country. In 2011, he and his brother, Phil, performed on the hit television show “America’s Got Talent”.
Adding a European flair to this year’s series will be Martin Matejicek. The current Czech Republic Junior Trials Champ will be competing in this year’s championship in the Pro division on a Gas Gas for the US Importer, and he is expected to push Smage for the 2014 title.
Matejicek is 18 years old and was a member of the Czech Trial des Nations team that finished second in the International division behind Germany and ahead of the US team in last year’s Trial des Nations.
In 2013, Matecjicek finished second in the top class in the Czech Republic national series, and he was fifth in the European Championship Junior Division.
Bryan Roper is part of the “new wave” of young riders moving up in the sport. The Sherco USA-sponsored rider is from Arizona and comes from a trials-riding family. His father was a top rider in the ‘80’s and his mother also rode trials and was a part owner of “Trials Competition News” which is a publication that still covers the sport today, but now known as Trials and Enduro News.
Roper will be splitting his time between the AireS AMA/NATC MotoTrial US National Championship series and the World Championship series in Europe where he will compete in the Junior division.
Logan Bolopue has one of the most impressive trials resumes of the new group of young riders. In 2009, Bolopue won the Junior class in his first season of in the Mototrial National Series. In 2010 he won the 125 Expert class and in the same season he also captured both East and West coast Youth Nationals, giving him three titles in one year. In 2011, Bolopue won the Expert class in the Nationals series; and in 2012, his first season as a Pro rider, he finished seventh. Last year, Bolopue climbed onto the podium at enough events to finish an impressive third for the series.
Gas Gas USA-sponsored Eric Storz finished in the number four spot in 2013, the California rider relying on his powerful riding style to get him though the more difficult sections. The three-time Trial Des Nations Team rider will ride a limited schedule in 2014, due to his commitment to college.
Karl Davis Jr.
Karl Davis Jr. is one of the more spectacular riders on the circuit, and has been a solid top five performer for the past few years. Davis is a member of the mighty Sherco USA team, and will spend much of the year in Europe competing in the World Trials Championship along with teammate Bryan Roper.
Cody Webb is not only the 2010 Mototrial National Champion, but he’s also one of the top EnduroCross racers in the world. Webb won three of the last four rounds of the AMA EnduroCross Series in 2013, and he kicked off this year’s EnduroCross Series with a big win in Las Vegas. The Northern California resident will once again be riding a Beta in both the National Trials Series and in extreme off-road races all over the country. Webb started the 2013 season with a broken foot sustained while training for EnduroCross, which forced him to miss the first eight rounds of the MotoTrial Series. When he returned for the last two rounds, held in Minnesota, he quickly put his Beta at the top of the podium by winning the first day and finishing second place the following day. Due to his off-road commitment, however, Webb will only be able to ride the final two rounds of this year’s series in Tennessee.
Colorado’s Keith Wineland has been a top performer in the Pro divisions for several years, although the last two years he’s missed the series to be a part of Nuclear Cowboyz, which is billed as a contemporary high-energy circus performance that combines traditional circus skills with motorcycles and other props in a choreographed storyline/theme. Wineland will be right at home on the Colorado terrain and most likely will not miss a beat, despite is absence from the series.
NEW TO TRIALS
As far as what’s new for 2014, this year the series is sporting a new electronic results board, with Smart phone support, to be used at events. Beginning with the 2014 season, all results will be instantly displayed on the electronic results board. As the riders hand their scorecard in they will be tabulated and then updated instantly to the results board, which will help riders and spectators keep up to date on the event as it happens.
If you’re new to the sport of trials or just interested in the latest rules, which seem to change every year or so, here’s a primer. The object of MotoTrials is to ride through a specified course without setting your foot down, crashing, riding out of bounds or moving backwards. Points are given to a rider for using his feet — or any part of his body — for support, or for moving backwards. Points are given as follows:
Clean: Zero points. The rider successfully negotiates the section without dabbing, riding out of bounds, crashing or moving backwards.
One: Rider dabs once in a section.
Two: Rider dabs twice in a section.
Three: Rider dabs three or more times. Three points is the maximum score for “dabbing” in a section.
Five: The maximum penalty for failure to legally complete a section; either crashing, moving backwards or going out of bounds.
2014 AireS NATC/AMA MotoTrials US National Series
May 24-25: Texas Creek, Colorado www.rockymountaintrials.org
May 31- June 1: Sedan, Kansas www.avtatrials.com
June 21-22: Valley View, Pennsylvania www.rauschcreekracing.com
June 28-29: Sequatchie, Tennessee www.trialstrainingcenter.com
2014 National Youth Series
Eastern Youth Nationals & Women’s Open
July 4-6: Sequatchie, TN www.trialstrainingcenter.com
Western Youth Nationals & Women’s Open
July 18-20: Howard, CO
For more information on the sport of MotoTrials (or Observed Trials), check out www.mototrials.com.