The word is getting out that the Popkum Motor Park is a great place for dirt bikers.
The east end of Popkum was buzzing on the weekend, with plenty of riders hanging around for more track time on Canada Day Monday.
Travis Potgieter of White Rock was riding his race-prepared Kawasaki KX 250F, cranking his 47 horsepower through the 1.2-kilometre course.
Potgieter races for Team Green in indoor and outdoor motocrosses in the intermediate class, so he speaks from experience.
“It’s unlike any other track in B.C.,” said Potgieter. “I drive to California to ride tracks like this one. It’s wide, with big jumps. That’s what attracts most riders.
“It’s also got forgiving dirt,” he added. “On some tracks, it’s like pavement. You’ll actually see black tire marks on it.”
The key to the dirt at Popkum is the careful sorting that was done when the track was being developed. Any rocks bigger than 3/4 inch were screened out and used for the road bed on the access road that rims the facility.
Being open to the public for five days a week is another key difference from other courses, said Potgieter.
“Every other track is only open one day a week — and the Interior tracks shut down in the summer, because of heat and dust.”
Dust is well-controlled at Popkum, with a water truck that makes multiple applications each day, when needed. The track has a good source of spring water off the north face of Mount Cheam.
The park opened last April with the main track and a junior track, and they’ve added features since then.
Scott Ponuick, marketing and promotions coordinator for the park, said they have just signed a long-term deal with Honda Canada.
“They’ll be providing 18 off-road and motocross bikes for rentals, running from 50cc to 250. That provides a full range to fit every person. Most have clutches but some have three-speed automatics.
“We’ve also aligned ourselves with their Red Riders program, to get kids aged six to 12 riding, in a safe and fun way. It’s the first of its kind in western Canada.
“We’ve dedicated a two-acre park, covered in sand, so it’s nice and soft. It’s a four-hour program and includes all the gear, the bike and the teacher — on a 4-to-1 student-teacher ratio,” said Ponuick.
“As long as they can ride a pedal bike, we can teach them how to ride a dirt bike.
“We’re looking at a price point of under $200, including an optional personalized jersey. We’ll also be offering the Red Rider Evolution program for age 13 to 17 and private training as well.”
Anyone passing by the track on Highway 1 this spring will have noticed the mini-bus and car parked at the east end of the facility. They’re part of a new alternative course, under development.
“We’ll be finishing up our enduro-cross terrain park with obstacles and we’ll be adding railing to the sides of the bus in the warm-up area,” said Ponuick.
“Enduro-cross is becoming very big in the U.S. and in Europe and it provides an option for our riders. It’s one price to get into the park and you can use everything. If it’s busy in one area, you can go try the other.
“It’s also a lot easier to ride enduro-cross in poor weather, than motocross. In the bush, that’s what those guys are looking for.”
Last year, a 40-bike starting gate was installed — but it may be some time before it gets used, said Ponuick.
“We looked at races but we decided to keep developing as a practice facility first,” he said.
“Last month, they had CMRC nationals in Nanaimo and Kamloops and we invited pros to come out and try our track. We had 25 riders come and they gave us feedback that we’ve taken into consideration.
“We’re going to refine the track and keep considering the racing situation. We’d love to see a national race back in the Lower Mainland,” said Ponuick.
You can drop by the track for a free visit, Thursday through Monday — but sign in at the office. The park website is www.popkummotorpark.com.