Motorcycle trial racing on tap in Dolores

Sign up for the Escalante Days race

Peter Slothower manuevers over rocks along McPhee Reservoir in the vintage motorcycle competition.

For a third year, motorcycle trial racing will take center stage at Escalante Days in Dolores on Aug. 9-10.

Former professional racer Tony Down and landowner Casey McClellan put on the obstacle race for all ability levels. Challenging and easier courses are set up along the Dolores River, at the Fourth Street Bridge, and in the Lost Canyon area.

"This year, the circuits are shorter, easier and more spectator friendly, with six areas where people can watch," Down said. "People can sign up all the way up to race day."

On Saturday, the racing starts after the parade at the Fourth Street bridge. On Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m., the race switches to the Lost Canyon area around the bridge and area hills.

Riders face obstacles that require slow maneuvering. A judge assesses points for errors, like putting a foot down or missing a gate. The fewest points wins.

Novice and beginners are given easier courses, and Down acts as instructor for those riders.

"There is a lot to learn about the machines and how to finesse the brakes and throttle," he said. "It is a chance for people new to the sport to learn."

Intermediate and expert riders face obstacles including boulders in the river and headwall slopes in Lost Canyon.

"It is a true balance of machine and body," Down said.

This year's race is a non-sanctioned event that is more user-friendly.

Racers have a quirky, daredevil sense of humor. This year Down created a super section for the advanced classes dubbed the "Saddam's Mother of All Graded Hills."

Past races included, "Honey I'm Home," featuring men in dresses riding through rooms in an abandoned house and then blasting through the back door.

Down raced in Europe and still races with vigor. But now he competes more for fun and camaraderie, and to promote the sport.

"Bear in mind these are old men on old bikes," he chuckles. "We're still brilliant riders, but were not in our 20s even though we may think we are. We're carrying on with various injuries."

While competition can get fierce for the veterans, motorcycle trials are more of a "gentleman's sport," Down says. "There is not animosity, we applaud each other's brilliance, and laugh at our mistakes when we lay in a heap with the bike on top of us."

Last year, 25 racers participated. For more information and how to sign up, call Tony at (970) 882-2483. Or stop his business at the Cozy Comfort RV Park, at 1501 Central Avenue, Dolores.