Words: Team TrialZone\Matt Liberatore
Photos: Mark Matteson
Dateline: Bozeman, Montana July 4, 1982
Independence Day was celebrated as a travel day for those taking part in the 1982 United States National Trials Championship Series. The day before, the riders had completed the first national ever held in the state of Montana which happened to be one of the championship’s easiest scoring rounds ever. 1979 World Trials Champion Bernie Schreiber, one week removed from his third place finish at the World Trials Championship round held at the Donner Ski Ranch in Norden, California, won the event by two marks over Florida’s Jack Stites while losing only five marks in the process.
Traveling to Whitefish, MT where the second of the two nationals would be held on July 5th, virtually all the participants hoped for a more difficult test, in order to give more room for errors on the scorecards, but had no idea what was in store for them. What is the old saying? “Be careful what you wish for”. Montana’s Rich Hilbun, of the hosting trials club GOTE (Glacier Observed Trials Enthusiasts), organized that second national in Whitefish and knew the sections needed to be toughened up and acted accordingly. Mother Nature also leant a helping hand as heavy overnight rain turned the jagged rocks of Whitefish into not just a difficult challenge, but simple survival for most as Schreiber once again took the victory, this time with a winning score of 144 as Colorado’s Morgan Kavanaugh placed second 40 marks behind. The riders finishing this event were given stickers saying “Clean the Fish” but many thought “Five the Fish” would have been better. Schreiber’s winning score stands to this day as the highest winning score in the history of the United States National Trials Championship Series.
Fast forward thirty nine years later as Hilbun had the idea to contact Schreiber about returning to Montana on the 40th anniversary of those 1982 nationals. Hilbun thought Schreiber could not only conduct one of his ZeroBS Masterclass trials schools, but take part in a multi-day celebration held in conjunction with the annual Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial that began in 2009 and has been held uninterrupted for twelve consecutive years. The conversation resulted in Bernie Schreiber’s return to Montana June 15-19, 2022 starting with a sold out two day trials school, followed by the celebration of Champions Day, and then the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial as the finale.
Global Ambassador of Montana:
Dateline: Butte, Montana June 13, 2022
Bernie Schreiber’s return to Montana, USA forty years later began with the announcement from the promoter of the Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial, Dan Larson of Mossy Rock Trials and Off Road that Schreiber had been appointed as a Global Ambassador for motorcycle trials in the state of Montana. This affiliation will help with communication of the event as Schreiber, being the most successful rider ever from the USA, will be committing his years of experience for future growth. Together with a shared interest in unique trials events, Schreiber and Larson plan to embark on a series of exciting projects demonstrating innovative solutions for Motorcycle Trials going forward.
The Bernie Schreiber ZeroBS Masterclass school:
Butte, Montana June 15/16 2022
Bernie Schreiber conducted his first signature ZeroBS Masterclass experience since 2019 (due to COVID-19) while riding a TRRS 300 supplied by Dan Larson of Mossy Rock Trials and Off Road in beautiful dry conditions, much different than 40 years ago on the factory 280 SWM on rain saturated terrain. Schreiber treated the 30 participants to a unique structured format based on lessons learned in becoming a World, National, and Scottish Six Days Trial Champion, but also while relating other sports such as golf, where direct comparisons become involved. Classroom training, hands on riding and the all important mental approach were covered in great detail.
The classroom setting began this first day before hands on the bars riding, by covering the most important aspect of Motorcycle Trials, the proper stance. Motorcycle Trials has always been a very unique form of off-road riding which requires certain techniques that do not always apply to riding a “normal” dirt bike, especially when it comes to the basic fundamentals. Fortunately, all aspects were covered during three “Impact Zones” throughout the full day of instruction.
Hammer Nutrition founder and CEO Brian Frank spoke towards the end about the often overlooked aspect of performance in sport nutrition. Founded in 1987, Frank told of his experiences from the beginning of the Triathlon boom when the company’s first products were manufactured to help the athlete’s body combat side effects such as fatigue and recovery from high endurance training.
After lunch on the school’s second day, everyone was treated to instruction on what gave Bernie Schreiber an advantage over his rivals, that being the technique which he introduced and perfected, the floating front wheel turn. Also known as the “Pivot turn”, Schreiber used this to great effect in winning the World Trials Championship and showed exactly why this technique is just as effective now.
During each day of the school, each individual student was given one on one instruction on the techniques of this fascinating sport and an insight into what actually makes a World Champion, the attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned.
Butte, Montana June 17, 2022
This day of celebration was to reconnect with old friends and get to know others while recognizing the achievements of Bernie Schreiber as the Guest of Honor. Also joining Schreiber were fellow past US Champions Geoff Aaron, now the US trials team manager for Gasgas, and Scott Head, who happened to be Schreiber’s teammate in 1981. These three icons of US trials have a total of 17 National Championships between them. This was a relaxing off day for everyone involved getting together to enjoy the week.
The Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trials:
Butte, Montana June 19/20 2022
The final event of the five day celebration of Schreiber’s return to Montana after 40 years was held as the fourth stop in the eight event Conquer the West Trials Series which began in 2017. This is a two-day event series in the western USA where riders take part in at least four events to earn points towards their respective final positions, and has expanded to include ten-two day events in 2022.
The Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial brought in 122 riders from several different states and countries to take part in one of the most anticipated trials events of the year.
Unlike 1982 when Schreiber won the national round in Whitefish, perfect weather greeted the riders from the very start of the ZeroBS Masterclass school on Tuesday and continued throughout the week as the riders went off at 10:00 AM Saturday morning, at fifteen minute intervals depending on class, to tackle 10 sections three times on the beautiful Montana countryside. The sections featured plenty of grip on a nice combination of dry rocks, log crossings, and up and down banks. with some steep loose climbs thrown in requiring throttle control to maintain grip on the rear tire.
William Head took the lead on this first day in the Master Class by an 11 mark margin over Chad Redman. Head continues to improve while showing the type of skill that does not surprise anyone considering the trials career of his father Scott.
Bryce Pophal lost only 3 marks on the day in Expert while Geoff Aaron’s son Murphy, another rider taking after his father displaying impressive form and talent for his age, took second position with 20 marks lost. David Taylor came in at third place with a score of 26.
Yoyi San Martin of todotrial.com fame, making his first ever trip to the USA traveling from Spain, took the first day lead in Expert Sportsman by a single mark over Nick Schacht. These two riders were so close that they also had the same amount of clean rides, matching 24 on the day.
The Rising Stars Montana Silent Auction took place after the day’s riding ended. Rising Stars Montana is a fund dedicated towards the future development of up and coming youth riders in Montana. One of those promising up and comers, eleven year old Bennett Hebner took the lead in Intermediate Class by 4 marks over his father Bob 41 to 45 at the day’s end.
A question an answer session with Bernie Schreiber then took place before The Rising Stars Montana fund raising check of $2,940 was presented in order to give a helping hand to the youth riders of Montana in reaching their full potential.
Afterwards, landowners Keith and Heather Fortin were presented with everyone’s gratitude for their continued commitment in helping grow the sport in the state of Montana. The evening ended with the Under the Montana Stars bonfire.
Day two began with rider sign in at 8:00 AM sharp followed by once again the section scorer and gift bag distribution, thanking those who have the not so easy but rewarding job as an observer. Shortly before the riders meeting all riders were required to be in the paddock area looking up towards the sky for the Big W arial drone photo, another detail making this event so special.
The staggered start really helps in preventing the dreaded bottlenecks that can take place with everyone going out at the same time as the riders left to face another three laps, this time with 9 sections as the perfect conditions continued.
William Head once again took the day two lowest score in Master Class by only 2 marks over Chad Redman, 17 to 19 and thus took the overall event victory with a grand total of 57 marks lost to Redman’s 70.
Murphy Aaron produced very impressive rides with a closing score of 3 to lead day two in Expert as Bryce Pophal came in 7 marks adrift with a score of 12. Despite the outstanding ride on the day, it wasn’t quite enough for Aaron as Pophal took the overall win with a grand total of 15.
Yoyi San Martin halved his day one score in Expert Sportsman to win again on day two by finishing with just 6 on his scorecard while Nick Schacht fell back, losing 23 marks on the day, San Martin now has the distinction of being undefeated on US soil as his grand total of 18 also gave him the overall win for the two days.
Bennett Hebner placed second behind his father Bob this time, in Intermediate class but took home bragging rights with the overall win by a single mark with a grand total of 59 in one of the closest finishes.
The other close finish came in Amateur class as Mark Vonmetteheim won with 17 over Wade Fuller who dropped a total of 18 marks overall.
Afterwards, the awards presentations, drawings, and give aways ended these five days of festivities as everyone involved showed the excitement of already looking forward to 2023!
Special thanks to Dan and Laura Larson, Rich and Yoyo Hilbun, all the sponsors, observers, media, riders, photographers and everyone involved for making such a memorable weekend for us all! More photos of this event will be available at mossyrocktrials.com
Results Top Three per Class Whiskey Gulch Two Day Trial 2022
Master: 1. William Head 40+17-57; 2 Chad Redman 51+19-70
Expert: 1.Bryce Pophal 3+12=15; 2. Murphy Aaron 20+5=25; 3. David Taylor 26+26=52
1. Yoyi San Martin 12+6=18; 2. Nick Schacht 13+23=36
1. Mike Diesburg 10+6=16; 2. Lance Butler 22+12=34;
3. Brandt Kennedy; 24+14=38
1. Tony McGrath 18+9=27; 2. Richard Fullen 47+9=56;
3. Nels Arneson 41+28=69
1. Mark Snyder 17+1=18; 2. DJ Gottofrey 45+15=60;
3. Jeff Holman 41+20=61
1. Bennett Hubner 41+18=59; Bob Hubner 45+15=60;
3. Ryan Alley 50+12=62
1.Mark Vonmettenheim 14+3=17; 2. Wade Fuller 17+1=18;
3. Christopher Kott 22+4=26
1. Levi Sutheimer 8+12=20; 2. Brandy Kennedy 16+13=29;
3. Morgan Goetting 17+15=32
1. Matt Parsons 4+0=4; 2. Andrew Parker 6+3=9;
3. Jacob Roberts 10+0=10