2016 marked the 19th annual Western Canadian Amateur Motocross Nationals at the Temple Hill Motorcycle Park in Raymond, Alberta.
Hundreds of motocross athletes took to the two kilometere race track to be crowned the best racer in the amateur ranks.
The track is one of the most difficult in North America, with elevation changes and a wide variety of obstacles.
Riders as young as four-years-old participated in the event.
“It’s about the confidence and the speed,” said eight-year-old Evan Kingma.
Evan and his twin brother, Austin, have been riding dirt bikes since they were two-years-old, and have been competing for the last two years.
It’s not uncommon to see young riders on the Temple Hill track; in fact, Lethbridge Motorcycle Club President, Scott Lowry says the younger the rider the better.
“The bikes are smaller and there are surprisingly less injuries,” said Lowry. “They’re pretty good little riders.”
For younger riders it’s about learning the fundamentals.
“It’s more about having fun and learning how to ride a bike,” said Lowry. “As they grow into racers they develop that competitive edge.”
The confidence that young riders develop while racing can sometimes ensure a winning ride.
“It’s not a team sport, it’s just them by themselves out there,” said Evan and Austin’s father, Adam Kingma. “They’re making all the decision and it’s fantastic seeing them making the right decisions.”
The decision-making skills that the riders develop can also help them off the track.
“Riding is something that can build confidence and prepare you for life,” said Lowry.
For many, the sport of motocross is a family affair, with parents passing down their need for speed to their children. Parents say that although it can be nerve-wracking to watch, it is just as rewarding to see the next generation of riders grow into champions.
“We’re in it for good rides and that’s what it’s all about,” said Adam Kingma. “As long as they’re enjoying it we’re going to keep doing it.”
Many professional motocross riders were once in the same position as these young amateurs.
“There are lots of really good riders that have come through and raced this exact event and this same track and have gone on to have very successful careers.” Said Lowry.