Yukon mountain bikers getting set for an epic August

Two new enduro mountain bike events will be held next month in Carcross and Whitehorse and are promising to be the rush downhill bikers have been waiting for.

Yukon mountain biking is going downhill. Or should we say down mountains?

Two new enduro mountain bike events will be held next month in Carcross and Whitehorse and are promising to be the rush downhill bikers have been waiting for.

The Yukon Dirt Rush is three epic events smushed onto one bill, promoted as “one legendary territory, two weekends and three awesome mountain bike events.”

Get ready to get “CarCranked” before entering the “Crusher” leading up to the Yukon championships.

“It’s kind of a three-event series,” said Jane Koepke. “A bunch of us were separately planning events and we thought we wanted to brand them as part of a series, see if we can attract some people from outside the Yukon to come up.

“They’re all organized around two consecutive weekends in August.”

The three-event, two-weekend rush will kick off with the CarCranked Festival in Carcross over the August long weekend.

The two-day festival will begin on the Saturday with an enduro race, a type of racing gaining popularity in North America in which sections of downhill are raced with none-timed transition sections in between.

The race will be held on the famed Montana Mountain and will take each rider approximately five hours to complete. In November of 2011, the International Mountain Bicycling Association inducted the Mountain Hero Trail on Montana Mountain into its Epic Trails category.

Sunday will include “loosely organized social rides, shuttles going up the mountain, heli-biking and all kinds of stuff,” said Koepke, the event’s organizer.

“It should appeal to just about any mountain biker who just loves super-fun downhill,” she added. “They can take their time climbing, there’s no big time pressure … climbing up to the start of the first downhill segment.”

The following Saturday, on August 23, mountain bikers are invited to enter the Canyon Mountain Crusher in Whitehorse.

The enduro race will feature three stages on Grey Mountain followed by four stages at Mount McIntyre with shuttles in between.

“There’ll be some flatter portions and uphill, but generally losing-elevation stages,” said organizer Jonah Clark. “The emphasis is not on how fast a climber you are, but how fast downhill and all-around bike handler you are. We’re using trails that are more technically difficult to ride than typical cross-country races would have.”

The roughly eight-hour race will include an A course for advanced riders and a less challenging B course. Riders can register at Icycle Sport in Whitehorse or with an email to info@icyclesport.com. The race field has a cap of 40 riders.

“A couple years ago I put on something called a Super D, which is basically a very long downhill involving a lot of pedaling – so it’s not really a pure downhill, more like a downhill cross-country,” said Clark. “That was really popular, but the last two years I’ve been too busy with work and for various other reasons it just didn’t happen again.”

The day after the Crusher it’ll be time to crown Yukon’s king and queen of mountain biking at the Yukon championships.

The King of the Rocky Canyon – formerly King of the Canyon – will have a new location this year at Mount McIntyre. Since its inception it has been held in the Grey Mountain area. This year Yukon’s Contagious Mountain Bike Club decided to move the event because it already held an event – the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival – at Grey Mountain this summer.

“We want to still give racers a royal event – something worthy of the crowns,” said organizer Jenn Roberts. “Because 24 Hours of Light was held on Grey Mountain this year, it made sense to hold our other big event on the opposite side of the river. So the idea of King of the Rocky Canyon was born.”

As usual the championships will include a long course for kings and queens and a short course for princes and princesses.

The event will start and finish at the Dirt Jump Park off Sumanik Drive in Whitehorse.

“I’m going to give a prize for the person who does all three (events) on the same bike – who’s fastest on the same bike,” said Clark. “But it’ll be interesting because my race is not the type of race you want to race a cross-country bike on, while the Yukon championships is a cross-country mountain bike race.”

Not only has Carcross’ Mountain Hero Trail on Montana Mountain been recognized by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, it has plenty of Yukon history attached to it.

It is believed that the trail follows what used to be a tramway for an old quartz-mining operation that dates back to 1905. Sam McGee, whom Robert Service immortalized in a poem, is thought to have led the crew of 20 men who first constructed it.

Since 2005 the trails on the mountain have been maintained and expanded through the Single Track to Success Project, a Carcross/Tagish First Nation project aimed at creating and maintaining an extensive trail network on Montana Mountain.

The program received a significant boost this spring when the Contagious Mountain Bike Club won $10,000 for trail creation in the Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Dirt Search Contest. Contagious donated the money won through the online contest and donated it to the project.

What better way to enjoy the mountain and appreciate the work done on the trails than racing down them on a mountain bike?

“We’re hoping this is the start of something that will take place every year,” said Koepke. “We’re not sure if it’s going to be a festival or a mountain bike race. We’re just putting it out there – it’s almost like a test event – but we’re very sure we’re heading towards a marquee mountain bike event in Carcross.”

More information can be found at yukondirtrush.com.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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