Canadian 2017 MTB Preview
Canadian 2017 Scene Rocks
anada's mountain-bike competition calendar is packed with some awesome events this year, some new and others tried and true. From short and intense to multi-day epics, the country continues to live up to its reputation as a mountain-biking destination for all ages and skill levels.
The pillar of the Canadian racing scene that has aided in the development of Olympic medalists, World Cup winners and World Championship medalists such as Marie-Hélène Prémont, Catharine Pendrel, Geoff Kabush, Emily Batty, Lauren Rosser, Finn Iles, the late Steve Smith and many more is the Canada Cup Series.
For the second straight year, the Canada Cup launches with the Bear Mountain XCO at Bear Mountain Resort near Victoria, B.C. on March 4. The resort's owner, ECOASIS, is a major sponsor of the Canadian MTB squad, and will be hosting the team during its official two-week training camp leading up to the event.
The national DH series starts with a bang at Mont-Tremblant, Que., along with XCO #2, May 20-22. Then it's off to Baie-St-Paul, Que. for XCO #3, while the gravity athletes descend the slopes of Blue Mountain, Ont., May 27 for DH #2. Ontario hosts #4 and #5 of the XCO Cup on June 11 and 18 at Horseshoe Valley and neighbouring Hardwood Ski and Bike, respectively. Both series wrap up in Whistler, B.C., but the XCO event on June 24 is no longer part of the massive Crankworx festival. The Downhill Canada Cup finale, slated for Aug. 19, remains a staple on the Crankworx schedule, however.
Racers will vie for the coveted Maple Leaf jersey at three different events in July. July 15 holds both the Canadian XC Marathon Championships in East Hereford, Que. and the Canadian Downhill Championships at Panorama Resort, B.C. The Canadian XCO Championships finally return to the West on July 22 in Canmore, Alta.
It's Canada Summer Games time again! The national Games happen every four years, and 2017 will see Canada's top young athletes congregate in Winnipeg, Man., including mountain-bike teams from every province and territory who will contest XCO, XC Relay and XC Eliminator events. The Games run July 28-Aug. 13.
Aug. 4-6 will see the Vélirium mountain-bike festival back at MontSte-Anne, Que. Crankworx Whistler is again anticipated to be the hottest 10 days of mountain biking in Canada, Aug. 11-20.
Aug. 13's Enduro World Series (EWS) stop in Whistler, B.C. is a testament to the strong Enduro scene in Canada. The Canadian National Enduro Series is comprised of six stops in four provinces, culminating at Sun Peaks Resort, B.C., Sept. 16-17. Three of the events boast qualifier status for the EWS.
Speaking of “endure,” there's a stage race happening in B.C.'s Kootenay region, July 10-15. The first edition of the Trans BC Enduro was held last year with 126 racers, and returns in 2017. Proceeds from the event go directly into the trails and communities that participants will be riding during the event.
July 5-13 sees BC Bike Race (BCBR) take riders from North Vancouver to Whistler for its 11th edition. BCBR is sold out, but Singletrack 6 still has spots available for riders aiming to crush a mountain-bike stage race this year. The event offers three-day and six-day options and will treat its racers to the sweet trails of B.C.'s West Kootenays, July 29-Aug. 3.
For riders who don't have an entire week free to ride bikes in B.C., there are many one-day events to choose from across the country, starting on Feb. 18 with Manitoba's 130km Actif Epica – not for the faint of heart. April 30, the famous Paris-to-Ancaster unofficially opens the Ontario season with 70km, 40km and 20km options. The Nimby Fifty in Pemberton, B.C. offers racers 37 kilometres of challenging
B.C. riding with its famed 100+ switchback climb – and that's just the beginning – on May 20. Ontario has a Spring Singletrack Classic of its own at Hardwood Ski and Bike on May 27 with 44km or 22km distances. And rising from the ashes of the legendary Squamish Test of Metal, which held its last chapter in 2016 after 21 years, comes the Spakwus 50 on June 17.
Relays are still popular across the country, the biggest being May 13's Opus Spring Epic 8 Hour in Mansfield, Ont., May 14's Salty Dog 6 Hour in Salmon Arm, B.C., July 15's Summer Epic 8 Hour Relay at Hardwood Ski and Bike, Ont., and Sept. 23's Fall Epic 8 Hour Relay, also at Hardwood.
The Golden Two-Four is back, June 17-18. This 24-hour race in only its second year is held in the relatively undiscovered mountain-biking mecca of Golden, B.C. and also offers eight-hour options. Participants of Whitehorse's 24 Hours of Light, June 24-25, have the luxury of riding without bike lights, even in the middle of the night – after all, it is the Land of the Midnight Sun. The same weekend hosts a longstanding favourite on the 24-hour circuit – 24 Hours of Summer Solstice at Albion Hills, Ont. Then it's time to celebrate on July 15-16 as Canmore's 24 Hours of Adrenalin celebrates 20 years.
In 2016, Bear Mountain Resort near Victoria, B.C. hosted the Canada MTB Cup season-opener for the second straight year.