Pictured, St. Marys native Kevin Barber (#284) participates in a Thames Valley Riders race last year.
By Dan Rankin
St. Marys native Kevin Barber started out riding dirtbikes on trails and in gravel pits. Ten years later, he’s now a regular at races with Thames Valley Riders Motocross (TVR MX), moving up the recreational B Class on his 2015 four-stroke Yamaha YZ250F and having a great time doing it.
Barber, who turns 27 on Monday, said it took about five years of riding before he tried racing, but as soon as he did he really enjoyed the atmosphere at the track. He said his favourite aspects are meeting new people that share the same interests as him, and camping out with them on long weekends at some of the bigger events.
“I also like to do it for the physical activity,” he said. “It keeps me motivated and in good shape.”
He said if he knew what he knew now as a teen, he would certainly have gotten involved with more competitive racing through the Canadian Motocross Racing Championship Series (CMRC). But as it is, he’s enjoying racing recreationally in the Thames Valley Riders’ spring, summer and fall series.
“The classes go from Beginner to C, B, then A, to intermediate and then expert, just short of becoming a pro rider,” he said. “Each season, winners from the previous series get bumped to a higher class. There are trophies to be won each season.”
The past two years, Barber has picked up second-place finishes in the C Division, collecting two large trophies along the way.
But the main reason Barber has stayed involved is the social aspects of racing. “Lucky for me, I have a good group of about six guys who I ride with and pit with at the track,” he said. “It makes it more fun when you have a good group to camp with and spend the weekend with.”
Most Thames Valley Riders races take place at tracks around the London area, including Swiona MX Park in Dutton, Gore Road MX in Thamesford, Gully Mor Moto near, Walton Raceway in Walton, and Gopher Dunes in Tilsonburg. Though, Barber notes that they’re happy to travel a little farther for a few other outstanding tracks.
“There are two races each month usually and sometimes more with long weekends. The biggest event I take part in is the Walton TransCan,” he said, noting that this year’s event runs August 17-21. “It’s a full week of racing with people travelling from all over Canada.”
The Thames Valler Riders’ next race is May 1 at Swiona MX Park.
“The Thames Valley Riders is a public club that allows anyone to come out and try racing,” said Barber. “Anyone can purchase a day pass or get a membership, like I have.”