When Kathy Burke brought her Polaris pro-RMK (Rocky Mountain King) in for detailing recently she asked, “Why are there no queens? Why is it always kings?”
When she got it back she had a nice surprise, the ‘K’ was replaced with a ‘Q’, making it the Rocky Mountain Queen.
Burke is the vice-president of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club and the organizer of this Saturday’s Ladies Ride on Boulder Mountain. She was the first female President of the snowmobile club in more than 40 years of its existence and is a fixture of the Boulder Mountain parking lot – helping park cars every winter.
“Every winter, I’m pretty well a landmark,” she told me over coffee at Tim Horton’s last week. “I enjoy it, I meet people from all over the world who come here to snowmobile.”
Burke has been an active member of the Revelstoke snowmobiling scene almost since she moved here with her husband Scott and two sons 13 years ago. Before moving here they lived in Nanaimo where Scott worked for the railway. He and the boys had taken up snowmobiling and when he had the option of transferring anywhere in British Columbia, the family chose Revelstoke.
“We heard this was the mecca, so we thought why not?” Burke said. “It was a nice place to raise your family and not a big city.”
Her first winter here she stayed at home while the boys went out riding. By the time her second winter rolled around, she figured she must be missing out on something, so one day she went out for a ride on Boulder Mountain.
It was a lot of fun, she said. “You make some really good friends between 5 and 8,000 feet.”
“Now I think I’m the worst one of them all,” she jokes about the hours she spends sledding.
A few years later she joined the snowmobile club, started attending meetings and got involved helping with different events.
Burke’s favourite part about riding is the people she meets, she said. As she mentioned twice, “You make some really good friends between 5 and 8,000 feet.”
The Revelstoke Snowmobile Club has more than 700 members this year making it the biggest in the province but Burke estimates that only about 50 of them are women. Still, she says more and more women are getting involved in the sport every year.
The idea for a ladies ride in Revelstoke came about after her and Angela Threatful, the president of the Snowmobile Revelstoke Society, attended one at Hunters Range near Enderby, B.C.
The first ride was held two years ago. Thirty women came out and she said it was an “eye-opener” to see the calibre of riders that attended.
This year, the third for the ride, she is expecting 60 women to come out. The day begins at the Boulder Mountain parking lot, where the group goes for a ride together. They will then be split into groups based on ability levels, before meeting up again later for lunch. They’ll go for another ride in the afternoon before meeting up again for dinner at the Hillcrest. The dinner serves as a fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
There will be two film crews on hand and several photographers.
Of the sixty women expected to come out, few are local, said Burke. She hopes more will this year.
“It can be a good experience to see how other women are riding to help build up their confidence level,” she said. “They can see what other women are doing to their machines, modifications for them to make it better to ride in the mountains. It’s not the same as trail riding.
Meeting other women involved in the sport, “It’s a big confidence builder for us all.”
I asked Burke if she felt intimidated her first time out, especially in such a male-dominated sport. She replied, saying she was out with good people that coached her and cheered her on. “Even if they did just bring me along for entertainment,” she laughed.
It took her a few years to feel comfortable with mountain riding and she is hoping to get more women out.
The Revelstoke Ladies Ride takes place on Saturday, Mar. 3. It starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Boulder Mountain Parking Lot. For more information contact Kathy Burke at 250-200-0165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.