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Flying high into middle age

Grant Peet has been racing motorbikes since 1973 and has hit the podium more than 100 times. - courtesy Grant Peet
Grant Peet has been racing motorbikes since 1973 and has hit the podium more than 100 times.
— image credit: courtesy Grant Peet

It’s one of the most demanding sports on the planet, and that’s why Grant Peet competes in it.

Peet is 53 — “like Herbie the Love Bug” — and prides himself on being fit, for which he credits three things: eating well, yoga, and motocross, a sport that involves riding a 120-pound motorbike at high speeds flanked by competitors doing the same on a hilly dirt track.

Peet has been racing his motorbike since he was 13 years old.

“I started in 1973. I went with my brother down to the old island highways gravel pit in Sooke. I rode his bike in the School Boy Big Wheel class and got third place. I still have the trophy.”

Peet still recalls that first race. It’s unforgettable because he had to ride over another competitor to get there.

“It was funny. I was running fourth position, behind two guys who ended up crashing in mid-air. I had to run over a guy and I ended up third and got a trophy. There was no way I could avoid it. I was in the air when they were landing. When I landed, I had nowhere to go. I unweighted the bike so it didn’t hurt him.”

After that first race, Peet bought a motorbike of his own and spent his teen years racing at the old Cassidy Speedway north of Ladysmith. He continues to compete with the B.C. Oldtimers’ Motocross Club and counts more than 100 podium visits in his career.

Even with all that experience, Peet still has lessons to learn. He finished in second place at this year’s national championship tournament after making a rookie mistake.

“The first day I won all three motos. The second day I won the first moto. I was leading the final moto and I ran out of gas. I ended up second by two points.”

Peet said the sport hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years.

“It’s still the same sport. The bikes are a little better but the bottom line is, whoever has the best skills, in motocross, whoever has the strongest legs, might win the race. It’s the most physically demanding sport in the world just ahead of soccer.”

The physical strength and endurance required for the sport is one of the aspects he likes the most.

“You’re working against a 120-pound bike and centrifugal force. It’s the toughest sport out there. That’s why I love it.”

Motocross racing requires more than physical strength. Peet said a rider can get seriously injured if they lose focus in a race.

“You want to be clear at motocross. You’ve got a lot of speed and weight and jumps and obstacles. You can be hurt quite badly.”

Peet has been practising yoga for 15 years, which he said is the key to being able to compete so intensely at his age.

“That puts the icing on the cake for anything. The top professionals in sports take yoga because it creates flexibility and strength and stops injuries.”

Peet aims to ride his bike for the rest of his life.

“I love motorcycles. I absolutely would like to ride my whole life.”

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