Flashback…it’s sometime in the latter half of the 1980s. It’s race day at Valley Motorcycle Park, an “MX” (motocross) track found in a shallow coulee on the Alberta Plains. It’s a busy event, groups of riders coming in from all over Calgary and area eager to challenge the track. The bikes are offloaded and made ready, a couple practice runs and the race is on. The dust flies, the dirt, it’s everywhere, some mud too, noise, the deafening noise, the always present danger. It’s an adrenaline fuelled rush.
Present day…it’s a all quiet. It has been for decades. Stuff remains behind to remind one of what was once here, the now grassed over track, falling down bleachers and an official’s booth, what’s left of the concession trailer. Little else. No one comes by anymore except for occasional visitor such as us, given permission to enter the site. Otherwise, cows call it home most days.
Stand there in silence on the edge edge of the track and imagine yourself a spectator. It’s easy to do. The scream of engines. It just so noisy…like a swarm of angry bees. Banked corners, death defying jumps, high speed straightaways – a race plays out in the mind. Cheers from those taking it in. A hot dog in hand. Hot damn, this is some fun.
Snap back to reality…look around. It’s all over now. The place is dilapidated, forgotten, long since disused. Time for photos. Aaaaaah, just stepped in a fresh one. Reminder, this is cattle country.
The track dates from the mid-1980s. A Calgary Motocross group was behind it, their members needing a place to hold sanctioned races. They couldn’t do it the big city, for all kinds of reasons, and needed something suitable out on the lone prairie, far away from any type of population. Something remote with not too many residents close by.
Viola, this shallow river valley, the land being offered up for lease by a local farmer for a nominal fee. That his sons participated in the sport no doubt helped here. It was about as good a location as could be hoped for. Access was easy via a nearby highway and there were few neighbours to be bothered by all that noise, congestion and dust.
A dirt track was built following the lay of the land closely, and soon on, several times per year, it hosted major events. These were all well attended, sometimes the participants numbering in the hundreds. In between there were occasional practise events, but mostly when not in use by the club the land was cattle pasture. There was always lots of cow patties left behind for race day!
An old poster promoting an event at the park, circa 1987, shown to this author, proclaims it’s “ Western Canada’s Finest Motocross Facility”. Who am I to argue? Anyone who knew it care to voice an opinion?
In the mid-1990s the land being leased was sold and the group asked to vacate. They were again homeless when it came to a racing facility. That problem was soon solved when their ”everyday” track in an industrial section of Calgary was allowed to handle official events. Before the city said no, but then changed their tune. It was a disaster averted. Hard to be an MX club without proper places to play.
The track sits down in a bowl a good view of the action being had from the lip where the bleachers stand. The banks, curves, jumps, the “whoops” speed bumps, the layout of the runs, it looks quite intact. An official’s booth, not long for this world will soon fall down. The chow wagon, an old Atco type trailer, sits back of the stands. A flat area to the north was for parking. Below them was the pit area.
The guard shack at the entrance to the property…well, interestingly, it’s from a grain elevator. It’s an old biffy/fuel storage shed (ewww, reused outhouse). The teal-esque colours tell is it once belonged to the Alberta Wheat Pool. It was probably picked up for a song or maybe for free, when one of the nearby elevators closed. There was a fair number of them in the immediate area. A dirt track leads in from the highway. It was said to be hellish, soft and slippery, when wet.
By the way Valley Motorcycle Park is not the full name of the facility. We have to be a bit vague on details like this and in regards to locations, to protect the property. The owners don’t want people dropping by. Still, every once in a while, I understand some rogue riders who know of the place, sneak in for a quick couple laps.
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Now back to your regular programming…
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: April, 2017, AB.
Location: Kneehill County.
Article references (and thanks): David Pinkman of the Wild Rose Motocross Association.
A reminder, the Valley Motorcycle Park is on private propert, BIGDoer.com given permission to enter.