The revving of engines fills the air. Rags polish, canisters spray, and gloved hands crank throttles on Honda motorcycles lined up one by one on a remarkably sunny day at the West Shore Motocross Park in Langford.
Today is a good day for riding.
“Motocross is (about) the freedom of being, of controlling something on two wheels. Your heart pumps and (so does) the adrenaline when you’re jumping and doing corners and racing,” says professional motocross rider Colton Facciotti. “It’s crazy lining up with 40 guys going for the whole shot at the start – there are tons of elements that make it rewarding and interesting and well worth it.”
Facciotti would know. The four-time Canadian motocross champion is one of Canada’s top riders, travelling internationally to ride and race. Having turned pro at just 14 years old, the fully sponsored 27-year-old Aldergrove, B.C. resident finds himself reflecting on the intricacies of the high risk, high-reward professional side to a sport he is so passionate about.
“Pretty much the only downside to motocross is the injuries. It’s not too bad at the younger level, but when you get to the bigger bikes and pro levels, you’re pushing the limits of yourself and the bikes,” he says. “I’ve broken my neck … both arms, both legs, both collarbones, separated both shoulders and the list goes on and on.”
The amateur level of this growing sport is different, he says. West Shore Motocross Park owner Jeff Evernden concurs, saying that providing a safe and fun environment for the whole family is the key.
“Motocross, for the most part is really about the family going out riding,” he says. “People get into it to ride and have fun and explore the freedom – it’s just you and your motorcycle or you and the mountains. Or explore a track, go faster through a corner, get some air. It is definitely a thrill sport.”
A rider for more than 40 years, the Metchosin resident opened the course behind Western Speedway in 2008, 11 years after the next closest track to Greater Victoria riders closed in Duncan. As the overseer of one of only five motocross tracks on the Island, Evernden says the sport is on the upswing. By his count, he’s seen more than 10,000 kids come through the Langford facility since it opened.
“Motocross is one of the greatest sports going,” he says. “It’s an individual sport, you get the physical challenge and as you grow, you reap the rewards … it builds a lot of character.”
Facciotti, practising on the West Shore in preparation for a race in Nanaimo, says motocross is as physically and mentally demanding as any sport on the planet.
“I’ve had friends say ‘you just sit on a bike and turn the throttle.’ But when we’re riding our heart rates are maxed for the full 35 minutes,” he said. “If anyone thinks that (way), take the bike around for a lap or two and (your minds will be) totally changed.”