Terrain a non-issue for local racing legend

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

Local racer Justyn McCabe, pictured, won first place in the Snow Bike Nationals Mod Class last month in Revelstoke, B.C. (Submitted photo)

Local racer Justyn McCabe, pictured, won first place in the Snow Bike Nationals Mod Class last month in Revelstoke, B.C. (Submitted photo)

With the odds stacked against him, local motocross rider Justyn McCabe continues to turn heads in the racing world.

If the 45-year-old’s first place Mod Class finish at last month’s Canadian Snowbike Nationals in Revelstoke, B.C., wasn’t impressive enough, the veteran rider did so on a machine he saw for the first time in person just a month prior.

“I had never seen a snowbike. The first one I saw was the one I opened up in a box in my garage,” said the Portage la Prairie native. “It’s like riding with three passengers and two flat tires. It’s a totally  different thing. I rode it five times before I loaded it up and went out to Revelstoke.

Motocross has been around forever but snowbiking is a crossover from motocross. It’s the same type of track as far as what we ride but its a completely different animal as far as how you operate the bike.”

Although new to snowbike racing, McCabe - who spent his youth riding dirt tracks across Manitoba in Motocross circuits – dominated the sport in the 90’s winning World Championships along with many Canadian and Manitoba titles. After taking some time away from the sport to start a family, the Portager returned to race periodically from 2009-2012 and took another half-decade hiatus before his most recent success out west.

“The fellow that I beat in the Mod Class was 17-years-old,” laughed McCabe. “They don’t know who I am, which is a good thing. But I’m experienced enough that I don’t get worked up. It’s just another race to me.”

McCabe competed in both the mod class (where racers can use modified bikes) and pro open class, and was a constant fixture on the podium, but his best result was capturing first overall in the Mod Class on his stock Honda bike, as he forewent making modifications to the machine.

But perhaps what’s more interesting than McCabe’s rise in the snowbike circles is how he came to end up in Revelstoke to begin with. McCabe accepted a Facebook friend request from a random person who told him to get in touch with a certain promoter – one thing led to another and McCabe purchased his first snowbike, packed up his van and headed west.

The 45-year-old’s passion for racing, regardless of terrain, is strong enough to overcome any injury he has faced and it keeps him coming back. McCabe, who has been racing since he was 13-years-old, has dealt with everything from hip replacement surgery to broken necks, shoulders and ankles. Yet those injuries weren’t enough to deter him from his next racing goal.

“I would like to go and try to qualify for the X Games next year,” said McCabe.“I’m all on this snowbike thing now.”

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