"In case you hadn't noticed, there's a lot to be said for the simple joy of racing a motorbike around an oval dirt track. While the noble sport of speedway may be the root of these things, the shale is "
Snow Quake: the coldest motorcycle race on earth
Tom Bing visits Dirt Quake's freezing cousin - Snow Quake
As my breath clouded my vision, a thick fog clinging to the air in front of my face, I surveyed the scene outside of the warmth of my Fiat 500 rental car. Inside, with the heater blasting, the reading of -10C seemed unreal. Outside, however, I could quite believe it. Gas heaters stood thawing out bikes, toolboxes laid open in the back of an international fleet of vans, engines roared into action, bubbling and backfiring, shrouded in a haze of fog and smoke. The distinct whiff of two stroke oil drifted through the morning valley.
Slowly but surely, a ragged and raw collection of motorcycles started to make their way up the icy hill from the car park to the trackside. Not much tied this group of bikes together; no one style, no one manufacturer, engine size or era. The two things they had in common were the die-hard enthusiasts that built them and the studs crudely drilled into their tires. The riders were as varied as the machines, ranging from their 20s to their 60s, modern racing suits and motocross gear mixed with classic leathers and a few fur coats chucked in for good measure.
Snow Quake 2017, the brainchild of Sideburn Magazine and Deus Ex Machina Milan was underway, high in the Italian Alps. The congregation of ragtag riders took turns to queue up and wait for the flag to drop and race each other around an icy go kart track. The studded tires gave enough traction for some beautiful racing. The experienced riders drifted round the track with a graceful ease, as feet dragged through snow, kicking up ice, and the trailing riders bursting through clouds of frozen mist. Vespas raced Ducati Scramblers. Classic BSAs faced Harley Sportsters, MV Agustas battled with CR500s.
The British contingent was strong. DTRA regulars Leah Tokelove, Tom Clemans, George Pickering, Anthony Brown, Gary Inman, Mike Fisher, Brad Hardman, Ross Sharp and others showed true style and experience on the ice after a long road trip to get there. Strong too was the Italian crowd with the appearance of Marco Belli and Giovanni Bussei. Technically, Bussei was the winner of the day. Realistically, everyone who made the pilgrimage to the Alps, layered up, studded up and got out there on the track was winning.
Once again, Sideburn magazine put on a great event. And I’ll be there to witness it again next year.
All pictures copyright Tom Bing.
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