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Wheel Up too good to pass up



The course for the annual West Side Wheel Up changes a little from year to year, and this year's event on Saturday, Sept. 12 is no exception.

The consensus is that it will likely be the best course yet with Piece of Cake and A La Mode trails knocking out some of the tougher climbs on Lower Sproatt, the addition of Get Over It after Bob's Rebob, and the use of the new extended trail through the Emerald Forest that connects to the very first section of A River Runs Through It.

The new course emphasizes singletrack, while reducing the riders' contact with Alta Lake Road.

The first section from the entrance to Function Junction to Alta Lake Road will remain the same before hooking up with Lower Sproatt, but the middle section will be a little different. After Lower Sproatt riders will make a loop of the Beaver Pond trail before taking on Upper Beaver Pass and Whip Me Snip Me - bypassing Lower Beaver Creek - to climb up to the Rainbow Creek bridge and the flowing downhill back to Bob's ReBob. The last section - a full pull of River - will include the new section that takes riders to the Rainbow Park parking lot.

In total distance the race is about the length of a Toonie Ride and a half, and the fastest riders are expected at the finish line in just over an hour.

The cost is $25, which includes a raffle ticket that can win a 2009-2010 season's pass for Whistler Blackcomb and dozens of other prizes, as well as food and refreshments at one of the most legendary après parties in town. All proceeds from the event go towards the B.C. Disabled Ski Team to help cover their costs.

Phil Chew has run the race for the past eight years, since founder Les Clare was paralyzed in an accident. It was Clare's decision to turn the race and proceeds over to Chew, who is the head coach of the disabled ski team, and he will be on hand this year to talk to old friends and present the extremely heavy trophies and traditional tie-dyed shirts to the top male and female.

This is the 16 th year for the event, which was created to celebrate the end of the season, and to enjoy some lesser-ridden trails on Whistler's west side.

"I'm putting out a challenge to all the Toonie Riders out there to come out and race this event, it has a lot of history and it's a really great course. If you can do a (Toonie Ride) then you can do this race," said Chew.