A stumbling start didn’t prevent Randy Cunningham from having a blast at the Fifth Annual Peel Out Mountain Bike Festival at Williams Lake earlier in May.
After the bike’s chain accidentally dropped five seconds into the race, Cunningham quickly rectified the malfunction and got back to riding. He finished 21st out of 23 riders as the lone Prince Rupert representative in the invitational.
“I lost about 25 seconds. I was about 48 seconds behind the fastest guy,” said Cunningham last week.
The area rider and director of the Prince Rupert Off-Road Cycling Club (ROCC) visited Williams Lake as part of a contingent of top riders from across the region, including the likes of Nelson’s Kurt Sorge (at last year’s race), considered one of the best mountain bikers in the world by many, as well as Williams Lake native James Doerfling.
“We’re talking big industry riders,” said Cunningham.
Not everyone suited up to race however, a detail that had trail builders disappointed.
“Half the category of elite men (out of elite men’s, junior men’s and open women’s) dropped out because of the [rainy] conditions … people basically showed up, they looked at the course conditions and they said ‘No, I’m not racing down there’ and I don’t blame them. But I went 1,000 kilometres to race and slippery conditions is something Prince Rupert bikers are used to,” said Cunningham.
Another race was cancelled due to the land residing on part of the course being sold to new owners. Despite the roadblocks to the festival, the close-knit group of bikers had a grand time.
“It’s a bunch of industry folk hanging out, having a campfire in the rain. We got to do some lake jumping and it was fabulous. It’s a great experience because you’re out of town and you get to experience something totally out there,” he added.
A highlight of the festival was the free run, a race typically outlawed due to its unpredictable and dangerous nature. There’s no trails. You just find a path and hope it stays true the rest of the way down the mountain.
Cunningham is currently working with the city to arrange a plot of land to build a trail in Prince Rupert, one any resident can use to mountain bike through.
ROCC has a meeting this Sunday above Fishskin Fabrics at 6 p.m.