The Trials And Tribulations Of The Smage Brothers - Dirt Rider Magazine


I'm Phil. I was told to start out the story by introducing myself. Unfortunately, I suck at that kind of thing, so this will most likely be a feeble attempt. I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin chasing goats off of BMX jumps. I am an aspiring action sports athlete/filmmaker/journalist. In other words, I try to do more things than I'm actually capable of doing. This frequently results in mediocre skill levels in each discipline, but at the same time, swell video footage is usually gathered. My brother, Pat, is a three-time U.S. National Trials Champion. He can ride a motorcycle over stuff that I can barely climb over on my feet. Our initial inspiration, like most young riders, was our dad. Papa Smage is the current National Trials Champion in the +50 class and the man responsible for getting us into trials riding. Throw in our moto-shredding brother David, wild "Uncle pdB" and the conflict-provoking master "Uncle Circe," and you have an influential enigma that is sure to create something. The Smagical Adventure began, unknowingly, the first time my brother and I threw our legs over trials bikes. Although it was love at first ride for Pat, the relationship between me and those funky-looking machines took a while to blossom. So while Pat was busy plugging away at becoming the best, I got "sidetracked" with motocross, snowboarding, snowskating, etc.As our riding level improved, we traveled to more events throughout the country. Pat began to gain national recognition with youth championships, and I followed suit climbing the ranks. Eventually our riding became dialed enough for us to start putting on riding demonstrations at races and motorcycle shops. This kicked off our traveling circus known as the Smage Bros. Riding Shows. From our announcer Rex Kwando to builder-Binz, the crew made it easy to create entertainment.It was around this time that I began getting more serious about one of my winter activities called snowskating, which is essentially skateboarding on the snow. In turn, I purchased a computer to edit my snowskate footage. This created a newfound love for filming and editing, which led to me documenting everything. Our demos and races were transformed into video segments. I even found myself filming the riders in front of me instead of studying the sections at the Trials Nationals. As the trips added up, so did the hours of video footage. Eventually I realized some of this footage may be entertaining to more that just my small group of friends, and the Smagical Adventure DVD series was born. With a newfound purpose to film, my time became more about stacking footage than spending time practicing on the trials bike. Each winter I would get pulled further and further away from motorcycles with snowskating and snowboarding. While I was spending time filming tricks and chasing the snow, Pat was staying sheltered from it in our indoor riding building affectionately dubbed the "Sherco Shed." Our dad, Noel, and his riding buddies had constructed an indoor trials arena to play around in during the snow-filled months. This quickly transitioned into a training building built purposely for Pat to hone his riding skills when riding outside wasn't an option. Winter after winter I would spend more time on the road snowskating, and each spring Pat would be that much better than me on the bike. I soon realized that my days of challenging him at trials had come to an end. This pushed me even further from nationals and more toward riding shows. The year was 2006 and Pat, only months after his 16th birthday, had just won his first Trials National in the Pro class. He topped 10-time champion Geoff Aaron in what was seen as a huge surprise to the trials community. During his stay at the top of the U.S. trials scene Pat did what no American had done in over 30 years: He traveled overseas to the trials mecca of Europe and won against the world's best in the 125cc class. Not since the '70s and Bernie Schreiber had an American tasted the champagne spray from the top step of an FIM trials event podium. Unfortunately, he suffered an untimely back injury in the form of Pars Defect. He had developed tiny cracks on the sides of many of his vertebrae due to the constant impacts he delivered to his back. This caused him to miss many events and ultimately lose track of his world championship goals.

With the time off Pat started shooting more video, creating DVDs and edits of his own. We ended up spending a lot of time on unicycles, pitbikes, bicycles and the like. Although to our parents it may have seemed like goofing off, these skills directly transferred over into our motorcycling. This wild array of activities also fit perfectly into the DVDs we created. With all this time spent "goofing off" at the farm, I soon realized I had the perfect mascot for the Smagical Adventure in my pet goat Wilbur. Wilbur wasn't your ordinary goat. While most goats sat around eating tin cans, Wilbur followed our every footstep. From throwing backflips off of our BMX box jumps (no joke, actual backflips) to looping out on my snowskate, Wilby quickly gained legendary status as far as goats are concerned. I would even go out on a limb here and say that if Wilbur had more than just a set of hooves, maybe even a set of hooves with opposable thumbs, Ricky Carmichael might have had to fight a little harder for the G.O.A.T. nickname. All kidding aside, Wilbur became an inspiration for me in everything from trials to snowskating.In 2007, I added a few new stops to the adventure by competing in the Maxxis EnduroCross series. With a mixture of motocross and trials, the sport seemed to be a perfect fit for me, as I was never quite able to slow down enough for the methodical pace of National Trials. I found quickly that EnduroCross was the hardest thing I have ever tried. Although my results were inconsistent to say the least, the travels introduced new locations for the Smagical crew to find mischief. Joining me on the new journey from coast to coast was Rex Kwando and Binz, who both served as my mechanics for the series. While they may forget to tighten a bolt here and there (or a seat, handlebar or gas tank), what they lack in mechanical ability, they more than make up for in film-worthy antics.After giving his back a few months to heal, Pat decided to give EnduroCross a try for himself. He took the Trialscross Championship from me at the last round of 2008 and continued to make main after main on my borrowed '04 KTM 200 SX. It seemed that if the bike managed to stay together, using a spare pipe or two along the way, he usually found himself in qualifying position. It was clear that his trials prowess, much like for EX hotshots Taddy Blazusiak, Geoff Aaron and Colton Haaker, was the perfect fit for a sport as insanely technical as EnduroCross.With his back in nearly new working order, Pat set off overseas again. This time it was to ride for his country as part of the U.S. Trials des Nations team. Intertwined with three of his closest rivals, the team put their competitive differences aside and rallied together to try and put U.S. Trials on the map. For years, the U.S. has competed in the B-level event at the TdN. Recently, however, the U.S. team has been steadily progressing the riding level in the States. This past year they found the top five in the feature class for the first time.

It's not just Pat and myself performing maneuvers for the camera lens, however. Along our travels both Binz and Rex managed to redeem themselves with some of the most notable footage for this year's DVD. Binz set the bar high with the first-ever (that we are aware of) car-rail-slide at Alma MX in Nebraska. Owner Jesse Wessels loaned his track, and building skills, to us for the stunt-like feat (see Smagical Weekly #2 on Youtube). Long story short, Binz nailed it and I rolled the car twice attempting. Rex grabbed his time in the spotlight while we were out doing some filming at Ryan Villopoto's supercross track. We spotted an old freestyle ramp on the property and jammed it in front of the finish line jump landing. He equipped himself with one of Papa Smage's homemade creations, Offroad Rollerblades. Weighing in at an astonishing 30 pounds apiece (minus ski boots) means simply cruising around on flat ground is enough to pull a hip out of its socket. Even though Kwando would have been perfectly fine with just cruising, that wouldn't quite be video-worthy, and he knew this. So we attached his hands to the Banshee Bungee and let him rip toward the ramp at upwards of 30 mph. The impact instantly initiated a backflip, and before he realized what was going on, he was drilled headfirst into the landing. Although he was already severely battered after a single attempt, we coaxed him into five more before his body, and the rain, forced the session to an end (see PSF Monthly January on Youtube). He might not have left the Villopoto Compound with the first backflip-to-dirt on Offroad Rollerblades, but he did leave with one black leg.Catching up to the present, both Pat and I spend the majority of our days on the road. My home is the Ambition Snowskates/EVS/Novik Gloves Goat Van. Bearing an oversize portrait of Wilbur, the bright blue extended Chevy draws quite a few random stares while cruising the interstate. I roam dizzingly from coast to coast in search of snow, riding, races and filming. Pat, on the other hand, points his RYP/Go Fast/EVS/Gnar Bar Factory Van at the most difficult terrain he can find and rides 'til the spot is exhausted. While our routes are usually aimed at different destinations, there are times they cross. From Villopoto's SX track in Cali to the Trials Training Center in Tennessee, the road usually brings us together for a Smagical Adventure or two.