Arenacross returns for another series

By Marissa Baecker

After a short hiatus, Arenacross is back for the 24th year and Round One, held in Penticton recently brought riders from all across the country. In the beautiful Spring temperatures you fully expect to see the RV city that pops up beside the dirt bike track but I was a bit surprised to see the same creation grow outside the arena in Penticton . . . in November when the temperature was dropping and the south wind was howling through. But that is the life of a racer on the circuit.

Don’t think that watching the event indoors is any warmer either. In order to properly ventilate the venue and for the riders to flow freely from the track to their outdoor pits, the doors are open and the outdoors is brought inside, right down to the dirt. Noticeably absent this year were pro freestyle riders. They are always a good show to see but the lack of indoor landing space changes their game from somewhat safe to more on the risky side.

Risky is exactly what arenacross is and probably one of the reasons it is such a draw for the riders, aside from the large chunks of change. The pro circuit of round one has put Lindsay, Ontario rider, Kyle Keast at the top of the block in both the Pro-Am Lights category as well as the Pro-Am Open.

I caught up to Keast during warm-up and asked him what it was about Arenacross that brought him clear across the country . . . in November.

“I’m more of an outdoor guy,” said Keast, “but I’ve been starting to get into the indoor stuff more lately.”

Indoors is where Surrey resident and former Canadian Arenacross Champion, Kyle Beaton prefers to race and after round one in Penticton is sitting second in the Pro Am Lights category and fourth in the Pro-Am Open.

“Definitely indoors,” says Beaton. “I think it’s just more technical, more of a skill. I think indoors takes a little bit more finesse. I seem to do a lot better at it.”

Better compared to the outdoors? Not quite. Beaton is an experienced Supercross rider – an indoor circuit in the U.S. and despite injuries, the adrenaline rush keeps him coming back.

“This last injury kind of had me on the fence,” continues Beaton. “maybe it was time to take a step back, just have fun at it and not take it so serious.”

But settling into everyday life wasn’t exactly what he imagined it would be.

“After having a real job and running an excavator all summer, I don’t know about the reality life yet,” laughed Beaton.  “I think I’ll still stick to the dream.”

Injuries and motocross, however, go hand in hand and no rider is unscathed.

“It’s tough,” says Ryan Lockhart returning to the circuit after two years away, “but when you’re younger, I’m 27 now so I’m a little older, when you’re younger you don’t really think about it.  It’s just like you get back on the bike, you get back at it.  Now that I’m getting a little older, the body doesn’t heal the way it used to so you take a little bit more time and definitely a little more cautioun.  It takes a little more time to get the ball rolling again.”

Joining him in the lineup this year is his younger brother Brad. While Ryan has relocated to the Lower Mainland, brother Brad is still a resident of Nova Scotia but made the journey West to compete. We asked Ryan how he felt returning to the line-up and having his younger brother along side.

“It’s kind of cool,” said Ryan, now 27. “It’s the first time we’ll be racing against each other.”

“I’m pretty pumped,” adds Brad, “I just drove all the way across Canada.”

As for Brad, nerves is something he has to learn to control in this competition.

“I’ve been looking up to all these guys,” comments Brad about being alongside his competition, “but I think it’s my time. There’s a lot of competition here. A lot of good guys. Hopefully I can make the main and put in fifteen solid laps.

However, Keast was the one to take top spot and his secret, “It’s a short race and starts are everything. You get a good start, stay up and stay consistent.”

The event in Penticton had no shortage of excitement. Rounds one and two took place November 11 and 12 in Penticton. Rounds 3 and 4 are scheduled for January 20 and 21 at Chilliwack Heritage Park Arena and the final rounds are scheduled for February 3 and 4 at the same arena.




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