She parked her motocross bike for the winter but Chantelle Bykerk is already gearing up for 2014 where she will be defending her title as the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Enduro-Cross Champion in the ladies’ division.
“There were seven races in the series. I had two seconds, four firsts, and a third. That made me the first Canadian female to win the AMA series championships.”
Endurocross is a hybrid motorcycle competition, a mix of supercross, trials and enduro racing.
“Endurocross is like bringing off-road and extreme racing indoors. We go over rocks and logs and tractor tires. Indoors is more spectator friendly,” explains Bykerk.
But this is only part of the impressive accomplishments the 22-year-old Silver Creek resident has racked up this past racing season. Due to her performance, Bykerk was invited to compete in the Global X-Games in Brazil, Spain, Germany and the United States, which she describes as the Olympic equivalent for extreme sports.
“It was more nerve-wracking racing with the best at that sport from around the world.”
Bykerk says the X-Games tracks were different than what she had expected and she realized a little too late that she needed a different bike.
“The tracks were more for high-speed, it wasn’t as technical. There were more jumps. I didn’t expect it to be like that. I was on a smaller bike – I had a 200 GTM – and it was working really well (but) what I had been racing on the whole time was underpowered.”
Bykerk still ranked in the top 10, pulling three sixth-place and a seventh-place finish. In September, before the racing season was over, she switched to a heavier and higher-powered bike.
“The 200 is already gone and I’m sticking to the 350. It’s so nice.”
Bykerk’s busy racing season kept her from defending her title as Canadian Enduro Champion, the national title for off-road racers. She earned the number one plate in 2011 and 2012, the only Canadian woman to win two consecutive years, but the AMA and X-Game schedules conflicted with the Canadian series. Although Bykerk missed several races, she still managed to take home the bronze with the points she earned.
The 2014 race schedule is already out and Bykerk has switched her focus from riding to indoor training. Physical fitness is important for a rider’s success, says Bykerk. In order to make it through long races and obstacle courses, a rider’s physical and cardio health has to be optimal.
“I lift weights for about an hour and the last 10 minutes I do this intense sprint thing without stopping so my heart rate shoots straight up to train for endurocross.”
Bykerk plans to be back on her bike before the snow is gone (she will stud the tires) because this year she has some big goals. Besides defending her AMA title, Bykerk is planning to test her skills in the Tennessee Knockout, an extreme off-road race. This race is challenging for the professional men, she says, so she knows it will be a tough go for the women, but they are up for the challenge.
“More and more ladies are getting into it and a lot of us endurocross racers want to do the same races the boys do. More and more girls are saying, ‘We can do what the boys can do, it just takes us longer.’”