A mountain biker flys down the four cross track at the B.C. School Sports Mountain Bike Provincial Championships this May. The Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival features a four cross event on the Saturday

A mountain biker flys down the four cross track at the B.C. School Sports Mountain Bike Provincial Championships this May. The Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival features a four cross event on the Saturday

Annual Big Pig event to be held this weekend

The seventh annual Big Pig mountain bike festival will be held this weekend at Boer Mountain by the Burns Lake Mountain Bike Association.

The seventh annual Big Pig mountain bike festival will be held this weekend at Boer Mountain by the Burns Lake Mountain Bike Association.

This event has become an annual must ride for not only mountain bike enthusiasts in Burns Lake, but for riders from across B.C.

This event this year will be almost identical to the event last year.

It will feature the kid’s night on the Friday night, where kids will be able to compete in miniature versions of a downhill, a cross country and a four cross race.

Saturday features the downhill race, the four cross and the jump jam for older riders, and Sunday features the traditional cross country event, nicknamed Dante’s Inferno by the mountain bike association, which is up to 80 km in length this year and Wilbur’s Wheelay, a five kilometre track around Kager Lake, where riders compete to see who can complete the most laps in three hours.

The new event added to this year’s Big Pig is the 30 km, single track loop race that will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.

The loop was added because it will feature the mountain bike association’s brand new Razorback trail that was opened last month.

Riders will start and finish at the bottom of the bike park, and the track will take them all the way up Boer Mountain on the Razorback trail and then back down through other various trails, namely, Charlotte’s Web.

As notoriety of the mountain biking opportunities that were presented in Burns Lake grew, so to has the Big Pig festival.

The festival now gets riders from across the province and from outside Canada as well.

“We get riders from across Northern B.C.,” Guy Epkens-Shaffer, President of the Burns Lake Mountain Bike Association said, “We had a guy from Sri Lanka ride in the cross country race on a unicycle last year.”

Typically though, most riders come from across the North.

There are riders from Terrace, Kitimat, Telkwa, Smithers, Houston, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Prince George that come to ride in the festival each year.

Epkens-Shaffer says that he has noticed more and more riders from areas such as, Kamloops and Cranbrook, even riders from the coast who come up to Burns Lake specifically for the Big Pig Festival.

“I met somebody on the trails a couple days ago who live in Invermere, but they’re from this area, and they say they get people coming through Invermere saying they are specifically heading to Burns Lake to ride the trails, so that’s cool,” Epkens-Shaffer said.

Registration fees this year are $45 for non-members of the mountain bike association for the Dante’s Inferno cross country race, and $35 for members.

An additional $20 will get a rider entry into any of the other events they want to ride in, the downhill, the  four cross, the jump jam or Wilbur’s Wheelay.

Registration fees for the kid’s night is $20.

The Big Pig is one of the big money makers for the mountain bike association each year.

“We started doing it to raise money for trail development and upkeep, as well we have other costs such as insurance and other overhead costs that we have to worry about,” Epkens-Shaffer said.

The plan for the Big Pig is to get the Dante’s Inferno race up to 100 km, from the 20 km it started at.

Right now the mountain bike association has no plans for once the Dante’s Inferno race reaches 100 km.

Epkens-Shaffer says there is an idea to find funding and develop a trail similar to the Razorback trail which would go up the West side of Boer Mountain.

That would allow the cross country race for the Big Pig to be an approximately 40 km loop that encompasses the West and East sides of Boer Mountain.

“As we develop more trails we’ll try to make it longer and better,” Epkens-Shaffer said.

Registration for the events on Saturday and Sunday begins at 7 a.m. both days, with the downhill race beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday and the Dante’s Inferno cross country race beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday.

Registration for the kids night is from 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, with races beginning Friday night at 5 p.m.