On paper, the May 15 Ore Crusher appears to be on the easy side for a mountain bike race. It's designed as more of a traditional lap race, with six kilometres of riding on a mix of doubletrack and singletrack through the Cheekeye Fan trails in Brackendale.
But while there are no huge climbs or extremely technical sections there's also nowhere to rest on the trail, with long gradual ascents followed by rooty technical sections that can be challenging if it's wet, followed by an all-out sprint around Don Ross school and back to the trail. As a result the average speed of the top riders is only slightly faster than for the Test of Metal.
And it's one lap longer. Men and women in the Pro Elite class will make seven and six laps of the course respectively, while all riders participating in the Hell of a Series marathon saga will have to do six laps. Age categories do anywhere from two to six laps.
Registration is on pace with last year, but organizer Jim Douglas is recommending that riders sign up early as the event is capped at 200 riders. Given the race's inclusion in the Hell of a Series, its appeal to beginner and intermediate level riders, and the fact that riders from across the province like to use the Ore Crusher as a tune-up for other events, there is a good chance that it will sell out.
"We didn't want the racers getting crowded on the singletrack or to have so many riders it could damage the trails, but we thought the course could tolerate 200 riders quite well," said Douglas.
The race is a fundraiser for Don Ross Secondary School's Outdoor Leadership Program, which uses outdoor activities and recreation to teach leadership, decision making and team building to Grade 10 students over a semester.
"It's a really great program, my son took part a number of years ago and I saw first-hand how valuable it is, and I'd like to see it continued," said Douglas. While the program is part of the school curriculum there are additional costs for students that the Ore Crusher helps to subsidize to keep it affordable.
The race is based out of Don Ross Secondary, and gets underway at 11 a.m. with a 250-metre running start to get to your bike, breaking up the pack early. The riders then cross the road to the Cheekeye Fan trails and follow the same course as last year through the area. One section of singletrack has been logged since last year, but the trail itself has been restored.
While the event is staffed by volunteers taking the Outdoor Leadership Program next year, Douglas is looking for more assistance to put on the race. The contact information is available on the website, www.orecrusher.com.
As well, Douglas is looking for more sponsors to provide cash and prizes to help cover the costs of the event and put more funds into the school.
The event is $45 for riders 20 and over, or $35 for riders under 20 on the day of the event. You also need to be 12 or older on the day of the event to take part.
Last-minute entries can register between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on race day.
The Hell of a Series is a five-event marathon challenge, which includes the Ore Crusher on May 15, the North Shore Bike Fest on June 5, the Test of Metal on June 19, the GearJammer on July 24 and the new "Just Another Bike Race" on Aug. 21.
Participants who do all five races will receive a belt buckle at the end to commemorate their achievement.
To be a king or queen of the series you must at least start five of the races. To win your age category you need to complete four out of the five races and your position in the top three of those races will count. The finals in Squamish are mandatory. For more information visit www.hellofaseries.ca.