Jun 30, 2023
Sponsored / VooDoo Sprint Enduro
I recently had the opportunity to ride & race at a very special place in Northern Ontario. This place is a private off-road motorcycle property known as the GOJOfarm in Chelmsford, just a few minutes
I recently had the opportunity to ride & race at a very special place in Northern Ontario. This place is a private off-road motorcycle property known as the GOJOfarm in Chelmsford, just a few minutes outside of the City of Sudbury. I attended, participated in, and raced in the 1st annual VooDoo Ranch Sprint Enduro which is part of the Off-Road Ontario circuit of races. This race is the only off-road motorcycle race in Northern Ontario and as a northern local, I’m thrilled to have an event in our backyard.
A Sprint Enduro is a unique format in comparison to a Cross Country, Harescramble, or Enduro race as during a sprint competitors ride multiple courses multiple times. In the case of the VooDoo Ranch Sprint Enduro, the organizing team put together five individual “tests” offering a varied experience. In my class, we were challenged with riding each one of the tests three times, with our combined times accumulating in comparison to our competitors.
Test Number 1 was an Endurocross Track complete with logs, rocks, tires, and even a ramp over an old car offering spectacular action for both riders and trackside fans. Test 2 included a gear-shifting, throttle-turning dirt track that led into rocky single track offering riders the opportunity to feel the horsepower. Tests 3, 4, and 5 challenged riders with relentless jagged rocky terrain smeared with slick mud, angled roots, and even sharp elevation changes.
I wanted to learn more about the great two-wheel movement happening in Sudbury locally but also how this spark has ignited a growing community of off-road two-wheeled enthusiasts across the north so I reached out to Joel Castonguay.
Jeff – What inspired you to create the GoJo Farm and share it with other riders?
Joel – Before we bought the property in 2012, my family and I hiked the 104 acres. I fell in love with it right away. I knew from that day that it had the potential to have great trails. I started building trails with some friends and soon with the kids as they got older. The fields also offered the opportunity for some high-speed stuff as well as some easy and beginner-friendly grass track.
Year after year, tractor break down after tractor breakdown, I kept my eye on the prize and accumulated almost 18 km of cool challenging trails, high-speed dirt track, and really fun endurocross section.
Eventually, in 2019, I decided to invite some friends and new acquaintances that I had friended on social media to attend a weekend riding get-together. It was a blast! Sixty five riders of all ages showed up on that weekend. It was a turning point in Sudbury’s dirtbike and trail-riding community.
Not long after that, with the help of some friends, I decided to start an OFTR club (Ontario Federation of Trail Riders) based out of GOJOfarm. We are STARA – Sudbury Trail and Adventure Riders Association. We currently have over 200 members from all over the province.
Jeff – What is the most rewarding part of what you’ve created?
Joel – I love seeing the smiles and excitement that come after someone has ridden a dirtbike for the first time or has ridden our trails for the first time. That’s the biggest reward. It’s a constant reminder of those same feelings I had when I first started riding. Whether it’s the father that gets a leg up on a bike for the first time to join in the fun with his young kids, or the 5-year-old that rides his or her new minibike till they’re exhausted, that’s what I love being part of. And now Sudbury and the area has a safe place for this to happen.
Jeff – Whose idea was it to have a sanctioned off-road Ontario race?
Joel – I always knew that a race was kind of the next challenge. I hadn’t raced in years and when I did race it wasn’t for very long so was a little nervous to go in that direction not knowing how GOJOfarm and its trails would work for that type of event. It didn’t take long for my good friend Andrew Bean to convince me that it was a great venue for an Off-Road Ontario-sanctioned race. Andrew has raced for several years and was also a successful promoter. He and some friends had done a great job organizing and promoting the Brush Axe Sprint Enduro between 2016-2019. When he moved back to Sudbury we started focusing on putting on an event and eventually creating the Voodoo Rach Sprint Enduro. I’m super lucky to have run into Andrew through mutual friends.
Jeff – Who was all involved in making it happen?
Joel – There were many involved. It’s a pretty big effort, especially in its inaugural year. We had a plan that meant we wanted to add some trail and a full endurocross track to put on a great race. For 2 months before the race we spent very long days in the forest and fields adding 2 full test sections. That mostly consisted of Andre Bean, Yves “Buster” Robillard, Stephane Fortin, my 15-year-old son Simon, my wife, and myself. The race weekend required well over 30 volunteers. We chose a unique format (Sprint Enduro) which requires a huge presence of volunteers. There was also a full day for kids racing as well. Parents of those kids are great supporters and often will jump in to help wherever help is needed.
Jeff – How many racers participated (Youth & Adults) and how many do you estimate attended?
Joel – We were really happy to see the turnout. In the days leading up to the race, I was a little nervous. I was keeping a close eye on the registrations, but the numbers were slow to go up. I now know that racers wait till the last minute to register. In total, if I recall correctly, we had 40 youth and 120 adults for a total of 160 racers. We estimate that we probably had anywhere from 350-400 people at the farm. The energy was awesome. We were super excited by those numbers for our first effort. Based on the racer feedback we had, we anticipate bigger numbers next year.
Jeff – Where did the furthest person come from? I’m aware you had riders from all over Southern Ontario, but also North Bay, Timmins, and Sault Ste Marie.
Joel – Yeah, they came from far and wide. We were super lucky to have moto traveler Youtuber and professional photographer Andy Wilson be part of our weekend. He was in Canada up from Belize. What a great dude and a skilled moto photographer. Check him out at AndyWilson89 on socials/youtube or Andy Wilson Media.
Jeff – What is your favorite part about off-road motorcycling in Northern Ontario?
Joel – I love that all these small groups and independent riding communities are somehow coming out of the woods and connecting. Whether it’s organized trail riding groups and events or races coming north for the first time, dirtbiking in the north is growing and that’s amazing. I think we’ll see more organized efforts coming soon. I’m already hearing of riders wanting to follow suit and put something together next summer. I think Southern Ontario riders are going to have to get used to traveling up north if they want to be on top of all the new riding opportunities that will present themselves in the coming years. We’re seeing it now and when you visit you go home with a massive grin on your face because riding the north on a dirtbike is legit and awesome.
Jeff – Do you have plans for a 2024 VooDoo Sprint Enduro?
Joel – 100% Bigger and better. We’ll be riding the buzz and the high from this year’s success until it goes time again next summer. Maybe even some studded-tire racing this winter. Keep your eyes and ears open because we’re just getting started.
Joel and I both agree that Northern Ontario is a great destination for Off-Road Motorcycle riders. Specifically in the Sudbury area you have the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders member club the Sudbury Trail & Adventure Riders Association who host and organize several events throughout the year catering to various skill levels and age groups. East of North Bay, Ontario you will find the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail System which boasts over 300km of off-road trails offering spectacular riding opportunities.
The north also has an abundance of crown land dirt trails and gravel roads that are friendly to green-plated off-road motorcycles, the crown land use atlas is a great resource. As Joel noted and I fully agree “riding the north on a dirt bike is legit and awesome” so load up the truck, van, car, and your riding pals and head north to experience unlimited adventure!