By Sandy Cesselli
Tharon Cesselli was born and raised in Barriere, graduating from Barriere Secondary in 2009. Although he now resides close to his work in Kamloops, Tharon typically returns to his hometown at least twice a month, unless he is on the ‘racing circuit’.
Tharon participates in cross country/off road style motor bike racing, and 2010 was his first year in competition.
He says his goal was to compete in every 2010 OHSS race, and if lucky enough, be able to bring home some trophies.
Tharon’s competitive strength is obvious on the hills and technical terrain; when a race offers these, he excels. As the year progressed Tharon says he surprised himself regarding how well he did in the popular Junior-Over class and humbly contributes much of his success to his bike, a 2009 KTM 300 XC.
He also supplemented his racing addiction with additional Off-Road Series (ORS), Coast (C) and Interior (I) races held in the southern Interior.
Tharon launched into the 2010 season on Apr. 4, in Kamloops/Whispering Pines at “The Big Kahuna 6” (ORS (I)). Bringing home his first trophy, placing third on a race course that had a mix of trails and track.
Next up was a test of his wits in Merritt on May 2, where he participated in The Gnarly Parts “Main Jet Hare Scramble” (ORS(C)). He rode many gruelling kilometres over rocks and boulders, across deep, fast flowing creeks, through mud and up steep rocky hillsides to bring home another third place trophy.
On the heels of his Merritt win, the following weekend he participated in what is best described as the dustiest ride of the season, “The Rock Hound” in Salmon Arm/Silver Creek (OHSS). It was a short track with little technical terrain; the biggest obstacle was the dust. This time Tharon brought home second place.
On May 23, Tharon was off to the Vernon/Lumby area for the “17th Annual Squealin’ Pig” (ORS (I)). The time chip counter failed part way through the race and during the confusion Tharon was bumped down in the standings from third to fourth place.
On June 13, Tharon traveled back to the Vernon/Lumby area to take in the popular “Full Throttle” (OHSS). The club created an enduro section that provided the opportunity for spectators to become engaged in what is normally not considered a great spectator sport. This time Tharon brought home second place.
On July 4, he competed in the “25th Annual Monkey Wrench” (ORS (C)) in Lytton, with a reputation for its unique cannon ‘gun’ fire start. The racers started at the bottom of a steep hill and grinded their way through many kilometres of rocks, mud and forest. Another race highlight was a teeter-totter bridge constructed approximately 2.5 meters above the trail that the racers manoeuvred over. Once more a second place trophy.
After the summer break, races resumed in the early autumn, and Tharon headed back to Vernon/Lumby to prepare for another race. In an almost constant drizzle, the “Rev Limiter” (OHSS) was held on Sept. 12. On his final lap he chose to take the longer trail route rather than pound his body over the obstacles of the enduro for a third time that day. Despite not having the proper rear tire for the wet conditions, Tharon still managed to place second.
On Sept. 29, he was racing in the “Dragon Spray” (ORS (C)) in his home turf at the Chewells Mt. Road/Walloper Lake Road area. Tharon had the advantage of knowing the environment in his preferred terrain. He raced with a different mind-set and a more relaxed state and took home the first place trophy, finishing the race 30 minutes ahead of his closest competitor.
On Oct. 16/17, the competitive racer headed into the Okanagan to participate in two back to back races. On the 16th he raced in “The Frosty Sanchez” (OHSS) in Naramata. He left from his work late Friday afternoon and arrived at the race site shortly after 10 p.m. and settled in for a tough cold night camping at the race assembly area. The memories of the cold sleepless night were soon forgotten after the start of the race as he made his way around the trail course, claiming third place. That night Tharon was fortunate to locate accommodations in Peachland that offered a secure location for his bike, while he got a good night’s rest a mere 10 minutes away from the next race location.
The following morning, on Oct. 17, after a good nights sleep in a warm bed, Tharon competed in the last race of the 2010 (OHSS) season “The Frosty Peach” held in Peachland. He was positioned between several 4-stroke engine bikes, and having his bike always fire up on the first try, was unable to hear it fail to start with the loud bikes on either side of him. He was left behind at the start line and followed dead last through the hole shot. Tharon made up for some lost ground on the first hill by taking over a few riders, but was unable to recover enough ground during the race to qualify for a trophy; still he was pleased with this 4th place standing.
Through the 2010 season Tharon competed in six OHSS races, finishing the season with 114 points (18 points ahead of second place) and a trophy shelf filled with hardware. Successfully attaining his goal for 2010 he is now making plans for the 2011 season.
This year he intends to race the OHSS again at the Intermediate level, a level higher from his first year. In this level, the races are longer (three hours) and more technically challenging. He says racing the higher level will give him time in the morning to prepare for the afternoon race, and possibly volunteer with trail marking for the morning events.
In addition to racing the OHSS, he hopes to continue to fill vacant weekends with other race series.
Tharon is looking forward to the 2011 season which begins in April. He had a great first year and over the winter investigated potential sponsors to assist him with some of his racing expenses. He is thankful for all the support provided by family and friends who travelled to the races to cheer him on and provided pit crew services.