Samurai founder introduces the Four Jacks 

New race values versatility

For seven years Whistler's Tony Horn, with partner Ru Mehta, staged a series of epic Samurai of Singletrack races, a series that was designed for local riders that prefer black diamond trails and long days in the saddle. The race wrapped up with an epic three-day event in the South Chilcotins in 2007, with only the riders from the previous six races invited to take part.

The race is now a matter of local legend, and the stories are still being told by the people who were fortunate enough to take part in one or more years.

Horn wasn't originally planning to host any new races, but after talking to local rider Greg Grant last year after Grant attended the Downieville Classic, Horn had another idea.

The Downieville Classic is a mixed cross-country and downhill race where participants are limited to just one bike - you could ride a cross country setup and then get rattled on the long downhill, ride a downhill setup and suffer on the cross-country, or try to find a middle ground between the two.

Horn's idea was to create a similar event for WORCA riders, but he went a step further by mandating that riders use the same tires as well as the same bikes over four days of competition, July 9 to 12. Both Sram and Chromag have signed on as sponsors, and the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association is sanctioning the event as part of their 20 th anniversary celebrations.

"There are a lot of cross-country racers in town that are also amazing downhillers, and this race will acknowledge the people who go out there and ride everything," said Horn.

To make it fair the events will be scored in terms of rankings instead of by time. For example a 20-minute difference on a cross-country section could be weighted the same as a one minute difference on the downhill course, depending on where a rider finishes in the overall standings.

The first Jack is the Tripper, Jack of Hearts, and is essentially the 10 km Slope Side Supply-Samurai Sushi time trial toonie ride on Thursday at 6 p.m. This event is also a fundraiser for Trip For Kids, a Vancouver non-profit group that organizes mountain bike adventures for children in low income homes.

The course includes Lower Sproat, Beaver Lake, Danimal North, Whip Me Snip Me, Bob's Rebob and the Nectar Connector.

Day two is Daniels Jack of Clubs, a Hammerschmidt Downhill race designed by Tyler Morland. The race goes from the top of Garbanzo to Whistler Village on a course which should put any riders opting for cross country bikes and skinny tires through the paces over 15 minutes of descending.

Day three is the Nicholson Jack of Diamonds "Dirt Diggler Up Down Up" stage, which is a long, technical course that's similar to the recent Soo Valley Rumble. Trails include the North Flank, Binty's, Rebob, Cheap Thrills, 99er, Danimal South to Sproatt Junction and down to Function Junction, a climb back up to the top of High Society and the Beaver Lake Trail. It's 35.5 km from start to finish, but includes some hefty climbs along the way.

The fourth and final day is the Jack of Spades, or "The Ripper." This event is the Chromag Backyard Jam, taking place on a selection of trails in the infamous No-Flow Zone around Emerald Estates. It's a short course, just 8.5 km, but includes Shit Happens, Anal Intruder, White Knuckles and Big Kahuna.

Registration for the Four Jacks gets underway on June 2 on www.worca.com, and all of the course information will be posted online as well. The event is being limited to 120 riders, first-come, first served.

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