California Trials Invitational 2021 Results and Coverage: Roper Rules

Josh Roper

GasGas presented the California Trials Invitational 2021 at its training facility at RD Field in Murrieta, California. GasGas invited seven riders for the Men’s Pro class and three riders to compete in the Women’s Pro Class. Riders representing GasGas, Beta, Scorpa, Sherco, TRS, and Vertigo were at the event, which is designed to raise awareness of observed motorcycle trials.

California Trials Invitational 2021: Daniel Blanc-Gonnet
Daniel Blanc-Gonnet

Ten-time AMA/NATC National Trials Champion Geoff Aaron designed all the sections. Aaron is also the GasGas North America Off-Road Race Team Manager, overseeing the Trial and Off-Road disciplines. The California Trials Invitational sections are all manmade, using large boulders and steps on an artificial hillside that the riders had to negotiate—there are no flat sections. For 2021, the dirt was dry and loose. The sections were narrow and tight, resulting in many 5s (the maximum penalty) for riders getting off-line and going over the ribbon.

Last year’s winner, Karl Davis Jr, was competing on a Vertigo, against TRS teammates Josh Roper and Samuel Fastle, along with Alex Niederer (Beta), Alex Myers (Scorpa), and William Myers (Sherco). Daniel Blac-Gonnet was the sole male GasGas rider, with his teammate Maddie Hoover in the Women’s Pro class. Louise Forsley was on a Sherco, and Kylee Sweeten rode a TRS.

California Trials Invitational 2021: Maddie Hoover
Maddie Hoover

The event consisted of six sections that were ridden in order twice. The competitors rode as a group, one after the other at each section. The riding order was based on the results from 2020, with the last-place rider going first and Davis riding the section last. This is more in line with indoor trials protocol, rather than the outdoors National Championship format where the riders go through the sections at their own paces.

Lap 1

Section 1 began with four tractor tires lying flat, like large steps going up a hill. The tires turned out to be more difficult than they appeared. From there, the riders performed a huge splatter going back up, which proved to be no problem. Some had issues executing the tight 180-degree turn back down. Blanc-Gonnet caught his peg on a rock going back down, sending him over the handlebar for a hard landing. Most riders took a dab going up on the first lap, though Roper and Myers cleaned the section. Niederer scored one point in the section, and that ended up being an unlikely tiebreaker at the end of the day.

California Trials Invitational 2021: Josh Roper
Josh Roper

Section 2 proved to be the hardest of the day. Roper took a commanding first-loop lead by cleaning it, with Blac-Gonnet putting in the next best score—a 3. It featured two sets of difficult rock steps heading up a steep incline. The section was narrow, making it difficult for the riders to stay on the rocks and not go out of bounds. All seven Men’s Pro class riders scored a 5 on the second lap.

Section 3 had had three concrete pads going up the steep hill. Each pad required the front wheel to be stuffed into it. Towards the end of the section, the riders faced a six-foot log wall, which the riders dropped off, turned 180 degrees, and then splattered right back up. Most riders had more success and got through it. On the first ride, it looked like Roper had another clean, which would have been his third successive perfect ride to start the event. However, in a move of sportsmanship, Roper admitted he had dabbed, and the scorer didn’t see it. I also didn’t see it, and thought he was clean.

Section 4 was another super-tough section. Only Roper and Alex Myers were able to make it to the end, and they scored 2s. There were four moderately hard rocks going up the hill, followed by a fifth rock at the top with a straight-up face and no room from the bike between it and the fourth rock. The end of the section had a six-and-a-half-foot rock house that they had to get up and over.

California Trials Invitational 2021: Alex Niederer
Alex Niederer

Section 5 was one of the tamer sections, though it did have three tall narrow rocks the competitors had to rear-wheel tap across. Some of the riders dropped the front wheel between the rocks and got a 5. Blanc-Gonnet was the only rider to clean this section, and it was his first clean of the day.

Section 6 started off going up three huge concrete tubes. This was the first section Roper failed to finish, as he didn’t make it up the tubes. The best ride there was Niederer, as he got a 1. The section ended with the riders splattering up onto a 12-foot concrete tube that was barely big enough for both wheels. From there, they rode down a steep log back to the ground.

Lap 2

Starting the 2nd lap, Roper held a 9-14 advantage over Niederer. Roper was riding well, and it looked like he would be able to take the win without too much stress. Roper and Niederer traded one-point rides on Section 1, with Blanc-Gonnet and Willem Myers taking the only cleans.

Alex Meyers

None of the riders made it through Section 2, with Roper and Niederer again having matched scores in Section 3. Only Alex Myers and Davis took cleans on the second ride through Section 3.

The big move happened in section 4. Niederer cleaned the section, even after stalling the motor while spanning two boulders. His Beta’s left-foot kickstart allowed him to use his rear brake to hold the motorcycle in place while restarting the engine. Roper got all the way to the last rock house, where he rushed as time was running out, and didn’t make it up and over. That 5 erased Roper’s lead, and he was tied with Niederer with two sections remaining.

Roper and Niederer both cleaned section five, keeping them tied going into the final section of the day. Niederer went first, cleaning the section—giving him three consecutive cleans to end the day. However, Roper responded to the pressure with a smooth clean ride after 5ing the section on Lap 1.

Karl Davis

With the scores tallied, Roper and Niederer had identical stats—four cleans, three 1s, two 2s, and three 5s. When this happens, the tiebreaker is which rider scored first in the event getting the lower position. Niederer’s one-point ride in Section 1 on Lap 1 went up against Roper’s clean ride, giving Roper the California Trials Invitational 2021 title.

Willem Myers

Davis took the final spot on the podium, nudging off Blanc-Gonnet via the tiebreaker. Both scored 38 points and had two cleans. However, Davis edged Blanc-Gonnet in cleans, 3-2. Fifth place went to a tiebreaker, as both Alex and Willem Myers had 40 points. Alex’s three cleans beat Willem’s pair of cleans.

Women’s Pro

The Women’s Pro class was close all day. Kylee Sweeten started off with the lead after Section 1 over Maddie Hoover and Louise Forsley when the pair scored uncharacteristic 5s to start the competition. From there, it was a seesaw battle between the three.

On Lap 2, Hoover started to pull away a little. However, Hoover stalled in Section 3 while balancing. Although Hoover gave her GasGas five or six good kicks, she couldn’t get the motor to fire before she put a foot down—a five-point penalty. Forsley took a 1 in Section 3, giving her a small lead.

Louise Forsley

Section 4 started off with some challenging rock steps for the trio. Forsley took over the lead with a 1, while Sweeten scored a 3, and Hoover suffered a 5.

Although Forsley finished the event with two 5s, Hoover was only able to make up three points, coming up a point short. Sweeten’s two 3s were the best rides in the last two sections, but it was only good enough for her to finish one point behind Hoover. Just two points separated first and third positions.

Kylee Sweeten

The sections were definitely difficult for the Women’s Pro class, as there were no cleans in 36 rides, and 15 5s. Winner Forsley had three 1s, and Hoover managed just a single 1. Sweeten had all 3s and 5s, except for a 2 on Section 6 on Lap 1. However, Sweeten had the fewest 5s of the three riders, keeping her in contention to the end.

2021 AMA/NATC MotoTrials USA National Championship Series

The eight-round 2021 AMA/NATC MotoTrials USA National Championship Series begins on June 19 in Farrandsville, Pennsylvania, after taking 2020 off due to government restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. With two rounds at each location, the series then travels to Little Hocking, Ohio, followed by Kingman, Arizona, and ending in Tillamook, Oregon. Eleven-time National Champion Pat Smage will be defending his title.

We have reviewed the GasGas TXT Racing 250.

California Trials Invitational 2021 Men’s Pro Results

  1. Josh Roper, TRS, 22 points (4 cleans)
  2. Alex Niederer, Beta, 22 (4C)
  3. Karl Davis, Vertigo, 31 (2C)
  4. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet, GasGas, 38 (2C)
  5. Alex Meyers, Scorpa, 40 (3C)
  6. Willem Myers, Sherco, 40 (2C)
  7. Sam Fastle, TRS, 54 (0C)

California Trials Invitational 2021 Women’s Pro Results

  1. Louise Forsley, Sherco, 41 points (0 cleans)
  2. Maddie Hoover, GasGas, 42 (0C)
  3. Kylee Sweeten, TRS, 43 (0C)

2021 AMA/NATC MotoTrials USA National Championship Series Schedule 

  • June 19-20: Farrandsville, PA
  • June 26-27: Little Hocking, OH
  • July 31-August 1: Kingman, AZ
  • October 2-3: Tillamook, OR

California Trials Invitational 2021 Photo Gallery