Registration is underway for the 22 nd annual Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic Mountain Bike Race, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23.
According to organizer Grant Lamont, pre-registration is about double last year at this time, and there is a lot of interest in the race.
"Were way ahead of last year for both short and long courses, with close to 200 entries already," he said. "Based on that and the number of e-mails Im getting, were anticipating between 500 and 700 riders this year."
The main event is just over 70 km long, starting at Squamish Airport and following a mix of road and doubletrack up the Cheakamus Canyon to the Sea to Sky Highway. After a short highway section the riders will get back on the trail to Whistler, where the race gets really interesting. Following Trash, riders will do a mix of Ridge, Riverside, High, and Far Side trails before a grunt up the Microwave Tower road to the entrance of Tunnel Vision.
Following a long and technical descent, riders emerge onto Kadenwood Road for another easy climb to the Big Timber descent. The finish line and after party, for the third year, is at Dustys in Creekside.
For riders who dont want to do the whole route, organizers are offering a Cheakamus Lite race for the second straight year. The Lite race starts at the Whistler Bungee bridge and joins the course near the Calcheak Campground.
Its still a hard route, weighing in at 40 km and including most of the hardest climbs and all of the technical descents. It attracts everybody from riders on big bikes to recreational mountain bikers to kids that arent up for the entire 70-plus km epic.
"Its a really nice option for people, it gives them a chance to do the teeth of the course without the long slog in from Squamish, and its a tough 40 km. The noon start is also a draw for some people."
Participants who register before Aug. 15 will get a free post-race meal and beverage.
Until July 31 the cost is $30 for juniors age 17 and under and $50 for adults. The shorter "Lite" course is $40. The price goes up another $5 through August, another $5 until Sept. 20, another $5 until Sept. 23. Race day registration is also available on a limited basis for $10 extra.
There will be a shuttle to Squamish for Whistler riders, and a shuttle from Whistler to Squamish after the race for Squamish and Vancouver residents. The cost is $10.
In the past the race has attracted some of the best riders in Canada, including Alison Sydor, Roland Green, Leslie Tomlinson, Andreas Hestler, Ryder Hesjedal, Bruce Spicer, Trish Sinclair, Max Platon, Ricky Federau, and others.
There are equal prize purses for both the mens and womens events, which are determined by the number of riders in the race. All told Lamont is expecting to hand out about $5,000 in prizes this year.
As well, $2 from every entry fee will go to Cops For Cancer, which raises money for cancer patients and cancer research.