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Repost. Reality check time….. no I’m not putting on races!

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

As I continue to review, reflect and refine after the GoldRiver300, it is timely to repost this blog entry that I wrote a while ago.

VIME events are run over open, public roads, under the terms of the relevant BC motoring laws. Riders must expect to encounter oncoming traffic ranging in size from a newborn fawn to the largest piece of industrial plant you can only imagine in your nightmares.

I will continue to set the leg Average Speeds with full consideration to my responsibilities as event organiser for the reasonable safety of event participants and whoever else may be out there in the wilderness. This may include using routes that are overgrown and speeds are limited because of the jungle riders need to fight their way through, to apparently over-cautious speeds on FSRs that are regularly used heavy equipment routes.

If any potential event entrant wishes for a speed event and is going to disregard the set speeds, these are not events for you! The unexpected must be expected at all times and riders have an obligation to ride in a responsible manner.

I continue to reserve the right to eject riders who ride in an unsafe manner from events and to reject entries from riders who are unable to take due regard to the safety of others.

This, below is what I wrote a while ago in response to something that happened then. It is just as relevant to what might happen in the future:

I have recently taken some on-line flak, challenged it and been subsequently ghosted about terrain-limited motorcycle speeds on potential T/S/D rally routes.

I think there is a small (but potentially influential) number of people who have at least a passing interest in this version of motosport and are disappointed that events and routes do not look like the desert race videos they see on social media newsfeeds.

For the avoidance of all doubt, I think it important to explain why in BC we are not able to have unregulated motor racing on publicly-accessible land.

It is also important to understand the history of rally motorsport and where things have gone wrong in the past and how those mistakes can be avoided in the future - I know the modern idea is to live in the moment, no regard for the old farts in the past or what the consequences for the future may be…. but make no mistake here. If the mistakes of the past are repeated now, the consequential banning of road rallying in the future is a certainty.

The History.

In the UK in the 1950’s and 60’s, before many of you were even born, Time Speed Distance road rallying was the usual form of entry-level participation motorsport staged by many car clubs. The format was speed controlled, timed stages, navigation rallies. The format I am advocating.

The good participants of those events became very good at following the routes and keeping to the time specifications. The organisers, constrained to using the existing tarmac roads began to make the time targets increasingly tight, the required car speeds increasingly high. The participants rose to the challenges and prepared and drove cars at increasing speeds to match the time targets set by event organisers.

Eventually, cars were being driven at 120mph - on public roads with 30mph speed limits.

The Police forces became aware and the Government moved to ban road rallying.

End of. No more playtime for the grassroots enthusiasts. Go professional or go home. People went home.

In BC.

Road rallying as a “navigation trial” when speed limited is permitted specifically in the traffic laws of BC. ICBC motorcycle insurance (if it’s not on Collector plates) is “all risks” which means if it’s an activity that isn’t outlawed in BC your ICBC insurance covers you.

Criminal Law

If you get up to something that is illegal, you can expect to receive the attentions of the Law Enforcement community if you are caught. If you put an event on in which participants break the law, you can expect to be considered as “aiding and abetting” and receive the same attention from the police and courts.

Racing on publicly accessible land is illegal - but you know this.

Speeding on publicly accessible land is also illegal….

As an event organiser, putting on an event where participants are allowed to break the law - well you begin to see the drift here (hopefully).

That’s criminal law.

Then there’s Civil Law.

If you, as an event organiser, put an event on where the hazards to health and life are minimised, mitigated and under the control of the participant - such as moderate speed limits, passable routes and non-hazardous environments (like not expecting participants to ride off a cliff) and something goes wrong you will be able to show that you behaved responsibly if you are sued by the grieving widow/mother to the fatherless children.

Time Control data, collected in the course of the event will show if the deceased was travelling at a moderate speed in line with the parameters of the event (unfortunate accident while engaged in a physically testing activity) or was riding at speed and outside the parameters of the event (author of his own downfall).

If on the other hand, you put an event on that encourages or requires high speed riding, excessive compared to a reasonably competent person (not an expert), that will be in excess of the posted speed limit. And then something goes wrong, someone is killed or seriously injured and you are both sued by the surviving relatives and prosecuted but the courts, you as event organiser are in a whole lot of mess that is entirely of your own making!

And then the politicians and police get to hear there are a bunch of yahoos engaging in Snotball motorcycle races and people are losing their lives, this kind of motorsport becomes illegal once again and we have to start knitting to keep ourselves occupied.

Being aware of all of this influences my choices of routes when thinking about an event.

Also, given that we can only go where there are public routes that we can follow, we are constrained. We can’t go onto private land (all of BC is “owned” or managed one way or another). We can only go where we are allowed to go.

I will (have to) continue to set courses and speed limits that conform to the law.

That means the speeds will be moderate - the competitive challenge will be to ride to the average speed of that section.

The routes will include difficulties, features and hurdles that make for an engaging off-road experience. That may include sections of FSRs that are reverting to nature - you may even be the last person to ride that route before it becomes impassable and reverts to jungle.

I do not organise races. Speed tests, time trials, enduros or motocross races. For all of the above reasons. If you are a wannabe racer, there are plenty of organisations that provide (regulated) events where you can race.

If you can’t hack the regulation - you have a problem.

I have worked out a template for running motorcycle TSD rallies in a competition format. This format is as close to Rallyraid as law and society allow in BC.

If there is not a market for this genre of motosport in BC there is no point in staging further events. Staging these events requires a substantial personal commitment, if I cannot generate sufficient entry-fee revenue to cover my expenses I certainly won’t be putting events on at my own expense for other peoples pleasure….

I await developments.

Jonathan Binnington

Proprietor, Vancouver Island Motosports Events.

27 June 2022

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