Dirt biking an uphill battle

Muddy hills and rough terrain led to a wild day of riding in the Mud Creek Cross Country Dirt Bike Race in Taylor on Saturday.

Due to the previous night's rainfall, riders were far behind their normal times, with many completing just one lap of the 35 kilometre A loop.

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"There was something happening out there," mused Jane Yaschuck, time keeper and one of the event coordinators.

"We can often do 35 kilometres in about an hour, where some of them were taking about three hours."

Eric Demoulin, second-place finisher in the Masters division, attributed the tough conditions to the rain.

"It's a good course, but it rained a bit on the backside. The route got all greasy and bare and had a lot of steep hills. If it's dry it's no problem, but when it's wet it's pretty hard. A lot of guys were really fighting to make it."

The 24-year-old rider gave some tips on how to deal with such conditions.

"Just try and keep the RPM down low. Don't let it spin too much or it won't go anywhere. Try to keep momentum up and stay off the throttle. You go faster if your wheels aren't spinning too much."

Mark Yaschuck, who won the Intermediate division, gave his view on how to deal with the steep and slippery slopes.

"I crisscrossed across the hill back and forth, and I backed up to get some run up the hill. I make it up as far as I can then at the last minute before I stop I let the bike go away from me and get up the hill one more bike length."

Those strategies for a few extra feet made all the difference on Saturday.

Local rider Sean Whitford, who finished third in the Vet Expert class, said some people aren't used to such challenging conditions.

"A lot of people probably haven't seen trail like that too much around here. It was a real tough trail with lots of hills today and lots of big logs that challenged everybody...getting stuck on hills really wears you out, and dropping your bike trying to go too fast wears you out too."

Whitford had to quit after one lap to save his hands for racing the next day. He pointed out how sweating in the gloves can lead to soft skin and ripped calluses.

"Your hands get sweaty and that's what finishes them. You soak the gloves and then soften up the skin. One hard hit will just rip your whole callus off."

In his third year running this race, event coordinator Sig Demoulin said he's proud of the trail he's helped build, but it's challenging.

"It's been a work in progress for three or four years. It's getting bigger every year. We're up to about 60 kilometres in trail down here now," he said of the trails where the Big Bam Ski Hill sits during the winter.

"There's a lot of rough terrain here so you've got to find a way to get through it. Some of the hills where you'd normally be able to shoot straight up were hard. The type of dirt we had was greasy and it makes the world of difference from one day to the next if it's dry one day and the next day you have rain. It can make a hill that normally you'd fly up it, you're pushing and struggling and fighting. We don't have a lot of rock here to try and hold the hills together so they slide a bit."

Other winners of the day were Dave Jenneson in Masters; Vince Brown in Expert; Sean Merrick in Vet Expert; Dave Dunaway in Super Senior; Aaron Richardson in Vet Amateur; Mike Botel in Senior Amateur; Justin Goss in Junior Over; Linda Ingvarsson-Rou in Womens; and Trevor Brown in Junior U15.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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