Vintage motorcycle event in Dolores

Escalante Days home to unique gathering of classic bikes

Tony Down shows off his 1964 English Triumph Tiger Cub, a motorcycle he plans on riding in the first vintage motorcycle trials event coming to Dolores Saturday and Sunday. Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR

Tony Down shows off his 1964 English Triumph Tiger Cub, a motorcycle he plans on riding in the first vintage motorcycle trials event coming to Dolores Saturday and Sunday.

When it comes to riding motorcycles, Dolores resident Tony Down never likes to do it the easy way.

“We ride motorcycles over terrain, you wouldn’t choose to walk over,” Down said with an English accent and a smile.

Down, 65, has been doing exactly that since he was 17, riding motorcycles over very difficult terrain and not only living to tell the tale but competing against others all over the world.

“The objective is to do it without putting your feet down,” he said.

This Saturday and Sunday, Down will compete in an event he has put together in Dolores, giving riders from around the country a chance to compete and discover Dolores and a chance for Dolores residents to discover a new sport.

In order to compete in the two-day Vintage Motorcycle Trial, one must own a vintage machine, circa 1955-1985. Down will ride his 1964 English Triumph Tiger Cub.

It’ll go over rocks, trees, mud, rivers, steep banks and fallen trees.

“You name it, we will go over it,” he said.

While the motorcycles at this upcoming event will mostly be classics, Down said the riders are classic too.

“Vintage bikes are usually ridden by vintage riders so to speak,” he said. Riders start in their 40s and range up to their mid-70s.

The motorcyclists in this event will compete for the lowest score and bragging rights; no cash prizes are given out in this event. A competitor is watched closely as they go over each 20- to 60-yard course. If a rider puts down his foot, he is awarded one point. And if he puts down another foot he is awarded two points. The maximum points in one section is five, Down explained.

The riders usually have about five hours to negotiate 12 different sections and they can ride each section three times. When the dust settles, the rider with the lowest score wins.

“If you do a section perfectly, you get a zero,” Down said.

While the competitors aren’t usually handed cash prizes, riders compete in a circuit and at various events across the country. Having this year’s event on Escalante Days just fits in with the racers’ schedules.

Down said he is excited to host the first day of the event on Aug. 11. The riders will all be at the end of the parade and will keep going down to the end of Central Ave., the location of the first day of events.

Down plans to use the parking lot near the People’s Cemetery to stage different obstacles for riders. They will ride on land belonging to the Town of Dolores, the old BMX track and rocks and obstacles near McPhee Reservoir.

“A lot of people coming are looking forward to Escalante Days too,” Down said. “Wives and girlfriends who normally get bored can wander down and check things out.”

Plaques and photographs line the halls of the Cozy Comfort RV Park in Dolores, which Down owns with his wife Brenda, commemorating the 40-plus years that Down has been in love with the sport.

When asked about his biggest accomplishment, English-born Down thinks back to the 1970s when he rode in the Scottish 6-Day Trial, which was 1,200 miles, that’s 200 miles a day across the Scottish moor.

“Since it’s Scotland, it is always pouring rain,” he said.

When asked how he did.

“I finished,” he said. “I finished all eight times I was in it.”

There are modern day motorcycle trials with modern equipment. The routes seem nearly impossible and require gravity defying feats. Those that compete in the vintage motorcycle trials prefer the older motorcycles, opting for equipment they can work on, equipment they are familiar with and routes that won’t send them to the hospital if a wrong move is made.

Another interesting fact: Most trials motorcycles don’t have seats. Riders stand up as they negotiate the obstacles.

On Sunday, riders will compete across the highway for the Dolores Public Lands Office at the Town of Dolores’ materials yard; access is off Road T.5.

Down said the sport is spectator-friendly and hopes Dolores will turn out to watch.

Down expects about 20 to 30 riders to attend the event.

For more information, call Down at the Cozy Comfort RV park at 882-2484.

Tony Down competing in the Scottish 6-day trial in 1975. The race is 1,200 miles long. Enlargephoto

Courtesy photo

Tony Down competing in the Scottish 6-day trial in 1975. The race is 1,200 miles long.