By Grace Oborne
It’s been two years since the Corduroy Enduro last tested the mettle of riders in the rugged terrain of Gooderham. Now that the COVID-19 restrictions have eased, hundreds of riders will return to survive the rigours of Canada’s toughest race.
On Sept. 23 to 26, Corduroy Enduro Riders are hosting its 67th year for this event. The first event was held in Toronto, then it started in Wilberforce for a while, it was then hosted in Kinmount for a few years, and also started in Bobcaygeon for a few years. For roughly the last 15 years, the event has started in Gooderham.
For riders to qualify, they must possess a valid driver’s license, and be a minimum age of 16. Any riders under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by both parents. Motorcycles do not have to be street legal, but off-road registration for the rider’s state or province is required. Off-road Ontario membership is also required for all riders.
Riders are required to register online and pay the entry fee. The pre-registration closes Sept. 24.
The main Corduroy Enduro event is to be held Sept. 25 to 26, but there are other events lined up for from Sept. 23 and 24.
“Some of the manufacturers, importers of bikes to Canada, they are going to be there with demo rides for anybody who wants to try a bike, and anyone who rides these kinds of motorcycles can bring their riding gear and try out a brand new 2022 model,” said Blair Sharpless, chairman of the event.
With COVID-19 in the way, Gooderham wasn’t able to host the Corduroy Enduro event last year. Now that restrictions are lifting, Gooderham has been given the go-ahead host the event as long as protocols are followed.
“We’re in stage three, so we’ve been given an okay to use that the Gooderham centre and then also the community centre. Normally, we do a big dinner on the Saturday night, but none of that is happening this year. Even though we’ve been told we can have indoor activities safely, we don’t want to be inside a building at all,” said Sharpless.
“The only people going to be using the actual buildings are the scoring crews, there are five of them, and we’re going to use it for registration. That will be a single file process, spaced out and everybody just goes in through one door and out the other just like the vaccination clinic that was held at the centre recently,” he added.
Sharpless made it clear that protocols set out by the province will be followed. Screening is mandatory for everyone to complete within 72 hours of arriving, everyone has to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
Due to COVID, there have been changes and how the event is run. Before, indoor facilities would be used for inclement weather during the trophy presentation, a movie night, and the Saturday night dinner that was done every year.
“All of that is going to be outside now. We’re also paying for a more expensive speaker system throughout the park there so that spectators and riders don’t need to gather to hear the information,” said Sharpless.
The 2021 Promation Corduroy Enduro has a purse of $11,000 to be awarded based on the rider’s overall standing. For men’s pro, first place standing earns $4,000, second place earns $2,500, third place earns $800, fourth earns $300, and fifth earns $200.
For woman’s pro, the first place standing earns $1,500, second place earns $800, third place earns $500, and fourth place earns $200.
“This is not a spectator sport, it is a riders’ sport. The riders are going out and trying to get themselves through the course and ride their best. They’re trying to not break their bike because the Haliburton trails with all the rocks and mud are very hard on motorcycles. It’s a real endurance challenge for not only the riders but also the motorcycles,” said Sharpless.
Each day, the endurance starts at 9 a.m. and is on strict timing. If the riders fall further than one hour behind schedule, then they’re removed from the race.
“We set our speed average of 24 to 30 kilometres an hour because we don’t want people riding fast in the transit sections. If they fall further than an hour behind schedule, then they’re considered disqualified, and they’re pulled out of the event at that point, because we can’t have riders out there in the dark,” said Sharpless.
“We have two runners who go ahead of time, and then we have pre-runners in front of the racers to make sure the course is still good, and there’s no problems. Then behind the last rider who starts, we have a group of what we call sweepers. They make sure that everybody’s off the course and pull the markers down. We can’t have those checkpoint crews and those sweepers out there at night, so that’s why we have that one hour rule for riders,” he added.
On Friday Sept. 24, there will be a vintage ride. This is a short course but it allows for older riders to come out with their old bikes. The oldest rider who has registered thus far is 78 years old. At the vintage ride, there will be a bike that was built in 1953.
There will be takeout food available for purchase on site the day of the event from different food vendors. Any vendor must have their own COVID safety plans which must be adhered to.
“There are two vendors so far, who will be there, but it’d be a takeout basis. There is a group of local women who are also going to use the kitchen in the community centre. Everything is going to be served outside and there will be a few tables for people to sit and enjoy. The food is takeout so that people don’t gather,” Sharpless said.
“We’re still looking for a few vendors, so chip wagons or anything like that should contact me if they want to be on site. There’s going to be a lot of people there who are going to be hungry, that’s for sure. They’re more than welcome as long as they’re following all the Kawartha health unit protocols,” he added.
It is significant for the community that this event is hosted in Gooderham. Locals enjoy coming out to watch each year.
“The event brings a large amount of money into the area at a time of year where there isn’t anything. It’s before hunting season and it’s after cottage season. It also makes people aware there’s an awful lot of good trail on crown land,” said Sharpless.
“Everybody I know think it’s just great. I see some of the local people out at the event watching they say it’s just amazing. Overall, we’ve had really no complaints,” he said.
Everyone is encouraged and welcomed to go watch or ride and if vendors would like to attend the event, more information can be found at www.corduroyenduro.ca/blog/.