U.S. Trials Legend Marland Whaley Passes

| July 8, 2019

Last week, U.S. Trials legend Marland Whaley passed away suddenly from what appears to have been a heart attack. Marland was 60 years old and in peak physical condition. The news has left the trials world in Europe and America stunned.

Trials Legend Marland Whaley Passes

U.S. Trials Legend Marland Whaley Passes
Marland Whaley was a pioneer when it came to trials in the U.S.

Whaley was the most dominant trials rider in the Golden Age of U.S. trials in the 1970s. A factory rider for both Montesa and Honda, he won five AMA National Championships in 1975, ‘76, ‘77, ’79, and 1980. A native of Santee, California, Whaley quickly rose through the highly competitive ranks of Southern California trials. At a time when eight of the top 10 in the nation were from California, Marland and rival Bernie Schreiber battled every weekend and pushed each other to the top. According to 1979 World Champion Schreiber, “ Marland could have been World Champion if he had stayed in Europe.”

Bernie Schreiber: “Marland Could have been World Champion If He Had Stayed In Europe”

U.S. Trials Legend Marland Whaley Passes
Whaley in action in 1978 at the USGP.

In the early 1990s, Whaley moved to Montana where he pursued his passion for the outdoors becoming an avid bow hunter, snowboarder, and mountain biker. It was mountain biking where we saw his brilliance shine again. He became the Masters (55+) Champion of the National Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Championship. These races required ultimate fitness. Nine hours in long and 100 mile distances with elevation changes of 10 to 16,000 feet.

Supremely talented, focused, and driven were what made him great, but he was also the best and most fun teammate any one could hope for. In an era where long loops and tight time limits were the norm, he was wickedly fast; no one was faster on single track than Marland.

Whaley Was A Five-Time National Champion

U.S. Trials Legend Marland Whaley Passes
Whaley in 1978

I am so glad that were re-connected about five years ago. We would spend hours on the phone reliving the glory days, talking about our families and how lucky we were to have had the opportunities we had. It was like we were 18 again. For those of us that knew and loved him, we will be telling “Marland stories” for the rest of our lives.

Whaley is survived by his wife Dawn, daughters Kendra and Kiah, and four grand children.

Martin Belair

 

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