The Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association (BLMBA) hosted its seventh annual Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival Sept. 26 to 28. The festival was postponed from the regular August time slot due to the forest fire situation and related road closures, but the turnout was great! A bit of rain made the downhill runs a bit more challenging, but the weather cooperated for the rest of the weekend. This year’s events saw record numbers of women (sow) participants in both the downhill and 4-cross events.
The event saw participants from Prince George, Smithers, Telkwa, Francois Lake, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, Vancouver and, of course, Burns Lake.
The age categories were: Cutlet (12 and under), Junior Tender (13 to 15 years), Senior Tender (16 to 18 years), Lean (19 to 34 years), Gristle (35 to 49 years), Freezer Burn (50 to 59 years), and for those over 60 – Knocking on Heaven’s Door. In keeping with the pig theme, riders are either “boar” or “sow”.
This year’s Big Pig kicked off with the kid’s events on Friday night. Thirty-three youth came out to test their skills. The youth had the option of entering in a downhill, cross-country or pump track event. In the under seven age group, Milo MacDougall of Smithers took first in the downhill for the boars, and Bree Stanyer of Burns Lake for the sows. Jakob Graham of Telkwa was top boar pump track rider, with local Bree Stanyer the top sow. In the seven to nine age group, Rhyce Turner of Burns Lake was the top boar downhill rider. Isaac Moolman of Smithers took the fastest cross-country and pump track time for the seven to nine-year-old age group. In the 10 to 12-year-old category, the top sow in both the downhill and cross-country for the second year in a row was Avril Thom-Lucy of Burns Lake with Zoey Thom-Lucy the fastest on the pump track. Damian Georgyev of Prince George was the fastest in all boar events for the 10 to 12-year-old group. All youth were awarded with the ever-popular “cookie medal”. Toan Krauskopf of Smithers won the scenic flight donated by Lakes District Air.
Downhill race (Charlotte’s Web = 3.8 km)
In the boar category, cutlet winner was Damian Georgyev of Prince George (11:18), second local Jonas Sirfalk (11:35), and third Tosh Krauskopf of Smithers (13:17). Junior tender first place went to Heiko Krause of Smithers (11:20), with second and third place to locals Cormick Turner (11:39) and Avery Wilson (12:21). Senior tender winner was Derek Cucovvaz of Vanderhoof (11:56), with local Eli Gurtins taking second (13:24). The lone sow senior tender entrant was Sophie Shaffer, finishing with a time of 14:07.
Lean boar winner, and overall fastest time in the boar category, was Conor Sproull of Prince George (9:32), second was Kurt Wolf of Prince George (9:40) and Josh Matthew of Burns Lake was third (10:09). Erin England of Prince George finished as the lone sow in the lean category with a time of 13:51. In the Gristle category, local Pat Dube was fastest (10:15), Ryan Press of Telkwa took second with a time of 10:23 and Jason Barr of Fraser Lake was third (10:40). The Gristle sow category had a record number of nine riders with five from Burns Lake! Gabe Newman of Smithers was first with a time of 10:35, Angela LeFebvre of Prince George was second (11:46) and Laura Bakermans of Smithers third (11:46). The loan sow Freezer Burn and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door competitors were locals Ken Giesbrecht (13:49) and Guy Epkens-Shaffer (12:59).
The 4-cross race consists of four riders riding abreast and vying for the best line on a winding course consisting of table tops, step ups and berm turns. This year the event was once again an awesome spectator sport. This year’s fastest overall boar 4-cross rider was Conor Sproull of Prince George.
The boar cutlet age class winner was Damian Georgyev of Prince George, with local Camerson Steward in second, and Aiden Press of Smithers third. The cutlet category had sow entrants for the first time this year, with Avril Thom-Lucy of Burns Lake taking first followed by Zoey Thom-Lucy and Jordyn Stanyer of Burns Lake in second and third place. In the junior and senior tender combined age groups Heiko Krause of Smithers was first with locals Cormick Turner and Eli Gurtins following in second and third place. Riders from Prince George took all the fastest runs in the Lean/Gristle combined age groups. Conor Sproull came in first, Glen King took second and Quinton Ginter got third. Gabe Newman of Smithers edged out Laura Bakermans of Smithers in the sow 4-cross with local Patti Dube taking third place.
The Jump Jam consists of riding a series of dirt jumps where riders are judged on amplitude, style and difficulty. Isaac Moolman of Smithers took first place for the under eight years age group. Jasper Rysavy of Telkwa was second and Toan Krauskopf of Smithers third. Aiden Press of Telkwa was fastest for the nine to 12 year olds followed by Tosh Krauskopf of Smithers and local Cameron Stewart. Heiko Krause of Smithers was the top rider for the 13 to 15 year olds. For the 19 to 34 year olds, Prince George had a clean sweep with Quinton Ginter of Prince George first, Craig Blanchard second and Glen King third.
Dante’s Inferno has been increasing in length by 10-km each year with this year’s course rounding out at 80-km (eight 10-km laps)! In the lean category Zachary Blanche of Smithers clocked a time of 7:06. In the Gristle group, Dean McKinley of Prince George had the fastest time for the Dante’s at 5:26 followed by locals Clay McEntee (6:21) and Pat Dube (6:32). There was a new category for the Dante’s this year, the Dante’s Enduro, where the riders completed one 30-km loop of the Burnt Bike Challenge followed by five 10-km loops to top up to 80 kms. Junior Tender rider David Charette of Smithers finished the Enduro in a time of 5:38, followed by Gristle rider Mike Stone of Fraser Lake (6:38).
The Burnt Bike Challenge (BBC) was initiated this year as 30-km of awesome single track trail! The BBC required riders to ride to the top of Boer Mountain, down the Charlotte’s Web Trail to the Bike Park and through the bike park for a total distance of 30-km. Lean rider Stefan Widmer of Prince George completed the race in a phenomenal time of 1:56. In the Gristle category, Matt Janzen of Prince George and Dave Percy of Smithers tied for first (2:20), followed by Orin MacDougall of Smithers (2:25) and local Dave Sandsmark (2:37). Martin Littlejohn of Vancouver clocked the fastest time for the Freezer Burn category (3:04). For the sow group, Nikki Kassel of Prince George was first (2:11) followed by Susan Russell of Burns Lake (3:01) and Donna Green of Vancouver (3:57).
This was the fourth year for the Wilbur’s Wheelay, which can either be a team or solo event. Nine teams completed as many laps of a 5-km course as possible within three hours. Team “Special K”, consisting of locals Ken Giesbrecht and Kelly Lucy completed nine laps in the time limit followed by “CK Cruisers”, locals Chris Paulson and Karen Broadworth, and Team “666”, locals Randy, Laura and Cameron Stewart. Kaia Andal of Prince George did the Wheelay solo for the second year in a row, completing eight laps on her own.