A Sylvan Lake woman maintains her ranking as a top off-road enduro racer with the cancellation of the 2020 season.
Courtney Schmale, 28, finished third in the Canadian Motorcycle Association’s (CMA) Women’s Expert class and fourth in the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Club’s Men’s B class in 2019.
In 2018, she took the top spot in the CMA’s Women’s Expert class.
Schmale first started riding recreationally at the age of 18 and in 2016 she decided she wanted to race, so she bought a new big and jumped into the sport full force.
“It’s cool to see that progression in such a short period of time,” said Schmale, explaining the expert level is as high as she can go in the CMA.
“I remember my first race, 2016, was at Panorama ski hill, like the hardest race you could do was our first one.”
She says Panorama Mountain Resort is probably the “coolest” place she races, but the series’ and her sponsors take her all over Canada and even into the States.
Each year Schmale competes at the biggest race below the border, the Odessa Desert 100, adding the race is about four hours long.
“My best finish was I got a third place for Women’s Expert two years ago and then that was 28th place out of 900 people, so that was a big accomplishment for myself,” she said.
In addition to the off-road racing, Schmale says the ice racing is also a favourite.
The 2020 season earlier this year was her third in the Alberta Oval Ice Racing Championship placing first overall in Women’s Motorcycle, second overall in Open Intermediate and third overall in 450 Intermediate.
“I like both because it’s a different thrill in each way, like you’re going way faster on the ice and then you’re hitting corners at like 100 km/h and you’re right beside someone and its really sketchy, so that’s a lot of fun,” Schmale said.
“I like the endurance ones because it’s a mental conditioning thing and then it’s just a different way of training, different riding, you get to see different terrain, different obstacles.”
Endurance races are a minimum of two and a half hours long compared to ice racing’s minute and a half six-lap shootouts on an oval.
She also likes how endurance races are all different as they typically follow natural tree-lined single tracks up rocky mountains and big hills with some trails bringing them 8,500 feet high.
With this year’s CMA and Alberta Motorsports Association (AMSA) seasons cancelled she is keeping up her training with lots of riding and practice, while also hosting ladies’ clinics and adventure rides.
“A lot of girls are getting into it now and it’s nice to have other women teaching women how to ride,” Schmale said, “it builds their confidence a lot more and they have someone more relatable too.”
She says she loves being able to give back to the community and it’s an accomplishment to be able to help the younger generation learn and get involved.
“My favourite thing is probably showing them new places and doing clinics and teaching people to optimize their performances and show them that they can start from any age… and just show you that hard work can go a long way in a short period of time if you just put your mind to it,” commented Schmale.
Schmale also started the Alberta Enduro Riders club as a way to host events and share a passion for off-road riding with the riding community. Information about the club can be found at its Facebook page, “Alberta Enduro Riders.”