Adventure in Canada

1997  -Debbie Matthews

 October 2-3 A TRIP TO THE AMA

My Canadian adventure began with a trip to AMA headquarters to address the AMA congress for the addition of an "A" class for women in motocross. I boarded the plane excited and nervous. This would be my first visit to the Congress and I would have 5 minutes to convey to 38 delegates, the need for revisions in the way AMA, districts and promoters perceive, recognize and promote womens motocross events. As I headed out the door of my hotel room, I was overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. I literally almost lost my breakfast, and I hadnt even eaten yet ! With a few moments of video education and discussion, the AMA off road rule committee unanimously voted to institute a Womens "A" class effective 1998, and to review the rule book and revise any rules which may discourage participation by female riders. This is a huge victory for women riders. By recognizing women with "A" rider abilities, the AMA has paved the way for future womens professional teams, riders and recognized AMA Pro Championships.

On a huge high from the AMA congress I boarded a plane from Ohio to Colorado, and from Colorado to Canada, where I hooked up with Lisa Gallo, (96 AMA Ladies World Cup Vet Champion), and the Reeds (Tiffany and Dave) from Ohio. My racing buddy and rival of 15 years ago, "Krazy Kay Attwood" was there to greet us in Canada and offer us shelter for the night.

Oct 4-Friday


Following a 3 1/2 hour majestic romp spotting elk and ram horned sheep along the way, we arrived at the track at 9am. The air is a crisp 12 degrees and the skies have opened up for 4 days prior, turning the pristine track into a sea of mud. Undaunted the world cup riders, don their helmets and slither around in the muck. Even with the poor conditions the riders smile through their helmets and echo the statement, "This track is awesome."

Rain begins to fall steadily. Despite the conditions, several riders clear the monstrous 90 table, double doubles and slimy hills. Canadian spectators anxious to get a glimpse of the riders shake their heads in disbelief at the abilities displayed by the world cup contenders.  The current LWC champion Dee Wood (TX) is still without her bike for practice. A local rider loans her his bike, but the set up is too soft, and Dee cases a jump badly and decides to wait for her ride.

12:30-Practice ends... Riders scrape off 300 pounds of mud, gas up and head back on to the track for the MX school. The rain falls heavily.    20 minutes into the school, the track officials offer to end the school due to the poor conditions. One competitor pipes out, "Screw the rain !" Silently all heads bob in agreement and the school continues...At 2:30 the school ends. Still no sign of Wood's ride for the weekend... Riders and spectators wait anxious to get a glimpse of the champion.

3:00- Woods bike finally arrives. Rain continues to fall steadily. The champ mounts her bike, pulls on to the track and despite the conditions, vaults easily over the 90 table. Eyes pop out of their sockets, as respect for the women competitors grows. One Canadian rider pointed and said," I cant do that." I replied, "Yes you can ! The mere fact that we are here,  and several riders have cleared it, proves you can do it!" "These riders are showing the world that female riders are talented and gifted athletes."


5:00- We secure the bikes for the night and head to our "rustic" cabins. When they say rustic, they mean rustic!   Night is falling fast and we are deep inside the forest of the Canadian Rockies.   The trunk on our rental car has decided to refuse to open and we haul our gear out through the car seat.   We enter the cabin and find the cabin lit by oil lamps and candles. This could be kinda cool, so we venture into the adjoining rooms. There is no running water inside the cabin and personal facilities are located outside in the trees.  We pull back the bed spreads to discover no sheets or pillows ! Glad we brought sleeping bags! We head back down for the nightly dinner, which by all accounts was , well...interesting. GULP !


9:00pm-Head back to the cabin. Finding the cabin in pitch conditions was challenging.   But not half as challenging as finding an outhouse 60 feet away in the dark at 1am !  Now don't get me wrong...  Ive always had respect for our pioneers, but my respect grew as I ventured into the darkness.   With 12 degree rainy weather and my trusty oil lamp to guide me,  I exited the cabin on to the porch and into the rain expecting to be able to see.   With the oil lamp in front of me, I discover interesting point number one...I cant see !    Diverting my eyes away from the lamp, I found interesting point number two...I can barely see my feet!   I felt my way out the cabin, onto the porch and carefully negotiated down steps I couldnt see.   I never did find the outhouse in the dark ! (I had to laugh the next time I watched Dr. Quinn...Ever notice how they can see perfectly with their oil lamps?)

Oct 5-Sun


5:00 AM-We get up and head to the track.   The windows on the car are frosted over so I roll down the window and lean out while driving down the dirt road to the track with mud slinging into the windows of the car.   Gallo and the Reeds cant decide whether to laugh or be terrified with me behind the wheel.   Upon reaching the track, we are told to park near the gates as the road is impassable to small cars.  Supremely confident,  I head into the pits anyway, with the car pitching from side to side as I negotiate the mud at speed to avoid getting stuck.   I entered the main pit area in a full pitch slide and slid neatly into position next to Fleming's motor home.   Wood came sliding in behind me a few minutes later, also exiting a perfect slide into park.   With the racers howling their approval, we got down to business...

 The race....

Riders are greeted to cloudy skies race morning, but thankfully the rain had stopped.   Practice began after the crews tried to resurrect the track.   Riders braved the sloppy conditions, with even the men pros struggling in conditions that were reminiscent of the 97 Hi Point National.  While the women pros and amateurs powered up the slippery inclines and mastered the jumps, the back sections were another matter. Camille Baker, literally got swallowed up in mud up to her handlebars when her bike sank in the mud.   Following practice the track crews went to work scraping mud and eventually eliminating the back mud monster section altogether.

At 11:00 the races began. Race action is awesome! This is some of the best elbow to elbow, heads up racing I have ever witnessed ! Be sure to get a copy from Speedvision. You wont be disappointed.  Fleming draws first blood with Wood and Harris following.  Moto 2 finds Fleming in the lead, but feeling the pressure.  Wood and Harris go for the kill and deflate Fleming's hopes of victory.  Wood sails across the line with yet another LWC title.


Following the races awards were presented to the riders in front of the spectators and Speedvision cameras. The crowd would witness a extremely humorous victory podium.   Whether it was a great practical joke or just an unfortunate error, the results were quite hilarious. 

One of the track officials chilled the champagne, making it nearly impossible to pop the cork or spray. With the cameras rolling, the three riders tugged, pulled, twisted, pulled with their teeth, and shook till their arms fell off to no avail.   After receiving help to pry loose the corks, the tops still refused to budge.   Finally, when they did pop, the spray came out in little more than a dribble, sending everyone howling with laughter as the riders scurried after each other trying to provide some kind of show for the fans. 

5:00pm-Back to the cabin to load up and head back to Calgary.   Our Canadian adventure was far from over...In fact it was just beginning....


6:45pm-We head down the mountainside, anxious to meet Kay for dinner and get on the road to Calgary.   Its 29K just to get to the road, and we still have a 2 hour drive from there.   Darkness is falling fast. We are still in the forest when we lose sight of the road markers.  Obviously we missed one of the cutoffs in the dark.   Since there are three possibilities, we decide to continue onward since it appears we will pop out on a ridge soon to get our bearings.   As we continue down the dirt road, Lisa Gallo is talking about all the wildlife weve seen and how just once, shed really like to see a bear.   A few minutes later, out pops a large black bear!   I quip, " Well you got your wish ! Here comes Smokey."   The bear lumbers across the road in front of us.  AMAZING !!


9:30pm-Just over the ridge city lights pop into view. According to the makeshift map it looks like we are approaching the town of Imevere which means we are 18 miles off course.   We decide to head for the lights.   So we went down into the town to get directions on the quickest way to get to Radium without heading back into the forest and getting really lost..   We figure well just stop at a gas station or restaurant for directions.   Only one problem... As we enter the town, there are no restaurants.   There are no gas stations !   There are barely street lights !   Talk about rural !   So, with this twist of events we decide to go knocking on some doors. Lets see.... Eenny, meenie, miney, mo... 

Door #1. " Hey, can you help us out ? Were lost. We are here from the states for the race, and we need to get to Radium.   Can you tell us the quickest way to get there ?"   They reply, "Oh you raced ?   We were there ! That was so cool !"   We thank them and again reiterate the point that we are lost.   "Can you help us ?"   They reply, "sure, just turn left and make a second left and it will take you to the road."   Within 30 seconds we were lost again!  


 Lets see.... Door # 2. We drive into the driveway.   As I am halfway out of the car, I am greeted by a huge lab that is the height of the car door. OK... Is it going to eat me or just lick me?   Since hes just curious, I get out of the car.   I look at the house and notice a large black dog on the upstairs balcony pacing back and forth.   I decide to go to the door and knock. The house is well lit.   No one answers so I decide to try the door.    I twist the door expecting it to be locked and it opens.   Before I can close it, out pops the head of the big black dog.   Its not a lab, its a Roetweiller !   !   

 I start to block the dogs way with my knee, and decide no... it might be viewed as aggressive, lets not do this.   So I let the dog out.   The dog decides he is more interested in the lab then me which is just fine, except that the two dogs start fighting.   Now I have let this guys dog out of the house, and hes fighting with this other dog. Hes either going to split, or get chewed up, and to make matters worse the dogs are between me and the car!   

I motion to Lisa to get out of the car and help me." NO WAY !   UUH UUH. THIS IS YOUR MESS, IM NOT GOING OUT THERE! "    I began debating... Do I just want to leave before it gets any worse or try and do something about this ?   About then the dogs decide it is a draw, and they turn back to me. I decide to call the dog to see if I can get it back into the house. "Come here, come here", I call out in my most cheery voice. The lab comes right over. Hey, how ya doing ! Is his enthusiastic reply. " No, not you ! I need the other one !"   The other dog is ignoring me so finally I issue a command.   The Roetweiller approaches and loses interest.   I get to the door and command it again. "Hey, I said get over here!"   The Roetweiller approaches.... Im thinking, please dont eat me, please dont eat me... I open the door , the dog goes in, and I quickly slam the door behind it.   Everyone in the car is laughing hysterically !  . I approach the car and take a big bow.   

Remember, were still lost !   Ooo Kaay !   Its now 9:45 when we get to door # 3.   Knock, knock.   The door opens. " We came here for the World cup race from California, Nevada and Ohio. We are lost.   Can you help us get to Radium?"   Reply, "Oh, wow ! You were at the race ? That was so cool !" (appreciative, but really wanting to be somewhere else at that point... Can you please get us out of here, echoed in our minds) "We need to get help.   We need to get to Radium." They reply, "Sure, just go down the road and turn left at the stop.   It will take you where you need to go." Well by this point, we werent very convinced. "Can you please take us to Radium ?" After a few minutes, they decide to show us the way to Radium.  Its a good thing they took us there. There were four left turns instead of the two they suggested.  We would have been lost again.  

We arrive at the restaurant in Radium at 10:30pm. By now the restaurant is closed.   Kay and Walt Healey (84 years young, and Tiffanys sponsor for the event), have been waiting at the restaurant all this time knowing we were lost, and have eaten by now.   We head across the street to a Husky gas station (gourmet dining at it's best) to get dinner.   At 11:00 we head for Calgary and arrive at about 1:30 am. We unload and get to bed about 2:00.   Remember, the trunk still will not open,  so we have to drag our luggage through the back seat. What fun !

Oct 6-Mon


Kay and I get up at 5:00 am to wash the rental car.   With 2 days of driving in the mud at the track, the car is wasted ! It has a solid layer of mud on it about 3 inches deep in addition to the mud on the inside of the car from the riders getting in and out of the car, and me driving down the road with the windows open.   I decide to use her garden hose.  We go out to turn on the hose to discover its frozen solid.   So, at 5:00am, Kay and I cruise to downtown Calgary looking for a car wash.   We locate one and drop about $ 5.00 Canadian to clean the car.   Kay keeps looking at me and exclaiming.... "Its not coming off!! " With the car finally done we arrive back at the house at 6:45, load the van with our bags, and shove two pieces of toast down as we head for the airport. We say our good-byes to the Reeds and Kay and depart.  Lisa is on a connecting flight with me. We arrange to sit together.   All the way to San Francisco, Lisa keeps laughing.... "If you could have seen the look on your face when you let out the Roetweiller !"

In all we had a great time and certainly a great adventure ! Anyone want to travel with me ?