For Ethan Rode, mud bogging is more than just competition; it’s a passion he shares with not only his buddies, but his employees and even his almost 10-year-old son.
The owner of Rode Hard Speed Shop in Rimbey usually goes out with around five to seven of his friends to compete, mainly riding in Rimbey. He recently started traveling to other events around Alberta and just got back from Forestburg where some of them got first and second place.
Rode has been taking part in mud bogging for around six years, having played around with some of his buddies at a farm in Eckville.
“They talked me into building a mud bog race truck and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said.
“I’ve built a whole new off the wall rig for this year and it’s getting mixed results if it stays in one piece,” he added with a laugh.
Every year tends to be pretty eventful and last year was no different. Rode managed to put his mud bogger on its side.
“Usually we have somebody that’s broken down the day before the race and we’re overhauling an engine or pulling a transmission out.”
Before they left for their recent Forestburg race, Rode’s spare mud bogger lit on fire, so he rebuilt the engine, put it all back together that night with some new tires, loaded it up and managed to get in first place.
“We get a lot of late nights and we sit back and wonder why the heck we’re doing it and then we go to the event and we get first place and remember why we’re in it because it’s just a lot of fun.”
Rode said they don’t usually go for the pay out, but for the fun of it and it happens to be a big thing they do as a family.
Rode’s son Jaxson, who is nine, will be racing in his own truck next year as you have to be 10 to compete.
“It’s something that I hope my kids look back fondly on when they get older. It’s just an awesome time.”
Ethan’s brother Graeme also takes part in mud bogging, along with the guys who work at the shop. Some of his friends also have kids who will be getting into mud bogging down the road, so it’s been a whole family affair.
One of Ethan’s friends Sean Atkinson, who has been in the derby world, built his mom a truck, which cost next to zero dollars. He let her ride shotgun at the last event, which she enjoyed, so Atkinson and his dad went in on buying her a nice mud bogger for their anniversary gift, which she will hopefully use in the upcoming Edson race.
“It’s really just one of those things you do once and it seems to get under your skin,” said Ethan.
Steven Bateman, who started working at Ethan’s shop in January, took place in his first mud bogging race this year.
“Ethan had a parts truck that was a dilapidated heap of stuff and he told me if I could get it going I could send it in the mud bogs, so that kind of intrigued me and I got it going,” said Bateman with a laugh.
He did more work to it and he won second place at the last Rimbey event.
Originally from Ukraine, Bateman had done a bit of mud bogging while there, but using a smaller buggy called a Lada Niva.
“That was actually my first vehicle. Me and a couple buddies all pitched in and I think we picked one up for $130 and got it going.”
He said the trucks are much bigger and more professional in Canada.
Bateman said he will be staying in the A Class category for one more year, which is a street class where you have to have a stock vehicle and nothing overly fancy done to it. The tires also have to be smaller than 37 inches. Next year he’s hoping to move on to the B Class, which is bigger tires, trucks and engines. There are also a few more levels above, which people can choose to compete in based on the trucks they have entered.
He and a few of the guys will head to Edson and Rimbey in September for more mud bogging races.