Brad Irvine and his wife, Valerie, share a passion for motocross. The couple were so into the sport, in fact, that they decided to create the only motocross ranch in all of Manitoba; it is open six days a week and is loved by all riders, from experienced to beginner. Happy Pines Moto X Ranch, located just 35 minutes south of Steinbach, Manitoba, is home to a motocross track, an obstacle course, a trail and a kids-only riding area.
Brad raced the motocross circuit for 12 years in total—five years as a pro—all over North America. He was later a Canadian Motosport Racing Corporation (CMRC) race official for three years. Valerie owned the Finish Line Mini Donut Treats concession that travelled the motocross circuit. Together, the Irvines had a dream to one day open up a motocross park that could expose more recreational riders to the sport of motocross—and in a unique and challenging way that would also be family friendly and safety conscious.
Brad said Happy Pines is great for all ages as it's fun and technical for more experienced riders and challenging for beginners.
"It was set up to be more engaging to recreational riders and it's very exciting and challenging for beginners," said Brad. "We also have a self-contained kids riding area, which is a smaller version of the motocross track and is in a fenced corral. We love to see the kids come out."
Entertain your inner child—in the mud!
For those who are looking for a bigger challenge and who love the mud, the obstacle course should not disappoint. It consists of cars covered in dirt that act as jumps, and a 100-yard mud pit that has a deep side for quads with snorkels or a less deep side for regular ATVs or bikes. There is also a hill with logs where you have to get the machine up the logs. And for those who are just starting out, there are ways around the major obstacles if you're not feeling up to it.
The trail at Happy Pines acts as a loop of the park. The two-kilometre trail links everything together from the obstacle course to the track. The park is situated on 120 acres with only about 40 to 60 acres currently being used. Therefore, there is definitely room for expansion—which is exactly what the Irvines plan to do.
"We are really excited about the future and expanding the park," said Brad. "Right now you can come here and set up camp in an RV or tent but there is no water and you have to bring your own generator. In the next year or two though, we plan on installing 14 full-service sites with hydro and water. We're also really excited about expanding the two-kilometre trail."
A safe and happy place
Happy Pines officially opened at the end of last summer, so this will be its first full season, opening sometime in May and ending when the cold weather comes or snow starts falling.
"This is an amazing place because it gives people a place to actually try out motocross and find out what it's all about, and in a safe environment," said Brad. "Unfortunately, the trails in Manitoba are two-way trails and there is really only one designated trail (the Interlake Pioneer Trail) where you have hikers, horseback riders or someone else on a quad or truck. Here, it's all one-way and is a super safe way to get the full experience."
Safety is the No. 1 priority for the husband-and-wife team. They are both trained in first aid and help is always only a moment away. All kids under 18 need to have parental consent and riders must wear appropriate attire and have the proper equipment. And if anyone does manage to get stuck in the mud pit, there are three railway posts sunk in at the opposite end of the pit so that riders can winch themselves out of the mud.
"It has been a great experience so far," said Brad. "It's something I've always wanted to do and it's great to see the kids—and the adults—come out and ride."