Leader of the pack: Chantelle Bykerk

The 22-year-old from Salmon Arm, B.C., wraps up her U.S. national endurocross season as the women's title champion

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Chantelle Bykerk riding an endurocross course.

Chantelle Bykerk was a points leader early on in the season, and at the penultimate round of the series on November 9, 2013, in Boise, Idaho, it was decided that she had enough points to clinch the championship title. — photo courtesy Chantelle Bykerk

This year's final round of the Women's AMA National EnduroCross Series—which took place on November 23, 2013, in Las Vegas—aw for the first time, a Canadian being crowned as champion of the series.

It was Chantelle Bykerk of Salmon Arm, B.C. Bykerk finished third in the race but had enough points from the round before to clinch the title.

Growing up, Bykerk—now 22—didn’t start riding dirt bikes until she was 14 years old. She started racing a year later and came up quickly through the ranks to become a two-time Canadian National Off Road champion. Bykerk busted onto the U.S. endurocross scene in 2011, taking third in her first-ever race—and at that time, she wasn’t even sure she liked it.

Her passion for it grew, though, as did her skill set. In 2012, she became an X Games endurocross bronze medallist. And when 2013 rolled around, Bykerk was primed and ready.

This year, she decided to focus the bulk of her attention on the U.S. national endurocross series. Oh, but she still found time to race some of this year’s Canadian National Off Road series and wound up with a third-place finish overall.

RidersWest caught up with the champion a few days after her title crowning at the Las Vegas endurocross to see how she was feeling about her big win.

How was Vegas? Vegas was very fun. It was a harder course that was harder to pass on so I had a bad start but I still ended up getting third so I was still happy with my results.

Before the race, you had already clinched the 2013 championship title so did you take it easy in Vegas or still gave it your all? It was a huge weight off my shoulders but I still wanted to do good. I wanted to try and make podium. I did, and stayed on the podium all year. That was a goal of mine this year so I was really happy with my finish. I had such a bad start and had such a hard time passing traffic that I was really proud of my ride when I was done. Honestly, halfway through the race, I thought I was still in sixth or something so I was really happy with my finish.

What was the course like this year? Out of all the courses this year, Vegas was the most technical, which made it fun. I kind of waited all year for that track and was excited to ride it.

What was the toughest section for you? Definitely, the firewood corner. It’s just so unpredictable. You can go through it once all good and you think you have it figured out, but then the next time, it’s like no, you don’t have it figured out.

What else were you up to this year? I did a lot of races, and I did Global X Games so I went to Brazil, Spain, Germany and then Los Angeles so that was a big part of my schedule. I tried to do the Canadian off-road nationals because I had won that the last two years in a row. I kind of wanted to defend my title for a third year in a row but one of the races conflicted with the Sacramento endurocross and another conflicted with X Games in Germany so to me, it was more important to do a global race and race with the best in the world than just race in Canada. At the same time, I was sacrificing one championship for another. I was sitting in second overall and I didn’t want to throw that away so early in the season so I picked the U.S. enducross rounds over the Canadian nationals but I still got third overall in the Canadian nationals.

Do you still ride for fun? All the time.

What is your favourite riding area? Probably my home mountain in Silver Creek (south of Salmon Arm, B.C.).

What has helped you to become one of the top riders in Canada and the U.S.? I think everyone wants to win. That’s why we race, but I think I just have more bike time than anyone else. I work on my parents' hobby farm so I can ride whenever I want, really. That being said, in the U.S., they don’t really get snow, where here it gets hard at this time of year because I can’t ride my bike so much.

What keeps you busy in the wintertime? Going to the gym, doing crossfit and lifting weights. I’ll stud my tires up and ride until the snow gets too deep. We ice race in the winter but ice racing is kind of effortless. It’s still something to do and you’re on the bike though.

Do you have any other hobbies? Besides dirt biking, I like sturgeon fishing. It’s another adrenalin rush.

So what’s next on your agenda? It’s a pretty big series for endurocross next year. (The races) used to be all on the west coast but now they are going farther east. Next year, we are going to Georgia and Texas. My main focus is endurocross for next year and trying to stay No. 1 for another year. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. Hopefully, I can make it.

We hope so too! Good luck Chantelle, and thanks for catching up with RidersWest

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