Almost five years after his passing, Ken Quon's dedication to giving back and his desire to "ride on" are very much alive here in the community where he contributed unstintingly.
Sunday (Aug. 8) will mark the fifth edition of the Ken Quon "Ride On" mountain bike festivities and fundraising for emergency medical equipment. Year 5 will have even more riding to offer: The traditional Ken Quon Re/Max Corridor Cup Team Challenge and recreational events will ride on alongside the finals of the B.C. Cup cross-country race series.
Organized by members of Team Whistler Cycling, Re/Max and IGA Marketplace, the events in Quon's honour have raised nearly $50,000 to date for emergency services equipment that's much used in the Sea to Sky corridor.
This year, the Lost Lake course for the Corridor Cup has some added intrigue to test the talented riders who will descend on Whistler for the B.C. Cup finals and show off the trail system. Team Whistler's Tony Routley, the chief of race and course designer in conjunction with event organizer Tom Thomson, said Lost Lake has a lot to offer the riders coming from all over the province.
"It's got a little bit of everything. It's got definitely some technical stuff in there so it tests your technical ability; it's got flowy (parts) (and) it's got some pea gravel sections that are smooth that give you a chance to feed and water yourself. It's got a darn good mix of everything," Routley said.
He expected each lap of the B.C. Cup and Corridor Cup race, which for most racers will involve three laps, could take 40 minutes, with the pros flashing through in about one hour, 50 minutes.
Team Whistler hosted a B.C. Cup race last year on the newly developed mountain bike trails at the Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park, and the "well received" race led Cycling B.C. officials to ask Team Whistler members if they would be willing to host the finals of the B.C. Cup cross-country series, Routley said.
As Team Whistler had already been helping with the Ken Quon rides, he said, it seemed "natural" to ask the Ken Quon organizers if they wanted to combine the races into one big day. The Ken Quon events have also been loosely associated with the massive Kokanee Crankworx mountain biking festival in recent years, as the big show kicks off on the same weekend.
Sunday's slate of events will include the B.C. Cup races, the Re/Max Corridor Cup team event, the one-lap Toonie-style Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) ride and the family ride to the Ken Quon memorial.
A marker at the end of the Upper Panorama trail indicates the spot where Quon, a Wild Willies guide, suddenly felt ill while leading a bike group on Sept. 5, 2005. At just 48 years old, the avid mountain biker, volunteer, community contributor and IGA manager died of a previously undetected congenital heart condition.
"Ride on" was Quon's favourite saying as a guide, and those two words were the last he spoke.
"We're trying to create an event in his spirit of giving back to the community," said Francis Chiasson of Re/Max Sea to Sky Real Estate, the chief of competition for Sunday's events.
The thousands of dollars raised at past Ken Quon events have equipped Whistler and Pemberton ambulance cars with portable vital signs monitors that responders can carry out to patients in the bush and backcountry, and have helped to buy a digital heat-detecting camera for the Whistler Fire Rescue Service.
Organizers and local emergency services personnel haven't decided yet what items to buy with the money raised in 2010, but Chiasson said the funds will go to "something related to rescue in the outdoor environment," that could - touch wood - one day be needed to help the likes of a participant in the Ken Quon events.
Chiasson has heard from ambulance service officials and others that the patient monitors are extremely handy. "Every year we hear a story of someone who said, 'Yeah, I was on that device,'" he said.
Sign-in for the races starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Riverside RV Resort and Campground. The races and rides are set to start at 11 a.m., beginning from the fire department in a mass start behind a fire truck.
Anyone who enters the B.C. Cup race can pick a teammate and be automatically entered in the Corridor Cup at no extra cost. Register online at www.cyclingbc.net in the Mountain Biking section until Saturday (Aug. 7), or sign up in person on the day of the event.
Register for the Toonie-style and family rides on race day, at a cost of $25 for the Toonie ride, and $10 for adults and $5 for children in the family tour.
The après barbecue includes entertainment plus a raffle, 50-50 draw and silent auction.
For more information, click to kenquonrideon.com or teamwhistler.ca.