ISDE: The History
The International Six Days Enduro is the world’s largest annual off-road motorcycle competition. Since 1913, countries have sent their best off-road racers to exotic locations around the world to be tested on everything from sandy beaches to rocky crevices to deep woods to motocross tracks for the event’s top prize: the ISDE World Trophy.
Each year, the AMA's World Trophy Team is joined by a contingent that includes America’s top junior, women, vet and amateur off-road racers, racing for team awards, individual honor and American pride.
The Olympics of Motorcycling
The International Six Days Enduro is the most prestigious off-road motorcycle event in the world. First held in Carlisle, England, in 1913, the ISDE is one of the longest-running events on the calendar of the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme.
Originally known as the International Six Day Trial, the event was held primarily on roads in the beginning – although the “roads” of the era were often as difficult as today’s trails – and were designed to test both machine reliability and rider skill. Today, the ISDE, a name it adopted in 1980, is primarily an off-road event that traverses some of the world’s most extreme terrain.
Europe was the exclusive domain of the event until 1973, when it first made a trip to the United States. The event has since been held outside the Old Country several times, including Chile, New Zealand, Brazil, the United States and Australia.
The rules of the ISDE has evolved over the years, but it has always run under an enduro-type format, where riders have to follow a set route at a set pace over six days. In addition, there are strict controls on when a rider may work on his or her machine and the availability of tools and spare parts. The mileage of the event can vary, but is well over 1,000 total miles.
Today, teams from all over the world compete at the ISDE. The World Trophy Team features six riders, the Junior Trophy Team features four riders, and the Women’s Trophy Team features three riders. In addition, each country can send a number of three-rider club teams. Teams compete for team honors, while each individual rider races for a gold, silver or bronze medal, which are based on a rider’s finishing time relative to the leader.
Although the AMA Team USA has never won the World Trophy, the U.S. team has brought home the Junior Trophy three times: in 1973, 1991 and 2006.
In 1973, the U.S. team won what was then called the Silver Vase, a secondary team competition without any age restriction. Since then, the Silver Vase has become the Junior trophy, designed to reward performances by younger riders. The first U.S. victory came in the only ISDE ever held in the United States, while the 1991 Junior Trophy triumph, with the team of Steve Hatch, Jimmy Lewis, Davis Rhodes and Chris Smith, came in Czechoslovakia. In 2006, the Junior Trophy Team included Kurt Caselli, Ricky Dietrich, David Pearson and Russell Bobbitt. The event was held in New Zealand’s Kinleith Forest and featured hundreds of miles of cold, windy and rainy single- and two-track trails.
One of AMA Team USA’s best years in World Trophy competition was 1982, when the Trophy Team finished second. However, a quick look at the results sheet might belie the feat. Of the 25 American’s entered, only 13 finished, and just one of those scored a gold medal. However, even that was enough for a second-place finish to the host Czechoslovakians in one of the toughest ISDEs ever. The American Trophy Team that year included Ed Lojak, Terry Cunningham, Scot Harden, Mark Hyde, Mike Melton and Wally Wilson.
The 2008 Trophy Team also had a strong finish, coming in third. The team that year started the final day of competition in fourth place behind Finland, but five solid final moto special test finishes propelled the team to one of its best finishes ever.
The 1982 U.S. Trophy Team
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