For the past two years the Samurai of Singletrack has put the skills and fitness of local mountain bikers to the test physically and mentally. Its not about racing, its about finishing and even thats not as easy as it sounds.
This years Samurai route is considerably longer than the two previous editions, and includes the usual mix of technical singletrack, gruelling climbs, and harrowing descents. Its not as technical as last year, says organizer Tony Horn, but its going to be hard more than six hours for the top riders, and between 10 and 11 hours for the slower people.
"We had about five guinea pigs ride the trail on Saturday who couldnt make the new date on Oct. 4, and it was tough it took most of them about 12 hours," said Horn. "Weve shortened the course a little since then, so they were true guinea pigs the price they paid for riding it early!"
The course design contest was won by Lee Harrison, who made a multimedia presentation complete with pictures, Samurai quotes, and the music of Madame Butterfly.
Horns favourite quote was made in 1607 by a Samurai named Miyamoto Mushashi "If your opponent thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea, and if he thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains."
"That about sums it up," said Horn.
For picking the winning course, Harrison won a free entry into this years race.
The Samurai course as it stands runs the following route:
Start at the top of Alpine Way in the cul-de-sac. Up Ricks Roost climb to Mid-Flank Trail. Across Mid-Flank to Bintys/Billys Epic. Descend to the top of Rebob. Rebob back to Mid-Flank. Up Mid-Flank to Rainbow/Alpe dHuez junction. Across Rainbow Flank Trail to Cheap Thrills. Descend Cheap Thrills to New Beaver Lake Trail. Down trail to Danimal, and down Danimal to Whip Me Snip Me. Across Whip Me Snip Me to Lower Beaver Pass to Alta Lake Road. Follow Alta Lake Road to A River Runs Through It. Through River to Barts Dark Trail, then back to River to the north gravel pit. Tale the Emerald Forest Trail to the south gravel pit and make your way up Lorimer Road to Cut Yer Bars. Through Cut Yer Bars to Spruce Grove stoplight. Cross the highway to the Valley Trail towards the Spruce Grove Fieldhouse, then onto the Lost Lake trails Lower Panorama to the Thanksgiving Trail. From there the trail proceeds to West to East on the Green Lake Loop to the Wedgemount gravel pit. Up and down Comfortably Numb (formerly North Secret Trail and Foreplay), to the Lost Lake trails. From there its the Molly Hogan Consumer Trail to the finish at Lost Lake Park.
Because Comfortably Numb is so long, Horn says competitors who arrive at the bridge over Wedge Creek after 3 p.m. might want to think hard about whether or not they want to continue.
"It takes three to four hours to finish after that point, so if you decide to go on, you might want to bring a light," said Horn. It gets dark at about 6:45 p.m. at that time of year, he said.
The Samurai of Singletrack was originally scheduled for Sept. 13, but was moved back to Oct. 4 as a result of a backcountry travel ban that closed most trails because of the extreme fire hazard.
Because it starts late, the race will get underway at dawn on Oct. 4 to give riders as much daylight as possible to run the race.
Registration will start at 6:43 a.m. at the top of Alpine Way, and the race will start with sunrise at 7:13 a.m.
There will be some water and food available for the participants, but riders are asked to pack water, food, lights, rain gear, and anything else they might need for the ride.
Although the course is long and difficult, and theres the added challenge of riding it in October, Horn is confident that once again most people will finish the ride.
"The level of riders is so high here, it really wont surprise me if most people make it to the end," said Horn.
The race was limited to 100 riders, and previous participants were given first crack at registering for this year. The remaining spots were sold out in the first few hours after they were offered to the public.
The size of the race is limited by the after-party, which is held at Teppan Village at 8 p.m. with a full Samurai ceremony for the riders who completed the full course.