Story submitted by Jean-Ann Berkenpas
Photos courtesy Jean-Ann Berkenpas and Diondi Tan
On the weekend of May 24-25th the Valemount Secondary School Mountain Bike Team headed to Burns Lake to compete in the provincial high school mountain bike championships. It was a successful and fun weekend, with Darian Griffin winning the Grade 10 boys downhill event, Sean Carson earning double 4ths in both the Senior Grade 11/12 cross country and downhill, and everyone having a lot of fun exploring the Boer Mountain bike park, trails and stunts. Duncan Bennewith, Jesse Griffin, Nelish Anghnoo rounded out the team of five local competitors.
The team left early on Friday morning, arriving in Burns Lake in in time for one and a half pre-ride laps of the downhill course and a partial pre-ride of the cross country. Everyone loved the bermed and flowy jump section of the downhill called “When Pigs Fly”, and was challenged by the almost 1km boardwalk which was also a part of the course.
Race day on Saturday started with a lap of the 10 km cross country course. Carson surprised everyone, including his competitors, by switching to a light cross country 29er bike and blazing out of the start in a top-3 position. He was locked in a tight battle for 3rd with a racer from Kamloops for the duration of the race. It ended with a sprint finish and he had to settle for a still very respectable 4th place. Nelish finished 10th, Duncan finished 11th, and Jesse finished 15th in the senior Grade 11/12 boys race, while Darian finished 6th in the Grade 10 boys event.
After a barbecue lunch sponsored by Lakes District Secondary School, everyone shuttled up to the top of Boer Mountain for the downhill event. It was actually an “endure” event, meaning it was longer and required more pedaling than a typical downhill. Most downhill races are about 4-2 minutes long, whereas this race was 11 minutes for the fastest rider. Also, the racers rode uphill for about 100m to determine their start order.
Darian put his trail ninja skills to work, finishing first in the Grade 10 boys race. Sean was fast enough to take 4th in the Senior event, with Nelish finishing 12th and Jesse finishing 14th. Duncan had an unfortunate flat tire on his run, but still ran his bike down the hill to finish the race, coming in 17th.
On Sunday the team took advantage of the organized multi-school shuttle runs, to explore some new trails in the Burns Lake trail network. They rode the full “When Pigs Fly” trail, which is a machine built, flowing, and jumpy track from the top of the mountain to the bottom. They also explored “Full Boar” and another which had some cool features like a wooden spiralling ramp, lots of jumps, a teeter totter, and a ride over an abandoned antique relic of a car. It is fair to say that everyone headed home to Valemount with the satisfaction of some good riding in their legs.