Last week, a group of lucky clients from St. Paul Abilities Network (SPAN) were treated to an exciting show put on by a professional rider out at the B3 Riverside Yamaha Moto-X Park, near Spedden.
Although the clouds appeared to be somewhat threatening, and the ground was a little damp, supervisors with SPAN and a number of their clients made the trip from St. Paul to Spedden on Wednesday afternoon where motocross park developer Cory Goodon, his seven-year-old son Brennan, and professional rider Tyler Chopyk, from Gibbons, Alta., were on hand to showoff their skills to the lucky spectators.
Chopyk was ecstatic to make the trip to Spedden on Wednesday afternoon, although it meant he had little sleep from working a night shift just prior. But, following the nearly hour-long show, Chopyk was reeling with excitement.
“This is awesome,” said Chopyk, adding, “I wanted to light up their eyes.” He admitted that he would have liked to make the ride a little bigger and would have liked to spend a little more time talking with the clients, but a downpour of rain cut the day short.
The 26-year-old professional rider started riding at the age of 14 when his dad encouraged him to take up the sport. Now, Chopyk wishes he had started earlier. Goodon’s two oldest sons both ride motocross already. And Brennan, 7, has already been riding for almost three years, while Brett, 4, just started riding this year with the help of training wheels.
“There’s little guys on the track now; it’s awesome,” says Chopyk, adding, when the kids get older, they’ll be going “suicide fast.”
Brennan shares a somewhat similar story on how he got involved with motocross.
“When my dad (Cory) first started, I wanted to be like him,” says Brennan. But now, the young rider hopes to one day be faster than his dad. Brennan says riding motocross isn’t scary at all, but it sure is fun.
And although motocross racing is certainly a competitive sport, keeping it fun is important, says Chopyk. He explains that things change a little when you have sponsors you’re trying to impress. Sometimes, Chopyk’s sponsors are happy with a seventh place finish, knowing he worked hard, but Chopyk is always striving for better.
And the tough competition isn’t the only obstacle.
“I’ve broken a lot of bones,” says Chopyk. He admits that at times, when he’s in the hospital recovering from an injury, “I say I want to quit.” But, once the physiotherapy is complete, he always hops back on the bike.
“You dedicate your life, every weekend (to the sport),” says Chopyk. Before turning pro, he would come home with trophies all the time, and now has quite the collection. His parents were always proud of his accomplishments.
In 2005, Chopyk became a professional rider at the age of 21, and instead of bringing home trophies, he now brings home cash to help offset the costs associated with riding. Having sponsors, such as Riverside Yamaha Suzuki KTM out of St. Albert, is also crucial.
Brennan has already been sponsored too, which helps cut costs associated with purchasing the needed equipment required to ride, something his dad welcomes.
One helmet can cost a few hundred dollars or more, says Chopyk, who acknowledges motocross can be an expensive sport. “You’ve got to be all decked out,” he says, quickly adding, “But, it’s so much fun.”
Even though he travels almost every weekend to compete – even in the winter – Chopyk even fills his free weekends up with motocross by making the hour and a half drive to the Spedden track.
“If there’s no race on the weekend, this is where I like to hang out,” he says of the B3 Riverside Yamaha Moto-X Park.
Cory also spends much of his time at the park teaching young riders from the area how to ride, along with organizing events at the park, such as the upcoming races that are being held on Aug. 28 and 29.
The event is an Alberta OldTimers Motocross Association sanctioned event. Saturday will feature the youngest motocross riders, while Sunday will feature the adult racers. Both days will be filled with motocross.