Dirt Bikes at Hangman's Clubhouse
Lore Hoar is an information consultant living in Calgary.
This fast-paced adventure story is about two young boys who are crazy about dirt-bike riding. They live in a small Northern Ontario town where there are many places to ride in safety — such as the “slimes,” which is a huge mud flat, and the woods with trails that lead to the abandoned ruins of old gold mines. One spring, they discover a newly built cabin with the symbol of a hangman painted on the door and immediately plunge into a terrifying whirlwind adventure. The story involves a gang of thieves and drug smugglers, a kidnapping, and the Mounties.
This narrative is presented in a lively, upbeat tone with one action following hard on the heels of the previous one. The characters are extremely well delineated. The boys are believably enthusiastic about the sport but can also empathize with other people in their lives. The inevitable four-year-old sibling is sketched with delightfully whimsical strokes. The treatment of the adults is especially gratifying. They are neither sugar-coated nor arbitrarily dull, but come across as people who can relate to kids, at least some of the time.
The passages about actual bike-riding describe traversing varied and rugged terrain in spring thaw. There is a lot of spinning mud, dangerous skids, and series of whoops, as well as long urgent jumps. This all combines into a thoroughly satisfying mud-soaked adventure, well suited for ages nine and up.