When it comes to cross-country motorcycle racing, it’s not necessarily the most powerful bike that is fastest. Agility counts for a lot.
Enter Steve Thomas and his trials motorbike. Thomas won the expert division with his small Montesa bike at the Copper Haul Hare Scramble No. 2, off Copper Haul Road on Sunday.
It was Thomas’ first race in the Yukon, having moved here from Vancouver Island a little over a year ago, and the final race of the season for the Yukon Cross Country Motorcycle Association (YCCMA).
“The track got a lot faster after a number of bikes had been around it and wore a nice groove into it,” said Thomas. “I came out and rode a couple practice laps a week ago and it just got a lot faster. You just have to find a nice rhythm, a nice flow, and just go with it.”
A trials style bike is easy to spot. It looks like the offspring of a dirtbike and a scooter.
“They are extremely maneuverable,” said Thomas. “The first thing is it only weighs a 165 pounds, so you’re dealing with about 60 pounds less weight. That alone makes it more agile and more maneuverable, in my opinion.”
The most eye-catching characteristic of the bike is the absence of a seat. The resulting dip in the bike’s body allows for more movement between the rider’s legs.
“When you’re standing, you’re using your legs as another set of shock absorbers,” said Thomas. “And you’re positioning your weight from front to back, from side to side, all the time. When you’re riding, your legs aren’t hard against the seat or hard against the frame and you’re allowing the bike to move around underneath you.”
Thomas took the win with 13 laps of the four-kilometre course in the two-hour endurance race. Arriving at the finish line, also with 13 laps but behind Thomas, was second place’s Dale Panchyshyn and Hans Gatt in third.
A lack of experience racing motorcycles didn’t keep Whitehorse’s Jarrid Davy from winning the intermediate A division on Sunday. In his first motorcycle race, Davy took first with 12 laps in two hours, beating second’s Frank Smith and third’s Neil Ryckman, both of whom finished with 11 laps.
Though new to motorcycle racing, Davy is an accomplished snowmobiler. He has won the open class of the Alcan 200 International Snow Machine Road Rally the last two years.
“(It was) challenging, very tiring, a lot different from a snowmobile race,” said Davy. “I do a lot of mountain biking downhill racing and it kind of jives; it’s kind of a similar thing ... I guess that’s what helped me today.”
Other winners on the day were Sam Shirmer capturing first in intermediate B and Seth Adams taking both the peewee and the mini racers divisions.
Cole Beaman won the junior division, the same as in last year’s season closer, riding his 110cc Yamaha.
“I feel pretty good,” said Beaman. “The rest of them had 50s (cc), so I had a good chance at winning.”
His win is an impressive feat given the junior division is for under-15 riders and he’s only eight. Then again, he’s been riding motorbikes since he was 18 months old.
An engine stall put Beaman in last place off the start, but he made up lost ground.
“I felt pretty bad when I was in last,” said Beaman. “But then I passed all the riders and came in first.”
About 40 riders competed in Sunday’s season closer for the YCCMA, which was formed last year. The young association has held two races the last two summers but hopes to double that next year with four. The four races, which will be a series, will be split between Sunday’s location and last year’s location in the “Stinky Lake” area off Long Lake Road.
“Next year we plan to have much more of a series once we have established locations,” said president Chris Locke. “We’ll probably have two events at the other track and two events here. We’ve been spending hundreds of hours out here building this system ... Building the infrastructure seems to be what’s holding us back. Once it’s in place, it’ll be much easier for us to set up an event.”
Sunday’s event was also the trial run for the association’s new timing system that links to the Internet and will let people follow races on computers and mobile devices.
“A lot of people put a lot of work into making this thing happen,” said Thomas. “There are a lot of volunteers here, cooking hamburgers and hotdogs, doing the scoring - they’re the ones who deserve the credit. It takes a lot of effort to put an event on - I know, I’ve done it in the past. They did a great job.”
1st Steve Thomas (Montesa)
2nd Dale Panchyshyn (KTM)
3rd Hans Gatt (KTM)
1st Jared Davy (Yamaha)
2nd Frank Smith (Honda)
3rd Neil Ryckman (Yamaha)
1st Sam Schirmer (Husqvarna)
2nd Tim Schirmer (Suzuki)
3rd Aiden Allen (Yamaha)
1st Seth Adams (Yamaha)
2nd Kya Larkin (Yamaha)
3rd Landon Locke (Honda)
1st Seth Adams (KTM)
2nd Austin Larkin (KTM)
1st Cole Beaman (Kawasaki)
2nd Aurora Krause (Yamaha)
Contact Tom Patrick at