Volume 28, Number 1
January 11, 1999

Ridin' High: Trials is a popular crowd attraction at the Sea Otter and the riders love the attention. (Marc Brooks pictured)

JJ Gregorowicz seems like a regular 17-year-old kid from Pennsylvania. Walking to class during high school, his appearance blends with all his other classmates; but put him on a bicycle and it's a different story. Jumping over 10-foot gaps from the roof of one rusty junkyard car to the hood of another is, uh, hardly normal. Gregorowicz, already a five-time national champion, may be the best observed trials rider in America. His skills have been on display at competitions across the country, and as far away as Japan. But Gregorowicz says nothing compares to the huge crowds of the SRAM Sea Otter Classic. Last year, he wont he pro stock class, and he's hoping to do the same this year. We interrupted Gregorowicz from his homework recently to talk about observed trials and the Sea Otter Classic.

How did you get started in observed trials competition?
I started seven years ago. May dad did motorcycle trials, and since I was too small to do the motorcycle, I started with the bike. Now, I do both. I compete in the amateur class in motorcycle trials.

You've said that the Sea Otter crowds are pretty impressive. Does the crowd affect your performance or do you just shut it out?
I don't know, I kind of shut it out. I actually think I ride better when I have a big crowd, though. At Sea Otter, there's a really enthusiastic crowd, which makes me ride a little showier.

Has anyone ever yelled, "You da man!" after a particularly tough section?
Yeah, I think so, actually. I think Sea Otter was the only place anyone ever yelled that.

Would you say the Sea Otter has a tough trials course?
It was pretty difficult last year. It was really fun, though, because a lot of it is man-made stuff. I think there were six sections that we did two or three times each.

Last year you were competing pretty near to the VIP tent, did that make you feel important?
Oh yea, Trials usually doesn't get the recognition it deserves. But it's starting to get better, I think. That's the best part about the Sea Otter--it really gives people a chance to see what the sport's all about.

Do you ever pop over for some wine and cheese?
No. Joey (Hayes, of Observed Trials magazine) took me over and introduced me to some of the guys, though.

Have you ever had an itch on your nose while balancing on a really tough section?
Yeah, actually, I have. I usually just scratch it, though.

Pennsylvania seems to be a hotbed for trials rider. Why?
Probably because we have so much diverse terrain here.

What do you do during the winter to stay sharp?
I ride indoors. I also snowboard and snowmobile. I'm actually starting to do some working out now. I've always said I was going to do it, but I never did until now. My girlfriend just joined a gym, and it's definitely more fun to be able to do it with someone else.

What do your friends in school think about your accomplishments?
I've tried to keep it quiet so I wouldn't seem arrogant or anything, but people are starting to find out because I'm gone a lot. So they ask me about it. They all seem to think it's pretty cool.

What does the future hold for observed trials?
I think it's going to keep growing and become a lot more popular.

-Kip Mikler