The snarl of dirt bike engines filled the air at the Schirmer family ranch near Mount Lorne as 33 riders of all ages tested their skills in the Yukon Cross-Country Motorcycle Association’s second enduro-style race on Sunday.
Riders kicked off the Cowley Creek Hare Scramble on foot, sprinting about 50 metres through the woods before vaulting onto their bikes and roaring around the track.
The first race of the day was a 20-minute prologue, an intense event with the top riders charging around a short but very technical course.
Whitehorse’s Hans Gatt claimed the title in that event, earning him the top seed in the afternoon’s two-hour enduro trail race.
“It was really good, actually. The Schirmer family there, they really built some interesting obstacles,” he said.
As well as battling other riders, racers had to jump their bikes over a culvert and a steel trailer, maneuver a log pit, carve around tight corners and clear a rough-and-tumble boulder garden.
The boulder garden was the most difficult, Gatt said.
The local dog-mushing legend raced dirt bikes more than 30 years ago in Europe, before coming to Whitehorse and getting involved in the dogsled racing scene.
“I raced for nearly a decade, but then I came over here and got into dogs, and completely forgot about bikes until about four years ago when some friends got me back into it,” Gatt said.
Based on his performance in the prologue, Gatt got the best start in the two-hour enduro on Sunday afternoon, but he was quickly overtaken by Shawn McFarland, who won the category.
“I totally expected that to happen. Shawn is a much faster rider than I am,” Gatt said.
Gatt’s partner, Susie Rogan, was the only woman on the race course.
“There were some girls in the kids races, but I was the only woman. Doesn’t that suck?” Rogan said.
“The men seem to really like having me out there. They’re very, very nice to me. I feel actually like a special person out there. It’s not at all like, ‘Hey, this is a man’s sport.’”
Rogan rode the B-loop course, which was less technical than the Expert “A” course that Gatt rode. “The most difficult thing yesterday was the roots, because they’re slippery when they’re wet.”
Cole Beaman, 8, won the under-15 category.
“It was pretty exciting for my first time on the B-loop, to win,” Beaman said.
The B-loop is slightly shorter and a little less technical than the Expert “A” race course. Beaman said it was a challenge, even on his new Yamaha YZ 85.
“If you’re going really fast it’s kind of hard to stay on the bike. If you’re going an OK speed, it’s good. For me, it was pretty easy,” he said.
In the first and only other race of the season, Beaman was third. Claiming first place this time was a lot more fun, he said.
Mike Beaman, Cole’s father, was the race organizer for the day. He said watching his son win was great, but more than that he’s happy to see kids out enjoying the sport that they love.
The motorcycle association had to hold the race out of town on private land because of a city bylaw that classifies all trails as “highways” and thereby requires anyone riding a motorized vehicle to have a valid driver’s licence and insurance.
“It’s actually technically illegal for the kids to ride (on public land) right now, which is why we had it on private property. The Schirmer family really came to the rescue of the sport this summer, and really kept it alive,” Mike said.
While there were some minor crashes in the prologue race, the only injuries were a few banged shoulders, Mike said.
“It’s a real gentleman’s sport,” he said. “No one really tries to pass aggressively. If you come up on a rider, they just find a safe place to pull off and let you by.”
1. Hans Gatt
2. Sam Schirmer
3. Tony Watson
1. Cody Adams
2. Seth Adams
3. Landon Locke
4. Kya Larkin
Mini (one-hour B-loop):
1. Orin Gladwin
2. Seth Adams
3. Aurora Krause
Junior under-15 (one-hour B-loop):
1. Cole Beaman
2. Austin Larkin
3. Sawyer Adams
Junior over-15 (one-hour B-loop):
1. Brody Ryckman
2. Ethan Davy
3. Dylan Kindervater
Intermediate “B” (two-hour B-loop):
1. Chris Locke
2. Susan Rogan
Intermediate “A” (two-hour A-loop):
1. Travis Adams
2. Chris Lane
3. Jarrid Davy
Expert “A” (two-hour A-loop):
1. Shawn McFarland
2. Hans Gatt
3. Dale Panchychyn
Contact Jesse Winter at firstname.lastname@example.org