Haliburton ice racer wins season championship
By Darren Lum
Published March 6, 2018
Local teen Cole Stiles is feeling a sense of pride after winning the novice ice class series championship, organized by the Oshawa Competition Motorcycle Club.
The motorcycle ice racer and Grade 11 Haliburton Highlands Secondary School student attributed his success to consistency.
Stiles never finished lower than third place in all six races this season, which was highlighted by the victory at the first race on Jan. 14. He was the only competitor who completed every race.
With a total of 247 points, he beat his next closest competitor Ely Silva-Neto by 47 points.
Stiles credited his family and his sponsors, which included Curry Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. and Haliburton Marine, for their support and the Haliburton County Echo for coverage.
He never imagined he would win the overall series championship in his rookie season and will be receiving his championship trophy at a banquet event in November.
Asked to describe ice racing, he said, “It’s fast. It’s exhilarating. You never know what to expect.”
His advice for new riders is to make sure they have good equipment, be focused and physically fit.
This season Stiles and his dad, Steve, who competes in the veterans class, travelled many miles, making trips to races in Tweed, Bala and Bewdley. The circuit includes two types of courses, which are five-kilometre oval track and “grand prix” road courses, measuring close to a half a mile.
His dad loves the time he gets to spend with his son and doesn’t mind the work to prepare the machine for each race.
The main difference between other kinds of riding and ice racing is the effort, which is both physical and mental.
“You just have to stay focused and stay on the track and not hit a snowbank ... or crash,” Stiles said.
Even though he won his first race, he remembers when he got off his bike he was so stiff and sore he could barely move.
The most noticeable difference between a motocross bike and an ice racing bike is the 1,100 studs per tire. It’s something Stiles is familiar with on another level.
“I’ve gotten sliced open once by the tire,” he said. He was attempting a wheelie in practice, which didn’t end well. “I didn’t even really feel it. I got nine stitches and a bunch of staples.”
The lover of speed and motorcycles will continue this season, preparing for the well-known Corduroy Enduro race in Gooderham in the fall.
Stiles said he was three when he went from the tricycle to the dirt bike, albeit an electric one.
This past year he returned in a big way to motorcycling after a four-year hiatus.
His family has been heavily involved since he was a toddler.
His older sister, Alesha, who is 19, raced from when she was seven and then his dad started at 22.
“I just thought might as well and give it a try,” he said.
He expects to race in the novice class next year and believes after two or three years he’ll move up to the next class of intermediate.
He said ice racing is mainly for fun. His next goal is to compete in the Maguire’s Motocross Racing Series and be a semi-professional motocross racer.
Steve Stiles, who has ridden a motorcycle for much of his 42 years, and still has a passion for them, spoke to the Echo weeks before his son claimed the overall series championship.
When Cole was 12, motorcycle racing wasn’t in the picture.
“He was hockey, hockey, hockey and this year, he [decided] to focus on [ice racing],” he said.
Cole practised once a week. Often it was with family friends Darren Baker, 11, and his younger brother Gavin, 7, who also competed in their respective categories such as the 85 series and the Peewee A (six to 12 years old).
Steve is in the early stages of bringing an ice race on the season race circuit he and his son compete in to be staged on Head Lake on a Sunday. He wants to showcase the sport he calls an “adrenaline junkie sport.”
“Your adrenaline is pumping the whole time that you’re on that bike,” he said.
This event is affordable and inclusive and brings families together.
“It’s free admission and it’s family oriented. You go to the track and that’s all you see is families,” he said. “I think we don’t have a lot going on here in the winter.”
He said this event could also help the local economy, benefiting eateries and accommodation providers.
Another part of his effort to educate and raise awareness for the sport is to hold public sessions on the bay of Grass Lake in Haliburton on Sundays for anyone interested in trying it.
“Believe it or not a dirt bike will hook up on the ice the same as riding on pavement,” he said, referring to a motocross bike with studded tires for the ice. The first time he turned the bike on its side, called a controlled slide, he scared himself, he said, laughing.
The first session was held this past Sunday. Contact Steve (email@example.com) for more information.
Eventually, he said, he’d love to start a club so that there could be a ride every weekend.
“That’ll take some time,” he said.