In the mood for some homemade ice cream, bonfire, acoustic music, and some of the most pristine terrain for trials riding? Then look no further than the home of the Hangers!
For the last 12 years, the Hanger family has opened their property and, quite literally, their front lawn to Trials Incorporated. To better accommodate larger RVs and trailers, the Hanger’s made some unique landscaping choices, cutting platforms at various heights in their front-lawn hillside, thus enabling even the largest Class A toy-hauler to get a perfect, level parking spot for the weekend. How many other non-raceway venues offer the same?
On the weekend of September 2nd and 3rd, Trials Incorporated held Rounds 12 and 13 of the 2017 series in Newark, Ohio. A rain storm started the night before Saturday’s round, and carried on consistently throughout most of Saturday. However, the terrain allowed much of the water to drain nicely out of the sections, leaving riders with plenty of grip to get up and over the rocky obstacles. And rocky obstacles are exactly what Newark is known for; riders even get a commemorative sticker exclaiming “I Rode the Rocks at Hanger’s!” after the event. The best part about the terrain is the lack of dangerous cliffs or drop-offs, allowing every rider a safe environment in which to push their skills to the limits and even develop some new ones.
The starting section of Saturday’s competition contained a slew of various obstacles, from rocks and small trees to navigate around, to a depression the size of a car. For a relatively flat section, this gave riders of the lower classes a challenge to test their clutch and brake skills easing down into the cavity, and their throttle control to drive themselves back out, avoiding gates of other classes as they went. Upper skill levels had a steeper climb out of the hole, forcing them to pop the clutch and launch upwards. While not every section had ridiculously tall or large rocks and trees, ask any rider and they’ll tell you that it’s not always the big hits that get points. Most of the time, it’s a tight turn or an inconveniently-located jap zap that poses the bigger challenge.
To reward everyone after a day maneuvering motorcycles through rain and mud, the Hangers continued their annual tradition of treating everyone in attendance to home-made vanilla ice cream. Nothing tastes sweeter after a day of riding with your friends than complimentary ice cream. Traditions continued into the night with a Conley bonfire and the musical accompaniment of guitarists, and TI members, Anthony Williams and Eric Olmstead.
The highlight of Sunday’s competition was a section named “Neil’s Rocks.” While Novice riders were exempt from this section, the remaining classes had to contend with a massive boulder emerging from the side of a relatively steep hill. This section was by far the largest of those in the day’s lineup. Riders began at the bottom of the hill, navigating over fallen trees, then up onto and over the face of the boulder. Depending on the skill level, some riders had to bunny hop over logs set crosswise to the obvious path towards the top. Expert and Champ level riders had the biggest challenge at the top of the hill. Both classes had to jap zap a log hoisted a foot-and-a-half off the ground and navigate a 90-degree turn directly afterwards in order to avoid the face of another boulder upon which the finish gate was situated. The Champ line followed the same path, but contained another gate at the top of the boulder, which could only be reached by performing an impressive 6-foot splatter.
This weekend proved to be a particularly special weekend for long-time Trials Incorporated member and Expert-level rider, Steven Weimer. The 23-year-old Ohio native claimed his second career 2-day Overall award, his first of which was actually won at this same location in the 2016 season.
I took time to speak with Steven and get a better idea of his history with the sport and find out just what makes this spot his lucky charm.
Hi Steven! So, how long have you been riding trials?
Hey Steph! I’ve been riding trials for 15 years off and on. I got hit by a truck when I was 14 on my bicycle and tore my shoulder up. I had 3 surgeries on it; I’ve had 2 abdominal surgeries as well, so I couldn’t ride for 6 seasons, as each surgery took place right before the trials season.
What/who got you interested in the sport? Who is your hero?
My hero is definitely my dad, Steve Berry. He got me into riding trials and has taught me how to fix and work on motorcycles, although I’m still not mechanically-inclined. He has taught me everything I know about trials and life, for that matter. Another idol of mine is Ricky Bobby: “If you ain’t first, you’re last!”
What do you work on most when you practice?
I practice most on natural terrain, hill climbs, off-camber, logs, turns, and creek beds. You won your first Overall award at this spot last year.
What do you think makes this location so special?
I love riding at Newark; it is by far my favorite event to ride. The trials is always set up perfectly, and the gates are set up for everyone’s skill level. It’s awesome to ride huge rocks, too!
This year’s standings have you and Jonathan McMullen vying for top spot on the podium in the Expert class. How did it feel to take the overall win over Jonathan this weekend? With only 4 rounds (2 events) left, how do you plan on securing 1st place and bringing home the trophy for 2017?
Johnny is an extremely tough competitor. He used to be a Champ-class rider a while back, so it felt great and was a huge accomplishment. I’ve only got 2 events left to beat him and win the Expert class, so I have to be on top of my game and win each day in order to secure first place this season.
Where are you looking to go with your trials riding? What are your plans for the future?
I plan on riding the Nationals next year, but I mainly do it because I love riding for fun… and to beat Johnny. That’s definitely the main reason! Haha.
What tips do you have for people looking to get into the sport of Trials?
Trials is an amazing sport and I’ve met lots of amazing people; everyone treats everyone like family, and we all help each other out. It’s a great family sport. Most importantly, don’t take competing too seriously. Just have as much fun as you can with the people you ride with.
The Hanger family has a long history of involvement in motorcycle sports dating back to the 70’s and 80’s. They took a chance and opened their property to 100 strangers that became friends over a bowl of homemade ice cream and the challenge of trying to conquer their infamous rocks, which quickly became legend. The Hangers have incredible hearts and are truly a part of our Trials Incorporated family.
For a complete race schedule for 2017, which runs into November, check out www.trialsinc.org, and follow us on Facebook. See you on the loop!
- published in the October 2017 issue of On The Pegs