For Mark Yaschuk, obstacles don't come in the form of metaphors. They are tangible items he has to ride his bike over.
The Coquitlam rider, sponsored by Maple Ridge Motorsports and International Motorsports in Delta, is a rising star in Enduro X, an adrenaline-fuelled, obstacle-filled race.
A mix between Supercross and Extreme Enduro, Enduro X brings the great outdoors to the audience. Enduro X compacts cross-country motocross racing into a sport people can see, Yaschuk explained.
"With these man-made obstacles like the logs that you see in Enduro XS you see that in the forest, but it's natural - like natural big rocks that we have to get over and get through, and problem solve to get the bike over," Yaschuk said. "And no one's out there to see you really, because it could be 30 kilometres from where the trucks are parked."
Yaschuk is competing in KTM Enduro X events at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show, which starts today and runs until Sunday at the Tradex exhibition centre in Abbotsford.
While he hadn't seen the course leading into the event, Yaschuk said past courses included log sections that were nailed together.
And there have been other challenges. "They had us going up over a bus," Yaschuk said. "They had car tires that were laying flat on the ground, and we had to ride through that - it was kind of like a tire pit. They had chopped wood, in a boxed-off section, and we rode through that."
Yaschuk only moonlights as a successful rider.
A second-year automotive mechanic apprentice, the 19-year-old competes on weekends in the Expert Class on the Canadian Enduro Championship circuit.
Aboard his KTM 200 XC-w, Yaschuk is the 2010 PNWMA ORS intermediate champion, the 2010 BC CEC Intermediate second place finisher, and he won the 2011 24-Hour Marathon Expert Team Championship.
He said knowing your bike and being intuitive are two of the key ingredients in an effective Enduro X competitor.
"Your core strength of riding the bike is for sure what does it [makes a Enduro X rider successful]," Yaschuk added.
Yaschuk inherited a 1970s, 50cc dirt bike when he was seven years old, and his love for riding took off from there.
"I rode for eight years or so before I started racing," he said. "We followed our friends who were racing so they were racing cross-country stuff in Kamloops, Kelowna, all over the Interior, and I just rode in the beautiful riding areas that they raced at. Now I'm racing."
He tried the more conventional sport of motocross when he was about 14, but didn't find it to be family orientated enough for his liking.
"I was the only one who could touch the bikes, the families had to be on the other side of the fence because they were not allowed," he said.
While the speed and the danger factor is less than motocross, Enduro X is a gruelling sport. Foot injuries are common, and concussions are a definite possibility, he noted.
"You're still twisting your ankle - stuff like that," Yaschuk said. "You hope the boots and the gear can help stop that from happening."
Yaschuk's mom Janet is also fully involved in the sport. She is not only the Enduro X co-ordinator for the Abbotsford event, she's an executive director for the Fraser Valley Dirt Riders Association (FVDRA) and Pacific Northwest Motorcycle Association (PNWMA), and FVDRA 24Hour Marathon co-ordinator.
"Our off-road series in B.C., we run super senior races, so 50-plus and 40-plus and there are very few of them, but there are guys out there in their 70s, and they go out for two to three hours and race," she said.
"And they're fast," her son added. For schedules and information about this weekend's show in Abbotsford, visit www.vancouvermotorcycleshow.ca.
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