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Ore Crusher an instant classic

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The Ore Crusher is not the most technical mountain bike race, or the longest or most difficult to get into. There are no lung-busting climbs or bone-rattling descents, and kids as young as 12 are more than up to the challenge of the 6 km loop around the Cheekeye Fan trails in Brackendale.

But it's hard. No climbs means there's nowhere to sit back and eat. No descents means there's no rest for your legs, which have to keep hammering from start to finish. There's no rest except for the rest time you make for yourself.

According to organizer Jim Douglas, the race is a throwback to classic mountain bike lap races, like the NORBA short track events that used to dominate the race circuit. While marathon style races are in right now, Douglas thinks there is ample room for a throwback event like the Ore Crusher.

"It's really anaerobic, that was definitely the statement riders were making from the earliest race we had," said Douglas. "Guys I raced with for years, and even the pro guys, were saying 'good God, what have you done?' and 'it's incredible.'"

The 2009 race takes place on Saturday, May 16 at Don Ross Secondary School, open to all riders aged 12 and older on the day of the event.

While the 250-metre Le Mans-style running start will be back this year - the event gets underway at 11 a.m. - Douglas is staggering the starts for different age categories to prevent any bunching up on the singletrack. After one lap the field spreads out.

The honour system is in play, and riders are expected to keep track of their own laps.

Although there may be changes, kids aged 12 to 15 do two laps, 16 to 17 riders make three laps, 18 to 19 riders do four laps, age groups from 20 to 49 do five laps, 50-plus riders make four laps, and pro-elite riders make six laps. Men and women do the same number of laps in each category.

The event takes place a week before the B.C. High School Mountain Bike Championships, and all of the members of the Howe Sound and Don Ross teams are expected to race, along with members of Team Squamish.

All participants in the race will be entered in a draw to race the 2009 Test of Metal on June 20, and category winners will each get an entry into the 2010 Test.

The Ore Crusher also kicks off the Squamish Triple Crown series, where results will be combined with times from the Test of Metal and July running of the GearJammer to acknowledge the best riders in each age group over the series of races.

While the Ore Crusher might seem like the easier of the races, it all depends on your pace and who you're racing against. You can look at it as a recreational training ride to kick off the season, or hammer your way to the front of your age category.

Neal Kindree won last year's race with a time of 1:46:22, which is about 50 minutes less than it took him to complete the 67 km Test of Metal the previous year.

The event is a fundraiser for the Don Ross Outdoor Leadership program with half the money raised from registration going into the program. In exchange, the program provides volunteers to marshal the course and help out on race day. However, the organizers are still looking for more adult volunteers.

For more information or registration visit www.orecrusher.com.

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