Mountain biker Peter Savage tests out one of the turns at Bear Mountain Golf Resort

Free ride mountain bike competition jumps to West Shore

Custom layout on Bear Mountain’s valley course should produce some big air

It’s still Jumpship, only without the ship.

Audiences looking for professional free ride mountain bikers, impressive trick jumps, huge air and even a chance to try it themselves have a new place to check out the sport, only this time the event takes place on a mountain instead of a ship.

“I couldn’t be more excited. It’s something maybe we dreamed of,” said Dockside Mountain Biking Society board member Rob Fawcett, whose organization hosts Jumpship 2014 this Friday through Sunday (Oct. 3 to 5) at Bear Mountain Golf Resort.

“To be able to host the event downtown was really cool, but of course it really didn’t represent mountain biking. To be able to host the event at Bear Mountain, it really represents mountain biking which is pretty exciting.”

The challenges of building and tearing down the entire bike course in a matter of days, not to mention other logistical demands related to being on the Inner Harbour, forced them to reconsider their venue, Fawcett said. However, he looks forward to seeing the 20 riders from across North America – and possibly a few talented European riders – take to the skies in a brand-new home on the West Shore.

“It is one of the most unique courses out there, because as far as I know, there is no mountain bike free ride competition held on a golf course. It is one of a kind,” said Peter Savage, who is competing this weekend.

“I am so passionate about mountain biking and it’s so cool to see events like this. It brings the mountain biking community together and shows the city that lots of people want more places to ride and want the community to be stronger, (with) more events like this happening.”

The lifelong Oak Bay resident, who is also helping build the course, has a long scar running across one shoulder, the result of a broken collarbone suffered in a biking crash. He’s still excited about competing, adding that the feeling he gets from hitting the air on his bike is an experience like none other.

“It’s like flying … Once you try it, you get such a great adrenaline rush you get addicted to it. It’s such a euphoric feeling. It is scary, but that’s why you want to do it, you get that adrenaline pumping.”

Fawcett, helping organize his third Jumpship, said the venue change has been a positive one and offers an excellent opportunity to watch an up-and-coming sport evolve on the West Shore. The event will feature a beer garden, vendors, live music, a kids’ play area and a jump where amateur riders can leap onto a giant air bag.

While he doesn’t expect to draw anywhere near the 40,000 spectators who took in the event downtown, Fawcett looks forward to a unique, free experience that is great for adults and families.

“We’re pretty excited that Bear Mountain is here to support it and make it happen,” he said. “We’re going to have world-class riders, and now a world-class course and that is what (spectators) are going to see.”

For more information visit jumpshipcontest.com.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com