Local riders have been buffing up corners, building new jumps, and adding a few more features on bike trails in anticipation of the third annual Peel Out Mountain Bike Festival.
“This is something the Williams Lake Cycling Club started three years ago and the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium supports,” says consortium chairperson Justin Calof.
The two-day event starts on May 19 on Fox Mountain with the down hill event — same course as last year with a new start zone.
That race will be followed by the Boitanio Bike Park Jam, with a barbecue, and because the bike company Specialized is sponsoring the event, there’ll be some demo bikes and tents.
“We’ll have a couple pros out — including local pro rider James Doerfling — doing some trick demos,” Calof says.
There are contests open to little kids, too.
“We had six-year olds there last year doing little pump-track challenges or slow-track races, just super fun events. There will be something for everyone to do and then we’ll have some judged competition.”
Saturday night will feature the funk/ska band Dope Soda from Vancouver Island at a 19-plus event sponsored by Cariboo Brewery at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre (the old fire hall).
Calof says it should be fun and to keep up the hype, tickets are only available at the door for $10. Doors open at 8 p.m.
“Capacity’s pretty limited so get there early if you want in.”
Sunday morning will feature the second annual West Side Super Down Hill.
Riders can expect a longer, more pedally down hill course.
“There’s a lot of hype around that. People are really looking forward to it. It’s a really fun course.”
It will begin at Bell-E-Acres Golf Course on Hodgson Road.
That afternoon will contain a special, pro downhill spectator event at the same area.
“This year we’ve created an online registration system that’s going to allow for instant results, which was a bit of a challenge last year,” Calof explains, adding the system is contingent on everyone registering by May 16 online at ridethecariboo.ca.
Around 145 people raced at the 2011 festival and this year organizers are expecting more.
Advertising is out on Pinkbike.com and around the province.
“This is part of the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium’s goal to grow the mountain bike economy by having big events that draw people from out of town that stay over the weekend,” Calof says.
Twenty volunteers helped with the 2011 Peel Out, a number he hopes for in 2012. People can sign up to volunteer by calling Lenora at Red Shreds Bike and Board Shed.
Calof estimates the local mountain biking community has grown to the thousands, and has been building over the last 25 years.
“We have one of the largest legalized mountain bike networks in the province, meaning our trails are designated by the provincial government as designated mountain bike trails. If somebody is going to log or build a road, they have to manage around the trails.”
Those safeguards provide greater security for the trails and help flow through provincial funding to maintain the trail infrastructure.
Coupling that is an endorsement from all local governments and the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition that the trails network is also an economic driver and a prominent feature of the economy.
The area can boast trails that are unique in style, adds Calof.
“Our trails are really flowy and tight. Unlike the Coast, where it’s really rocky and technical, our trails are forgiving and fast, and people of all skills can enjoy the mountain bike experience here. There’s also something for everybody.”
The local mountain bike culture, he adds, is welcoming and inviting and people are keen to share what the area has to offer.
“We’ve developed a website at ridethecariboo.ca that we’re hoping people will use by posting photos and sharing stories that will make our culture stronger, and we’ll be putting out a new trail map in a couple of weeks,” Calof says.