The 19th Annual Columbia Cup MotoTrial

I arrived at the event site in Goldendale, WA at 11am on Friday. It was a warm, sunny and at times a breezy day. First thing was dropping off the scorecards which were accidentally left behind in West Seattle by the co-trials marshal, Dan. They needed to be prepared for check-in at 4pm.

I’d be staying in the same Quality Inn as the last weekend, but I’d keep my motorcycle at the event site. So I dropped that off as well, and then checked in at the motel.

By 4pm, the check-in tent was getting busy.

The Portland-based trials group COTA (Columbia Observed Trials Association) was hosting both the Friday gate challenge and the games on Saturday after round one.

Friday night’s gate challenge was the first time I got to see an event like this. Colored flags bracketed obstacles on a rocky hillside. Riders had 60 seconds to travel any path around the course and through as many bracketed obstacles of their choice to earn points. White flagged obstacles were worth 1 point, green (2), yellow (3), orange (4) and finally red worth 5 points. Points were taken away for putting down your feet (or stalling). The rider in each class (novice, intermediate, up to expert) was entered to win the grandprize, a new trials rear tire for their bike.

A number of women participated along with the guys.

You can gauge somewhat the steep terrain and rocky conditions inside the gate challenge boundaries.

Being timed, the pace most riders attempted seemed much faster than you’d travel through a trials section for competition.

Ambient lighting conditions taxed my poor old cell phone. 🙁

With my bicep tendon healed but just getting back in shape, I didn’t take part in the gate challenge. It looked like fun. A bit manic for my taste, being a timed event.

Michael arrived in Goldendale about 8pm and we met up for dinner at the Mexican restaurant closest to the motel. A margarita and dinner hit the spot.

Saturday morning at 8am was the Little Wheels trial. The kids ride 5 sections four times each – a total of 20 sections.

The adults arrived for their start times an hour later and the day began.

I rode with Michael and Jeff, my comrades in trial. My plan was to ride one full loop (10 sections) today. If that went well, I’d ride two full loops tomorrow.

I accumulated 13 points during my one loop, one more than both Jeff and Michael combined. Clearly I am out of practice! I lowered my tire pressure to 3.5 and 4 pounds, back and front respectively. It helped with traction in the loose fine soil.

Saturday at 4pm was a special game – the second annual Mom’s Trial. The mother’s of LIttle Wheel riders who wanted to participate, could ride the morning’s Little Wheel’s sections while the kids kept their score.

These brave women rose to the challenge.

After Jeff and Michael were finished for the day, we all went to The Dirty Cowgirl for BBQ. Well, that was the intention, anyway. Turns out they had run out of brisket and pulled pork. We were left with a variety of hamburgers or a chicken sandwich. 🙁

We had a good time talking and I saved room for dessert – peach cobbler and ice cream.

Sunday morning we rode a fresh set of 10 sections. Some clubs run the same sections in reverse, but event provided fresh challenges.

As planned, I rode two loops or twenty sections total. Section 3, a steep, long hill climb with a slight s-shape gave me the most trouble. I cleaned that section the first time through this morning, but the second time resulted in a five with bike laying on its side 🙁

My score was 12 points with 4 cleans on the first loop, and 12 points with 5 cleans on the second.

Jeff, who rides a vintage Montesa, got a chance in the afternoon to ride a vintage Triumph trials bike along with this vintage Yamaha. He broke out in smile after all that.

Many trials riders bring restored bikes to bigger events. Motorcycles have sure changed in the last 50 years.

The drive home after helping get the course cleaned up and equipment packed away was not four hours but over five, due to weekend traffic and heavy rains over Snoqualmie Pass. I was exhausted by the time I got the car unpacked and the bike put away.


Louise, a new-to-trials rider with a background in Enduro riding this weekend seemed to have a really great time. Quickly getting hooked on trials is something we have in common with many others.

My arm is healing and that will allow me to continue to ride trials. I have a brace to use when riding and I’ll avoid using that arm to pick up the bike by the back tire when putting it on its stand or the hitch carrier going forward.

The Columbia Cup was my first two-day motorcycle event ever. It was also the second event that I helped to setup. In total, I was there for three days and two nights, two weekends in a row. A benefit of that was the opportunity to get repeated short rides on the bike – just the right pace for rebuilding the tendon and the muscles around it. It helps that those short rides are taking place in the terrain I’ll be riding for the competition.

The terrain in Goldendale was much different than the areas I typically ride. I had to get over my nervousness around rocks. They can’t be avoided there. And while they didn’t have mud, there was often powdery soil covered by a thick bed of pine needles that just feel slippery like mud. The setup crew used leaf blowers to clear much of that off each section before the weekend started – yay!

My point is new terrain in a longer weekend format is like a new twisty road – it’s good to experience. Thanks for coming along.

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