Cheakamus Challenge site up and running 

The official Web site of 19 th annual Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic – billed as "2001: A Bike Odyssey" – is now online at www.cheakamuschallenge.ca. Don’t be fooled by the Flash content or sophisticated look – it’s still about dirt, sweat, pain and fun says Epic Events organizer Grant Lamont.

The "Celebration of Pain" weekend begins on Saturday, Sept. 22 with the 70 kilometre Cheakamus Challenge bike race.

This event regularly attracts the best cross country racers in the country – which happen to be some of the best racers in the world right now – and this year is no exception. The Canadian men’s team has confirmed that they will be here, led by Victoria’s Roland Green, a two-time Cheakamus Challenge champion and the man to beat on the World Cup circuit this year.

"Hopefully Roland will be wearing the rainbow jersey as the world champion," says Lamont.

Returning champion Ryder Hesjedal will be here to defend his title from Green and teammates Geoff Kabush and Andreas Hestler.

The women’s team is not confirmed but national team racers Trish Sinclair and Kiara Bisaro, as well as defending champion Melanie McQuaid are expected to return.

There will be a few changes this year, including a new section of singletrack from the Calcheak campground to sugar cube hill, a.k.a. french fry rocks, a.k.a. the basalt columns, eliminating a section of road from the course.

Trail builder Ross Kirkland is looking for volunteers to help complete the new section this weekend. All volunteers will get a free entry to the race, and food and refreshments. Meet at 10 a.m. at Calcheak if you’re interested in helping, or call Kirkland at (604) 898-5959 for more details.

There will also be a few new divisions to race in: a team division where combined times determine your rankings, and a father-son, mother-daughter division.

"People might race a little faster if they’re part of a team and there are just some sick biking families out there" says Lamont, who credits his wife with both ideas. Individual times will still count.

Lamont has also brought in some more incentive to go a little faster – everyone who completes the race in less than three hours will have their entry free refunded.

Only one rider (Hesjedal), broke the three-hour barrier last year and on a slightly shorter course, but a number of riders came close.

Lumpy’s Prime will be back, awarding $100 each to the first man and woman to make the Cheakamus Canyon, and sculptor Chris Rose as always is carving the trophies.

On Sunday morning the pace will slow down a little for Ride ’01, a free mountain bike clinics for kids aged 10 to 15 coached by famous freeriders and cross country cyclists like Roland Green. There will be up to 200 open spots available for the clinics, which will start at 10 a.m.

"We’ve been successful over the years, and wanted to give something back to the kids," explains Lamont. On Sunday evening there will be a party at the BrewHouse, with proceeds going towards bike programs for local kids. "We hope to raise about $7,000 or $8,000 for kid’s mountain biking over the weekend."

At 2 p.m. on Sunday the Tantalus Bike Shop in Squamish is hosting the P’Nuts Wild Ride down the 19 th Hole run. This new school race will take competitors approximately 10 to 12 minutes to complete, and includes steep slopes, drops, and other advanced features. It’s open to 150 riders. All proceeds will go to Graham Keurbis, a Squamish cyclist who sustained a spinal injury but who is on the road to recovery.

To wrap up the weekend, Lamont and a panel of judges will give special "Cheaky" awards to locals who make a difference in the bike scene. There will be an award for a trailbuilder, a trail advocate, and "the biggest loon," says Lamont. "When you think about where mountain biking is in Whistler, it’s really the people who make it. This is just a way to recognize those outstanding people."

You can register online for the Cheakamus Challenge, or by picking up an entry form at Whistler Bike Co., Pemberton Bike Co., Tantalus Bike Shop, Corsa Cycles, and Pique Newsmagazine.

To register for the P’Nuts wild ride, visit the Tantalus Bike Shop, or call (604) 898-2588.

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