Hillclimb returns to Bay City this weekendSomething old is something new again.
By: R-E Sports Staff, The Republican Eagle
BAY CITY – Something old is something new again.
After a 20-year absence, the Bay City Hillclimb event will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday on the County Road EE hill just outside of Bay City. Just as it did for 15 years from 1976-1991.
Back then hillclimbers from across the country came to test their skills and luck riding modified motorcycles up the steep hill. The event has county hillclimbers excited to be competing on their home turf instead of the nearest hill being in Red Wing.
“People wanted to open it up again,” Dean Gerdes of the Valley Spring Motorcycle Club said. “A new club, which we never had before, was formed by local hillclimbers and other motorcycle enthusiasts and one of the things they really wanted to do was bring back the hillclimb.”
Until recently, the hill was fenced off as part of an elk farm by Dean’s father, Larry Gerdes. As hillclimbing lost interest in the early 1990s, Gerdes decided to use the hill for something else. But over the past five years there’s been a hillclimb revival in Pierce County.
“It’s a family fun sport” Dean said. “Everyone rides from the mom and dad to the children, brothers and sisters, you name it. You get several families involved like the Cipalas, Paiders or the O’Neils to name a few.”
Corey O’Neil of Hager City
climbed the Bay City hill when he was a teen. He said he’s excited to climb with 7-year old son Bodee, who recently won a national hillclimb competition in Ohio.
“I can’t wait to do it, it’s going to be very exciting,” O’Neil said. “It’s going to be just like nationals with a lot of people there because the hill in Bay City has a reputation of being very tough.”
Actually the hill was in good shape for being out of commission for so long Dean said. Brush had to be cleared and the bike pathways re-established. But there were no trees at the top of the hill, which meant Larry Gerdes and Gordon Redmann could fix the site quicly.
Although when the event’s over, the grass that’s there will be worn down to dirt.
“What was always nice about the hill was that it was really rough and it evened out the competition,” Dean Gerdes said. “You didn’t need to dollars to win it.”
Hillclimbers get two runs per class of bike and are scored on both timing and distance.
The event will cover two competition districts in both Minnesota and Wisconsin which organizers hope will bring a big crowd.
“The adrenaline rush you get from climbing is incredible,” O’Neil said. “It’s great feeling and watching your kids compete in the same sports, same events just adds to it.”
Bodee, who currently lead in the points standings in District No. 23 (Minnesota) and is second in District 16 (Wisconsin) also can’t wait to climb the hill either.
“My dad raced it and I’m excited to do so too,” Bodee said.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. and will feature XGames gold medalist and Ellsworth native Justin Hoyer with a demonstration and a ride-in bike show.