Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Happy-Go-Lucky Motorcycle Hill Climb

Written by  August 31, 2005

Saturday July 9 was a long and busy day. I got up early, rode up to St Joe Harley-Davidson to cover their Motorcycle Stunt Show & Cook-Out Party, then headed over to Holt, Missouri for their monthly hill climb. I’d been looking forward to this particular hill climb for a couple of months now because this night was to be one of their infamous hill climb drag races which I’d heard so much about.

This is different from your traditional hill climb in that two riders climb the hill at the same time, and the fastest rider up the hill gets a time and the slower rider doesn’t. I’ve been to many hill climbs over the years, but I’d never seen a hill climb drag race. It sounded really exciting and I couldn’t wait to see the action.

As soon as I got there I watched event coordinators Charlie Dawson and Rob Elam running around the base of the hill and climbing in and out of the tower making sure everything was ready for that night’s event. Just before 7 p.m. Charlie and Rob called the riders’ meeting to order at the base of the hill to go over the rules. Being the nosey photojournalist I am, I worked my way into the group of riders to take a few shots and listen to the instructions.

One of the first things I heard Charlie tell the group of riders was that they would not be drag racing that evening because several of the riders didn’t like it and they felt it was unsafe. My heart literally sank! After all, this was to be the highlight of my day and was the main reason I braved the gravel roads on my Fat Boy to get there. As the initial disappointment began to wear off, it was soon replaced by adrenalin as I climbed the hill to snap a few action shots.

The Pee Wee class was the first group to attack the hill and several of the older riders lined both sides of the hill to help catch the little tikes and their bikes so they wouldn’t hurt themselves. It was so cute to see these little guys trying so hard to make it up the hill. It reminded me of when I was seven years old and started riding my first bike—a Honda MiniTrail 50. Most of them didn’t make it even halfway up the first hump, but the determination and slight hint of fear on their faces made it all worthwhile. The crowd loved it and the kids had a blast. I especially enjoyed the look on the kids’ faces as they proudly walked back to their parents with a little trophy in hand.

Next was the 0-80 cc class, which included some of the same kids on slightly larger bikes, plus a few pre-teen riders. After that, the action quickly gained momentum as the larger bikes and more experienced riders tore up the hill, logging some amazing times. I even recognized some of the riders from my hometown of Wathena, Kansas and neighboring Troy. Even though I didn’t recognize some of them, many of their last names were familiar, and I may have even gone to school with some of their parents. Damn, I'm getting old!

Even though I was initially disappointed because the drag races didn’t take place, I had a great time and will definitely go back again. Speaking of which, the next hill climb is scheduled for Saturday, September 10, starting at 7 p.m. and the last climb of the year is on Sunday, October 9, so you’d better get your butt in gear and get up to Holt before you have to wait until next year!

To get there, take I-35 to the Holt exit, go west on PP about 1 mile, then go north on Cannonball (a gravel road), and follow the signs.

Admission is $6, and competitors pay a $10 entry fee. For additional information, call 816-320-3014 or e-mail Charlie and his crew at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Also make sure to check out Stripe’s interview with Charlie and Rob from his last visit.

Story & Photos by Mike Schweder