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The Strongest Samurai award, presented in honour of the late Chris “Beeker” Romeskie, went to Kira Cailles who missed the last Samurai and is still recovering from a back injury sustained in an avalanche. She still has rods in her back, which slowed her on the climbs, but made up for it with her solid skills riding technical terrain.
The King of the Mountain award was given to Ian Ritz, the first of 10 riders to do the optional ride through Babylon By Bike — and on a hard tail.
The Craziest Samurai award went to Joe Lyons for trying every descent and stunt on the route, riding Babylon By Bike, breaking his bike on day two, then borrowing a new one and smiling all the way to the finish.
The Most Determined Samurai was Steve Whittall, the Samurai who abandoned two bikes on course, and broke into his own house to get another one.
The Best Dressed award went to Nicole Hesterman, who rode the first descent down Khyber Pass and Tunnel Vision wearing a 1980’s era ski suit.
The Ride of the Day, renamed the Ride of the Weekend award, was given to organizer Tony Horn. Not only did Horn ride the first part of the course on Thursday, he also rode most of the trails the previous weekend to mark the route, then followed up with a solid two-day time of 14:34:55.
Horn was pleased with how the Samurai unfolded — there were no major injuries, most riders made it to the finish, and even the top riders in town were challenged.
“It was unreal,” he said. “For me both days were so similar. For the first hour I felt terrible, then I felt great, and at the end it was a struggle. Still, I was really surprised — I was riding stuff I would usually walk when I was as tired as I was.”
Horn and Ru Mehta came up with the Samurai concept in 2001, essentially creating a ride for all the hardcore mountain bikers in the community that prefer hard trails to fast races. The goal was to make it progressively harder each year — hence the decision to run two back-to-back Samurai courses this year.
“Ru and I were just blown away by the volunteers and the checkpoints, and the way the whole community came out to support this event. There were people cheering and ringing cowbells and serving coffee and food, it really made the ride exceptional. You always got a boost riding through a checkpoint or an aid station.”