Whistler’s toughest race has now reached legendary status, as mountain bikers took part in the seventh of seven Samurai of Singletrack rides this past weekend. Only 49 of the original 100 riders made it through all seven years of an event that has been characterized by its epic and technical courses, as well as the toughness of the people who make it to the finish.
The last ride was as tough as they come, with riders covering over 144 km of mountain trails in three days in an area two hours north of Whistler. The ride was less technical than some events held in the Whistler area, but had lots of steep climbs and descents in rocky terrain to keep riders on their toes.
“The first day was long, and nobody had done the complete ride before so that was pretty cool,” said Tony Horn, who organized the Samurai series along with Ru Mehta.
“The second day you could say was the easiest day, but then my group had a big mechanical so we were still out there five or six hours — we converted someone from Sram to Shimano in the high alpine with everybody chipping in parts and pieces.
“The last day was pretty tough, mostly because people partied pretty hard on Sunday night.”
Horn and Mehta created the Samurai as an alternative to racing, designed for mountain bikers that enjoy long rides, technical trails, and usually ride bigger bikes. Some participants chose to race the courses, but for most participants it was just about making it to the finish.
Each year the ride was limited to just 100 riders, give or take, and riders from the past year’s event were always given first crack at registration. The seventh ride of the series was different, however, with spots always reserved for the riders who finished all six previous Samurais.
For Horn, the last event of the season was bittersweet.
“In a way it’s a relief because organizing the Samurai every year was a pretty big thing to do, but it was also one of the more rewarding things ever to happen in my life,” he said. “Part of that was just getting to know all the people. Like Ru said, of the 49 riders that rode last weekend, he said he only knew three of them before and now we know everybody pretty well.
“I know the last couple of kilometres were kind of weird, just because it was all over. It was sad in a way, and I think everybody felt that a little bit, but it was a good way to go out.”