With just over a week to go before the 20 th annual Cheakamus Challenge fall classic gets into gear, registration is going strong for B.C.s oldest epic ride.
According to organizer Grant Lamont, hes already signed up more than 300 people, four times as many as at this time last year. Part of that has to do with the fact that the Web site was up earlier this year. Hes also been advertising the event on other mountain bike Web sites, and made an announcement at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin race.
Somehow a cycling team from South Africa heard about it and signed up for the race. A large number of mountain bikers from south of the border, mainly Washington, have signed up as well.
"Were way ahead of where we were at this time last year, which is good for us, but we expect a lot more from the last minute club as we get closer to the day," said Lamont.
Parts of the course are getting a facelift in advance of the race, including the Cheakamus Canyon section of the Sea to Sky Trail that was covered in debris from blasting and roadwork on Highway 99. Workers are also improving the trail, bringing it up to Sea to Sky Trail standards.
"(That section) is going to be better this year. Were working on it with the Sea2Summit race guys, which is great because were both committed to fixing that trail up over the next couple of years," said Lamont.
Another section thats getting a once-over this year is the trail from the Calcheak suspension bridge onto the Rosss Rip Trail.
"Everything else is good to go," said Lamont.
"Weve been getting a lot of great feedback about the course this year. A lot of people were naturally saying oh no, theyre making it harder this year, but I dont think thats the case. Were keeping people from getting exposed on the top of the Microwave Tower road, if its hot, if its wet, and were doing everything at a much lower elevation.
"Its a little less than a kilometre longer than last year but as far as enjoyment is concerned the changes will make a big difference for people."
Last year Lamont added Trash, a singletrack trail on the east side of the Cheakamus River near the Whistler landfill, to the already long course.
This year Lamont is sending riders down the Farside Trail after the Don MacLaurin suspension bridge, instead of continuing to head up the mountain. After the descent, riders will climb the Microwave Tower road from the bottom to Tunnel Vision, which they will descend to the Kadenwood Road. From there the riders will climb again to the Northwest Passage trail, which will take participants to the final descent through the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. The course is 72.5 km long with 2,200 metres of vertical. The top riders have finished in just under three hours in the past.