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March 3, 2013
"Like Riding On A Cloud"
Local Snowbike Racer Helping Pioneer New Adventure Sport
Eric Plummer, Hagadone News Network
Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, reaching speeds as
Usian Bolt, the Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter from
And the fastest snowbike rider on the planet? That would be
Sandpoint’s Derick Driggs, who has never lost a race in a sport invented in
He can also fly, having jumped 102 feet two years ago during Sled Fest at Schweitzer, and is currently working with the Guinness Book of World Records to document the feat.
Equal parts daredevil, motorcycle enthusiast and pioneer, Driggs is a driving force in a new adventure sport that could be on the verge of exploding in popularity.
“It’s fun to be part of something that is new. I’ve been the
first person to do a lot of things on snowbikes,” says Driggs, 31, who works
for Wells Fargo Bank in
Snowbikes are motorcycles equipped with a one-ski, track-driven conversion kit, allowing them to go places a snowmobile would normally travel. The races are essentially supercross on snow, with riders jumping, passing and fighting for space around a track.
Timbersled, a Kootenai company owned by Allen Mangum, makes the conversion kits that allow the machines to rip along the snow with incredible speed and agility. Driggs likens the potential of snowbiking to snowboarding, once a fringe sport that eventually became nearly as popular as skiing.
“It has the possibility to be equally as popular as snowmobiles,” says Driggs, who feels the sport will eventually grab the attention of the X Games. “Our group has been pioneering this, racing with the Mountain West Racing Series.”
The Sandpoint area is a hotbed for the sport, comprising nearly half of the 24-person field in McCall, which raced in four heats based upon skill level. In the main A draw, Sandpoint’s Wade Burnett finished third behind Driggs, while Mangum proved he can not only build the bikes, but ride them as well, finishing fifth. Clark Ford’s Ty Oliver and Wyatt Stevens, Cocolalla’s Chad Moore and Dan Wanous, and Sagle’s Doug Gunter, Ray Peck and Dale Mangum were also in action on the 7/8-mile twisty track built on a golf course.
While the racing is fun, Driggs believes the true beauty of the snowbike is the back-country places that can now be traveled. Unlike a motorcycle, which is confined to a track, trail or road, snowbikes can go anywhere the driver wants to take them.
“It’s like riding on a cloud,” says Driggs, lauding the soft flotation technology heretofore only experienced on a snowmobile. “You have the freedom to go places you couldn’t imagine. It allows you to experience anything you want and it’s fun to push the boundaries.”
Driggs will be looking to defend his fifth annual Sled Fest snowbike title at Schweitzer in April and also might try and break his jumping record.
© 2013 SnoWest® Magazine