The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of Aaron Finke and J.T. Bjarnason of the Seven Summits Gravity Racing team after wrapping up the BC Cup Downhill mountain biking circuit last year in Fernie. The team begins riding again this month

The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of Aaron Finke and J.T. Bjarnason of the Seven Summits Gravity Racing team after wrapping up the BC Cup Downhill mountain biking circuit last year in Fernie. The team begins riding again this month

Gravity Racers back on the bikes

The Seven Summits Gravity Racing Team (SSGR) is gearing up for an exciting second season of mountain bike racing.

The Seven Summits Gravity Racing Team (SSGR) is gearing up for an exciting second season of mountain bike racing in the Downhill BC Cup Series and the BC Enduro Series.

Both series don’t hit the starting line until the end of May at Race the Ranch in Kamloops for Downhill and in North Van for the Enduro Series, but many SSGR riders have been training all winter with Andrew Vanderham of Trail’s Elevate Fitness in preparation for the mountain biking season.

“Andrew is the team’s new trainer and has fit the bill,” said team organizer Ian Finke. “He has really engaged with the team and is providing some great, focused training which should get the kids off to a great start this season.”

Ryan Kuhn returns as the team coach with Rossland’s Natasha and Ian Lockey assisting in coaching a Gravity team comprised of about 10 riders ages 14-18 from Rossland, Trail, Castlegar, and Fruitvale.

“This will mean that we will have a maximum 6 to 1 rider to coach ratio which will provide great exposure for the athletes,” said Finke. “Currently targeting to be on the bikes the week of Apr. 11, so just around the corner.”

The team’s inaugural season showed improvement throughout the summer and culminated in a number of podium finishes and top-10 overall results, including Keegan Frye’s fourth place overall finish in the BC Cup series, Aaron Finke’s seventh overall in U17 Sport, and Max Nutini placed seventh in Junior Mens Sport.

In addition, this season the  organizer and coaches are hoping to form a team of young riders age 11-14 years as an introduction to downhill racing.

“This group will be more focused on just getting out and starting to introduce the concepts of riding fast safely,” said Finke. “We are excited about the potential for this program and see it as a great way to introduce the younger kids to the concepts of racing and hopefully act as a feeder program for the race team.”

Downhill mountain bike racing is as exhilerating as it is challenging and ski hills provide intriguing venues for most of the BC Cup races. Given the steep, rough terrain with a combination of challenging jumps, drops, rock gardens, and obstacles that vary with each course, every run down the mountain is a thrilling ride, but safety is paramount. Riders are required to wear full protective gear – full-face helmets, gloves, leg pads, and body armour for protection.

Alternatively, the Osprey BC Enduro Series is known more for its epic trail riding with combination of uphill and downhill terrain with only the downhill portion timed.

The three major events of the Canadian Osprey Enduro Series begin in Rossland on July 31, then head to Revelstoke Sept. 1, and wind up at Sun Peaks in Kamloops Sept. 17. The BC Series starts in May and continues throughout the summer in a variety of locales across B.C.

On the Downhill BC Cup Series, there are six stops scheduled starting at Race the Ranch in Kamloops May 28-29, Kickinghorse for the Western Open July 1-3, Panorama July 15-17, Sun Peaks July 22-24, Silver Star Aug. 5-7, and Fernie for the BC Cup finals Aug. 26-28.

The SSGR will have an information session on Monday, Apr. 4 at 7 p.m. upstairs at the Seven Summits Learning Center in Rossland. SSGR will also hold its AGM at the end of that information session. Anyone interested in learning about either team is encouraged to attend.

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