Dirt flies at Stinky Lake Hare Scrambles

The loudest place in the Yukon on Sunday was 12 kilometres down Long Lake Road, in the middle of nowhere.

The loudest place in the Yukon on Sunday was 12 kilometres down Long Lake Road, in the middle of nowhere.

Motorbike riders put their bodies and machines to the test in the Stinky Lake Hare Scrambles No. 2, the second event this summer of the recently formed Yukon Cross Country Motorcycle Association.

“We just got going, so hopefully it continues,” said president Chris Locke. “We’ll probably need a bigger venue the way things are going. Lots more kids (are out), and they’re getting bigger.”

Eight kids under the age of 15 competed in junior races, but the main events were the adult races, with 27 riders taking part. Unlike most motorsport races, the winner of hare scrambles is not the first to complete a set amount of laps, but the one to complete the most laps in a set amount of time.

“It’s an endurance event, so you’re looking at two hours minimum and three hours for the experts,” said Locke. “It’s the most laps in a given amount of time. So if one guy comes in five minutes before the cut-off, he gets to do one extra lap and the guy right behind him may not get to do it.

“Hare scrambles is a really popular form of cross-country motorcycle racing,” he added. “This morning we had a kids’ event where they went around the in-field track, kind of motocross but no jumps.

“Our event doesn’t have the same type of jumps like motocross does.”

The top three expert class riders each completed five trips through the 15-kilometre course, but crossing the finish in front for first was Shawn McFarland. Taking second was Leroy Wolfe ahead of third place’s Justin Kolla, winner of the first Stink Lake scramble in August.

“It went really good. It was a beautiful trail, lots of single track, nice riding,” said McFarland. “There were three of us, with Leroy Wolfe and Justin Kolla, at the forefront and it was fun swapping leads.

“There’s always a few little tumbles here and there, but everything worked out well.”

Not only was it McFarland’s first win, it was his first race in about a decade.

“I’ve done a couple races down south in BC and, actually, in the early ‘80s I did some races back here when I was just getting out of high school,” said McFarland. “It was a really fun ride. It’s nice to see that it’s competitive, but not super competitive; people aren’t trying to hurt each other, aren’t being rude with nasty passes.”

The ladies’ division saw a repeat winner with Susie Rogan, who topped her division in the first scramble, winning with four laps of the 10-kilometre B loop.

“I actually took my time, made sure I rode at my skill level and didn’t wipe out – and I think that’s the key to this thing,” said Rogan, who’s only been riding for four months. “The other race I wiped out twice and it really takes time, you get hurt and it really takes energy.”

Upgrading from a 50cc bike in August’s race to a 110cc just over a week ago helped six-year-old Cole Beaman win the under 15 junior division.

“It was good. (I had) only one crash,” said Beaman, who’s been riding since he was 18 months old. “I liked how I did the curves because I would look behind me and there was always dust flying behind me.”

Beaman, who took second in the first scramble, outpaced second place’s Aurora Krause and Orin Gladwin in third on Sunday.

Other division winners include Tim Kleedehn in the intermediate division and Kelly Fernandes in novice.

While organizers were excited to see about 10 more riders out than in August, not everything went as smoothly as they would have liked. Still in the first lap for the adult riders, the race was temporarily suspended when rider Hans Gatt took a bad fall, needing to be extracted from woods in a multipurpose utility vehicle. But Gatt, a four-time Yukon Quest champion musher, was at the awards ceremony with his arm in a sling and knee bandaged.

“I brushed a little tree with my handlebar – I was going about 70 kilometres an hour,” said Gatt, who rode professionally in Austria before discovering a passion for mushing.

“I went straight into the trees,” he said. “I thought at first my arm was severely broken, but it wasn’t. I spent about an hour in the X-ray room and it’s severely bruised.

“They thought my kneecap that was broken, but it turned out not to be.”

Injuries are simply part of the sport, acknowledged Locke.

“The last event we had a couple people go down with crashes, and one of them is back out here today and is doing real well,” said Locke. “It just happens, I suppose.

“It always happens on the first lap.”

Sunday’s race is the last scheduled for this year, but those interested in learning more about next season can find the association on Facebook by searching Yukon Dirt Bike Riders.

“The average age for our group is probably mid-40s,” said Locke. “There are some younger guys coming out, but there’s lots of moms and dads. And guys who used to race back in the day, in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, are coming back into the sport because it’s not necessarily super competitive and requires some fitness and endurance.

“We have three or four moms out racing, so it’s really a family event.”

RESULTS

Expert class

1st Shawn McFarland (KTM)

2nd Leroy Wolfe (KTM)

3rd Justin Kolla (Honda)

Intermediate class

1st Tim Kleedehn (KTM)

2nd Kevin Morse (KTM)

3rd Rick Hull (Yamaha)

Novice

1st Kelly Fernandes (Kawasaki)

2nd Stefan Gladwin (Honda)

Ladies

1st Susie Rogan (Yamaha)

2nd Jody Overduin (Yamaha)

3rd Melanie Mihoc (Kawasaki)

Over 15 juniors

1st Kasey Fernandes (Kawasaki)

Under 15 junior

1st Cole Beaman (Yamaha)

2nd Aurora Krause (Kawasaki)

3rd Orin Gladwin (Yamaha)

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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