Some riders prefer to ride the bike park. Others like nothing better than to strap on a three-litre hydration pack and spend hours going up and down mountains.
There was something of everything in the inaugural Four Jacks race, a WORCA-sanctioned event designed to test every style of mountain bike riding over four unique stages.
When all was said and done, Matt Ryan came out ahead with wins on the first and third stages, a top-10 result in the downhill and a fourth place finish on the final day. He was actually first to the finish line of the short, technical course, but Matt Bodkin stole the stage win by cleaning all of the challenges on course to gain four minutes on Ryan.
"It was a typical Tony Horn stage race, ranging from euphoria to hatred," he joked.
Ryan's favourite stage was the downhill, from the top of Garbanzo to the lower part of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. "I wasn't the fastest on that stage out of pure terror. I hung back and just tried to keep it tight and not flat or have a mechanical, and actually had a really fun ride. All the stages were good, but if I had to pick a favourite that would be it."
Not only did the Four Jacks test all-around riding ability, it also forced riders to do everything on a single bike. No changes to tires, pedals, or other gear was allowed.
That forced Ryan to do a complete rebuild of his front forks before the second stage after they locked up followed the first stage, the Toonie Ride on July 9.
The final stage also posed a challenge. Ryan found himself riding with Greg Grant in the no-flow zone around Emerald Estates, wondering if it was better to go for time or try to make all the special challenges along the way like skinny bridges and extremely technical uphill climbs. They finished within a few seconds of each other, but both missed challenges and allowed Matt Bodkin to win the day.
"It was definitely different... to go fast and try to put yourself out of reach or save your energy and try to get all the bonuses," he said.
Sylvie Allen was the top female rider and came away with the lowest point total of any racer. Riders in the Four Jacks were not ranked by time but by their finish position on each stage. Stage winners were give 0.75 points, second place two points, third place three points, and so on, and the rider with the lowest combined score placed first overall.