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Two-day epic ride weighs in at 108 km

Samurai of Singletrack course a doozy

By Andrew Mitchell

From the very first year, Samurai of Singletrack organizers Tony Horn and Ru Mehta have vowed to make the ride harder and harder every September, incorporating some of the toughest singletrack rides in all of Whistler. Each year they have succeeded, according to riders, which is why there’s always a lot of speculation as to what the exact route will be.

Usually the Samurai course isn’t announced until the Loonie Race two days before, but given that this year’s race is two days long — Sept. 16-17 — and involves camping, gondola rides and numerous other logistics, Horn and Mehta are releasing the trail details one week earlier.

It’s going to be a tough weekend.

“We tried to make it the best, or worst depending how you look at it, of all the other years,” said Horn.

“Most of the trails have been in the race before, but only once or twice. We considered Ride Don’t Slide and Mac Daddy Pass this year, but with the logistics and camping it was just too much to put in there. The other big dilemma for us was Comfortably Numb or no Comfortably Numb, and in the end we didn’t put it in because that left out the West Side trails.”

The total distance is 108 km, with 56 km on day one and 52 km on day two. Originally Horn was hoping to divide the course 60-40 with a shorter second day, but the fact that the gondola doesn’t upload until 9:15 a.m. meant a later start on the first day.

Day One — 56 km

Day one starts with a gondola ride to the Roundhouse, at which point riders will bike up and around Harmony Bowl and over the peak of Whistler Mountain to the Highway 86 descent. From there riders will hook up with Khyber Pass and Babylon By Bike, two routes that haven’t been on the Samurai since the second year.

Riders will then descend Tunnel Vision to Kadenwood Road, and head back up to Love Canal and B.C.’s Trail or Boyd’s Trail for another technical descent to Creekside. From there riders will cross the highway and head to Function Junction via the Millar Creek Trail.

After that it’s another long climb up the Mid-Flank trail to Cheap Thrills, 99er, and the south section of Danimal before climbing back up the Lower Sproatt trail. The route crosses itself in the Stonebridge subdivision before following the north section of Danimal to Whip Me Snip Me and Bob’s Rebob.

Riders will cross Alta Lake Road, and ride A Rivers Through It backwards, then cross the road again to Mel’s Dilemma. After that it’s a little road riding through Alpine Meadows to Shit Happens. Riders will then do a section of White Knuckles to No Girly Man, then head on to Big Kahuna and Section 102.

As the sun goes down for many riders, the day finishes with a long climb up the Cougar Mountain Forest Service Road to the camping area — called Kanazawa after a Samurai mountainside village in Japan — near the Ancient Cedars.

The second day begins with another short but steep climb to the entrance to Gargamel, a descent built by local downhill champion Tyler Morland. This is only the second time Gargamel is in the Samurai, and the first year it rained so hard that only a handful of people actually rode it.

From Gargamel the route will follow Section 102 a second time before moving on to Kill Me Thrill Me, which hasn’t been in the Samurai since the first year and has recently undergone a bit of a facelift. The course then crosses the highway to the North Secret/Young Lust section of Comfortably Numb, then heads back to the Village on the Green Lake Loop.

At the end of the Green Lake Loop riders will follow the Zappa trail network south before turning back on the White Gold Traverse.

The course then crosses the highway again for Cut Yer Bars, then heads down to the bottom of Lorimer Road for a loop through the Emerald Forest. There is another loop of the West Side trails — all 27 switchbacks of the Alpe d’Huez, before the final descent on Billy’s Epic and back to the road. Riders will finish up with a second tour of A River Runs Through It before limping to the finish at Rainbow Park.

On day one riders should meet at 8:30 a.m. in the village to register (must be already paid and pre-registered) and upload the gondola. The ride gets underway at 10 a.m.

All participants should bring camping gear – tent, warm clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, extra riding clothes, flashlights, and food for the next day of riding. Participants should also bring folding camping chairs.

Horn has three rules for Samurai campers — riders have to use the portable toilets provided, riders must share tents (due to limited space), and no skulking is allowed.

“People can’t just sneak off, they have to announce that it’s been a long day and they are going to bed. I don’t care if it’s seven o’clock at night, they have to announce it — there might be some teasing and repercussions, but that’s the rule.”

There is only enough room at the campsite for support vehicles so no trailers or trucks will be allowed. If anyone not in the race wants to drop by Kanazawa they should park at the Ancient Cedars and walk in about 15 minutes.

Also, if anyone is a vegetarian they should contact Ru Mehta at 604-935-2026.

Breakfast will be provided the next morning, after which riders will leave in the reverse order they arrived in camp, separated by one minute.

The after party and dinner is at Teppan Village as always, starting at 8 p.m.

Riders should be mostly self-supported through the day, although there will be a few aid stations on route. That means food, water, and the means to repair your own bike.

Armour is optional for riders, but given the number of double black descents it might be a good idea.