By Andrew Mitchell
The weather report is favourable for this Saturday’s Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic mountain bike race, the 22 nd annual running of this epic from Squamish to Whistler.
The competitive field is filling out with top Canadian Under 23 riders Neal Kindree and Max Plaxton facing off once again, and a men’s field that includes two-time Cheakamus winner Andreas Hestler and past national champion Seamus McGrath.
Whistler’s Chris Clark, the winner of the 2006 Samurai of Singletrack will also be taking part, now that GK Ripper is cancelled.
The women’s field got a lot faster this week with the announcement that three-time world mountain bike champion Alison Sydor is racing the course once again. Sydor has won the Cheakamus Challenge four times now, always by wide margins.
One of her main competitors this year is Trish Sinclair, also a past Cheakamus Challenge winner.
The total prize purse will be determined by the number of riders in the field, with both the top male and female getting equal amounts at the end. The Leidal family also presents a bonus to the first male and female out of the Cheakamus Canyon.
The course is just over 70 km in length, starting at the Squamish Airport and following the Cheakamus Canyon up to Whistler on a mix of roads and trails — a total of over 2,000 metres of climbing. Most of the last 42 km of the course, now known as the Cheakamus Lite course, is singletrack with technical trails like Trash, Far Side, Tunnel Vision and Big Timber, as well as a full tour of the Riverside Trails in Whistler. Both the full-length and Lite courses finish at Dusty’s in Creekside.
Registration is going strong, and will continue to be open almost until the start of the race.
Online registration is available until 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22 through the Cheakamus Challenge website. As well, riders can register in person at the Wild Willie’s Nesters location until 3 p.m. on Friday, and at Dusty’s from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Registered riders can also pick up their packages early.
WORCA members are still entitled to the $50 early bird rate ($40 for the Lite Course, $30 for juniors), but only if they register at Wild Willie’s before 3 p.m. Friday.
Sunny weather riders can also register until 9:45 a.m. in Squamish and until 11:45 a.m. at the Whistler Bungee Bridge (Lite course riders only) on the day of the competition, but by cash only. Early registration is recommended, as the cost is $25 more on race day.
All participants will get a meal and drink at Dusty’s, as well as a chance to win draw prizes.
Organizers are still looking for a few additional volunteers to help run the race this year. If you can spare some time, contact Christine Wilding at 604-932-6181.