After being postponed and finally cancelled last year due to the backcountry fire restrictions, the West Side Wheel Up mountain bike race and ride is back for its 11 th year on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Originally founded by Les Clare as a season-ending ride and party for local mountain bikers, the event has evolved into a fundraiser for the B.C. Disabled Ski Team with a list of draw prizes that includes a dual mountain seasons pass for Whistler-Blackcomb and two nights accommodation at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
"With the Paralympics coming I know the guys on the disabled ski team could really use the support," said Phil Chew, a four-time Paralympic athlete. the head coach of the B.C. Team, and the organizer of the West Side Wheel Up for the past four years.
The course is slightly longer than a Loonie Race, taking the top riders just over an hour, and features a selection of trails including some that have been temporarily closed on Whistlers west side to allow for construction in the Stonebridge Area. The route starts in Function Junction on the old Millar Creek Road, at the corner of Highway 99 and Alpha Lake Road, heads up Alta Lake Road to Lower Sproatt trail, then does a circuit of Beaver Pass, Whip Me Snip Me, Bobs Rebob and River Runs Through It.
"Its not the Cheakamus Challenge, and its not the Samurai of Singletrack," said Chew. "Its just a good race or ride, depending on how fast you want to go, a good party with some good friends. Its for a good cause as well, which I hope makes a difference getting people out there."
The will be a barbecue with refreshments after the ride, followed by a draw for dozens of prizes. Everything is included with your $20 entry fee, with the Village Grocery Store, Nesters and Creekside Market sponsoring the food, and businesses around town providing prizes.
Chew is hoping to get at least 100 riders out and would be happy to see 150 people at the start.
Registration gets underway at 10:30 in the morning and is open until the race starts at noon.
More volunteers are needed. If you would like to donate to the race or volunteer for the event, call Phil Chew 604-932-2110.
Race founder Les Clare himself will be on hand at the start and finish of the race. Clare was injured in a construction accident in 2000 and sustained a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair. That year the proceeds from the race went towards his recovery.
The following year Clare and Chew decided to make the event a fundraiser for the B.C. Disabled Ski Team, which does most of its training in Whistler. Some of the members of the provincial team have gone on to represent Canada at the national team and will be contenders at the Paralympic Winter Games in 2006 and 2010.