President’s Message | Let the 2024 Race Season Begin!

The 2024 race season is here! After seven months of disassembling, reassembling, reconditioning, tuning, cleaning, polishing, and preparing, the wait is over. Across Ontario, garage doors are swinging open and bikes are rolling out to our athletes who’ve been training all winter for this year’s lineup.

We kick off the season with the Beagle Bash. This classic “blue-plated” enduro, held in memory of Doug Kent, is an Off-Road Ontario favourite, despite often challenging racers with cold and rain. Yet, those who endure to the end may find themselves rewarded with a podium, poutine, and mild hypothermia. At the time of writing, an impressive 166 racers have registered, suggesting a highly competitive and well-attended season ahead.

Here are some practical tips based on my experience racing in this event (you can also watch my video on the 2023 event to learn more):

  1. Dress Appropriately: Wear warm layers to keep your core temperature up, and don’t forget a waterproof shell. Long road transits in the rain can end a race early for those who come unprepared. A beanie might come in handy for extra warmth.
  2. Keep Your Vision Clear: Store dry gloves and spare goggles on the gas truck or on your person; they can be a race-saver. Also, carrying a microfiber cloth to wipe your goggles is crucial.
  3. Course Management: The Beagle Bash track is generally flat, fast, and muddy. Avoid tricky obstacles like logs, and maintain a smooth, controlled pace. Always look ahead; if you spot riders stuck in the mud, find a wider, alternative line around them early.
  4. Tire Selection: For tires, I recommend tubes at 14 psi in the front and 12 psi in the rear. Soft-terrain tires such as MX33/34, Starcross Soft, or Mitas XT-754 are ideal.
  5. Handling Pavement Transits: Be cautious on pavement sections as dirt tires can be slippery. Avoid fast speeds and sudden movements like braking or turning sharply.
  6. Race Strategy: In any enduro, keep moving. Don’t stop at the end of tests; head straight to the next one before taking time to socialize or check your bike. Aim to arrive early at your next test and use that time to recalibrate.
  7. Persistence Pays Off: Remember, the Beagle Bash is often a test of endurance and mental toughness. Those who persevere to the finish line are frequently rewarded with a podium spot.

Best of luck to those competing!

You may recall that a member survey was sent out. Thank you to everyone who responded. With close to 150 members’ responses, it offered invaluable insights into what is most important to our members. With the assistance of this feedback, we were able to make significant changes to improve the quality and inclusion of off-road racing in Ontario.

For 2024, Off-Road Ontario has added several improvements for the XC series that include:

  1. Track Scrutineers: Before every XC event, Off-Road Ontario scrutineers will attend the location to ensure that all races are properly arrowed and marked for kilometre signs, safe, suitable for all classes for the respective race times. In addition, they will film a lap of the main course so that racers can view it in advance on YouTube.
  2. Tech Inspection: Inspectors will be present at every XC event to ensure that racers have the correct numbers, helmet stickers, and equipment as stipulated by the rules. Be sure to visit the tech inspection station at each race. Attendance at tech inspection is mandatory for all racers to scan helmets and receive a “pass,” which will be indicated by a small plate sticker. Please note that sound checks are generally not required for XC races.
  3. Helmet stickers: In line with the standards of GNCC and FMSQ XC racing, Off-Road Ontario will implement class-specific race stickers. These stickers, which are affixed to the back of helmets, make it easier for racers to identify competitors in front of them, whether they are in the same class or not. These coloured stickers, which aid in quick identification, will be provided at no cost to all racers during tech inspection.
  4. Sweep Medics: At all of our races, we have arranged for volunteer medics who will follow the racers and communicate with the professional on-site medical team regarding any racers who require medical attention. This arrangement ensures that racers can feel reassured, knowing that medical assistance is readily available. However, it is important to note that this does not alter the responsibilities of racers to remain with an injured rider until medical help arrives.
  5. New Classes: Class changes are now in place to better suit the demographic of our racers. All our 2024 classes are listed on our website here. These class changes are: Peewee B, E-Moto, 50+B, 40+B, 60+B, 50+A, 40+A.

In addition to the significant changes in XC racing, we also have several new events for the Youth Enduro and Enduro series and a repeat of some our favourite races:

BLACK BEAR: A new youth enduro hosted by the Tastula family in Sudbury.
BLACK DIAMOND: A true “hard enduro” designed to challenge even the toughest racers. Be sure to hone your technical skills before participating!
VOODOO RANCH SPRINT ENDURO: A racer favourite that debuted last year. Organizers promise an even better experience this time around!
ROAD APPLES YOUTH ENDURO: Cancelled last year due to flooding, this race is making a comeback to kick off the year. Registration is live!

Additionally, we are pleased to announce the return of the HUMBER RIVER HURRY and WOODFORD CREEK Youth Enduros. Unfortunately, despite the earlier posted schedule, the Terra Nova event is cancelled. However, the 2024 CORDUROY ENDURO is set to cap off the season in spectacular fashion. Remember, registration goes live on May 15 at 12:00 p.m.

It time to show everyone what you have been training for. 2024 is your season!

See you at the races. – Sean Robichaud, President