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NSORRA Enjoying Major Growth in Sport of Off Road Motorcycling

From NSORRA's Aug. 9 Hare Scramble Race at Hiltz Road. Photo courtesy of Kelso at dualsport.ca.

With a new president, a possible new park in the works and a record number of people getting involved in the sport, the Nova Scotia Off Road Riders Association (NSORRA) is living up to its mandate of growing and developing recreational and competitive off road motorcycling in the province. 

“We have our highest membership to date with 767 members in the last year alone. The year before we were closer to 600 members,” said NSORRA’s executive director Victoria Josey. “And our numbers are growing again for this year.”

NSORRA’s new president, Grant Lingley, believes one of the forces increasing membership is the number of events being hosted by the organization. There were five well-attended events held during the past year that even attracted riders from PEI and Newfoundland.

Race director Stewart Colquhoun implemented an efficient electronic scoring system. At race events, every rider gets a bar code on their helmet which is read as riders go through the track. Results are recorded in real time, and riders get an immediate sense of their performance.

“The sport is growing dramatically here as a result of the Hare Scrambles. We’ve had a record number of participants at every event, and when you grow you want to build a great product,” he said. “We have had to establish classes for young people so we even now have a Pee Wee class with little ones who look like they’re all helmets.”

Lingley said the demand for classes ranging from pee wee through to school age, intermediate, expert and 40 plus speaks to the broad demographics of their sport.

More women and girls are also taking up off road motorcycling, and Lingley said that is increasing the sport’s profile as a family-oriented activity.

“If you wanted your son or daughter to ride, mom or dad would often sit on the sidelines,” he said. “Now often mom, dad and the kids are doing the safety course and then all riding together.”

Lingley said another factor contributing to the growth of their sport is the fact bike parks are located throughout the province.

“We have five ride parks across the province used by both men and women, so people are not limited to one specific geographic location. And a lot of thought goes into these parks so there’s minimal impact on the environment,” Lingley explained.

“We have Miller Meadow behind the (Halifax) airport, one in Cape Breton and three in the Valley.. And they’re located in places where they’re not a bother to others.”

The organization also hopes to open a new bike park, Fox Gully, in Economy.

“That area is under construction now and would give people on the other side of the province more access,” said Josey. “Only Miller Meadow is limited in that the gate has to be open for rider access, but basically everywhere else you can ride from dawn to dusk.”

The organization’s DirtBike School is described as a “practical introduction to Off-Highway Motorcycle” for new riders but also a “good refresher” for experienced riders to practice sometimes forgotten or unused skills and techniques. 

Lingley said the course is great fun and has been highly successful introducing more people to the sport.

“Off road riding really is a family sport with moms, dads, boys and girls all out riding,” he said. “If you want competitive, we have that. If not, we have trails they can ride on."

At Miller Meadow in Halifax, bikes and equipment are available for training purposes for those who want to try the sport but aren’t sure if they’re ready to make an investment.

“We’re doing some work to see where the growth is coming from but in many cases it is breaking down barriers, making people aware it’s not as expensive when compared to the cost of more traditional sports,” Lingley said.

“And families get away from computers and games, get outside and go trail riding together. It creates a really great family atmosphere.”

NSORRA partnered with ATVANS and SANS to conduct a socio-economic survey asking riders about their habits when riding snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs and side by sides) and off-road motorcycles. That survey closed Aug. 10. The results, available later this summer, will help support the growth of all three sports.

Lingley said relationships with other stakeholders including landowners, the bicycling community and community groups, is helping increase trail use across the board.

“If we have more cross pollination of different groups I think it will help everyone understand we all use the trails in different ways and we all enjoy the outdoors and we all want to get as many of us out there as possible,” he said.

“We have agreements in place with landowners. It’s a nice mix of us working with landowners to develop, maintain and build the trails even more.”

To learn more about upcoming events, including the Aug. 30 Hare Scramble and the Sept. 13 Drive to Ride, visit NSORRA’s webpage, www.nsorra.ca

 From NSORRA's Aug. 9 Hare Scramble Race at Hiltz Road. Photo courtesy of Kelso at dualsport.ca.