Big Hill Jam 2021
Big Hill Jam 2021 went off last weekend, bringing together some of the top riders from motoclimb and freeride in an event that nobody will soon forget. Complete with a hillclimb event that served as round 3 of the 2021 IRC Tire Motoclimb Super Series, a pitbike Supercross race, Best Whip contest, Freestyle demos and live music, this event had something for everyone and the lively crowd was treated to a major spectacle. I loaded up the Motion Pro van and made the 7 hour drive up from Sacramento, California to the Hill residence in Yoncalla, Oregon, bringing along my extended YZ450F hillclimb bike to compete in the Motoclimb event as well as a loaner EMX 14 electric pitbike from Electro & Co. to try my hand at the SX race.
Views from the Hill compound did not disappoint (Photo: Danielle Stein)
When I arrived Saturday morning and got my first look at the hill we would be facing, my first thoughts were that it was a little unorthodox. It wasn’t as steep as we’re used to in the Motoclimb Super Series, but a technical road gap cut in about 1/3 of the way up ended up giving a lot of riders fits all day. Each Motoclimb Super Series event includes a 450cc class, where riders have two attempts at the hill to try and make it into the top 32 fastest times and qualify for the X-climb final. In the X-climb, two riders start behind a normal motocross gate and race to the top of the hill, with the winning rider moving forward in the single elimination style bracket. At Big Hill Jam, 450 qualifying was held on Saturday and the X-climb final was held on Sunday.
Tire pressure is critical in hillclimb (Photo: Danielle Stein)
Top Motoclimb Super Series rider “Dirty” Joe Shipman shows just how awesome the right tire pressure can be
I didn’t feel like I rode all that well in qualifying, but I was still able to secure a top 32 qualifying time and make it into the X-climb bracket on Sunday. A few of the freeride/moto guys decided to give the hillclimb a shot on their stock bikes and put in some extremely impressive rides, with names like Tyler Bereman, Jimmy “Hillsack” Hill, Gared “Stankdog” Stanke, Derek Beckering, Josh & Justin Hill, and the multi-talented Ryan Sipes all making the final. It was a pretty surreal experience to be racing with those guys, and watching them take that hill on with their stock length bikes was a major testament to how talented these guys really are.
Charging hard for a top qualifying time (Photo: Eric Rickard)
My X-climb experience started off with a major challenge right from the get-go when I had to line up against Justin Hill in the first round. The course started with a technical, SX style jump section before the start of the hill, and not surprisingly the talent gap between us showed pretty clearly as he pulled an early lead off the start. Luckily, I was able to stay on his rear wheel and take advantage of a mistake mid-way up the hill to take the win and advance to the next round. My day ended in the second round however, where fellow MSS rider Austin Teyler got the best of me. Overall I was bummed to drop out of the bracket so early, but this was one of the most stacked events we’ve ever had and just getting into the final was not an easy task.
X-Climb round 2 vs Austin Teyler (Photo: Danielle Stein)
Pitbike SX racing was an interesting experience, and now that I’ve had the chance to try it I’m convinced this is how all pitbike tracks need to be set up! The course featured everything from peaked doubles to decent sized whoops, which paired well with the generally unpredictable and chaotic nature of putting hyperactive adults on kids sized bikes and telling them the only rule was not to cut the track. After easily pulling the holeshot in the 110 Mod class on my EMX 14 electric powered bike, I eventually settled back to third and stayed there until the last lap. Unfortunately I ran into a mechanical issue with around half a lap to go, which led to a DNF, but I had an absolute blast on the track and the EMX ate even the biggest jumps up with ease.
Keeping the EMX electric pitbike low on the doublesduring the pitbike SX race (Photo: Eric Rickard)
One of the larger jumps on the SX track (Photo: Eric Rickard)
For everyone there, Big Hill Jam 2021 was an incredible time and will definitely become a staple event on the calendar. Huge thank you to the Hill family, Elevated Action Sports and everyone else who worked so hard to make this event a reality, I’m already looking forward to next year!
Author: Joshua Mouzakis