KELOWNA – Kelowna’s top sport bike racer Marcel Irnie is one of only 33 motorcycle riders from around the world competing in the 100th anniversary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb next month.
The annual Hill Climb in Colorado is one of the oldest and most dangerous time trial-type races in the United States. Drivers and riders must navigate 156 corners while climbing more than 10,000 feet.
“It’s crazy and scary,” Irnie says. “It’s got tons of fast corners. I just watched a video and a guy who did 10 minutes on his Ducati and you can see one spot where he blows a corner with a cliff on one side and something upsets his suspension. He nearly crashes and he’s right at the edge of the road. That guy almost died. A lot can happen.”
Irnie says a rider has died in the race the last two years.
Although only riding for ten years, Irnie has quickly made a name for himself on the American Superbike circuit, thanks partly to his prolific use of social media, engaging videos and gutsy riding.
He first taught himself to ride on Westside Road and has been astride a bike for most of his life since. For Pikes Peak, however, he will be riding something quite unfamiliar.
“I’ve never even been to Colorado before so to be doing this very difficult race on an electric motorcycle is going to be a challenge,” he says.
Irnie will be competing for the fastest time in the all-electric category riding a Zero FXS.
“It’s more like a dirt bike so I have to decide, when I’m on the track, am I going to do dirt bike style when I’m braking with my leg out or do I do knee down,” he says. “I’ll just have to practice more to figure it out but I’ll probably just do it how I ride a street bike.”
Irnie will be riding for Hollywood Electrics Zero Race Team partially sponsored by Worlds Best Motorcycles.
“It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve only got a few hours to practice so most of what I know about Pikes Peak is from (the video game) Gran Turismo 2,” he says. “I need to get a PlayStation 1 again and get that game.”
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place June 26.
Watch all of Irnie's race videos on his YouTube channel.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.