Making history by making tracks

in the mud St. Walburg Spring 2007 ATV Rally the biggest and best ever

Reprinted here with permission of the St. Walburg & Area Gazette May 16, 2007

By Tom Pierson

Whether it was making tracks, making friends, making history or just making it around the trail, the St. Walburg Spring 2007 ATV Rally had all the elements. And let�s not forget Mother Nature�s elements, such as warm sunshine, mud and water holes, rocks, logs and beautiful scenery, they were all in abundance as spring truly arrived in St. Walburg.

The rally was held Saturday, May 12th, and this year�s event brought several high ranking officials from Suzuki Canada and American Suzuki Motor Corporation, such as Kenji Hirozawa, National Director for Canada. When asked what was his favourite part of the rally, he replied, �Mud after mud after mud!�

Allan Fauchon of Rough N Tough Power Sports had this comment upon arrival at the clubhouse, �This was probably the best rally I�ve ever been involved with.�

For the record, the previous mark for the highest number of registered riders was the 2006 spring rally, which was set at 421. This year, that record was smashed, demolished, obliterated and disintegrated, when a total of 696 riders were registered. Needless to say, the landscape was forest to forest filled with ATVs.

Organizer Frank Schiller said, �The trail and weather conditions were both excellent. It�s the biggest and the best we�ve ever had.�

The fun began with 23 riders competing in 31 pulls. The rain that arrived on the Friday night didn�t dampen any spirits, in fact the rain settled the dust and enhanced the experience of the pulls, mud puddles and water holes.

The 60 kilometre course offered everything for the quadding enthusiast. If you wanted a leisurely ride through beautiful scenery to shake off the winter chill, it was there.

If you wanted some adventure that included some muddy tracks or small water holes, it was there.

For the hard core adventure seeker, there were large mud and water holes to fly through to test both man and machine to the limits. Rough N Tough�s Fauchon said, �There were some very aggressive water holes.�

Suzuki�s Hirozawa said, �It was very exciting.� This was his first ride on an ATV in Canada. He commented, �It was fun. Extremely challenging!�

The reason Hirozawa and the other Suzuki people came to St. Walburg, he said, �We

wanted to know how ATVs are used in western Canada. We need to send information back to the factory.�

A winch was needed several times before Hirozawa made it back to base and he had this to say, �Up until now, for me, the winch was a promotional item. Now, I respect the winch.�

When he goes back to his office in Toronto, Hirozawa well be taking back some good memories. �People are so friendly, helping each other. They were very good to me.� He enjoyed the great atmosphere that created and said, �I will come back next year.�

Tyler Seguin, age 10, was a passenger with his dad Roland Seguin as chauffeur. This was Tyler�s first rally and said, �It was awesome!� His favourite part? �When we got stuck in a mud hole about 15 kilometres in to it.� Yes, he is looking forward to going again.

The trail itself consists of hills, turns, texas gates to forge across fences, logs, a few flat stretches and riders of all ages. The youngest rider was Billy McDonald, age 7, of Drayton Valley. He said, �I think my favourite part was the big water parts and the deep stuff, where I got stuck.� His Dad Jim McDonald pulled him out.

David Hetu of Lloydminster was a first-timer at the rally and said, �It was good. Lots of challenges.� His friend Art Dagenais, also a first-timer out of Lloydminster said, �It was awesome. I�ll do it again.�

When rally regulars Allen and Jean Wood of Marshall were asked if there was enough mud and water, they replied, �Oh yeah!�

Other comments included the fact that not all challenges were from nature. One woman complained of the difficulty in staying in her seat from all the slippery mud that accumulated from hopping on and off the machine when she got stuck.

One of the funnier comments overheard occurred at the registration desk. One guy asked his buddy, �What are the wrist bands for?� Answer, �That�s for when you drown they can identify you the next morning.�

In reality, Club members take great pains to ensure every rider is alive and well and accounted for before they call it a day, which has been known to take until morning.

Organizer Frank Schiller says work starts on the rally three weeks in advance, weekends and after work. The trail gets a cleaning. Trees that have fallen across the trail are removed, the trail is groomed, dead trees are removed from beside the deeper water holes.

The crew that comes together to put on the rally include 14 members, at least 20 volunteers, as well as Grade 11 and 12 students. Schiller says, �As far as volunteers are concerned, we have lots of those and it is getting better every year.�

Schiller said, �Thanks to all sponsors, volunteers and club members for the hard work they did to prepare for this rally.� He added, �We would especially like to thank Dale Neumann for the use of his land.� Schiller also gave high marks to the sponsors who were, �very supportive of the whole club with donations and door prizes.�

Since the snow has gone away, club members have been busy, said members Gerald Dukes and Blaine Fowler. A new metal roof and rafters was installed on the clubhouse, levelled and put down a new OSB floor and opened up the space by removing a wall. Members are in the process of installing an inside bathroom, to go with the three new septic tanks (1 inside and 2 outside).

Outside, three new decks have been added and road in to the clubhouse was built up to allow easier access for trailers.

Riders came from far and wide. The starting points were: Grand Prairie, Olds, Regina, Yorkton, St. Walburg, Paradise Hill, Red Deer Green Lake, Vermillion, Edmonton, Kerrobert, Leduc, Unity, Slave Lake, Sundre, Edgerton, Cold Lake, Saskatoon, Battlefords, Rimbey, Hinton, Govan, Spiritwood, Leoville, Pierceland, Drayton Valley, Sherwood Park, Langham, Medicine Hat, Midland, Waseca, Spruce Grove, River Course and Daysland.

Fauchon had many enthusiastic things to say, such as the trail was well marked and the pulls went very well. He said, �A special thanks to Matt Michaud and Parts Canada, for supplying us with all the prizes for the pulls.� He also gave, �Kudos to the volunteers.�

When talking about the history making visit by the Suzuki representatives, Fauchon said, The Suzuki reps from the U.S. and Canada had such a great time they will be back.�

Because this rally is put on by the non-profit St. Walburg ATV Club, many wonder where the money goes. Apart from the upgrades at the clubhouse, throughout the year, local charities and organizations receive donations, such as new specially equipped resident chairs at Lakeland Lodge. Schiller says he is proud to give back to the community on behalf of the Club.

The T-shirts weren�t bragging about surviving the 2007 St. Walburg Spring ATV Rally for nothing. Hirozawa summed it up best by saying, �This is tough on ATVs and tough on you!�