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Samurai puts riders to the test



Race longer, harder than last year

Feeling that fewer people should have finished the first Samurai of Singletrack last year, organizers Tony Horn and Ru Mehta made this year’s ride longer and more technical, throwing in a few brutal climbs for good measure.

Once again an overwhelming majority of mountain bikers still managed to finish the race, something Horn credited to the calibre of riders rather than the ease of the race.

"It shows how high the quality of riders is in Whistler," said Horn. "That race was tough. People who race and do marathons were telling me that it was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done."

All told, 97 out of 102 riders finished the Samurai this year. It was only supposed to be open to 100 riders, but a couple of the volunteers completed the circuit as well.

A lot of crashes were reported, but there were no serious injuries. At least four of the riders broke their bikes seriously enough that they had to get rides into the village to buy parts and have repairs done before getting back on course.

For the most part, Horn says he was complimented on his choice of course this year, although some riders commented that the end dragged on a little too long.

"A lot of people were hurting pretty bad on the last bit though Emerald Forest, of all places. People wanted to be done so badly, and it was a huge, long lap of the trails in there," Horn said.

The course included 19 local bike trails and was 55.5 kilometres in length. It started at 10:a.m. at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain, and finished at the gravel pit at the bottom or Lorimer Road. Before the race, however, the riders held a memorial for Al Grey, a popular local rider who passed away last winter due to complications resulting from his battle with colitis.

The trails included Khyber Pass, Babylon By Bike, Microwave Tower Road, Highline, Riverside Trail, the Basalt Valley Spur, Ridge Trail, Trash, Flank Trail, Industrial Disease, Lower Sproatt, 99er, Danimal, Beaver Pass, A river Runs Through It, L’Alpe D’Huez, Binty’s Epic, Rebob, Bart’s Dark Trail and the Emerald Forest.

While all of the sections were difficult in their own way, the 27 switchbacks up L’Alpe D’Huez and the rock scramble down Binty’s was widely condemned as the cruelest section of the course, although Horn said his own personal darkest moment came on Industrial Disease.

"I was riding all alone, and I was seriously getting tired and shaky out there. I was losing it. I was sure I was gong to fall off the side somewhere and just disappear," he said.