From the moment I saw Larry Berrio’s Facebook post for the Big Deal ATV Mud Run event, I knew it would be special! First, it’s main goal was to benefit kids who have a tough shot at life by supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sudbury. Second, it was to be held in the “small” Northern Ontario Town of Capreol. Third, although I’ve been on four wheeler tours with Andrew Ryeland of Bear Claw Tours in Parry Sound, this would be my first true mudding experience. Fourth, Larry has been very successful with his winter snowmobile version of The Big Deal Poker Run also benefiting BB&S, so I knew this would be a great event to help promote and get everyone fired up!
In good hands
As I’m not an early riser, I took the offer from Lisa Jones of TownePlace Suites to conveniently stay with them in Sudbury on Friday night. The staff were great not just with me, but with all the guests. The kids clearly loved the waterslide and pool, and it was a busy place with great atmosphere. Importantly, there were ample electrical outlets to charge all of the required electronics and equipment to cover an event like this. It’s a great place to stay.
Registration was already busy at 8:30 am and people hit the trails early. It’s easy to do that when you ride from your home! Larry is even less of a morning guy than me. By the time he had arrived, I had already met our Event host Justin Seguin at Firehouse Bar and Grill, met the title sponsors at Nickel City Insurance—who had collected all of the prizes and put together the “chance” draw for any participant to win a $25,000 travel trailer—and I had been treated like a local by the staff with copious amounts of coffee.
Let the games begin
I was slated to ride shotgun in an Arctic Cat Wildcat, but Larry broke a driveshaft the day before on the Cat while installing trail signage. As registrants were in a huge line, Larry and Justin needed Adam Wennekes and me to go clear some trees that had fallen from the recent big Spring storm. Poor Justin had to put me on his 800 Can-Am with big mudders, a barky loud exhaust, and air shocks—yay for me, boo for Justin.
Adam on his Kawi 750 and I on the 8hun took off with Adam’s chainsaw on the front rack. We rode only five minutes, got to the first tree blocking the easy route around the first mud hole, and started cutting. As I took pictures (haha) and Adam cut, a group came along and got off and assisted in moving the tree. Instant Family! As we re-saddled, the SXSs passed us and I was treated to watching my first stuck of the day.
The card stops were already busy and everyone was having fun. My queen and 10 of hearts combo was looking good… until I got a six of spades. Then it was time for the lunch stop. Situated on the big hydro line, we were treated to witty banter, conversation with the ladies at BB&S, and some amazing sausages from the BBQ volunteers who simply took a donation.
They had spent the morning cutting trees to get the trucks in there… that’s how we do it in Northern Ontario! That’s when I did my first live stream on the What A Ride Facebook Page. Here’s the live video link—please comment and tag yourselves!
The crowd was dwindling, which meant they were out making the ruts in the mud run portion bigger. It was go time! Adam knows the area well—he taught me tricks and tips that I didn’t know—but he thought I was smart enough to switch into four-wheel-drive… well, I wasn’t. To my surprise, I made it through the technical left-hand curve, deep first portion of the line in two-wheel-drive, realized I hadn’t switched, backed off the throttle, used my left hand to switch the toggle on the right side of the bars, got back on the throttle, and had to change my line so that I could go around stuck Adam! What a ride! As I watched another fella get pulled out, then Adam get pulled out, I grinned ear to ear that somehow I wasn’t on the winch!
A Stuck in the Mud
The holes, bogs and swamps got bigger. And all lines were used. There were quads and SxSs stuck everywhere. Some chose the bush trails, but I chose to be the first to cross a straight line across the bog, with a broken winch! And that’s when I got stuck for the first time.
As I listened to Justin’s exhaust blowing bubbles while Adam matched my stuck 10 feet away to my right, I was in heaven. That’s when I was up to my thighs in mud, and all of a sudden Gilles backs down the steep rocks in his “tow truck” Razer to yank me out. And he had already stopped earlier to help someone with a hub problem—amazing guy!
Side note, sorry to Klim for wearing my winter gear but I haven’t owned “mudding gear” since I was 12 as I’m a speedboater. Needless to say, I stayed dry and was the perfect temperature as usual in Gore-Tex gear and boots. Amazing gear. I plan to make sure it finds a good and deserving home—and yes, it’s clean again.
After the epic mud run, a stop was provided by the Capreol Firefighters to wash our quads… and to wash me off as well. We dropped a donation in the boot, shared some more laughs and winch stories, and then headed back to the Firehouse for the wrap-up.
More than just mud
At that point, I was picked up and treated to a visit to the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre and Fire Station. What a history, and what a great job they’ve done displaying and sharing that history. Capreol is and always has been a “Train Town.” They’ve got CP, CPR and CNR, and every train travelling from Vancouver to Montreal passes through Capreol. They even restore trains on site, and you can tour these amazing pieces of history.