Riders enjoy first taste of competition in Lands End Hill Climb
JR Cline has been to several Colorado Hill Climb Association races working on his buddy’s car, but he never raced.
After a few years of watching and working on Justin Schumacher’s car, Cline’s itch to race grew.
“I got tired of watching him have all the fun and not being able to see the roads,” Cline said.
The problem was: Cline didn’t have a race car. He only had a motorcycle, and there wasn’t a motorcycle class.
“Knowing I have a motorcycle and there is no class in the CHCA for motorcycles, I started with the president to get his input, and he was all for it,” Cline said. “After that it was word of mouth spreading through the pits.
“We had to have a vote for it. It was unanimous vote for us to come in.”
Cline, Schumacher, Nate Swanson and Tom Williams competed Saturday in the first Lands End Hill Climb motorcycle class on Grand Mesa. The races continue at 10 a.m. today.
The race started back in 1940 and took a hiatus for a few years before returning early this century.
Schumacher has raced in the Lands End Hill Climb since 2005 and was the CHCA rookie of the year that year. He has enjoyed racing his 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix, but he said racing motorcycles side by side has brought another level of excitement.
“Running the car is great, but you don’t know where you’re at with everybody else,” Schumacher said. “Now that you start off with another bike, it’s another game. It’s a lot of fun.”
One particular thing Schumacher has noticed more on a motorcycle, especially at the spectator-friendly Lands End Hill Climb, is the spectators’ reactions.
“Spectators love seeing the bikes come through the corners, battling the whole way,” Schumacher said. “I’ve heard cheering over my car (noise) before, but on a bike you can really hear them.”
Cline and Swanson are experiencing hill climb racing for the first time this summer and admitted they lean on Schumacher’s knowledge and experience.
“I have a lot to learn,” Cline said, recalling his first race. “There are a lot of deceiving corners. You can come to a corner, slow down and realize I could’ve held it up through that one. It’s experience we need. Justin has a lot, so we try to line up after him, so he can teach us.”
Schumacher posted the fastest time in the motorcycle class Saturday. He completed the five-mile course in 6 minutes, 7.28 seconds on his second run. Cline’s top time was 6:26.02, and Swanson’s top time was 6:25.52. Both were on their fourth attempt.
Williams had a run of 6:25.13 on his first run, but he went off the road on his second run and crashed into a tree. He was conscious, according to radio traffic, but he was taken to a hospital for further evaluation.
Schumacher, Cline and Swanson helped recover Williams’ bike and planned to go see him Saturday night.
“I thought we did pretty good,” Schumacher said after their first run. “We’re right there in the middle of the pack. Normally in the car, first runs up are high 5. I ran a 6:13. I thought being more of a horsepower road, our bikes would be further behind, but they must be making it up in the corners and straightening the line out.”
The motorcycle class had as many as nine racers in other CHCA events and were the biggest class at least once, Schumacher said.
There are no restrictions in the class because it’s the first year, but Cline hopes it grows, so it can be broken into a couple of classes based on engine size and tire regulations.