by Dennis Dallman
It takes a hell of a lot of grit and determination to be a motocross racer. Just ask Shona Mardan of St. Stephen and her three children.
Motocross is a sport in which racers ride their motorcycles over rough terrain. Courses can vary from one to three miles, and no two courses are ever alike. There are surprising hitches in each course, and it’s called “Oops!” The uncertainty of the tracks poses risky challenges for all participants who need to be tuned in with a keen focus on each course variety.
Shauna Murdan and Tom Baggen, her other partner of 22 years, have three children: Tyton Bagen, 16; Gavin Bagen 12; and Evan Bagen, 8. They all love to race, having started riding dirt bikes when they were kids. However, Tyton suspended motocross racing to participate in unpaved four-wheeled races on ice. He had to go to Lake Superior (Superior, Wis.) because the ice last winter wasn’t thick enough for other racing areas, like Gull Lake and the lakes next to Rockville and Eden Valley. This year, the Tyton raced a 450cc quad.
Motocross racer Gavin mostly rides on an 845 cc Kawasaki, and Evan, a four-wheeled racer, uses 110 cc from Polaris Outlaw.
Finally, the boys have collectively won, so far, dozens of titles.
Their true harvest may have been discarded from their mother. Shauna Mardan grew up in Rice and started racing 4×4 when she was just 6 years old. Her father, Marv, is an excellent longtime four-wheeled racer with plenty of awards.
“At the time, I tried to hit all the boys,” Shauna said. “Not a lot of girls were racing at the time. But my older sister, Nikki, also raced. It took me a while to get the hang of racing, but I learned from riding a lot on the two acres.” where I live.”
She competed in competitions held at the Little Falls Fairgrounds, the same place where her boys now race. The Merdan-Paggen boys run about 16 races per season.
Racing can be dangerous. This season, Gavin broke his foot on the edge of an obstacle jump during the race. Despite the pain, he persisted and continued determined to finish the race, come hell or high water. This season, his injury has kept him out of just one race. To protect against injuries, motorcyclists wear helmets, goggles, chest protectors, racing pants, jerseys, and racing shoes.
People often ask Shauna if she’s worried about her children’s safety.
She always answers: “My kids are safer racing on the track than riding at home.” She means that her sons are fully aware of the challenges and dangers on the racetrack while riding on the home ground, many bike enthusiasts forget about the risks.
Racing can be sloppy. Even on rainy days, race officials try not to cancel competitions. Sometimes the race courses are a muddy mess.
Merdan remembers one last race after which her boys had to wash up, leaving behind a large bucket of dirt and muddy water.
Racing can be expensive. Merdan and Paggen bought an enclosed trailer to take the boys to their races. They buy badges and T-shirts. Then there’s the price of entry to the races, not to mention the cost of petrol to get there.
Racing gear maintenance can be expensive. For example, Gavin has gone through several clutch knobs, costing $30 to replace each time.
Oh, what fun!
Despite the drawbacks (danger, dirt, expenses), racing is practically the lifeblood of the Bajin boys.
“I love that the competition is so intense,” Gavin said. “And I love to keep getting better with each sweat.”
Mardan said since her boys were young, they have been anxiously asking, “What day is it? Is it race day?!”
Tyton attended Holdingford High School. Gavin and Evan go to Holdingford Primary School.