A local dirt bike club, The Second Gear Club (www.secondgearclub.com
) and The Canadian Motorcycle Association (www.canmocycle.ca
) put on five ice races this year in Alberta, Canada. Racers from all over the country came down to compete for provincial and National Points. Even a racer from Washington, USA, #17 Jerry Alcock, came down to win first place in his classes, Veteran and Expert 600.As some may already know, motorcycle ice racing mainly takes place on frozen lakes, the norm is a plowed track, consisting of a ¼ mile oval, although there are many road courses groomed for 6 hour and 24-hour events which utilize two way ice tires.I raced on ice for the first time on a KTM 200 against another younger rider on an 80cc bike. The kid definitely had skills, but once my mind realized I wasn’t going to fall down, I passed him and kept on going to take first place heat three of my class. There was no way I was going to lose to a kid, even if he had 4+ years of ice riding on me!Along with myself racing in 200 novice, my father and I have built a sidecar. Although ours is quite different. It is capable of leaning to the degree of that of a normal bike, and is detachable, allowing my dad to compete with that bike in not only the sidecar class, but several other classes.Our sidecar gains its ability to lean utilizing a CR125 swing arm (underneath the sidecar basket) which is custom welded and fitted to the basket. A bracket that is mounted to the bottom of the bike frame allows the sidecar to be slid in and out with ease. Along with this new design, which has never been done before, is its canting wheel. As we take a corner at speed the side wheel cants out to allow for maximum speed and minimal drag. once we come to the straight-away a simple rubber bungee pulls the wheel back to its position.One major problem we have faced with our leaning sidecar is the ability to hold down the lean in a corner and having synchronization coming back up in the corner. Steering ultimately comes down to how fast your bike leans down and comes back up. If it comes up too quickly you would take out everyone to your outside, and in the end, crash into the bank (which trial and painful error showed us. You’ve never crashed until you’ve crashed on a sidecar jumping a snow bank as hard as rock, and as high and wide as a truck hood!).To control our lean we have tried using a simple 1:1 ratio by just pulling down the sub frame, this turned out to be quite difficult with the centrifugal force experienced when rounding a corner. The end product ultimately evolved into a 4:1 ratio pulley system that I, the monkey, pull down with one arm. Ideally, when we round a corner I grab the pulley’s grip and pull the bike down, hold onto the front of the sidecar cage, and lean as far back as possible to maintain maximum traction. This all must be done on a very fast corner, controlled, synchronized and smoothly.Inches from the ground, dealing with ruts, bumps and chunks of ice coming at you, and sometimes even complete whiteout conditions when passing or trailing another rider, we attempt to make it out on top. With a fellow competitor’s sidecar rear wheel guard right at your face, we try to make it through six laps to make first place.We are continually modifying, adapting and adjusting our sidecar to come out on top. In the last race, we were such a threat to the reigning sidecar champions of 4+ years that they pushed themselves so hard until their monkey fell off the sidecar! We didn’t know until we made another lap (while lapping second place) and saw the monkey walking down the track, truly making a “what the hell moment”.It has been quite an experience with sidecar ice racing; it is truly is exhilarating. Even with the crashes of trail and error, coming out on top is worth all the pain.As well as racing, I take photographs of ice racing, hare scrambles, and soon to be motocross, supermoto, trials once spring comes into play. Feel free to visit my website, www.MRSI.tk
, where anyone from riders, sponsors, magazines and websites can preview, purchase and download photos from all events I attend.After each event when trophies are being handed out I have a laptop and/or TV playing slideshows of the photos from that day so people can relive that awesome pass or see the bad crash of the day. And then they go home and order what they want for their trophy wall, or voodoo practices..I hope you all enjoy these shots, it’s just a shame the ice racing season is coming to an end.