By Andrew Mitchell
The finish for the 2005 Cheakamus Challenge was as close as it comes in bike racing, with Tofino’s Max Plaxton crossing the line less than a bike length ahead of Squamish rider Neal Kindree — both members of the national Under 23 Espoir mountain bike team.
The race is on again this year with both riders committed to the 22 nd annual Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic on Sept. 23rd. Other top riders expected include Andreas Hestler and Seamus McGrath, and Trish Sinclair on the women’s side.
The course is billed as a Sea to Sky classic, and actually starts just above sea level at the Squamish Airport and finishes at an altitude of 600 metres at Whistler Creek, with over 2,000 metres of climbing and 1,400 metres of descending over 70 km.
For the second year in a row there will also be a Cheakamus Lite race, a 40-plus km race that gets underway at the Whistler Bungee bridge and joins up with the race in progress on the Sugar Cube Hill Trail. Almost all of the technical singletrack is on this trail, as well as some of the toughest climbs — Trash, Ridge Trail, Far Side Trail, Tunnel Vision, and Big Timber.
For riders doing the whole course, the Cheakamus Canyon section was made a little easier to climb this week with volunteers doing some much needed work on Monday.
“We buffed it up a bit, cleaned some of the routes, brushed some stuff that hadn’t been cut in about 10 years, and made some rideable lines up there,” said Lamont.
There will be another trail maintenance day on Wednesday, Sept. 20 on Tunnel Vision, repairing some ruts and wear and tear. Anyone who shows up to help, 10 a.m. at the bottom of Kadenwood, will get a free entry into this year’s race.
According to Lamont registration is about 35 per cent ahead of last year at this time, and he’s expecting a bigger turnout than the past few years.
To sweeten the deal all participants will get free dinner and refreshment after the race, and WORCA members will be able to get early bird prices right through Friday, Sept. 22 at Wild Willies.
For details, online registration, and a course map and profile, visit www.cheakamuschallenge.ca .
As well, riders doing the Cheakamus and Cheakamus Lite course can register almost until the start of each race — 10 a.m. for the full race, noon for the shorter course — for an additional fee.
Lamont is looking for some additional volunteers to help run the race this year. If you can spare some time, contact Christine Wilding at 604-932-6181.