For the past 23 years the Cheakamus Challenge has put mountain bikers to the test on a course that links two of the biggest bike towns in North America, Whistler and Squamish.
The race has evolved considerably over those years, with organizers adding more singletrack where possible and reducing the amount of time riders spend on the highway. The 24 th edition of the race, on Sept. 20, is no exception, with the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s trail crew completing a new section of Sea to Sky trail in the Calcheak area and eliminating another section of gravel road. As well, improvements have been made to Tunnel Vision, with several new sections of switchbacks replacing the fall line descents. Some sections of Trash have also been altered as a result of construction of the athletes’ village.
There are two courses available. “The King of the Classics” course starts at Squamish Airport in Brackendale, and is more than 70 km with about 2,000 metres of climbing from start to finish. The fastest riders finish in just under three hours.
The shorter Cheakamus Lite course, sponsored by Pique Newsmagazine , follows the last 40 km of the race, starting at the Whistler Bungee Bridge and joining the race in progress at the Cal Cheak forest service area turnoff. It also has most of the longer climbs, including the Riverside climbs, the Highline Trail, the Microwave Tower Road to Tunnel Vision and the climb up Kadenwood Road to the Big Timber descent to the finish at Dusty’s.
Max Plaxton is expected to defend his title for a third year, while Alison Sydor will be shooting for her sixth Cheakamus Challenge title.
Up to 500 athletes are expected on the start line of both races this year, with the main race getting underway at 10 a.m. and the Cheakamus Lite at 1 p.m. — one hour later than usual to give organizers more time to get to the start line, and to give riders from the first start more time to get through that section of trail.
Registration is $75, which includes a burger platter at the end of the race. The Lite course is $60.
Day of race registration is available at both starts for an additional $10.
For more information and registration, visit www.cheakamuschallenge.com.