Dirt bike riders converge in Utah for Widowmaker Hillclimb

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CROYDON, Utah -- To find the small Utah town of Croydon, many people need a map, but professional dirt bike hill climbers already know where it is.

The climbers a particular hill in Croydon put the town on their map a long time ago: It's called the Widowmaker.

"It's an adrenaline rush," Coalville resident Al Davis said Friday.

What is... the Widowmaker Hillclimb?
The Widowmaker Hillclimb is a two-day event showcasing the world's best professional motorcycle hillclimbers. It hosts more than 450 professional and 350 amateur riders from all over the U.S. and Canada. It takes place on 55 acres of private land in Croydon, Utah and features three different courses. The Pro Exhibition hill (1,000 feet with 76 percent grade), the Pro Altered Hill (550 feet) and Trophy Hill (amateurs). The Widowmaker is the second leg of the "Triple Crown" of the Western States Professional Hill Climb Series.

He is one of some 700 dirt bike riders making their way to Croydon this weekend for the Widowmaker Hillclimb, because the hill is one of the most challenging they've ever climbed.

"Just try to make it over; it's hard," said Wisconsin resident Todd Cipala.

"It's the only hill in the world that's 1,000 feet tall," said Moe Lund, Widdowmaker Hillclimb organizer

Lisa Riner, whose husband is a dirt bike rider, said, "The challenge is to not make me a widow, so that would be it. Ha!"

Friday was kind of like qualifying to take on the big hill. Riders went up smaller hills, though still steeper than most people would dare to go up. There are still some spills, thrills and falling down hills, but riders say it's still a blast.

This Croydon event is part of their professional circuit, which includes Billings, Mont.

"It's over a $100,000 purse," Lund said. "We've got a $40,000 purse here."

But for as crazy as all of this looks, riders try to be as safe as possible. In fact, organizers say safety is something they're really stressing this year.

"I got knee braces on both legs. I got as much protection on I can possibly get without getting heat stroke," Davis said.

"We require helmets. If you get on a bike here, you have to have a helmet on," Lund said. "To little kids, they get used to seeing that. They see the people they admire wearing all their gear and they'll keep doing it."

The competition continues Saturday in Croydon. Those who advanced to the championship rounds Friday will take on the Widowmaker Hillclimb in the morning.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com.


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