In 2009 the inaugural Four Jacks mountain bike stage race sold out in a few hours, so you might want to make sure you're sitting by a computer this Saturday night, May 15, at 6 p.m. when the follow-up Four Queens event goes on sale.
The race, which runs from July 8 to 11, is designed by Tony Horn, who staged the now legendary seven-year Samurai of Singletrack series with Ru Mehta and a bevy of volunteers. That means it will be hard, focusing on technical singletrack rather than traditional cross-country racing.
The wrench is that you're only allowed to ride one bike and one set of tires for all four events, prompting riders to weigh the pros and cons of weight vs. toughness for every component. Most of the winning racers last year opted for cross-country setups with slightly heavier tires and/or sturdier forks, but this year's selection of downhill might alter that.
As well, Horn mixed up his race last year with a number of side contests such as time bonuses on the final stage for riders who cleaned some of the more technical features on the "No Flow Zone" trails around Emerald Estates. This year there will be some diversions as well, like a mandatory moustache stage in honour of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
The "Freddie Queen of Clubs" race takes place on Thursday, July 8, overlapping with the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association Toonie Ride sponsored by Slope Side Supply and Samurai Sushi. That time trial race weighs in at just over 10 km and includes the climb up Lower Sproatt, Danimal North, Whip Me Snip Me, Bob's ReBob, Get Over It and a selection of trails in the Emerald Forest.
Friday's event is the "Her Majesty, The Queen of Hearts" downhill, sponsored by Sram. This event starts at the top of Garbanzo and finishes in Whistler Village.
Saturday's event is a return to the No Flow Zone, with the "Rupaul, Queen of Diamonds" event and Chromag Double Shot. There are basically two events taking place, a seven kilometre rip around the No Flow Zone in the Emerald Forest in the morning, followed by a Super D on PHD in the afternoon that weighs in at around 8 km.
The final day is the "Lady Macbeth, Queen of Spades" event on Sunday, which is a 37 km endurance race in Pemberton that features trails like Grumpy Grouse, Overnight Sensation, Big Nimby, Happy Trail. Waco Connector and No Err.
The overall winners of the Four Queens are not decided by time, but by their placement in the standings each day. The goal was to even the playing field for all riders, whether they favour cross-country, downhill or freeriding, and to give riders a chance to make up for some bad luck on one of the stages.
"This year we wanted to make it less of a cross-country course than last year, which is why we added the Super D," explained Horn. "The goal was to tighten up the competition and balance it out a little more, but that being said Matt Ryan was the runaway winner last year, and he's on the Specialized Super D team this year so it's still going to be hard to stop him."
The race is capped at 120 riders, and is almost guaranteed to sell out.
To register you need to be a member of WORCA and have a log-in to use the website. Online registration takes place at www.worca.com at 6 p.m. sharp Saturday and wraps up whenever it's sold out. More details and course profiles are also posted online.