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Four Queens punishes and rewards

All Four one and One Four All Steve Reid navigates a steep rock line on Lower Sproatt during Thursday’s Time Trial, the first stage of the 2010 Four Queens mountain bike race. Photo by Andrew Mitchell



It takes a lot to win a race like the Four Queens - solid technical bike skills, a high level of fitness and endurance, some mechanical know-how and, when push comes to shove, a sense of humour when the last thing you feel like doing is laughing. That's because luck also plays a part, and making it from start to finish without a major mechanical or crash makes you the exception to the rule.

Take Dave Burch. He finished fourth on the first day of the event, a time trial on the July 8 Toonie Ride course, and then everything went sideways. He then had trouble on the next four stages and three days, everything from mechanicals to a crash to making the wrong turn in Emerald.

And while Burch was an extreme example, several wheels were bent, tires were punctured, seats broken, chains and spokes snapped, brakes rendered useless. Suffice it to say that Monday was a busy day for Whistler bike shops.

And so ended the Four Queens ride on Sunday after four days of challenges geared to the type of rider that thrives in the North Shore's and Sea to Sky's technical terrain.

There were four Queen rides: a time trial on July 8 in honour of Freddie Mercury; a downhill from the top of Garbanzo on July 9 in honour of the Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts; a two-part day on Saturday, July 10 including a ride around the No Flow zone of Emerald and a super D on PHD, in honour of Rupaul; and a 37 km ride in Pemberton on Sunday in honour of Lady Macbeth.

Race director Tony Horn said the race was probably not as hard as some people thought, especially the last day in Pemberton. He was also impressed by the overall quality of the riding, and some unbelievable performances during the race.

"There were some amazing stories on the course. Like Jinya (Nishiwaki) - he works at Chromag and basically passed his boss Ian Ritz twice on the downhill, and the second time he wasn't wearing a shoe," said Horn. "I was sweeping and got the call to watch out for a shoe somewhere on Crack Addict. He (Nishiwaki) still launched the GLC drop without his shoe, just wearing a sock on a flat pedal with spikes sticking out of it."

On Saturday, some 25 riders cleaned a tough, technical climb on Big Kahuna to have points subtracted from their four-day total - including Sylvie Allen, the 2009 Four Jacks champion. By making the climb, Allen tied with Joanna Harrington for the lead heading into the fourth day.