The Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic Mountain Bike Race turns 20 this year, but getting old its not.
This year, after the favourable reaction from riders with the addition of the Trash mountain bike trail last season, the Whistler portion of the ride is about to get a lot more difficult. Rather than continue up the Riverside trail to the Microwave Tower Road, this years course will go from Trash to the MacLaurins Crossing bridge, down Far Side, 4 km up the Microwave Tower Road to Tunnel Vision, and down to the start of the Kadenwood road before climbing the flank of Whistler Mountain.
The new route essentially adds another two descents, including a black diamond, and two more good climbs to the race, which now tips the scales at 72.5 kilometres with 2,100 vertical metres almost 6,500 feet. By way of comparison the Squamish Test of Metal only has 1,200 metres of climbing.
Last year close to 500 riders took part, and organizers are hoping to sign up 700 or more for this year. Although numbers are down from a high of 1,100 riders only a few years ago, organizers are hoping the new course, bigger prizes and additional categories will bring the crowds back.
Falling at the end of the mountain bike season, the Cheakamus Challenge regularly attracts the top riders in Canada. Past winners include two-time world champion Roland Green and three-time world champion Alison Sydor.
This years race is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, starting at Squamish District Airport at 10 a.m. The event will also finish at a different location this year, descending the Whistler Mountain Bike Park into Whistler Village before heading to the new finish area outside the Brewhouse in Town Plaza Square.
The first racers are expected after the three hour mark, while most racers will take four to seven hours to finish the epic race.
The Cheakamus Challenge wraps up a month of competitions for Whistler, starting with the 24 Hours of Adrenaline on Sept. 4. The Samurai of Singletrack is Sept. 11 and the West Side Wheel Up is Sept. 18.
Registration forms for the Cheakamus Challenge are available online on the Web site at www.cheakamuschallenge.ca, or at Dizzy Cycles in North Vancouver and Kitsilano; Tantalus Bike Shop and Corsa Cycles in Squamish; Wild Willies in Whistler (Village and Nesters); and the Whistler Bike Co. Participants will also be able to sign up for bus rides from Whistler to Squamish and vice-versa on the day of the race.
The competition will be followed by a barbecue and awards ceremony at the Brewhouse, with more than $10,000 in cash and prizes. In addition, five more longstanding members of the mountain bike community will be recognized at the annual "Cheaky Awards".
Registration is $50 until Sept. 4, after which point the price goes to $60. Insurance is available for $5 for all Citizen riders. Tickets to the buffet barbecue are $7.50.
There will be no day-of-race registration this year, which means participants have until 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24 to sign up.
Volunteers are still needed to help out with this years race. First Aid and Traffic Control qualifications are especially important this year. Contact race organizer Grant Lamont at 604-938-1783 or firstname.lastname@example.org if youre interested.
For more information visit www.cheakamuschallenge.ca.