Alberta has had a Numb Bum for 30 years

Numb Bum is the world’s longest ice race on motorcycles (and quads, too!)

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Four motorbikers ride over ice during the Numb Bum Ice Race.

The Numb Bum Ice Race takes place every February and is hosted by the Pembina Dirt Riders Association (PDRA). 2022 marks Numb Bum’s 30th edition and will take place on February 19-20, 2022. — Photo courtesy Dan Cheron

It’s typically snowmobilers who are excited to hear the “braaaap” of their machines in winter, but for the most extreme dirt (ice) bikers, the “brrrrr” they hear will be their chattering teeth and the “aaaaap” that follows is their own backside when it comes to the Numb Bum.

Numb Bum is the world’s longest ice race on motorcycles (and quads) and takes place in Sandy Beach, Alberta, 65 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. The race is a non-stop 24-hour marathon. Participating teams can use only one machine but can have multiple riders, with most teams opting to have three-to-five riders taking turns. To win the race, teams have to travel over 1,500 kilometres. There are typically over 20 teams that participate, including over 100 racers. The race costs $250 per racer.

A top-down look at a groomed ice race track.

“We plow 35 kilometres of roads on the lake, including a pit area that is half-a-kilometre long. The track is between 14-20 kilometres long. The spectators’ Ring Road and viewpoint are 8-10 kilometres long and we have an emergency road system inside the track for ambulances and a referee to provide quick access to various parts of the track. They can assist an accident anywhere on the track location within two minutes.” — Dan Cheron — Photo courtesy Dan Cheron

There are four official classes for the Numb Bum 24-hour endurance ice race:

  • Bike Pro Open
  • Bike Novice
  • Red Eye
  • Quad Open

Spectators can access the area with their vehicle at a cost of $10 per person using a Ring Road system that has viewpoints and allows viewers to circle around the 15-kilometre track in the comfort of their car. The pit is also open to spectators to witness quick rider changes, refueling and repairs done on machines, whether they be bike or quad.

Total attendance typically reaches 1,000 people during the 24-hour event but not all show up at the same times. Most spectators make sure to catch the start and finish of the race.

The event takes place every February and is hosted by the Pembina Dirt Riders Association (PDRA). 2022 marks Numb Bum’s 30th edition and will take place on February 19-20, 2022.

Dan Cheron gives a thumbs up on an ice race track in Sandy Beach, Alberta.

Dan Cheron is the President of the PDRA and has been involved with Numb Bum for 20 years, with this year’s race marking his 15th as the event’s main organizing manager. — Photo courtesy Dan Cheron

Dan Cheron is the President of the PDRA and has been involved with Numb Bum for 20 years, with this year’s race marking his 15th as the event’s main organizing manager.

“Competitors don't hesitate to help other teams with parts, tools and tips in the pits,” Cheron said. “In reality, all the teams are against what mother nature challenges them with. Some years we had frigid temperatures reaching -48 degrees, while other years the Chinook threw so much warm weather that most of the snow became water pooling between snow banks.

“The year 2017 became the toughest Numb Bum ever and participants continued til the end on a track that resembled an extreme cross country race with chunks of ice sticking up. It's been called the Numb Bum Slush Cup. As hard as it was, riders kept demanding to race. Together, they conquered mother nature.”

Quads ride across the Numb Bum ice track while a truck with a plow clears some snow in the background.

Participating teams can use only one machine but can have multiple riders, with most teams opting to have three-to-five riders taking turns. — Photo courtesy Dan Cheron

Maintenance during the extreme conditions can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, Cheron and the Numb Bum team are equipped to handle whatever situations arise during the race.

“We plow 35 kilometres of roads on the lake, including a pit area that is half-a-kilometre long,” said Cheron. “The track is between 14-20 kilometres long. The spectators’ Ring Road and viewpoint are 8-10 kilometres long and we have an emergency road system inside the track for ambulances and a referee to provide quick access to various parts of the track. They can assist an accident anywhere on the track location within two minutes.

“During the event, we have up to seven plows and brush sweepers to keep the track clear of snow. The studded tires create so much snow that the ruts can cut 18" into the ice.”

For more info about Numb Bum, visit the Facebook page.

Studded motorcycle tires.

“The studded tires create so much snow that the ruts can cut 18" into the ice.” — Dan Cheron — Photo courtesy Dan Cheron


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