For seven years Tony Horn pushed riders to the limit in the now legendary Samurai of Singletrack event, but his newest creation may be his toughest challenge yet.
Loosely modeled after the Downieville Classic in California, the four-stage Four Jacks race is designed to test every mountain bike skill there is - long climbs, technical rock, root and dirt singletrack, park riding, and high speed cross country.
The challenge is that you can only use one bike and one set of tires to ride every course. There is some planning involved, namely putting a bike together that's burly enough for the downhill and technical sections, but versatile enough to pedal up some long and unforgiving climbs.
The Four Jacks kicks off tonight, Thursday, July 9 with the Toonie Ride time trial sponsored by Slopeside Supply and Samurai Sushi. This is the Jack of Hearts or "Jack Tripper" stage, with riders starting from Alta Lake Road opposite the Nita Lake employee housing, at the top of Cardiac Hill. From there the course climbs Lower Sproatt (including Piece of Cake and A La Mode bypasses if the riders choose), descends to the Beaver Pond Loop, heads down Danimal North to Whip Me Snip Me, up to the Rainbow Creek Bridge, Bob's Rebob to Get Over It and the Nectar Connector, finishing on Alta Lake Road.
The distance is roughly 10 km, and riders will start at one-minute intervals in a true time trial format. Get to the registration early, as organizers want to start as early possible this year and will be enforcing a cutoff.
The second Jacks is the Jack of Clubs on Friday, July 10 - also known as the Jack Daniels Hammerschmidt Downhill. The course is incredibly challenging, starting at the top of the Garbanzo Zone in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and finishing in Whistler Village after a descent of roughly 1,000 vertical metres. The selection of trails includes Original Sin, Blue Velvet, In Deep, Duffman, Sidetrack, Renegade, Golden Triangle, Samurai Pizza Cat, and Crack Addict - a course that takes experienced World Cup downhill riders 15 minutes to complete.
While your choice of bikes is limited, full helmets, pads and other downhill safety gear is strongly recommended.
The third Jack is Saturday's Jack of Diamonds, also known as the Jack Nicholson-Dirt Diggler Up Down Up. This is the long stage of the series with 35.5 km of trails and an emphasis on climbing.
The ride starts at the Cougar-Soo FSR, climbs to the top of North Flank, descends to the start of Mid Flank and the top of Binty's descent to the bottom of Rebob. The trail then climbs the Mid Flank to Cheap Thrills, then tackles a slection of 99er and South Danimal to Lower Sproatt and downhill to Function Junction. From there it's another long climb from the south end of Mid Flank to the top of High Society, and the descent to the top of Beaver Pass to an uphill finish.
The last of four stages is the Jack of Hearts, or the Jack The Ripper-Chromage Backyard Jam. This is a short but intense stage designed for hardcore freeriders. It's just 8.5 km long, but could take athletes a few hours to complete with a selection of trails including Shit Happens, Anal Intruder, Rainbow Creamsicle, White Knuckles, Big Kahuna, Section 102 and Trial and Error. It starts on Emerald Drive and finishes at the new reservoir at the end of Trial and Error.
Riders can also pick up a few bonuses by riding some of the more challenging features of the course, improving their overall ranking.
Because the Four Jacks was designed to test overall riding ability, the final rankings won't be determined by time but by finish position. Stage wins are worth three quarters of a point, while second is worth two points, third is worth three points, and so on. The riders with the lowest scores at the end of four stages are the winners.
For more information on the ride visit www.worca.com.