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VSMC brings nationwide hill climb series to Bay City

Logan Cipala and the Valley Spring Motorcycle Club will host the IRC MOTOCLIMB Super Series Round 2 in Bay City on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Photo courtesy of Logan Cipala1 / 2
The Bay City motoclimb hill stands at 500 feet and is home to the only nationwide hill climb series in the country. Photo courtesy of Logan Cipala2 / 2

Logan Cipala dabbled in various sports as a child, but after trying out the typical sports that most children spend summers and weeknights playing, one uncommon sport stole his heart.

"I played sports when I was younger, but it's amazing how much more exciting motoclimb is," Cipala said, describing his love for his chosen extreme sport. "For me, if I have a good ride, I'll get to the bottom of the hill and just be shaking. I can't even do anything about it."

Cipala, raised by parents who met while hill racing, hopped on his first bike when he was 3 years old and competed in his first race the following year. Since then, he's spent nearly every weekend between May and October traveling to various locations — including California and France — competing in motoclimb.

On Saturday, July 13, Cipala won't have to travel far to share the sport he loves.

The former Ellsworth High School graduate and the Valley Spring Motorcycle Club will welcome riders from Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Montana and North Dakota to the IRC MOTOCLIMB Super Series Round 2 in Bay City on Saturday and are proud to host the only nationwide hill climb series in the country.

The Bay City hill, known by some as "500 feet of mean," sat unused for 20 years after the original VSMC shut down in the 1990s, but after local riders such as Cipala showed interest in restarting the club, motoclimb again found a home in rural Wisconsin.

But the "500 feet of mean" didn't become a noteworthy course naturally. Cipala and his fellow riders spend weeks prepping, mowing, weeding and excavating the hill prior to each event and said they are indebted to the Chad Stone family.

"They basically rent us out the land for the weekend," Cipala said. "Without their land, our club would be nothing, and we'd be searching for events to put on."

After plenty of preparation, VSMC held its first amateur race in 2011 and received 300-400 entries and welcomed more than 1,000 spectators. Cipala expects Saturday's event also will draw an impressive crowd considering professional motocross and woods racer Ryan Sipes will be making an appearance.

"We are in Wisconsin, so there's going to be cold beer there and you can't beat that," Cipala said with a laugh. "It's just fun. It's a real family-friendly atmosphere. Kids get to come and hang out with racers and talk to them."

Spectators will witness two classes of events at Saturday's event. The open class will feature individual riders trying to reach the top of the 500-foot hill as fast as they can while dodging boundary flags and hurdling over manmade jumps.

For the verticross class, riders will compete side-by-side against their opponents as they attempt to dodge the hill's obstacles.

Cipala, who currently holds the VSMC's hill record of 8.511 seconds, has his sights set on winning the open class and at least coming close to claiming the verticross, or side-by-side, class's title.

But regardless of how the day goes, Cipala is just looking forward to competing against the racers he's spent the last 10 years overcoming hills with.

"It's pretty cool, because it's a small enough sport that it really is like a family," Cipala said. "When you're pitted next to someone and you need help, they'll always help. You get to enjoy victories with them, and it's not like it's so competitive that you can't stand the guy you're racing against."

Qualifying rounds begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the main open and verticross events will follow at 3 p.m.