Let the Dirt Fly!

story and photo by Gabrielle L. Wheeler

One night when my daughter was two-years-old she happened to sit down with my stepfather, Ron, while he was watching dirt bike videos on the computer. Something magical happened that night and she has been hooked ever since. Six years and two dirt bikes later, she and Ron are still buddies and she is now riding. Ron has trails that both of my children ride on and they also ride with some family friends occasionally. The idea has been thrown around to have them compete at some point, and not long ago I got my own first look at what competition life looks like.

From June 9-10, the Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC Racing) staged Round 8: The Dunlop Tomahawk in Alpine. While Ron and the kids had gone last year, the 2018 race was my first experience at a major dirt bike race. GNCC races consist of competitions for both quads and dirt bikes. The race was run by both national and international competitors, as well as local riders who don’t follow the circuit around the country.

Races are split up by age and bike class, but even so, well over 100 bikes stood at the starting lines at 10am waiting for the green flag to fly. We knew someone riding in the youth division, so we went down to wander through the bikes beforehand. Ron pointed out the female pro riders, which was the first group to race in that morning’s event.

Finally, it was time to start engines. With one minute or so given between the start of each class, soon the entire group of riders was flying down the course trying to beat competitors in their own class or to possibly place within the top 3 overall. To my pleasure, 45 minutes later, a woman placed second and a local placed third amongst all competitors.

Riders following the GNCC Racing circuit travel around the country to compete. The course in Alpine is full of large fields and trails running through the woods. Some riders came back covered in mud, indicating there is at least one mud pit as well. The circuit will be returning to New York at the Johnson Family Farm in Harpursville from September 15-16, 2018. Sandra probably won’t be competing this year as she is very petite, but the 2019 year is a possibility for both kids in the peewee or junior divisions.

For more information on GNCC Racing and for this year’s schedule, go to gnccracing.com.

Gabrielle Wheeler is a freelance writer from the heart of the Finger Lakes Region. She also works as a patient navigator/interpreter in a local health center and vlogs about nature with her kids on their YouTube channel, a “Place For Little Sprouts to Grow. “

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