Bike festival rounds out September calendar 

Freeride events, enduro race highlight weekend; Fat Tire Criterium resurrected

September is now unofficially mountain bike month in Whistler, with events on the calendar for every weekend.

The 10 th annual West Side Wheel-Up takes place on Sept. 7. The second annual Samurai of Singeltrack rides the following Saturday. The Saturday after that, it’s the 20 th annual Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic Mountain Bike Race.

Now there is truly no rest for the sprockets with the recent addition of the Whistler Mountain Bike Festival from Sept. 27 to 29. Although the festival was originally conceived as a freeride event for the mountain bike obsessed, in the past few weeks it has morphed into something much, much bigger.

According to festival organizer Richard Juryn of Shore Events, he has received a lot of support – and input – from Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb and the municipality. The result is an event he feels will appeal to a broad spectrum of riders and spectators.

"We had a few talks about what kinds of events we would include in the festival and the list just got longer and longer," he said.

"It’s funny. I set out to do a freeride weekend with one or two events, but when I sat down with people from the mountains and municipality and Tourism Whistler, they were very enthusiastic. They said ‘how about doing this’ or ‘let’s bring back that.’ Now we have an event that will appeal to everyone, from your most hardcore B.C. rider to weekend warriors."

The festival kicks off Friday evening, Sept. 27, with a mountain bike and adventure photography exhibition at a venue to be announced. An industry forum and reception is also planned.

The freeride event takes place on Saturday morning on Whistler Mountain. To differentiate the event from a downhill, selected sections of the course will be fenced off that include freeride stunts, such as bridges and teeter totters. The racer can choose to go around the stunt, but the shortest and fastest route will always be over the stunt.

"We wanted to do something that was like real freeriding, which I feel is B.C.’s contribution to the mountain bike world," said Juryn. "It was hard to come up with a freeride event that wasn’t too much like a downhill or a dual slalom, but I think this timed format will combine all the things that freeriding is about.

"There will be first, second and third prizes, but not everybody is going to enter this because they want to win. It’s for people who love to ride the B.C. style of trails. We want people to get to the bottom and say ‘Wow, get me back to the top, I want to ride that again.’"

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