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Hillclimb Championship draws thousands

A rider climbs up the 500-foot hill Saturday at the AMA Hillclimb Grand Championships near Bay City. The event drew 228 riders. Photo by Nick Gerhardt

BAY CITY - The Valley Springs Motorcycle Club hosted the 2012 AMA Hillclimb Grand Championships last weekend near Bay City with a total of 228 riders from 15 states participating in the event.

In the senior division Todd Cipala won in 10.106 seconds, beating out Junior Jackson, who had a time of 10.48 seconds in the 37-man field. Cipala also set a hill record with his time, besting the previous mark set by Dean Gerdes of 10.261 seconds.

However, shortly afterward, Kirk Mueller then set the hill record with a ride of 9.4 seconds.

Jackson won the 4-stroke division with a time of 11.912 seconds and beat out Reed Lexvold, who finished in 12.602 seconds in the 60-man event.

Brian Kinney won the Super Senior class with a time of 15.034 seconds and narrowly beat out Mark Wood, who finished second in 15.098 seconds.

Tyler Clark won the ATV 450 2-stroke division with a time of 13.926 seconds and Matt Novak took second in 18.555 seconds.

Brock Riffe won the 65 class with a time of 25.381 seconds and Kaden Funk took second in 32.116 seconds.

Jessica Prebe won the women's class with a time of 13.576 seconds and Casey Wood took second in 14.743 in the 14-woman field.

Ellsworth resident Casey Paider was named AMA Youth Hillclimber of the Year while William Shaw, of Hager City, won AMA ATV Hillclimber of the Year and Ellsworth resident Logan Cipala won AMA Amateur Hillclimber of the Year.

This year's event marked the fourth time that the hill has hosted the grand championships and the first since 1986. The grand championships were held there in 1977 and 1981 as well.

The hill reopened last year for the first time since the late 1970s and secured the grand championships this season last fall.

"The AMA sends people and said it was an outstanding event and thought the town and local community did an outstanding job," Valley Springs Motorcycle Club President Mike Bronk said.

The hill received high praise from many of the riders for its challenging nature.

"Everyone thought it was a phenomenal hill," Bronk said.

The event drew thousands of people each day, Bronk said. The event started Saturday and ended on Sunday. Only one injury was reported after a rider hit a tree on the return trail and broke his leg.

The event brought back memories for Bronk and the Gerdes family, who owns the land where the hill is located.

"It was a lot of fun," Bronk said. "I rode here a lot. It was a dream that we all came up with."

The event included concessions and a live band Saturday night for the riders and spectators to enjoy.

The club plans on holding races annually for the foreseeable future, Bronk said.

"The taking of it all was they all thought it was a fabulous facility," Bronk said. "Everything was great. They thought it was challenging."