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Samurai test both shorter and harder

At 51 kilometres the fourth annual Samurai of Singletrack is more than 12 kilometres shorter than last year, but without question it’s going to be hard.

But then that was the whole point of the race.

"Part of it is because we wanted to do stuff we haven’t done yet, and part of it is because the first and third year were easier, the second year was more technical with Khyber’s and Babylon in there, and we wanted to make it more technical again this year," said Tony Horn, who organizes the event along with Ru Mehta.

"This was never supposed to be a cross-country race, it’s always been a big technical ride."

The race starts at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday, Sept. 11, after meeting outside of Ru’s house at 9213 Autumn Drive in Emerald Estates at 8 a.m. for registration.

From there the riders will head up the road towards the reservoir before turning onto Section 102 to the Cougar Mountain Forest Service Road. After that it’s a long climb before turning onto Gargamel, one of the most technical rides in the valley.

"Gargamel was a big question mark this year, whether to put it in or not. It actually came down to Ru, who is just your average Samurai rider. He rode some sections, walked some sections on it a few weeks ago, and he said it was really hard, but he also said that it was what the Samurai was all about," said Horn.

The race is also being held as a memorial to Chris "Beeker" Romeskie, a local mountain bike enthusiast and Samurai veteran who died in an accident while backcountry skiing last winter.

"We feel this is the kind of course Beeker would have liked to ride and we’ll be doing little tributes to him along the way," said Horn.

After Gargamel, the trail goes backwards on Big Kahuna to Shit Happens and then heads to Anal Intruder. The trail rejoins Shit Happens a little further along and heads to Alpine Meadows. From there riders will climb Rick’s Roost, descend Cat Scratch Fever, and ride sections of Mandatory Suicide, Nectar Connector and Mel’s Dilemma.

The route crosses Alta Lake Road, does a section of Emerald Forest, River Runs Through It and Bart’s Dark Trail before heading back to the road and the long climb up the Sproatt Flank Trail.

The next descent is Cheap Thrills, which funnels out onto 99er and Danimal.

From Alta Lake Road the route then heads down the old Millar Creek Trail to Function Junction before crossing the highway. After doing the lower part of the Riverside Trail, the course moves on to Trash then returns to the Riverside Trail before joining the climb up the Highline Trail to Tunnel Vision. After Tunnel Vision riders will climb the Kadenwood Road before turning onto Love Canal and descending B.C.’s Trail to the finish at Dusty’s.

"The first half is obviously a lot harder than the second half," said Horn. "We didn’t plan it that way, but I think it’s good, especially if it rains or is cold and wet."

A pack car will bring backpacks and dry clothes from the start at Ru’s place to the finish at Dusty’s.

This year 108 riders have signed up for the Samurai, including 96 riders who took part in last year’s ride. There’s also a long waiting list if enough people drop out.

Horn has this advice for participants.

"If it’s going to be wet, people might want to consider wearing pads, putting on some bigger tires. Think about the conditions when you’re preparing your bike," he said. "Of course it might be sunny, but people should just be aware of the weather, and be prepared to spend all day in it. People have to respect where they’re riding, and respect our decision to do what we’ve done with the course."

If you have any problems with the course, Horn joked, "then talk to Ru."