The AMA District 16 Observed Trials event held at Smagical Trails near Mauston was one of the few not postponed or outright cancelled this past weekend.
A small group of riders from Wisconsin and neighboring states took part in the event, put on as a cooperative effort between Wisconsin Observed Trials Association (WOTA) and Upper Midwest Trials Association (UMTA) out of Minnesota, with riders from both states as well as Illinois, Michigan and Iowa taking part.
Smagical offers a perfect location and set up as riders took part in a golf course type set up with eight different trials sections that combine forest paths, elevation and Niagara Escarpment rock formations.
Each trial section had multiple course layouts ranging from beginner sections, made up primarily of a path that narrowed or went around (or in some cases, through) obstacles to more difficult as advanced and expert riders had to go over obstacles – primarily rocks that were naturally in their path that ranged from a normal dirt path to slick rock face.
Technically, this event does not involve ‘racing’ per-se as there is no time involved. The key is to go from entrance to exit on the trial without feet leaving the bike – for a clean run.
Unlike other race events. There is no smell of rubber, or fuel in the air, just the regular scents of an early spring day in a South Central Wisconsin forest. There isn’t even a lot of noise as the smaller bikes (Osset) are electric and even with the full sized machines, its more about precision and control as opposed to twisting the throttle.
Riders completed three rounds of the course – 24 sections in all. Best score was a zero for a clean round and it appeared the maximum penalty points was three.
Phil ‘Smagical’ Smage of Elkhorn, made an appearance riding with the Novice riders as makes his way back from a horrific crash on a world record UTV jump attempt that left him with broken ribs, wrist and collarbone along with four fractured vertebrae.
The 10-time National champion certainly hasn’t lost his touch on a bike, completing 22 clean runs and collecting just three points riding a Kawasaki and providing advice to his fellow riders in the division. Ben Ezell of Roscoe, Ill., turned in a solid effort as well, going clean 20 times and collecting just five points total while Craig Kautzman rounded out the podium on his Sherco, also with 20 cleans and 10 total points.
Randy Ramken (15 cleans – 17 points) and Kris Tibar (15 cleans – 18 points) rounded out the Novice Division.
The biggest group of riders took part in the Advanced Division with 12 in total.
Jim Winterer of Minnesota topped the list, completing 12 clean runs on his Gas Gas and picking up the lowest total of 20 points.
Fred Sassi from Illinois had more clean runs with 13 but collected a 27 penalty points as well on his Gas Gas. Rounding out the podium was Mark Misek, also from Illinois with 10 cleans and 33 points, even with Kurt Muente from Brookfield who also had 33 points, but one less clean round on his Sherco.
Adam Gustafson of Green Bay (9 cleans – 39 points) and Ryan Gustafson from Sturgeon Bay (40 points) took the next two spots with Jeff Bromwell of Michigan ranking seventh on his Gas Gas.
Other Wisconsin riders included Dave Johnson from Sun Prairie on a Sherco; Spencer Stone from Janesville on a Sherco; Eriks Ezerins from West Allis; Felepe Vasquez from Johnson Creek and Lucas Manske from Prairie du Chien on a Sherco.
In the Expert Division, Jason Waldo from Illinois topped the field with seven clean runs and a total of 50 points, ahead of Iowa’s Will Check from Iowa with 69 points (three cleans) on a Scorpa and David Smage from Elkhorn who collected 74 points with three clean rounds, on a Sherco.
Greg Sassi from Illinois had two clean runs and Bobby Warner of Minnesota one.
A pair of Minnesota riders, Ben Winterer (15 cleans, 33 points) and Mitch Hansen (8 cleans – 50 points) grabbed the top two spots in the Sportsman Division with Keith Johnson of Sun Prairie, third on his Sherco with seven cleans and 55 points. Tony Damhoff of Illinois finished with five cleans and 75 points.
Wisconsin riders, Paul Philbreck (8 cleans – 49 points) from Franklin and Elm Grove’s and Doug Hay (three cleans – 59 points) finished on top of the Super Sport Division with Jeff Lois third on his Beta with five clean runs but one point more than Hay.
Jack Drummond from the Upper Peninsula had a couple clean rounds on his way to a 62-point day on his Scorpa followed by another trio of Wisconsin riders – Wade Murphy Price (65 points) from Muskego on a Sherco; Kyle Hach (one clean, 69 points) of New Glarus on a Sherco and Matt Kuennen (81 points) on a Beta.
In the Youth Division, Veronia Misek led the way with a pair of clean runs and 40 points, closely followed by brother Ivan Misek with three clean runs and 49 points. Also in the division was Kasper Tibar of Illinois who collected 53 points with three cleans on his Osset and Ahmet Kimball, also on an Osset, with 60 points.
Anna Smage from Big Bend made her debut in the Beginner Division with a clean run on her way to a 37 point total and Kevin Huber from Iowa had two runs on his Suzuki on his way to a 47 point day in the Vintage division.
The next event for District 16 will be a double, May 4-5 at Oregon, IL.