Those who dare to seek maximum air are preparing to put on quite a show this weekend at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa.
More than 20 local and national freeriders will compete for $6,000 in prize money during the newly renamed BearTrax – formerly JumpShip – an invitation-only event running today (July 31) through Sunday.
Jordie Lunn, a renowned freerider on the competitive circuit, designed the course for this year’s event. Known for his challenging and awe-inspiring courses, the Parksville native began pursuing his passion on a BMX when he was 10. He took up mountain biking when he was 15 before falling for free riding about a dozen years ago. Lunn has come up with what he describes as a course that “ups the game” for the sport and showcases Bear Mountain’s natural topography.
Competitors can achieve 25 feet of air over a golf cart path, with gaps of up to 40 feet before crossing the finish line behind the hotel. “It’s the perfect place to build a world-class course,” said Lunn, a near-scratch golfer who relishes the opportunity to combine two of his passions. “Bikes in the sky while golfers play through below is kind of surreal.”
He’s excited about designing a course that enables experienced riders to demonstrate the skills required to participate in the sport, which is growing in popularity. Lunn also designed the recently completed Bear Mountain Bike Park, consisting of 25,000 square feet of dirt, jumps, tracks, ramps and an airbag.
BearTrax originated in 2011 as JumpShip, an event that was held on a barge in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. When organizers couldn’t float a deal in 2013, the switch was made to Bear Mountain, said Rob Fawcett, director of cycling at Bear Mountain.
“Now we have a permanent venue that provides a level of intimacy you don’t find in other courses. It’s great news for the sport and for the good young competitors we have right here on the West Shore,” Fawcett said, adding that Bear Mountain owner/developer Ecoasis “has been very supportive throughout the process.”
Victoria resident Ben Byers, who helped build the course, said he’s “super excited” about the opportunity to compete in this year’s event.
Bear Mountain has truly embraced mountain biking, as evidenced by the new multi-use trail and the Hub Bike Centre, said Ecoasis CEO Dan Matthews. “BearTrax provides us with another signature event to showcase our resort amenities; the 36-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the rapidly growing competitive sport of freeriding,” he said in a media release.
Ecoasis recently signed an agreement with the Canadian National Mountain Bike Team, designating Bear Mountain as the official high-performance training centre.
BearTrax is a free family event that will include an area for spectators, a food vendor exposition, beer garden, kid’s zone and public air bag jump, so bring your bikes.