When you live in the mountains there are a lot of different signs that summer is over; a dusting of snow on the peaks ... cottonwood leaves turning yellow ... grown men in thongs racing their downhill bikes on a Wednesday night.
The final Phat Wednesday race of the season took place on Aug. 31, the annual chainless race down A-Line. It's also become a tradition for riders to dress up (or dress down, or undress completely) to celebrate the last event, to the point where the Whistler Mountain Bike Park almost has a separate Halloween.
As a chainless race, riders had to ease up on the brakes and pump obstacles on the course to maintain their speed through some sections, or jump off and run their bikes in sections to pick up some speed.
This year Ian Morrison was the master of momentum, cleaning the course in 4:17.46. Chris Kovarik was second in 4:19.10 and Tyler Allison third in 4:21.75. Rounding out the top 10 in Male Open were Simon Buzacott in 4:27.14, Adam Billinghurst in 4:28.89, Ryan De Muffine in 4:30.01, Robin Potvin in 4:30.26, Peter Matthews in 4:31.37, Chris Young in 4:33.59 and Kenny Smith in 4:35.12.
In Master Male, Mathieu Hebert was the guy to beat in 4:28.05, followed by Steve Storey in 4:36.66 and Alan Golds in 4:37.06. Fourth went to Ryan Newton in 4:37.49, followed by Andrew Gunn in 4:37.56, Corrie Mullin in 4:42.11, Shannon Kingi in 4:50.74, Jon Moon in 4:54.27, Paul Howard in 4:55.04 and Todd Hellinga in 4:57.35.
Sarah Leishman topped the women's race by 10 seconds in 4:48.56, followed by Julie Istvan in 4:58.56 and Katrina Strand in 5:00.75. In the top 10 were Simmone Lyons in 5:07.24, Lisa Mason in 5:09.29, Kimberly Arnot in 5:17.31, Shelly Flood in 5:18.23, Jack Wakim in 5:18.80, Carrie Meltzor in 5:18.99 and Kelly Ann Rooney in 5:19.14.
Zander Geddes was the top junior by a wide margin in 4:35.05, followed by Carter Faulkner in 4:51.16 and Julio Cesar Leondro in 4:54.65. In the top 10 were Tyler Tourond in 4:59.98, Cole Jensen in 5:06.19, Addison MacDonald in 5:06.76, Alex Auger in 5:12.34, Max Houtzager in 5:17.11, Ross Smith in 5:28.25 and David Symons in 5:29.08.
This year the race was renamed the Geddes A-Line Classic in honour of local rider Nick Geddes, who has been battling leukemia in B.C. Children's Hospital. Through the raffle and auction the race organizers raised $3,000 for the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation's Balding for Dollars. The money goes directly to support children and their families during and after treatment, with 20 per cent going towards research.
The good news was that Geddes, in isolation after a bone marrow transplant, was able to get back on his spin bike.
The overall Phat Wednesday champions were also crowned after six races.
Sarah Leishman was the top overall female with three wins and 520 points, making all six races. Julie Istvan was second with 296, followed by Casey Brown - making just four races and winning one of them - with a 291.
In junior, Zander Geddes won four races and placed second in the fifth race he entered to finish with 480 points. Hot on his heels was Julio Cesar Leondro with 400 points in five events, while Brad Jansen earned 193 points in four races.
In Master Male it was Mathieu Hebert on top with three wins and points in all six races for a total of 472. Steve Storey was second with a 353 and Andrew Gunn third with a 284.
Paul Stevens finished on top of the Male Open group with 338 points, including two wins. Simon Buzacott was second with 289 and Adam Billinghurst third with 280.