Little did he know it, but this was definitely going to be Felix Burke’s evening.
It was Aug. 16 and the 16th Toonie of the season was on. We met in Alpha Lake Park, with the start planned for the Old Gravel Road past the railway crossing. But before we started, there was the small matter of the presentation of the Lumpy Leidal Award.
A deep, dark secret is the annual recipient of the award, which is presented every year to the most outstanding young mountain biker in Whistler. The winner may count him or herself among Whistler’s bike elite — together with luminaries such as Will Routley, Brandon Semenuk, Tyler Allison and… Well, Google ‘Lumpy Leidal’ and look at the list.
Of course, Felix — and yes, indeed, he was the winner of the 2012 award — had to then go ahead and win the Toonie race as well, making the evening an all ‘round satisfying time for him to ride bikes in Whistler.
With 16-year-old Felix in just his first year of serious cross-country racing, his results have been outstanding. He was the top junior in this year’s Gearjammer, was fourth overall at high school provincials and was regularly up with the hammerheads riding to top-five finishes in Toonies. Congratulations, young man.
Here’s what Felix, and the rest of us eating his dust, rode that evening: We started up the Gravel Road and made our way to Lower Sproat. Sproat was going to be the axis around which the evening’s ride would spin. With Piece of Cake and A-La-Mode taking us to the right and left of it, we started spinning right away.
Once we got to the top, 99’er and Danimal brought us back down to cross the Sproat, after which a bit more of Danimal, some Industrial Disease and THC finally deposited us back on that same trail, and we were basically back where we started.
By the way, when I mentioned the eating of dust, I was not kidding. The valley trails are all getting seriously dusty, so look out for those sharp rocks that start to poke out when the covering dirt is blowing in the wind.
Tonight’s (Aug. 23) race is going to be just as dusty, or maybe not, depending on which weatherman I choose to believe as I file this. But if it is still dusty, breathe through your nose and drink, drink, drink. Rain or no rain, it will cool down quite a bit, again according to the man, but coolness alone won’t stick the dust to the trail.
Mind you, all that potential dust will be kind of appropriate, since Dusty’s is tonight’s après sponsor with Skiis and Biikes doing the honour of organizing this hoedown. Sign-up will be by Dusty’s between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
This particular race is a classic of sorts, which includes riding up some of the ski trails that we all slide down in the winter — making me wonder what actually made me do this uphill lunacy in the first place. Anyway, expect a lot of Microwave Tower road and (see the comment about dust) bring spare tubes! I am sure we’re all going to be happy and relieved when we make it to Tunnelvision, although at that point we’ll only be halfway done. After Tunnelvision, we’ll ride all the way to the top of Kadenwood Road and pop into Big Timber once we get there. Timber, the last single track of the evening, will get us down to Dusty’s and a well-deserved, malty refreshment.
Next week (Aug. 30), Royal Bank, Buffalo Bills and Mark Richards Gallery are going to scratch our cat fever, or something like that.