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“Ole’ to the Feet Up Fiesta”
SCTA Trials Series
40th El Trial de España
March 27, 2010
Lake Isabella, California
By Ron Pocher
Photos By Don Williams
Any off-road motorcycle enthusiast would readily agree that there’s just something really special about competing in an event that’s been around for forty-plus years. Florida’s Alligator Enduro; the Pikes Peak Hillclimb; the Checkers MC Hare n Hound; the Mammoth Motocross; the Prospectors MC Gold Rush Enduro – these are the events that people drive a thousand miles to participate in. These are the events that dirt bike nuts dream of winning. In the trials world, the Ute Cup and of course the El Trial de España fit into this category of prestige.
The “El Trial”, as the feet up crowd likes to call it, has been going strong since 1970. All of the legendary names in American trials history have tried to reach the top step of this podium at one time or another, and most of them have. Some recognizable European names have claimed this title as well – Sammy Miller, David Cobos, Tommi Ahvala and Adam Raga; to mention a few. California’s own Bernie Schreiber would have to be considered the “conquistador especial” with his eight victories, though.
The course marshal for this year’s 40th edition was Lewisport South’s Bill Merritt. The Cullins’; the Head’s; the Merritt’s; the Storz’; Dave Bell; Tim Holm; Ron Koch; Randy & Quinn Lewis; Paul Oswald; Ian Roberts; Scott Wenger; and Cy Young, who somehow came to life and escaped from the Baseball Hall of Fame, all “pitched” in on the course set-up. Sarah “Superstar” Cullins handled the sign-up duties all by her lonesome.
Section 3 had to be tossed due to a shortage of observers, so most classes were required to complete three loops of nine sections each. The Pro class was limited to just two loops, since they would be competing in the famous Sunday exhibition the following day.
SCTA has a special “Open” class that pays neither points nor awards but allows the entrants to ride whichever line they choose in any section throughout the day. California trials legend Scott Head was the lone participant on this day and finished with 17 points lost on what was most likely a pretty tough “mixed bag”.
Michael Salsman and Dave Cooper had their usual “butting of heads” in the Vintage class. Salsman took all three of his points on the first loop while Mr. Cooper waited until section 6 of the final circuit to commit his unfortunate “five”, which left him with an unwanted silver.
Daniel Woods absconded with the Novice class win over rival Shawn Merritt, 10 to 15, even though Master Merritt was able to clean the entire third loop. Miss Monique Hancox filled out the podium with only 23 marks dropped.
The Sportsman class, which boasted eleven slightly confused contestants, needed a ride-off to decide the winner. Quinn Lewis and Steve Storz couldn’t find much use for those hated dabs and sat tied with “goose eggs” after regulation. Lewis won it in the ride-off when Sir Storz finally had to put a pod down. Michael Salsman and his “cherry” Bultaco had loop’s two and three figured out, but that loop one 3-card left him holding the bronze. Erstwhile youngster Len Sims left his rigid-frame Triumph Cub back on the farm, but managed to steer his modern-day ride to fourth.
The Intermediate class also sported eleven participants, and excluding the lovely Tori Carrillo, none of which you would want to take home to meet your mother. Nevada’s Scott McKay certainly had a difficult day – he had to put his foot down once in section 2 on loop two to pocket the gold. Cy Crittenden had to take three dabs on his first go-around, but rode clean through the rest of the day to snatch his second-straight second place finish in only his fourth-ever trials. Ron Koch rounded out the podium after beating Rick Daniel by a clean, 22 to 21. Both of these poorly groomed plonkers finished with 6 points dropped.
Wyoming’s Mark “Moto” Franklin continued to showcase his off-road versatility with a narrow victory in the Clubman division. Youth phenom Ty Cullins had a first loop “five” that proved to be his demise, but still finished in second place, one point adrift of Franklin’s 7-point total. Clyde Butler and Scott Wenger finished with 11 points apiece but, but, but Butler got the nod on cleans, 20 to 19, to take third in this 8-rider scuffle.
Clive Hannon and Chris Cullins had their usual “tooth and nail” battle in the Advanced class. Cullins was able to post the lower score on both loop’s two and three, but could never quite make up for the four marks he spotted Clive on the opening lap. Hannon nipped Cullins by but a dab, 31 to 32. Tom Miller’s 48-point card was good enough for third while Sarah Duke was trying to come to grips with her new mount and could only muster a fourth place finish.
Brad Hannon was the class of the Expert ranks on this fine spring day. Hannon finished with 14 points and 20 cleans (out of a possible 27) and seemed to have complete control of his cooperative steed. Bruce Davis held off Rick Jenkins to claim the silver, 37 to 43. Both gents finished with 8 cleans apiece. “Big Al” Duke was probably wishing for a little more power than his daughter’s spare 250 was providing, but still held on for fourth with his 52-point card. Todd Bennett wasn’t far off the pace to round out the class.
The Pro class was actually split into two groups for this year’s running. Merritt and company decided that TdN teammates Cody Webb and Keith Wineland needed a few up-scaled obstacles to enhance their line, and therefore plopped them in their own “C/K” class.
The regular Pro class sported six of the nation’s most promising youngsters. Eric Storz, who’s now riding a new 280 Gas Gas, punched the best first loop card with a ten to lead Andrew Oldar by one and both Max Nelson and Harry Oswald by a couple, heading into loop two. Oldar only needed three dabs on the second lap, while Storz carded five, and was therefore able to erase his opening circuit deficit. Oldar won it with 14 points and 12 cleans over Storz and his 15/9 total. Oregonian Nelson steered his new Gas Gas to third with a 25/9 total and Oswald was right on his rear fender with a final tally reading 28/7. The always-pleasant Reid Davis was back to his usual self on loop two with a 14-card, but a trying first go-around pushed him to a 39-point total. Ian Delaney was right there in the hunt after the initial circuit with his 13 points dropped, but had to punch through the majority of loop two to round out the class with 53.
Whoever came up with the Cody/Keith line in section 2 must have been feeling a bit devilish. Both Webb and Wineland never could figure out a way up the big overhanging rock lurking mid-section and each took ten of their points at that exact locale. Webb topped Wineland both loops, 10 to 15 and then 7 to 9, to take Saturday’s special TdN contest with a 17 to 24 ending total.
The El Trial de España is just plain fun. There’s plenty of time to try the sections that gave you trouble afterward; the “Flying Pig” barbecue served on Saturday evening is simply “top shelf”; you can enjoy a “cold one” at the camp fire (accompanied by a fine cigar if you’re Pete Croft) in the company of many El Trial historians; the Sunday morning “Adventure Ride” is truly adventurous, especially if you’ve never had the privilege of descending a “real” California downhill; and all of this is topped off with being able to witness some of the nation’s top riders battling in sections that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck from just “watching”. This legendary event truly is a “trials fiesta” and well worth the trip from any point of departure.
Many Thanks to Don Williams of Ultimate Motorcycling Magazine for providing his photos from the 40th El Trial de Espana
“C/K”:1. Cody Webb (17); 2. Keith Wineland (24)
PRO:1. Andrew Oldar (14); 2. Eric Storz (15); 3. Max Nelson (25); 4. Harry Oswald (28); 5. Reid Davis (39); 6. Ian Delaney (53)
EXP:1. Brad Hannon (14); 2. Bruce Davis (37); 3. Rick Jenkins (43); 4. Alan Duke (52); 5. Todd Bennett (76).
ADV:1. Clive Hannon (31); 2. Chris Cullins (32); 3. Tom Miller (48); 4. Sarah Duke (67); 5. Kristjan Thordarson (128); 6. Ken Melody (dnf); 7. Tod Sciacqua (dnf)
CLUB:1. Mark Franklin (7); 2. Ty Cullins (8); 3. Clyde Butler (11/20); 4. Scott Wenger (11/19); 5. Marcus Miller (12); 6. Mike Jenkins (18); 7. Randy Lewis (29); 8. Hap Oswald (dnf)
INT:1. Scott McKay (1); 2. Cy Crittenden (3); 3. Ron
Koch (6/22); 4. Rick Daniel (6/21); 5. Jim Preston* (7/22); 6. Ron Pocher (7/22); 7. Nigel Young (17); 8. Joseph Carrillo (20); 9. Scott Johnson (21); 10. Damon Barda (24); 11. Tori Carrillo (27)
SPORT:1. Quinn Lewis** (0/27); 2. Steve Storz (0/27); 3. Michael Salsman (3); 4. Len Sims (4); 5. Dave Cooper (5/26); 6. Craig Lane*** (5/23) 6. Clay Hoyt (5/23); 8. Don
Franklin (20/17); 9. Renata Delaney (20/14); 10. Mark Melehes (36); 11. Jim Wilson (dnf)