Steamboat attorney wins at vintage motorcycle event |

Steamboat attorney wins at vintage motorcycle event

Luke Graham

Local attorney Rob Stickler was named the Colorado national champion in the American Historic Motorcycle Racing Association's 2009 Vintage Trials Series in the Rigid Heavyweight Intermediate Class.
Matt Stensland

Editor’s note: This story has been changed from its original version to correct the spelling of Rob Stickler’s name.

Local attorney Rob Stickler has about as much fun as anyone just doing 5 mph.

Stickler, a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, was named the Colorado national champion in the Ameri­can Historic Motorcycle Racing Association's 2009 Vintage Trials Series in the Rigid Heavyweight Intermediate Class.

That's a lot to digest for the non-motorcycle fan.

But Stickler, who worked summers in Steamboat Springs in the 1960s before becoming a full-time resident in 1978, explains it pretty well.

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AHMRA is an organization that celebrates the history of motorcycles with events across the country. Nationally, it has 5,000 members who compete in trials, vintage road racing, cross-country, observed trials and dirt tracks.

The trials event Stickler competes in involves a dirt course where riders have to maneuver up, down and around obstacles without stopping or setting their feet down.

It takes precision and a well-planned route. In the rigid heavyweight class, Stickler also has to navigate without rear suspension. Stickler competes on a 1952 BSA Gold Star.

Generally, riders do eight sections three times each. The person who manages them the best, touches the ground the least and doesn't stop, wins.

"It's like golf," Stickler said. "It looks simple. You look at it and think you can just hit the little white ball down there. This, you think it's just going up this hill and around that rock."

Of course, this isn't Travis Pastrana doing a double back flip. It's part Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in "Easy Rider" and part Marlon Brando in "The Wild One."

But more than anything, it's like people going back to get a little piece of Americana.

"We all want to be young again," said David Lamberth, AHRMA's executive director. "Look at the plastic surgery and all the things we're willing to do. This allows somebody who rode those bikes to do it again. It's people that share the same likes you do. It's totally different than racing modern motocross. And it's the best group of people I've ever been around."

That's what drew Stickler to AHRMA. Stickler helped put on Steamboat Motorcycle Week from 1970 to 1988.

They would do a motocross event where Wildhorse Meadows is, do trials on Howelsen Hill and race at the dirt track out in Hayden.

Stickler got into motorcycles growing up in Iowa.

"I was a gear head," he said.

Stickler also competes in motocross. But like the trials, the motocross is more of an open field event than the flash and bang most people are familiar with.

He said he does it because he loves it. He loves the people he does it with, the traveling to events and the camaraderie it all brings.

He'll go to an event, see the same people, compete, laugh at the other competitors, laugh at himself and then enjoy a couple of beers at the end of the day.

And Stickler is one of the best at the trials event, one that seems simple to the eye but requires exact precision.

"The people laughed at me when I did it," said Lamberth, who is based out of Tennessee but knows Stickler. "I tried it one time and couldn't do it. All these lines around rocks, and you couldn't touch your feet. To get through the section, it's amazing what some of those guys can do. It's a beautiful sport."

Stickler plans to go to an event in Arizona in the next month and compete at regional ones throughout the year.

And just like when he was a child in Iowa doing anything he could to get on a motorcycle, Stickler said he doesn't plan on stopping in the near future.

"All these hobbies," he said, "are what make the world fun."