It was a perfect day for sweaty laps with sunshine and cool breezes on Saturday, Sept. 23 for the return of the Pedal by the Puddle enduro mountain bike event.
Fifty-two riders rolled out on the Southside trail network loop, some as members of two-person teams, taking turns to ride the course, and some as solo riders willing to try and test their fitness and skills on the mostly single-track circuit. While rain showers fell in some areas nearby, only a few drops hit the event.
For six hours, riders could make laps of an 11 km loop. The event got underway at 10 a.m. and the final cut-off for riders to make their way across the finish line was 4:30 p.m. Those who made the most laps in the least amount of time won.
Riders ranged in ages from Seamus Zirnhelt at 13 years old, who rode as a team with his mom Shannon O’Donovan, to Ivor McMahen, at 69 years old, who rode as a team with Scott Gordon. Seamus managed to get in a fast final lap, bringing his team into second place in their category of mixed team 39-99 years.
McMahen returned to the Cariboo to participate in the race he helped get started and the two took top spot overall.
He and Gordon were in the male 100 years and over category for their combined age, though the much younger sister team of Nadia and Anika Wallin were close on their heals. The Wallin sisters won their category of female team 38 years and younger. Both teams completed seven laps in the six hours, looping the route, which included some technical climbing sections as well as some steeper descents, in under an hour each time.
Among the solo riders, who had to test their stamina against the clock, Guy Ridler came out on top overall, and took the trophy for his age category after completing six laps. Ridler was closely followed by both Bryon Black and Cory Brunelle, who also both completed six laps solo. It was Ridler’s strategy of no stops which pushed him to the top. Black had led the pack for the first three laps and later even took a fall, eventually being overtaken by Ridler.
Brunelle took first place in the category of solo male 45 years and younger and was the only rider within his category to complete six laps.
Mailea Dahlback took first as the one and only solo female in the 45 and under category, and Beverly Rooke took first in solo female 46 and over.
First place in male teams 38 years and younger was Evan McMath and Tobias Baumann. First place in male teams 39-99 was Jordan Rankin and Dylan Dahlback.
First place in female teams 39-99 years was Nicole Brandson and Janelle Robichaud. First place in mixed teams 39-99 years was Jayme Hills and Chris Masters. First place in mixed teams 100 years and over was Melissa and Charles Newberry.
The high school mountain bike team hosted a fundraising concession, fuelling the riders and volunteers with chilli and burgers to help raise funds for their team.
The funds raised by the event itself went towards Foundry Cariboo-Chilcotin, helping young people in the area with mental, physical and social supports.
The Pedal by the Puddle had not taken place since 2013, but seemed to be a resounding success upon its 2023 return with every participant receiving a prize at the event.