Motorcycle riders go on trial at Donner Ski Ranch |

Motorcycle riders go on trial at Donner Ski Ranch

Although one wouldn’t expect many parallels between trials motorcycling and the Tour de France, there is one similarity.

In both sports, it’s extremely tough to defeat the Europeans.

American riders receive the opportunity to see how they compare to the top European riders this weekend (July 26-27) at the U.S. World Round/Wagner Cup in observed trials set for Donner Ski Ranch. The competition at Donner Ski Ranch includes the only world championship rounds contested outside of Europe this year.

“A place in the top-15 is the kind of shot I’m looking for,” said Raymond Peters, the No. 3-ranked U.S. rider during a practice session Monday. “This will be a good experience for me. It’s a chance to see how things are done at a world round.”

Peters, 23, who drove from Watkins Glen, N.Y., for the competition, said he will watch the European riders in hopes of picking up some pointers for his own riding.

“American riders are missing some of the subtleties of the European riders,” Peters said. “The Europeans train and compete with each other every weekend and have raised their level of riding.”

Ryon Bell, the Canadian national champion, said he recently trained in Colorado for two weeks to prepare for altitude at Donner Ski Ranch.

“The altitude is definitely a factor,” Bell said. “You can make alterations to the bike so it won’t be affected by the altitude, but you also have to get used to it physically and make sure you’re in good shape.”

If becoming one of the best trials riders in the world means moving to Europe, Bell is ready to go.

“I’d love to go to Europe, but it depends on results and ambitions,” Bell said. “It’s costly to go to Europe, but anything could happen.”

Included in the Wagner Cup field of 29 riders representing nine countries is reigning world-champion Marc Colomer of Spain and world round points leader Doug Lampkin of England. The U.S. has six riders entered in the event, including national champion Geoff Aaron, 24, of West Redding, Conn.

Known as the “ballet” of motorcycling, trials motorcycle riding is contested on a series of short, designated course of obstacles that often includes rocks, logs, stumps, gravel, mud and water. Riders are given two minutes to attempt to ride the course without “dabbing” (touching their foot to the ground). Points are accrued each time a rider’s foot hits the ground; a “clean” run occurs when a rider successfully negotiates the course without dabbing. The winner of the event is the rider who finishes the complete series of obstacle courses with the fewest points.

The world rounds at Donner Ski Ranch will be contested in a two-day format, both of which will count toward the world championship point standings. Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday, riders will leave at one-minute intervals and begin completing Donner Ski Ranch’s 14 sections of obstacles.

The Wagner Cup derives its name from the traditional trophy that is given to the winner of the world round held in the United States. The Wagner Cup is named after the man who founded the North American Trials Council, Wiltz Wagner.

Donner Ski Ranch, which is anticipating more than 15,000 spectators for the Wagner Cup, also hosted the event in 1982 and 1994. The site is considered one of the top trials locations in the country with its tough terrain and easy spectator accessibility.

Gates will open for spectators at 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 for one day and $25 for two days. For information, call 426-3635.

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