You could hear the wail of the dirtbike long before you saw the flashes of yellows, oranges or reds through the pine trees. It gave you warning to stop talking and find a place protected from the inevitably thrown clods of dirt before the rider, sometimes literally, flies into view and then out again.
Riders were out on the course for up to four hours Saturday at the Outback Bushwack cross-country race June 1.
The top five classes, or “A” riders, race on a 29 km loop for three to four hours, while the bottom six classes, or “B” riders, race on a 17 km loop for two to three hours.
“These loops are full of natural obstacles that test a racer’s mental and physical endurance,” one of the race organizers, Tim Barker said.
“Winners get a trophy and bragging rights.”
The trails, which had been slightly changed due to environmental concerns, were difficult enough
“It was pretty fantastic,” Hixon rider Blake Stitt said.
“The rain made it pretty slippery. It was rooty and muddy and slippery.”
And when he says endurance, it really means something. Both riders and bikes go through a lot to make it through the loop even once.
“A lot of the guys that race motocross, which is about going really hard for about 20 minutes and then done, they come out, and here you’re out there for three or four hours. You get the motocrossers that come out and they either don’t finish or if they do finish they’re like ‘that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
Two local riders and a close-enough-to-local rider made their impacts on the podium.
Quesnel’s Brad Dunn took first in vet expert. Jared Lucas, also of Quesnel, took second in junior over. Hixon’s Blake Stitt took third in intermediate.
The race brought 82 racers from Rossland to Vancouver to Pouse Coupe to Quesnel. It was a good turnout for the race and Barker said running the race earlier had a lot to do with that.
“We’ve always done our race late summer/early fall. The problem with that is last year we had a small turnout,” Barker said.
With the results for bragging rights and points, at the end of the season riders would often skip, he said.
“You only get the guys who are hardcore or who are still hunting for points. So we made the decision to bump the race up earlier in the year,” he said.
After the race, the area cleared out as riders and support crew made their way to Williams Lake for the second race of the weekend.
Barker also stressed that though the motorcycle club takes care of Hangman’s recreational trails, 20 kms west of town, they are open to everybody, whether they’re on the back of a machine or moving courtesy of their own two feet.