Honda Rock the Red – Gymkhana

The new Honda HQ is massive - ideal for just such an event.
The new Honda HQ is massive – ideal for just such an event.

Even a violent thunderstorm and torrential rains couldn’t deter more than 1,000 people from attending the first “Rock the Red” event at Honda Canada’s Markham, Ontario headquarters on Saturday 14th July.

The Gymkhana was the highlight event.

Honda offered demo rides on their entire product line including motorcycles, ATVs and even power equipment such as lawn mowers and water pumps.

The highlight of the day was 30 riders competing in Honda Canada’s first motorcycle Gymkhana skills competition – a timed course where riders negotiate various slaloms, 180-degree turns, 360-degree turns, figure eights and then stop precisely with their front wheel in a stopbox.

Some riders applied, some qualified at dealer events, some were Honda motorcycle staffers while others, like myself, were invited.

We had a couple of hours practice on CBR125s in the back parking lot, where I noticed one young chap in full leathers was horizontal twice. Hmmm. We’re only going five mph and people are falling down already?

Bondo brought the CMG Mansion girls along too.

After lunch, just as we were to see the actual course for the first time, a thunderstorm rolled through, soaking everything. The rain let up and we were allowed to walk the course as a Honda instructor showed us the order the drills were to be completed.

Bondo ready for the off.

The first rider was doing very well until he pancaked on the wet pavement on the last corner. Hmmm again.

When my turn came, it was still soaking wet, I was in first gear and the bike was bucking and lurching underneath me. I missed some cones, knocked over one or two others and generally botched it.

On the second run, I put the CBR into second, slipped the clutch, applied some rear brake and cleaned the course except for overshooting the stopbox, incurring a one second penalty.

Honda’s Nick Smirniw gives CC’s Thornton and CMG’s Bondo a quick pep talk.

I don’t know where I was overall but I’m sure I was the first journalist (yes, very un-CMG like), ahead of Cycle Canada’s Steve Thornton and Inside Motorcycles’ Jason Thorpe, both of who barged their way around the course, knocking over cones like two-wheeled bowling balls.

Pekka Jokinemi takes first, Mark Faulkner second and Lloyd Sta Ana third.

The overall winner was Pekka Jokinemi, second was Mark Faulkner and third was Lloyd Sta Ana. And, Denise Petrushevsky was the lucky winner of a Honda donated CBR250.

I’d say that even with the heavy rains, having over 1000 people show up makes the first Rock the Red a resounding success.

No word yet on next year’s events, but Honda are working on it. Time to get some cones, head over to the local mall’s parking lot and get some practice in!





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