Rider Profile: Maddie Hoover

US Moto Trials Women's Champion

Normally the Moto Girls page covers big bike racing - hare scrambles, motocross, enduro, etc. This time I thought I'd try someting different and talk to a trials rider. Not just any trials rider, either. Maddie Hoover is a dominant force on the United States women’s trials scene. This multi-time Trials des Nations competitor from Raleigh, North Carolina, recently wrapped the AMA National Moto Trials women’s pro championship by a wide margin. She rides for the GasGas North American Factory team on a GP 250. The 18-year old is also a recent high school graduate with plenty of interesting plans for the future. Here’s her story:

Maddie Hoover
Meet Maddie Hoover, one of the top female trials riders in the country, if not the world.Photography by Tony M. Powers

So, how did you get started riding trials?

My dad was big into trials since before I was born. When I was 4 years old he got me a GasGas 50cc, and then I started competing when I was 8. I have never competed on big bikes or anything motorsports related other than Trials.

Have you ridden GasGas your whole life? And have you ever considered doing anything on a big bike?

I’ve always ridden GasGas. They’ve always given such great support to younger riders and are really reliable bikes too. As far as the big bike stuff, I’ve though about EnduroCross for awhile now. I really would love to give it a try, but probably not until I’m finished riding trials professionally - I don’t want to risk getting injured doing it, and messing my trials career up.

Cool, you definintely should sometime – it’s a blast! Now, could you briefly explain how a trials event works for those of us big bike riders who may not be familiar with them?

Starting with the basics, trials is ridden standing up at all imes. You try to ride over obstacles without putting your feet down. The event is not based on speed, but at the national level you only have a minute and thirty seconds to get through each section. There are a twelve sections total, and you do three laps. Every time you put a foot down is a point, and you can be penalized withup to three points. After that you can dab as much as you want to. If you crash, roll backwards, stall the bike, go outside the banner or otherwise fail to complete the section, then you receive a score of five. The lowest score wins.

Maddie Hoover
Maddie Hoover carefully navigates between wet, slippery rocks ... while taking great care not to put a foot down!Photography by Tony M. Powers

How do you train for trials events? Obviously technique is critical, but is there also a physical aspect like there is when you're racing big bikes?

Yes! I work out every day of the week, with the goal of increasing my endurance and balance, with a heavy focus on core work. Each national trials event lasts about seven hours, and in addition to the sections themselves you have many miles of trail riding in between – without the option of sitting down the way you can on a big bike. It takes serious levels of fitness and commitment to be able to compete at 100% for that long. To improve my riding technique, I ride my bike everyday for a couple hours. Being able to excel in trials requires you to not only know the right movement, but also have the strength to execute it.

What part of trials do you find most challenging? I’ve heard the mental aspect is tough. And I know you’re very skilled, but are there any techniques or obstacles that you still struggle to master?

The most challenging part of trials is definitely the mental part. Staying consistent and focused is key. As far as physical obstacles are concerned, I struggle the most with trusting myself enough to really go for the “big ups”. Although it’s kind of a mental obstacle too, actually. I get intimidated when I don’t make it up something the first time, and then it really gets in my head.

What are big-ups?

Sorry ! (laughs) They’re when you go up big rocks and stuff like that. Usually like six feet or taller. Basically instead of being able to wheelie up over it, you have to use a “splatter” technique. And that means that you basically have to jump from flat ground, make contact with the back wheel, then ride the rest of the way over the obstacle.

Congrats on wrapping up the USA Moto Trials Women’s Pro Championship a few weeks ago! How does it feel?

It feels really amazing to have all of my hard work pay off! I am really proud of the way I rode this year too! I won seven out of the eight rounds. I’ve been pushing myself really hard this year and I can feel a big improvement! I’m definitely excited for the world championship series to start!

Maddie Hoover
Maddie Hoover just wrapped up the US Moto Trials Women's Pro championsip, and will soon be on her way to Europe to compete in the FIM World Moto Trials series.Photography by Tony M. Powers

Have you competed in the World Rounds before, or will this be your first year? And speaking of international events, have you ever done the Trials des Nations?

This will be my second year riding the entire whole world championship series. I’ve actually gone to the Trials des Nations three times now and I’ll be going again this year! ** Impressive! Where do you stay/who do you train with when you’re in Europe for the world rounds?**

I will be staying and training with te Norwegian trial team – they’re great!

It sounds like you pretty much dominate here in the states – but I know that historically the European riders tend to be a little better at trials, at least on the men’s side. Is that also true for the women?

The Europeans are much better in both the men’s and women’s divisions. They compete against each other and have an event almost every weekend which really helps elevate their game. So I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to train in Europe for all of August in preparation for the rest of the world rounds.

Maddie Hoover
Maddie Hoover (center), Middle Creek high School class of 2017Photo courtesy of Maddie Hoover

That’s cool, riding and training overseas is awesome! But moving on a little from the riding – I saw you recently graduated from high school. What are your plans for the next couple of years?

Yes it is, I love Europe! I want to move there someday, just not sure if I’m ready! (laughs) As far as school goes, I’m taking a year off to travel and train full-time, but I plan on starting an online college program sometime next year.

Last big question: What advice would you give to other women who are interested in riding trials or competing in events?

I would tell them that riding bikes is so empowering and freeing… go out and try something different, it’s never the wrong time to explore something different!

Well said! It was a pleasure interviewing you Maddie, thank you for your time! Who all would you like to thank?

I want to thank mom and dad, GasGas and Spectro oil. And thank you so much for your time, I appreciate you doing this interview.

Maddie Hoover
Hoover cleaning a section in one of the National Moto Trials events. This particular event took place near Cleveland, Ohio.Shan Moore