The Four Jacks was an unusual race for a lot of reasons, but mainly for the all-around approach - a series of four different bike events geared to the hardcore freerider, where the guys and girls with 35 pound bikes can sometimes have the advantage over their carbon fibre and titanium cousins.
The Four Queens is more of the same, when it was quite enough to begin with.
Starting tonight (Thursday, July 8), the Four Queens gets underway with the WORCA Toonie Ride sponsored by Slope Side Supply and Samurai Sushi - a tour of the west side trails and Emerald Forest. Day two is a downhill from the top of Garbanzo; day three is a two-part ride through the No Flow Zone and PHD in the Rutherford; and day four is a long-distance grunt through Pemberton's dry and ridiculously technical trails.
The rules are the same as last year.
Every rider is permitted one bike for all four events with one set of tires - "doping control" will be keeping the riders honest and ensure that riders finish with the same rig they started with.
Go light with thin tires and you might have the advantage on Thursday and Sunday but find yourself hating life on Friday and Saturday. Go for a heavier bike with fat tires and you'll enjoy the technical sections a lot more, but you're going to suffer on the long climbs and rides on Thursday and Sunday.
To level the playing field even further the organizers rank riders according to their placing on each stage of the competition. The winner of each stage gets 0.75 points, while second place gets two points, third place three points, and so on. There may be some additional on-course challenges where riders can shave off a few points from their total.
Whistler's Sylvie Allen had the lowest point total of any rider last year with 5.25, while men's winner Matt Ryan finished with 13.5 points.
Stage 1 (July 8) - Freddie: Queen of Clubs. The annual Slope Side Supply and Samurai Sushi time trial Toonie Ride gets underway at the top of Cardiac Hill on Alta Lake Road, opposite the Nita Lake employee housing development. The course is just 10 km from start to finish and includes Lower Sproatt, Beaver Lake Trail, Danimal North, Whip Me Snip Me, the Rainbow Lake trail over the bridge, Bob's Rebob, Get Over It and a section of Emerald Forest - almost 100 per cent singletrack with a bit of doubletrack mixed in.
The ride starts at 6 p.m. for Four Queens racers.
Stage 2 (July 9) - Her Majesty: The Queen of Hearts (a.k.a. the Sram "Off with their Heads!" Downhill). This is the downhill component of the Four Queens. It winds from the top of Garbanzo to the GLC on a course to be named. The total distance is around 6.5 km but with 1,000 vertical metres of descending from start to finish. The average rider will take more than 15 minutes. The race gets underway at 5 p.m.
Stage 3 (July 10) - Rupaul: Queen of Diamonds (Chromag Super D Double Shot). This is a two-part event,= with a morning rip through the No Flow Zone, around 7 km in length, getting underway at 10 a.m. This is technical riding and will include parts of Section 102, Shit Happens, Trial and Error, Big Kahuna and No Girlie Man/White Knuckles. At 2 p.m. the race will move on to the Rutherford Valley and a time trial on the very technical PHD trail.
Stage 4 - (July 11) Lady Macbeth: Queen of Spaces (a.k.a. The Bike Co. "Pemberton Tragedy"). This is the long distance component of the ride with a total length of around 37 km. Riders can expect four long climbs - plus a number of little ones - and some technical descents. The ride starts at 1 p.m.
Race director Tony Horn is looking for volunteers to help out. If you can spare a few hours on the weekend e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spectators are welcome to come out. The best place to watch Stage 1 is on Alta Lake Road where riders cross from Mel's Dilemma to the Valley Trail and Emerald Forest. Stage 2 is best watched from the GLC, although if you're already in the bike park on Friday evening it won't be hard to find the course. Stage 3 can be watched from the reservoir road in Emerald that connects to Shit Happens and Section 102. Stage 4 can be viewed from the bottom of Happy Trail, which is just past the halfway point.
For more information visit www.worca.com.