Suzanne Howie

Off road correspondent, online editor and sometimes racer, Howie is best known for her role at the races taking pictures and handing out big checks to Ryan Graffunder (the other face in the picture), but sometimes throws her hat into the ring, so to speak.

This past weekend I was at the 59th running of the Corduroy Enduro, in Gooderham, Ontario. It bills itself as the toughest race in Canada, and while that might be up for debate (those hurtin’ Albertans know how to make ‘em rough too!) it is certainly in serious contention for the title. It’s especially difficult when you get the kind of rain we had during the week and right through to the weekend. Rocks that are normally grippy when dry become greasy and slippery with mud.

So, I’m sorry first off that it has taken me this long to get this posted. Layne, this apology is for you! I told you Sunday at the Codrington round of the OO XCs that I’d put a post up for you, about the awesome way you stopped to help a Mini Junior rider (Devyn Marshall, one of the youngest riders on the course) who was having problems on a particularly rough section of trail. It was the last cross country of the year, and I missed accepting my award and giving my speech because I was out on the trails taking pictures.

So, I know I usually post my blog up on Mondays, and I’m really trying to get regular with that. I know another editor gets one up hell or high water every Monday, and for that I give him credit, but for me, I just couldn’t bring myself to look at my computer on Monday after two weekends of racing, knowing there’s still like, what? 5 more to go! I’m starting to feel the burn! *laugh*

Don’t say I’ve never done anything for ya!

No, this has nothing to do with the Vince Vaughn movie. It’s the dilemma that my print counterpart touched upon in his editor’s column in the new issue of IMX (available at Chapters/Indigo stores, through a subscription or on Zinio for those of you with tablets and iPads – digital copies are awesome!). For those of you who haven’t read it, Jeff talks about the fine line many in the media find themselves walking as to where do we exist. Are we fans? Are we friends of the riders? Or do we exist in the 5th estate, so to speak, separate from both sides?

A little bit of nostalgia can go a long way on a rainy day.

So, stay with me, will you. B and I were watching the women's pentathalon Saturday afternoon, and at dinner afterwards we both agreed, what if the dirt bike world had a similar event? We tried working with "moto" but it's a bit restrictive, so the working name right now is "Dirt Bike Pentathalon." We toyed with the idea of "Motorcycle Pentathalon" and "Off Road Pentathalon," but for reasons you'll see later, if you stay with me, they didn't work.

"To finish first, first you must finish." I'm not sure where those words came from, but they certainly ring true, and it's something I have to keep reminding myself from time to time.

“When riding through tight trees at speed, do not think about anything other than riding through tight trees at speed.” - My words of Wisdom

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve done a “5 things” but I think last night’s showing of Canadian skill at the X Games Enduro X. Now, I know a lot of you weren’t able to watch it, but I’m hoping you were following us on twitter, @MXandOffroad; I stayed up all night just for you guys! Oh, and to watch two Canadians bring home bronze. Who? Well, you’ll have to wait.

So I got my first win this past weekend, on the Saturday of the Offroad Ontario 2 Days in June event. It felt good, really good. And want to know what felt the best? PR, the girl who finished second, and I had a bit of a battle, and while there was a bit of rubbing, it was left on the track. There were handshakes and congratulations after the event. Same went for Sunday when roles were reversed and I ended up in second with PR taking the win.

So, my first race is officially in the books, and I achieved one of my goals: I finished better at the Mini Pine this year than I had at the Great Pine Last year. I went from a 3rd to a 2nd. Yeah, it's still Ladies' B, and I didn't get a trophy, but it's still something to be proud about. And I got a pretty nasty scratch on my back, probably from rolling onto a stick while stuck under my bike. (You did read the "B" part, right?)

After the Toronto Supercross there was a lot of question about Canadians racing. Now, I won't say what we've got is perfect, but I'm just saying if you want to see Canadians racing in the States, you have to know where to look.

So, we've got another weekend without our live Supercross races, so I've got to come up with something to talk about. There is the topic of Villopoto, but really it's been done by many people so far, better than I could do it.

Because we needed more?

Andrew Short, in my opinion, is one of the most under rated riders out there. He's got great style on the bike and, unless he's been out injured, he's a constant in the top 10, but coming back from his latest injuries in New Orleans no one thought he'd be taking home the win in the very next race, except maybe him and buddy Ken Roczen, the unsuspecting Lites rider who threw his leg over a SX 350 and rode the wheels off it for a 2nd place over all in his first big bike main!

The two were so excited, for themselves and each other, that soon as the race was done there were hugs all around. It's nice to see such a great show of sportsmanship, of good sportsmanship, especially when so often we focus on bad behaviour. It doesn't need to be a bro-hug; a hand shake or a high five between the top three riders shows the fans that while they can be fierce competitors on the track, that is where it is left.

Often times we focus on the poor behaviour of a few riders, who shall remain nameless. This season, however, we've seen some great instances of riders riding aggressively, but letting it stay on the course. No one could argue that Roczen wasn't trying to pull every extra ounce of speed from that 350. Right out of the gate the German was charging, and when his good friend Short got in front, well, he wasn't going to stop pushing to win his Supercross class debut.

You can be aggressive without crossing the line into what is unacceptable behaviour (dirty block passes, purposely taking out riders, "team tactics" and the like). These riders, especially on the highest levels, are seen as heroes, role models, for the younger generation. When they act badly, and win, and nothing comes of it because they win, it sets a bad example. When the AMA fined Justin Barcia for his poor behaviour after the Huston event, it was a start. These riders are heroes for the younger generation of riders; it is very important the example the set.

Here's to Andrew Short, and Ken Roczen, and to all of the other fantastic models of good sportsmanship! Congrats on a well deserved win for Short and an amazing Supercross debut for German transplant, Roczen. Gute Arbeit, Ken!

                So, the Supercross season down south is pretty much wrapped up - Villopoto sealed the deal in Huston and Barcia secured the Lites East title this past weekend. The Lites West title hasn`t been secured, but with the snow in much of Canada gone, the season is starting to heat up north of the 49th parallel.

 NEW ORLEANS (April 14, 2012) – A crowd of 33,392 filled the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night, as Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, hosted its 14th race of the 2012 season in a return to New Orleans. One race after capturing back-to-back Supercross Class Championships, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., won his ninth win of the season with a convincing effort. In the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class, GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia, of Ochlocknee, Ga., secured his second-consecutive title with a fourth-place finish, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Darryn Durham, of Butler, Pa., raced to the first victory of his career.

So there is no Supercross this weekend, so my "5 Cool Things" is kind of out of place, so I was left wondering what on Earth I could write about.

                There's always something special about the first ride of the year, especially when it happens to be on a fresh motor, totally redone suspension and new tires (thanks to B! He's the best!).

                My first ride of the year was last Sunday, which really made it a great weekend. I got to watch Supercross from the press booth (which really are great seats but then again, the beauty thing about the Roger's Centre is there really isn't such a thing as a bad seat - especially when you're in the 200 levels) and I got to for a ride. And on top of that... it was an awesome ride! Even B felt that I did really well, and as I've mentioned before, he's not one to dish out the compliments lightly.

                We went to a friend's place, where there are some good trails and some technical stuff, not that I really get into the super technical stuff. I kept to the "easier" side of things, but had a lot of fun. B led me around on my first lap, just to make sure I knew where to go, and after that I was on my own.

                I did pretty good, and after a while I was feeling quite comfortable. We did some set up, lowering my brake pedal and fiddling with my levers, and it was a dream. My suspension has been given a full upgrade; it's super plush and works awesome in choppy trails.

                After the ride, all I could think was : Man, I love my bike, and how much I missed it through the winter.

                The worst thing to happen to me: I snapped the buckle off my boot! So I guess I'll be needing a new pair! Any suggestions?

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