BAR HARBOR — When Amanda Farley (now Gallant) met the man who would become her husband, she said, “I was the girl who had a motorcycle.” She grew up in Tremont, where she and her friends were always on four wheelers and dirt bikes.
Dustin Gallant hails from Orland. He always had wanted to ride a motorcycle and to ride snow sleds. “His grandfather was a motorcycle rider with tattoos back when it was not necessarily cool,” Amanda Gallant said. “It’s one of the things that brought us together.”
Soon, the couple, who own the Dog and Pony Tavern in Bar Harbor, began to get involved in the snowmobile (also known as sled, or snow cross) scene. “We did a lot of riding in Acadia,” she said. “We met a few people around town who were also into sledding. We spent a lot of time in the garage learning how to maintain our sled. That’s a huge part of the enjoyment of it, being able to fix it when it broke down. It’s a cool feeling.”
They learned about races hosted by the US Cross Country East snowmobile racing association. The group is owned by Erik Frigon, a deputy sheriff from Pownal, and includes events in Mercer, Madawaska and elsewhere.
Frigon said he’s been racing for a long time. He worked with the USCC Racing Association in the Midwest. “We got together to start a sub-series here in Maine,” he said. The parent organization hosts the International 500 race in Minnesota every year. Sometimes racers from Maine attend that event, but this year they didn’t have enough snow.
“This type of racing is a really user-friendly,” Frigon said of the USCC East series. “There’s guys who will ride their trail sleds to the race and then race home.”
Last spring, Amanda Gallant took home first place in the women’s division point series. Dustin Gallant finished second for men. They’re part of Team Cat Trax, sponsored by an ATV and snowmobile dealer in Lagrange.
“When I started, I was the only woman riding; now there are six of us,” Amanda Gallant said. “Dustin and I are by no means great riders, but we’re pretty good trail riders. The races are 20-24 miles and can take about half an hour, so it’s more of an endurance race. The courses change every year. They’ll put markers out on a lake or a field to make the course, 4-10 miles per lap. There’s a lot of technical stuff, especially going around the corners.”
The USCC East is growing as more people get interested in the sport, Amanda Gallant said. “Tons of amateurs do this, and there’s kids’ and juniors’ classes, too.”
The last race of the day is always 100 miles, requiring riders to gas up halfway through. “It’s almost like NASCAR,” she said. “It’s pretty intense.”
At the same time, though, Dustin and Amanda Gallant have enjoyed making friends with other competitors. “We’ve met so many people that we can meet up with and go riding, or we can help each other out if someone’s looking for a part for their sled,” she said. “We’ve made friends that we’ll know forever.”
The final race of the USCC East season, the Maine 100, is set for this Saturday in Greenville on Moosehead Lake.
An end-of-season banquet will be held later in the spring.